Probasco got his start in Newtown, Connecticut and moved to Cincinnati when he was around 14 years old, where his father worked for a hardware company. When he was 15 years old he secured a position as a clerk at the hardware store owned by Tyler Davidson and eventually became a partner in the business and married Davidson’s half-sister.
The hardware business boomed for the two of them and they became very wealthy. Probasco built the first mansion constructed by uniting limestone and sandstone in a suburban residence (his mansion still stands in Clifton), sparking a boom of similarly constructed country mansions in Cincinnati.
In 1865, Tyler Davidson died and a year later Probasco sold the business and toured Europe. While in Munich, Probasco met with designers at the Royal Bronze Factory and it was decided to build a fountain in the memory of his brother-in-law as a gift to the City of Cincinnati, where it remains as a symbol of the City on the public square named after the main feature.
He held many civic posts as well, such as being one of the managers of the Public Library, president of Spring Grove Cemetery (which he helped found) and Cincinnati Orphan Asylum, and served on the council for the village of Clifton as well as being its mayor. He was an original member of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History which was organized in 1870; a trustee for St. Luke’s Hospital when it was incorporated in 1866; life member of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce; and member of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society.
Later in life, Probasco fell on hard times and was paid a smaller salary as the superintendent of Spring Grove Cemetery, where he was buried after his death in 1902.