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Bureau,Marshall,Putnam Biographical Records 1896 > Robert Boal, M.D.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall & Putnam Counties, IL
Originally published 1896
S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.
Chicago, IL

Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society

Page(s): 50-52

Robert Boal, M.D., who came to Marshall county, and located at Lacon in 1836 for the practice of his profession, is now living a retired life, making his home with his daughter, the widow of the late Congressman G. L. Fort. He was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1806, and when five years of age went with his parents to Ohio, and in what was then a new and undeveloped country, grew to manhood amid the scenes of pioneer life. After attending the subscription schools of that early day, long before free schools became known in that locality, he entered the Cincinnati College to complete his course. However, the desire to obtain a thorough classical education was never realized, as he left the school when just about to be promoted to the junior class.


Soon after leaving college Robert began the study of medicine under a good preceptor, and later entered the Medical College of Ohio, from which he graduated with honor in 1828. From early boyhood he had desired to be a physician, having a natural inclination in that direction. Soon after graduating he commenced the practice of medicine at Reading, Ohio, and four years later in 1832, was united in marriage with Miss Christiana W. Sinclair, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and of Scotch extraction. By this union three children were born - Charles T., now residing in Chicago; Clara B., now the widow of G. L. Fort, who for years represented his district in congress and was well and favorably known throughout the state, and James Sinclair, who for ten years was assistant district attorney for the norther district of Illinois, with headquarters at Chicago, serving under Judge Bangs, General Leake, Judge Tuthill and Judge Ewing and died in office. Mrs. Boal, who was a woman of strong character and lovely disposition, was a worthy helpmate to the young doctor in pioneer days, being ever ready and willing to cheer his pathway, and make his burden light. She died in Peoria, in 1883.


Four years after his marriage Dr. Boal came with his young wife to Marshall county, and locating at Lacon, at once commenced an active practice, which continued uninterruptedly for twenty-six years. In those early days the rides were long, roads poor, bridges almost unknown and the practicing physician was requred to hold himself in readiness to go at a moment’s warning at a call from any source and at whatever inconvenience. Many were the calls to which he responded, lonely the long night rides and but little was the pay expected or received.


In common with all professional men, Dr. Boal was somewhat of a politician in the early days of the history of Marshall county. He was an eloquent speaker and his services were often called into requisition in the exciting campaigns which rapidly followed one another. The newspapers did not circulate then as now, and the public and professional speaker was expected to enlighten the people upon the issues of the day.


Politically, Dr. Boal was a whig after attaining his majority, and the principles of that party of the tariff, were in consonance with his ideas of right and or the best interest of the entire country. He took the stump in advocacy of these principles in each succeeding campaign, and was a most effective speaker. In 1844 he was placed in nomination by his party for the state senate in the district comprising the counties of Marshall, Tazewell, Woodford and Putnam, and was triumphantly elected, succeeding Major Cullom, and father of the present United States Senator Cullom..


While in the senate the doctor strongly advocated the building by the state of a hospital for the insane, and was instrumental in securing its passage. For some years previous the state had been engaged in the construction of a canal and which virtually swamped the state in the panic of 1837. The doctor advocated turnng the uncompleted canal over to the bond holders for its early completion, which was accordingly done. He also advocated the calling of a constitutional convention to revise the constitution , and an act was passed for that purpose, resulting in the constitution of 1848, which for twenty-two years was the basis of our state laws, or until repealed by the constitution of 1870.


Dr. Boal was a politician of state reputation, and was on intimate terms with all the great leaders of the whig party. He first met the immortal Lincoln in 1842, and was at once drawn to him, and the personal acquaintance formed with him at the congressional convention of that year was kept up and lasted through the life of Lincoln.


In 1854 Dr. Boal was elected a member of the general assembly of the state, the last whig elected from the district; at the session of the legislature following his election a United States senator was to be elected. Lincoln was the whig candidate and was enthusiastically supported by the doctor. Every student of history knows the result of that election. A small number of what was known as anti-Nebraska democrats, of whom John M. Palmer was one, held the balance of power, and when convince their favorite could not be elected the entire whig vote was cast, with that of the anti-Nebraska democrats, for Lyman Trumbull, who was duly chosen.


The whig party was now virtually dead, and in 1856 a convention of anti-slavery men met at Bloomington, Illinois, in which was brought into existence the republican party of the state. In this convention Dr. Boal sat as one of the delegates, and was thus instrumental in the birth of that party, which four years later, succeeded in electing Abraham Lincoln as president, an event followed by the greatest war of modern times, resulting in the entire abolition of slavery and the cementing of the ties binding the states of the union together, stronger than ever before. Dr. Boal was renominated for the house of representatives in 1856, and again elected, and served with credit to himself and his constituents.


William H. Bissell was elected governor in 1856, and soon after his inauguration he appointed Dr. Boal as one of the trustees of the deaf and dumb asylum at Jacksonville, a position which he held by reappointment by succeeding governors, for seventeen years, the last five years of which time serving as president of the board. Soon after the commencement of hostilities between the states Dr. Boal was appointed surgeon of the board of enrollment, with headquarters at Peoria, which position he held until the close of the war.


The active political life of Dr. Boal closed with the war. He then moved his family to Peoria and engaged in general practice, which he continued successfully for twenty-eight years. As a physician he was recognized by his co-laborers and the public as well, as one of the best in the state. His practice was very large, patients coming for treatment by him for many miles around. In 1882 he served as president of the State Medical association, an honor worthily bestowed.


Dr. Boal continued in the active practice of his profession until he was eighty-seven years of age, when he retired and returned to Lacon, where he now makes his home. He is a well preserved man, mentally and physically , and an inveterate smoker. A great reader, he ha kept posted in the current and general literature of the day and has also been a love of the drama. In the social circle he is always surrounded by those who love to listen to an attractive conversationalist, one who can instruct as well as amuse.










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