DR. ROBERT D. WILKIN, ATLANTIC.
The oldest drug merchant in continuous business in Atlantic, former mayor of the city, and energetic promoter of every element of mental, moral and material advancement for the community, Dr. Robert D. Wilkin has passed more than a quarter of a century of his life in Cass county, illustrating in every way the best attributes of elevated American citizenship. He was born in Washington county, Pa., on January 12, 1838, and is the son of Andrew and Mary (Henderson) Wilkin, also natives of that State. They were well-to-do farmers there, and prospered and enjoyed the respect and confidence of all who knew them during their stay within the borders of that great, bustling hive of energetic and productive activity. The mother died there and was laid to rest in 1838, and some years afterward the father married again. In 1868 hemoved to Harrison county, Ohio, where he passed the remainder of his life in the peaceful pursuit of farming, improving the land on which he settled and raising it steadily in fruitfulness and value. He was prominent in local public affairs in both States, and filled a number of township and county offices. Of his first marriage the offspring comprised seven sons and one daughter. These have all died but our subject.
Dr. Wilkin and one of his brothers obeyed the first call for volunteers of the Civil War, and the brother laid his life on the altar of his country, dying amid the horrors of Andersonville prison. The Doctor saw three years of dangerous and exacting service, participating in the battles of Drainsville, Chantilla and Fredericksburg, Va., Antietam, Md., Clod Mountain, Cold Harbor, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Second Bull Run, and a large number of skirmishes. He enlisted in Company I, First Pennsylvania Cavalry, Reserve Corps, and his brother in the renowned Ringgold Cavalry. The Doctor's regiment was a part of the Army of the Potomoc, and as one of the constituents of that great fighting division, it was in constant requisition on the march and in the field. The race was hardy and courageous, however, and impelled by a high sense of duty in every field of activity. The Doctor's grandfather, Archibald Wilkin, came to this country from the North of Ireland, and after a long period passed in progressive farming, died in Pennsylvania at the age of ninety-nine. The parents were members of the United Presbyterian Church.
Dr. Wilkin grew to manhood on his father's farm, gathering physical and mental strength and suppleness from its invigorating labors, and obtained his primary education in the district schools. He completed his scholastic training at Pleasant Valley Academy in his native State, and then taught school in Pennsylvania and Virginia until 1859, when he began the study of medicine under the direction of his brother, Dr. Archibald Wilkin of Harrisville, Ohio. In 1861 he returned to Pennsylvania and enlisted as a volunteer in defense of the Union, and after his discharge from the army, located once more in Ohio, and resumed the study of his profession. He practiced in that State until 1867, and in that year came to Iowa, locating in Marion county. There he practiced awhile, and then attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Keokuk, from which he was graduated in 1871. Resuming his practice in Marion county after his graduation, he remained there until 1875, when he moved to Atlantic, where he has ever since lived.
The Doctor passed his first three years in this county in active practice, and at the end of that period turned his whole attention to merchandising in drugs, in which he has since been continuously occupied. His business grew large and exacting, but it could not restrain his energetic mind within its limits. He was deeply interested in the welfare and material progress of the city, and helped to start the canning factory and other important enterprises, at the same time giving due attention to the concentration and improvement of the educational forces of the community, and supporting every moral agency and public undertaking for the advancement of the people. He has been a life-long Republican in politics, and as such was mayor of Atlantic in 1888, and served nine years on its Board of Supervisors and five as an alderman. He is now one of the directors of the Carnegie library. His fraternal affiliation is with the Masonic order, in which he is a Knight Templar and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He also belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic and the M. E. Church, having been for many years one of the trustees of the congregation to which he belongs. In 1867 he was married in Ohio, to Virginia Watson, a native of that State. They have no children.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pg. 554-555.