He was born to Dr. Mark and Rebecca Sappington in Maryland on 15 May 1776. He was the third of seven children.
When John was nine, his family moved from Maryland. His father trained he and his brothers as physicians. Out on the frontier, they were in high demand.
He established two stores, one at present day Napton and another at Arrow Rock. Once financially successful, Sappington experimented with the bark of a South American tree to create a chemical called quinine. Malaria, scarlet fever, yellow fever, and influenza, diseases carried by mosquitoes, were pestilential along creeks and rivers. He wanted to use quinine to treat the fevers caused by these diseases, but eventually it was used to prevent the onset of malaria.
In 1844, Dr. Sappington wrote the first medical treatise west of the Mississippi River. It was called "Theory and Treatment of Fevers." Following a long illness, he died in 1856. An inscription over his grave reads: "A truly honest man is the noblest work of God. He lay like a warrior taking his rest."
7. Panama Canal Online Exhibit; Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS , 2015.
8. Findagrave #11994.