JAMES H. SPRAGUE, proprietor of the "Sprague House," Bloomington, is also engaged in the cigar and
tobacco trade on Main street, where the hotel is located and occupies No. 605. Mr. Sprague has been a resident
of this section since 1857, and is as highly spoken of as he is widely known throughout both the city and township
of Bloomington. His birth place was Marysville, Union Co., Ohio, and the date thereof Aug. 15, 1846. His father,
Jackson G. Sprague, a native of Essex County, N. Y., was a cabinet-maker by trade. He migrated to Ohio when a young
man, where he met and married Miss Sophronia Rose, a native of Buffalo, N. Y. After his marriage he located in
Marysville, Ohio, where he carried on an extensive furniture business until 1856, and served as Sheriff of Union
County, Ohio, for a period of seven years. He then removed with his family to Lexington, Ill. He was opposed to
slavery and a strong friend of the Union and thus, when the Civil War broke out, his patriotism was moved to such
an extent, that he, in 1862, although forty-seven years old, volunteered his services to the Union and was mustered
into the field of action as a member of Co. G, 33d Ill. Vol. Inf. and served two years and a half, and was then
discharged on account of physical disability. The disease which he contracted while in the army still retains its
hold upon him and there is no doubt but that he will suffer from it all the days of his life. In consequence of
this he now draws a pension. After retiring from the army he resumed business a few years, but his health compelled
him to retire from active labor. He then returned to Bloomington, and with the help of good employes, carried on
an hotel successfully for several years. The faithful and affectionate wife and mother departed this life in 1885,
since which time the father of our subject has lived retired from active business. The four children of the family
are Cloa A., deceased; James H., Lucinda R. and Freeman R.
James H. Sprague was but ten years old when the family removed from Ohio and settled in this county. He received his early education in the schools at Lexington, Ill., and in 1864, although not having attained the age required to become a soldier, proffered his services to assist in the preservation of the Union and was accepted as a member of Co. G, 146th Ill. Vol. Inf., and served until honorably discharged at the close of the war. He then returned to Lexington, where he owned and operated a line of drays until 1871. He then entered the employ of the Chicago & Alton Railway Company as a machinist, in their shops at Bloomington, where he remained for a period of fourteen years. Subsequently he engaged as a traveling salesman for a Bloomington cigar and tobacco house, and Feb. 1, 1886, succeeded his employers in the business. He now conducts a fine retail trade, having one of the finest tobacco stores in Central Illinois. He is courteous and attentive to his patrons, genial and pleasant in disposition, and has gathered around him a host of friends who value him as much for his excellent personal traits as they respect him for a thorough-going and upright business man. He is a stanch friend of the temperance movement, has never tasted intoxicating liquors, and in all respects is a law-abiding citizen and the friend of system and good order. He possesses rare social qualities and takes a deep interest in the prosperity and welfare of his county and community. In about 1875, Mr. Sprague became identified with the Knights of Pythias and is now a member of Damon Lodge No. 10, having passed all the chairs from the outer door to the Grand Lodge. He is also a member of Custer Division No. 22, U. R., K. of P. [ed., Knights of Pythias], and belongs to John A. Logan Post No. 146, G. A. R. Although said Post has a membership of over 400 there is but one younger in years than our subject. He possesses excellent executive ability and is scarcely to be excelled in military tactics, being a good commander, thorough in drill and possessing the qualities requisite for the responsible position which he occupies. He is Chief Captain of Ridgley Temple Patriarchal Circle No. 4, one of the best drilled in the county. His company competed for a prize on the 30th of May, 1887, and the Patriarchal Circle carried off the silver cup. Its members some time since presented Mr. Sprague with an elegant watch charm, valued at $30, which, however, is insignificant in comparison with the spirit which prompted the gift. Mr. S. is also a member of Towanda Tribe No. 48, of the Improved Order of Red Men, of which he is the highest officer as well as Captain of the Team.
The marriage of Mr. Sprague occurred on the 24th of December, 1868, the maiden of his choice being Miss Agnes D. Donovan. Mrs. S. was born in Lancaster County, Pa., and is the daughter of Joseph Donovan. Of her union with our subject there has been one sonóCarl R., born Feb. 6, 1871.
The Sprague House is a neat little hotel, ably conducted, and furnishes excellent accommodations to a goodly number of the traveling public. Mr. and Mrs. S. are lovers of music and aside from the gatherings around the family fireside their voices are regularly heard in the choir of the Independent Church of Bloomington. Mrs. S. is, and has been organist of the Sunday-school ever since its organization two and a half years ago, and Mr. S. is, and has been Superintendent of the same for the same length of time.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 597. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.