Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
HENRY PROSERPI. It is not strange that the little republic of Switzerland should lose many of ts enterprising citizens who come to the United States and establish their homes, for our institutions are similar to their own and they do not have such a hard time adjusting themselves here as do the emigrants from other countries of Europe, born and reared under conditions which are just about the antithesis of our own. The ports of entry of America have ever been freely opened to the Swiss, and having thus extended to them a hearty hand of welcome, they have been coming to our shores for two centuries or more, and their substantial homes now adorn the towns, hills and plains in every state in the Union. They have been loyal to our institutions and have proven to be splendid citizens in every respect. Thus they have aided us in pushing forward the civilization of the western hemisphere and we have helped them in many ways, giving them every opportunity, which they have not been slow to grasp, being people of thrift, tact and energy.
One of the worthy class mentioned in the preceding paragraph is Henry Proserpi, who is engaged in cement contracting in Springfield, his birth having occurred in Switzerland on October 25, 1855. He is a son of Balydsour and Christina (White) Proserpi, both these parents being born in Canton Fazeno, Switzerland, and there they grew to maturity, were educated in the common schools and were married and they spent their lives in their native country, the death of the father occurring in 1873, and the mother passed away in 1871. They were the parents of ten children, of whom Henry, of this sketch, was the youngest. Six of these children still survive.
Henry Proserpi grew to manhood in Switzerland and there received a public school education, which was somewhat limited, and he may be classed with our self-made men. He emigrated from his native land when he was twenty-five years of age, in 1881, coming to the United States and penetrating the interior to Springfield, Missouri, arriving here with but seven dollars and fifty cents as his sole capital and unable to speak a word of English. But he had a trade and plenty of grit and determination, so it was not long until he was on his feet. He began working at the cement and stone business when fourteen years of age, and he has followed the same ever since, mastering the various ins and outs of the same when but a boy. He started on his own account here in 1884 and has become widely known in Greene county in his special line of endeavor. He has done numerous big jobs for the Frisco railroad, and among the notable larger jobs which he has had was the Landers Theater, on which he did all the cement work, and the auditorium at Drury College. He is known to be a man of advanced ideas and does his work promptly, neatly and honestly. He has been very successful in a financial way.
Mr. Proserpi was married on December 20, 1884, to Belle Hopkins, a daughter of james Hopkins, a farmer of Phelps county, Missouri, and she is one of a family of twelve children, six sons and six daughters. Mrs. Proserpi's father was from Tennessee. He died in Phelps county, and the mother was Fanny Morrow and was born in Indiana. She is still living in Phelps county, Missouri.
Seven children, two sons and five daughters, have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Proserpi, namely: Rosa Gertrude, born on November 2, 1885, married Clyde Sperry, a real estate and insurance man of Springfield, and they have one child, Harold Eugene Sperry; Daisy Christina, born on November 8, 1887, is at home; Joseph Franklin, born on November 6, 1889, died in infancy; Jessie May, born on November 6, 1890, died in infancy; Charles Ernest, born on January 27, 1894; Georgia F., born on November 28, 1897, and Mamie A., born on Februar 21, 1900.
Politically Mr. Proserpi is a Democrat. Fraternally he belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America and the Woodmen of the World. He and his family attend the Baptist church. Their home is at 2133 Benton avenue.
Springfield-Greene County Library