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REEDER, Isaac Harrison, M.D.

Isaac Harrison REEDER, M. D., of Lacon, with one exception, is the oldest practitioner in Marshall county, and is probably personally known by more people than any other of its honored citizens. He is a native of Montgomery county, Ohio, born near Dayton, July 27, 1824. His parents, Jacob and Frances (CRANE) REEDER, were both natives of Pennsylvania, from which state his grandfather, Daniel REEDER, emigrated in the early childhood of Jacob, locating at North Bend, on the Ohio river. At that place Jacob grew to manhood and wooed and wed Frances CRANE, whose parents were also numbered among the pioneers of that part of Ohio. Their wedding was celebrated in the city of Cincinnati, and they continued to reside in Ohio until 1834, when they removed to Illinois, locating just east of the present city of Lacon, on a beautiful tract of land overlooking the Illinois river. A settlement had been made at this point a short time previously and a village had been platted to which was given the name Columbia. This entire section of country was then a part of Putnam county.

The tract secured by Jacob REEDER comprised about three hundred acres of government land, which he proceeded to improve and where he remained with his family until 1837, when he sold to the Fenn Colony, which came to this locality from Cincinnati. That colony established the present city of Lacon, and secured the division of the county. On selling his farm he removed to the vicinity of the present village of Washburn, which was farther form the river, and where he thought his family would be less exposed to ague, which was prevalent in the county at that time. Purchasing an improved farm, he continued to reside thereon until old age made it incumbent on him to retire from active work, when he removed to Metamora, and made his home with a daughter, with whom he lived until his death in 1875, in his eighty-eighth year.

Jacob Reeder was a man of home tastes and habits, caring little or nothing for the applause of the world. For almost his entire life he engaged in tilling the soil, planting and sowing with an abiding faith that God would give the increase. He never sought, nor would he accept public office, although a man of strong political views. In early life he was an advocate of the principles of the whig party, but when that party, which numbered among its leaders such men as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, passed out of existence, he affiliated with the republican party, being by nature and education a strong anti-slavery man. In his religious convictions he was a Presbyterian, strongly rooted in the peculiar views held by that old and highly conservative body of people. In his family relations, while tender and considerate, he was yet firm in his discipline and required perfect obedience from his children. He was what might be termed an ideal man. For many years he was an elder in the church, and was one of the first members of the Presbyterian church of Lacon. His good wife was also a member of that denomination, and was a worthy helpmate of such a man. She preceded him to the better world some ten years, dying in 1865.

Jacob and Frances REEDER were the parents of eight children, all of whom grew to maturity. Of this number Addison was a machinist by trade, and died at Bloomington, Illinois, in 1887. Thomas was for many years a large farmer residing near Minonk, Woodford county, Illinois, but died in Idaho about 1891. Susan, now the widow of William ROCKWELL, resides in Henry, Marshall county. Isaac H. is next in order of birth. David, who was a resident of Decatur county, Kansas, died March 6, 1896, in his seventieth year. Jacob is a mechanic, residing at Metamora, Illinois. Frances, who was the wife of Price F. KELLOGG, died in 1895. Rebecca, who was the wife of Lucien CANNEY, of Pontiac, Illinois, died about 1876.

The subject of this sketch remained with his parents until seventeen years of age, attending subscription schools of the neighborhood in winter months, and assisting in the cultivation and improvement of the farm the remaining seasons of the year. He was then apprenticed to Mr. BURLINGHAM, of Lacon, to learn the blacksmith’s trade, with whom he remained until twenty-one years of age, receiving for his services during the entire period only his board and clothes. Being of a naturally studious nature, while engaged in learning his trade, he borrowed and eagerly read a number of valuable books, thus storing his mind with useful knowledge. From Dr. BOALS he borrowed a chemistry, which he carefully studied, and from another he secured a grammar. For months he almost continually had his books on the forge before him, which he read and studied as he blew the bellows.

When his four years’ term of service was up, our subject commenced life without a dollar, receiving no assistance whatever from his employer. His trousers were out at the knees, his shirt ragged, his coat hardly fit to be worn, but he had grit and determination, and at once commenced work at his trade as a journeyman, continuing as such until he had laid by enough money with which to purchase a set of tools, when he opened a shop at Metamora, Woodford county, where he operated some three or four years. He was then taken sick and his physician, Dr. WHITMIRE, now, as well as then, residing at Metamora, decided that he must abandon his trade. While convalescing he read some of his physician’s medical works and became greatly interested in a skeleton which the doctor had in his office. For some two or three months he continued to read such medical works as were at his disposal, with only the thought of passing away the time.

Consulting with his physician as to what calling or profession he should adopt for the future, Dr. WHITMIRE, much to his surprise, advised him to continue the study of medicine and qualify himself for a physician. The idea struck him as amusing, as he had never given the subject any serious consideration, but later he decided to follow the doctor’s advice. Selling his shop and tools, he entered the office of Dr. WHITMIRE, and under his instruction pursued his studies. Being a good vocalist, he taught singing school, thereby securing the means with which to pay his board. He also saved enough to pay his expenses through one term of Rush Medical college, which he attended in the winter of 1848-9.

At the close of his first course of lectures, he returned to Metamora without a cent in his pocket. His old preceptor then advised him to locate at some good point and enter upon the practice of his profession, thus gaining some practical knowledge before completing his course. This he decided to do, and therefore located at Lexington, Illinois, as assistant to Dr. Barnd of that place. He remained with the doctor about three years, saving every cent possible, that he might again enter college, completing the full course. While with Dr. Barnd he had large and varied experience, doing much of the country practice, taking long drives day and night, in rough and stormy as well as pleasant weather.

Returning to college in the fall of 1851, our subject pursued his studies and graduated with honors in February, 1852, receiving his diploma from Rush Medical college. About the middle of the term, however, he came very nearly leaving the college, and possibly abandoning all thought of ever continuing in the profession. His funds were about exhausted and he had no other source of supply. A roommate, Abner HARD, late of Aurora, was in about the same fix, and what to do was the question. His friend proposed the securing of a room and together keep bachelor’s hall. The back room of a doctor’s office was placed at their service, and there they lived during the remainder of the term, at a cost not exceeding ten cents each per day, their diet being principally bread and water. But this served to brace them up, and as stated, Dr. REEDER received his diploma in February, 1852. Another difficulty now arose. He had not money enough to pay his expenses from Chicago to Lacon. The railroad had not yet traversed this region, and the fare by stage was seven dollars. Borrowing five dollars of a friend in Chicago, he took the stage for his old home, arriving safely with one dollar in his pocket. Hen the walked to Metamora, and there borrowed five dollars of his sister with which to pay the Chicago loan, and again returned to his old field of labor, Lexington, Illinois. However, he remained there but a short time, when he received an offer from his cousin, Dr. Robert BOAL, of Lacon, of a partnership with him in practice at that place. Back to Lacon he came, and the partnership thus formed continued until near the beginning of the war.

The firm of Boal & Reeder succeeded in building up a fine practice, but in October, 1862, Dr. REEDER was commissioned surgeon of the Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry by Governor Yates, and joined the regiment at Nashville, Tennessee. He was then in active service until the surrender of Atlanta in the fall of 1864. At the battle of Stone river, he, as field surgeon, did efficient service. The Tenth Illinois Infantry distinguished itself in the battles of Stone river, Chickamauga and other engagements in that campaign, and Dr. REEDER was ever at his post of duty. While his inclinations were to remain with the boys in the field, he resigned his commission in the fall of 1864, and returned to Lacon. He has never, however, lost his interest in the stirring events of that day, and has continued his membership with the Army and Navy Medical association.

On returning home the doctor at once resumed practice, and has since continued to reside at this place, and for a period of almost half a century has ministered to the physical wants of the people of this vicinity. His experience in the army and his recognized skill as a surgeon has given him a reputation not only throughout Marshall, but in adjoining counties, and his services have frequently been called into requisition in difficult surgical operations for many miles around. By his skill as a physician and surgeon, he has built up a large and lucrative practice, placing him and his family in comfortable circumstances. For many years he has been a member of the North Central Medical association and the State Medical society, and has served as president of the former body. The medical journals of the country have been enriched by his contributions, and in all matters pertaining to his profession, he has endeavored to keep abreast with the times.

Dr. REEDER was united in marriage with Miss Dorcas LUCAS, at Bloomington, Illinois, February 21, 1850, and together they have traveled life’s pathway for a period of forty-six years. She has been a worthy wife of a worthy husband, and her wise counsels and loving ministrations have been an encouragement to him as he has gone in and out among the people in the discharge of his professional duties. Two loving daughters came to bless their union. Flora is now the wife of Charles E HOYT, of Lacon. She is a musician of more than ordinary ability, and her voice is often heard in public to the delight of all, while as a pianist her ability is acknowledged by all. May, the second daughter, died in September, 1876, in her eighteenth year. She had but a few months previously graduated form the Lacon high school, and the future was bright before her. Being very ambitious, she worked too hard that she might graduate with honor, and her death followed from heart paralysis. She was a loving young woman, the joy of parents and the friend of everybody.

While a strong republican and very pronounced in his views, Dr. REEDER has never sought office, and has devoted his entire time to his professional, social, educational and religious duties. For years he was a member of the school board, and for some time was its chairman. Realizing the difficulty in his own case of securing an education, he strived to give a more favorable opportunity to others, and by his active interest and wise counsel much of the success attained by the Lacon public schools is due. A lifelong member of the Presbyterian church, he has given much thought to the Master’s work. He is also a member of the Masonic fraternity, blue lodge and chapter. All in all it may be well said that the life of our subject has been such as to reflect credit upon himself and honor to his fellow-citizens.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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