Harry Ambrose Spradling


Harry A. Spradling was born in St. Genevieve County, MO, on October 13, 1885 to Ambrose T. Spradling and Carolyn Shannon Spradling. When he was three, his parents moved to Farmington, MO where he attended public schools and Carleton College, later receiving a degree in electrical engineering, which provided the foundation for his early business career. As a youth, he first worked in his father’s general merchandise store, and then climbed telephone poles, a job he preferred, when his father bought the St. Francis County telephone system.

   After the family moved to St. Louis in 1901, he held a number of jobs using his electrical training. He worked at U. S. Steel, Missouri Pacific, Union Pacific and Union Electric before moving to California for positions at Sunset Bell Telephone and Pacific Gas and Electric. He later moved to Marceline, MO as manager of the municipal light plant. There he met his future bride, Miss Sarah Helen Montgomery, whom he married June 24, 1924. This union produced four children: Harry M., James, Helen, and Ida Ruth, all of whom provided significant contributions to Carthage in their own right.

   He left Marceline in 1917, working in other electric companies, and obtaining ownership positions, which he sold in 1926. In 1927 he purchased Carthage Ice and Cold Storage (later renamed Refrigerated Services, Inc.), which had originally been established in 1890 by Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis, and moved his family to Carthage. He also acquired ice plants in Webb City, Lamar, Greenfield, Lockwood, and Golden City.

   Under his leadership, his business flourished, and he served in the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, taking a lead in the development of agri-business in Carthage. He gave of his time and money to civic enterprises designed to make Carthage a better place to live. Due to his vision and leadership, the food business became established here. He was largely responsible for Standard Brands egg-breaking plant, Schreiber Cheese Company, Carthage Poultry (later Butterball), Aaron’s Poultry Plant, D & D Frozen Foods, Party Steak, and Fox Deluxe Foods locating in Carthage, adding significant jobs to the local economy.

   Mr. Spradling was a member of First United Methodist Church, the Masonic Lodge and Knights of the Pythias. He was also a Rotarian and served on the Carthage Water and Electric Board for many years. After 10 years of failing health, he passed away October 25, 1964, at age 79 and is buried in Park Cemetery in Carthage.