Biography - Robert McCall

ROBERT MARION McCALL, physician and surgeon at Vienna, stands well at the head of his profession as one of its ablest representatives now practicing in Johnson County. A native of Mississippi, the Doctor was born September 1, 1847, the eldest child of Robert R. and Mary E. (Dawson) McCall. His father was born near Nashville, Tenn., in 1825, and was a farmer by occupation, and also a minister of some note in the Christian Church. At some period of his life he removed to the western part of his native State, whence he afterward went to Mississippi to settle. He was energetic and industrious, and by the exercise of rare judgment and sound business methods, he accumulated a valuable property, becoming the owner of a large plantation and of a number of slaves. The breaking out of the rebellion changed his fortunes materially, interfering with his plans and darkening his prospects. He was the eldest of quite a large family, all of whom were for the Union, and a great deal of responsibility devolved upon him, as his brothers looked to him for advice in that trying time. After much prayer and thought upon the grave question of what to do under the existing circumstances, he counseled his kinsmen to leave the State and get within the Federal lines. Hence they departed for Tennessee, leaving him behind, at his own desire, to care for the property. He had always possessed some influence with his fellow-citizens, who knew him to be peaceable and inoffensive, and it was thought that he could remain without molestation, but he soon found that his only safety lay in following his brothers to Tennessee, and the removal was made in 1863, when all Union families were ordered out of Mississippi.
In 1864 Mr. McCall returned to Mississippi to save some of his wasting property, if possible, his eldest son, our subject, accompanying him. There was quite a crop of cotton on the plantation, and the few bales of it that they managed to take to Memphis, where they sold them for $2,000, were the only things they could rescue from the clutches of the Confederates. However, cotton in those days was worth almost its weight in gold, and commanded $1 a pound. The guerrillas, both rebel and Union, appropriated the remainder, and a subsequent attempt to regain by law a part of his property or some remuneration for his loss was defeated in the courts. In January, 1865, the father came to Illinois with his family, and settlement was made five miles northwest of Vienna, where he bought a small farm of forty-eight acres that was only partly developed, and the little log house in which he and his wife and children found shelter was quite a contrast to their previous commodious residence. They made the best of the situation, however, and in time had a pleasant home, replete with comfort, and Mr. McCall was enabled to purchase other land, until his farm comprised a hundred acres of finely tilled, productive soil, and the improvements that he was constantly making were of a substantial order. Here his serene and honored life was brought to a close by his death in June, 1883. His wife, whose encouragement and never-failing helpfulness had been so potent in making his life a success, is now living in Vienna. She is a native of Tennessee, and her family was closely associated with that of her husband, and accompanied them to this State. To her and her husband were born these eight children: Robert M.; Francis, who died in infancy; Victoria, who died at the age of fourteen years; Rebecca, who died in Johnson County; Thomas and James, who died in infancy; William, who died while studying medicine in Indianapolis; and Daniel, a resident of Vienna.
The boyhood of our subject was mostly passed amid the scenes of his Southern birthplace. There were no public schools, but his father was abundantly able to give him the benefit of the subscription and select schools, which he attended regularly until he was thirteen years old, when the breaking out of the war put an end to all schools in that section for some time. In 1861 he was conscripted by the Confederate Government, and had to leave home and keep in hiding to avoid being pressed into the rebel army. He made his way to Memphis with his father, who depended upon him greatly for assistance in those trying times, he being the eldest child. He came with the family to Johnson County, and desiring more education, entered the district school in the neighborhood of the new home, and the following summer attended a school in Vienna. The next winter he taught in Williamson County, afterwards went back to school in Vienna, and while alternately teaching and being taught, laid a solid foundation for his subsequent professional studies.
Christmas day, 1868, was the occasion of a most joyous yet solemn event for the Doctor, for on that day he was married to Miss Josephine Glassford, a native of Johnson County. Upon the farm three miles west of Vienna belonging to the bride, the happy young couple commenced their wedded life, he devoting his time to farming in the summer, and to teaching in the winter. He was successful, but that life did not fully satisfy him, as he had a natural taste for medical studies and a strong inclination to fit himself for the profession, and in 1871 he commenced to prepare himself to be a physician. In 1872 and 1873 he had the benefit of a course of lectures in the Ohio Medical School at Cincinnati, and returning to Illinois, he established himself as a practitioner in Union County. He was not long in gaining a good name as a reputable physician, well grounded in medical knowledge and possessing the requisite tact and skill to use it properly. Always a student, he was not content with what he had already learned, and the winter of 1875-76 found him in attendance at a course of lectures in the medical department of the University at Louisville, Ky. He received a diploma from that institution, and resumed his practice, removing to Marion and from there to Buncombe, in Elvira Township, where he remained fourteen years. At the expiration of that time he bought a farm west of Vienna, on which he lived until 1890, devoting himself to his profession, and since then he has made his residence in Vienna, as a more central and convenient point for the control of his large practice, which extends over quite a large territory and requires hard work and a great deal of travel. The people to whose ills he administers place the utmost reliance in him, as they know him to be scrupulously honest and straightforward in all that he does, devoted to his noble calling, and never failing in the performance of his professional duties.
The Doctor is an excellent man of business, and has accumulated a fine property. After taking up his residence in Vienna, he sold the farm west of the village that he had been living upon, but he still owns two farms, one in Cache Township and one in Bloomfield Township, the latter adjoining the village of Vienna. Politically, the Doctor affiliates with the Democratic party. Religiously he and his wife are members of the Christian Church. He takes much interest in educational matters, and, indeed, in all things that will refine and elevate the community of which he forms so important a part. He is very pleasantly situated in his domestic life, and he and his wife are blessed with nine children, all of whom are living, namely: Samuel, who resides on the farm near Vienna; Thomas Edgar, who is attending Rush Medical College, Chicago; Elizabeth, at home with her parents; Ada, at school at Carbondale; and the following five at home: Eugene, Robert, William, Gertrude and James.

Extracted 23 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 215-217.

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