ALEXANDER B. SPROUL. The present able and popular incumbent of the office of postmaster of Sparta is Alexander B. Sproul, a representative of one of the ante-bellum families of Randolph county. His father, James Sproul, settled in this locality about 1848 as an immigrant from the British Isles. He was born in Scotland and passed many years of his early life as a blacksmith with a country shop. He subsequently engaged in the general merchandise business at Sparta in company with a brother, and in 1871 he established the family home in this little city. He followed commercial pursuits until recent years, when he turned his attention to the telephone business, establishing a plant in Sparta. He and his sons have developed the telephone plant in keeping with the demands of the community, putting in rural lines and toll lines in addition to the Sparta exchange, until a large area of the country is in direct communication with this trade center. Mr. Sproul also built up the Evansville exchange, which is now under a different management.
James Sproul established the family politics when he became a Republican early in the history of that organization. He has never participated actively in public affairs, but through his splendid business dealings has contributed in large measure to the welfare and progress of Sparta and the neighboring community. He was united in marriage to Miss Rachel Dickey, a daughter of Alexander Dickey, of Irish lineage. The issue of this union are: Lizzie, widow of Rev. Henry Gardner and a resident of St. Louis; James, Jr., active manager of the Sparta telephone system; a daughter who is wife of R. C. Brown, United States district court clerk at Springfield, Illinois; and Alexander B., the immediate subject of this review.
Alexander B. Sproul was born on a farm near Sparta, Illinois, the date of his nativity being the 30th of September, 1866. He was a child of but five years of age when the family home was established in Sparta and to the public schools of this city, he is indebted for his early educational discipline. For a time he was also a student in the Valparaiso, Indiana, Normal University, and after leaving that institution he became associated with his father in the mercantile business at Sparta. He continued to be actively connected with that line of enterprise until he was appointed postmaster of Sparta, and the historic old business house of James Sproul is now in the hands of strangers, while its former owners are engaged in a different field of endeavor. When he had reached his majority Alexander B. Sproul became intensely interested in politics and at that time associated himself in a local way with the management of Republican affairs in Randolph county. He was a member of the county central committee for a period of eight years and was chairman of it during much of that time. The responsibilities of a delegate as a member of state conventions eventually came to him and his whole-souled services in that connection were rewarded, in a measure, by his appointment, in July, 1902, as postmaster of Sparta. He succeeded Mrs. Clara Murphy, now Mrs. Clara McKelvey, in the office and President Roosevelt signed his first and second commissions, while his third one bears the signature of President Taft. His long and efficient incumbency as postmaster is the best proof of his ability and loyalty in connection with the work.
On the 30th of November, 1887, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Sproul to Miss Mary S. Brown, a daughter of James S. and Agnes (Anderson) Brown, both of whom are now deceased. James S. Brown was long a prominent merchant at Sparta and he and his wife were the parents of five children, four sons and one daughter. Mr. and Mrs. Sproul have two children, namely: Agnes M. and Mary E., aged ten and six years, respectively. In a fraternal way Mr. Sproul is a valued and appreciative member of the time-honored Masonic order and in their religious faith he and his wife are devout members of the First Presbyterian church at Sparta. The attractive Sproul home is a recognized center of most gracious refinement and hospitality and Mr. and Mrs. Sproul hold a high place in the esteem of their fellow citizens.