RALPH E. SPRIGG,
of Chester, whose name occupies a conspicuous place on the roll of Illinois' eminent lawyers, during some three decades connection with the bar of the state has won and maintained a reputatiom for ability that has given him just pre-eminence among his professional brethren. In the law, as in every other walk of life, success is largely the outcome of resolute purpose and unfaltering industry,— qualities which are possessed in a large degree by Mr. Sprigg.
A native of Illinois, Ralph E. Sprigg was born at Prairie du Rocher, Octobcr 9, 1859. His father was James D. Sprigg, a merchant at Prairie du Rocher during a goodly portion of his active career. He was likewise born in Illinois and was a son of Ignatius Sprigg, who came west from Hagerstown, Maryland. The original progenitor of the Sprigg family in America was born and reared in England and was one of the first governors of Maryland after his arrival in this country. William Sprigg, another ancestor of the subject of this review, served on the bench as presiding judge of all the country west of Virginia, then styled the Northwest Territory. Men of the Sprigg family have been engaged in various vocations—bankers, merchants, doctors and lawyers—and all have proved themselves able representatives of their respective crafts. Iguatius Sprigg in his youth was a surveyor and was associated in that work in Illinois with Judge Thompson. Making his home in Randolph county, this state, he was chosen one of the early sheriffs of the county. James D. Sprigg, father of Ralph E., passed away in 1872, at the age of forty-four years. He married Miss Amanda Mudd, a daughter of William Mudd, of Virginia, Mrs. Sprigg long survived her honored husband and she died in 1901, leaving Ralph E. as her only heir.
Ralph E. Sprigg grew to maturity in his native place and as a youth he attended St. Vincent's College. He spent five years in the Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Normal School, and eventually pursued the study of law in the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor. After his graduation in the last-mentioned institution he took advanced work in the University of Georgetown, at Washington, D. C. In 1880 he was admitted to practice at the Illinois bar and he entered upon the active practice of his profession in Chester, where he has resided during the long intervening years to the present time. He immediately assumed a prominent position as a member of the legal fraternity, developed the art of public-speaking to a remarkable degree, and was chosen state's attorney of his county in 1884. He continued as the able and popular incumbent of the latter office for a period of eight years, at the expiration of which he left it with the reputation of a vigorous prosecutor and defender of the law. His long experience as the state's representative before the court uncovered for him the real career of his life—criminal law. He gave prominence to this feature of law when he returned to private practice and his successes have established for him a fine reputation and clientele in all Southern Illinois. He is an adept at the art of getting testimony and is a master of the subject of evidence. His manner in trials is vigorous and determined and his arguments before
court and jury come from a heart filled with anxiety for his client and are supported with facts and precedents that seldom fail to win him a verdict.
Mr. Sprigg was reared a Democrat. He remained with the regular organization until the Chicago convention nominated Bryan and took up the free-silver heresy, when he joined the Palmer and Buckner wing of the party and stumped the state with Hon. W. S. Foreman, the gold Democratic candidate for governor. He was elected mayor of Chester for three terms consecutively, filling the office for six years, and his connection with state polities extended to a service of five years on the State Democratic committee. He was a member of the Chester school board two terms and has rendered service to his town and community in defense of their welfare on every and all occasions. In the contest for the relocation of the county seat he rendered his community invaluable assistance in brushing away the inducements offered by the competitive point for capital honors. In a business way Mr. Sprigg is vice-president of the bank of L. H. Gilster, of Chester, is connected with the Buena Vista Milling Company and is local attorney for the Illinois Southern, the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern, and the Cotton Belt Railways. In fraternal circles he is an Elk, a Knight of Pythias and a Modern Woodman. As a man he is thoroughly conscientious, of undoubted integrity, affable and courteous in manner, and has a host of friends, and few, if any, enemies.
On June 9, 1880, Mr. Sprigg was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Florence Lindsey, a daughter of Judge John H. Lindsey. Their only child, Nora, is the wife of J. Frank Gilster, law partner of Mr. Sprigg and a promising member of the Chester bar.