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Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 8 January 2005

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part V. Biographical Sketches
Turtlecreek Township
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)
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REV. JESSE PORTER SPROWLS was born in Washington Co., Penn., March 11, 1845. His parents were Cyrus and Phoebe J. (Post) Sprowls. They were of Scotch-Irish descent; their ancestors having come from the North of Ireland in the early history of Western Pennsylvania. Mr. Cyrus Sprowls was a farmer, and a man of considerable influence, politically and socially, in the community in which he dwelt. The subject of this sketch was raised on a farm, and passed through the incidents usual to a young farmer's life. From very early years, he had a strong desire for an education. All of the books and papers within reach were eagerly perused and partially mastered. Historical works and biographical sketches were especially prized. In 1863, at the age of 18, he was admitted into the Preparatory Department of Waynesburg College, located at Waynesburg, Greene Co., Penn. This institution of learning is under the control of Pennsylvania Synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and is one of their best colleges. He graduated from this institution in 1868, and in September of the same year entered Andover Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass., graduating from this institution in June, 1871. He was received under the care of Pennsylvania Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian, Church, as a candidate for the ministry in the autumn of 1868. This decision was reached only after several months of serious debatings and earnest prayer. His inclinations were in the direction of the legal profession, and he had taken several steps looking to this end, when a plain sense of his duty settled him once for all in the ministry. He was licensed to preach by the above-named Church Judicature in 1870. Shortly before his graduation at Andover, he received a call to the pastorate of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Lebanon, Ohio. After spending a vacation of three months among friends in Western Pennsylvania, he arrived in Lebanon, Sept. 30, and preached his first sermon to his people the next day, Oct 1, from Luke, ii, 49, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" He was ordained to the full work of the ministry by the Pennsylvania Presbytery, April 12, 1872, at Waynesburg, Penn., the Rev. A. W. White preaching the sermon and Rev. S. Winget presiding and delivering the charge. His ministry at Lebanon has been a pleasant one, and at this writing (1882) continues. At this time, when changes in pastorates occur so frequently, this lengthy relationship between pastor and people is to be commended most heartily. In Library, Allegheny Co., Penn., April 16, 1872, he was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Mariam Widney, the only daughter of Dr. John Widney, of Baltimore, Md. Miss Widney graduated from the Female Department of Waynesburg College in the Summer of 1868. She was the Valedictorian of her class. Although not strong physi-

cally, yet, by her sweetness of disposition and strength of character, she was enabled to accomplish an excellent work in Lebanon. Two children were given to them, viz., Carl Widney, born 1873, and Harold Leigh, in 1878. Mr. Sprawls has taken a deep interest in everything that has for its aim the advancement of the cause of Christ and humanity. Being naturally of a reserved disposition, he has not been as noisy in his advocacy or as demonstrative in his opposition as many other men, but his friends always know where to find him. They have manifested this confidence by calling him to positions of trust in the church and community. Being still a young man, it is the hope of his friends that very much usefulness may yet be in store for him.

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