Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 226 & 229
submitted by Jo Ann Carlson, Sept. 8, 2007

The Eternal Rest
Death of Dr. William. S. Robertson.

Jan 20 1887 (hand written)

The sad end has come! Dr. William S. Robertson died at his residence in this city, at 8:30 oíclock this morning. There were present at his bedside the weeping wife and two children, Rev. S.H. Parvin, Dr. H.M. Dean and Mrs. T.G. Taylor. The last moments seemed painless and death came like the closing of the eyes in slumber.

This mournful event has been anticipated by the heart-broken family, by the anxious host of personal friends and the whole community for several days, but it finds one and all unprepared to meet the force of its unpitying reality. In looking back at that recent cheering, hearty, handsome presence in our midst, filling, indeed, as it seemed to his friends, a larger measure of earnest, useful life than any of us, this abrupt and woful consummation of so bright and brave a career is incredible and overwhelming.

All that we have of our beloved friend and fellow citizen in his past. Dr. William Stevenson Robertson was born at Georgetown, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, June 5, 1831. He received his academic education at Knox College, Illinois, and besides his studies in his fatherís office, the late Dr. James. M. Robertson, he prepared himself for his profession at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. In March, 1856, he located at Columbus City for the practice of medicine and surgery, and was enjoying the full tide of success, and was enjoying the full tide of success, when the out-break of the Rebellion appealed to his patriotic ardor and he entered at once upon the enlistment of a company of volunteers for the service of the Union.

He went to the front as Major of the 5th I.V.L. and participated in every march, siege, skirmish and battle of that gallant regiment till the 23d of July, 1862. On May 22nd of that year, the commander of the regiment, Col. W.H. Worthington, was killed, and the officers of the regiment, by ballot, unanimously declared their desire for Major Robertsonís promotion to the Coloneley. Presuming that the sentiment of the regiment would be recognized by the appointing power, and having imperative business calling him, at the suggestion of Gen. Halleck, he resigned his majorate, with the understanding that he would rejoin his command at once on receipt of his commission as Colonel. The preference shown by the regiment for Major Robertsonís promotion was due to no prejudice against the Lieutenant Colonel except in regard to that officerís ignorance of our language and unfamiliarity with the American tactics, a preference which did not weight with Gov. Kirkwood, who deemed it inadvisable to show the least apparent slight to the American-German contingent in the volunteer corps, for any cause, and Major Robertson did not return to the army. Had he brooked the natural and forcible resentments of the situation and rejoined his regiments it is believed that his brave sword would have carved for him one of the most brilliant careers in the war.

Spending an interval in hospital practice in New York City, in 1869, he removed to Muscatine, which has since been his permanent home. On the 22d of December, 1869, he accepted the chair of theory and practice of medicine and clinical medicine in the medical department of the state University, which he continued to fill with distinction, to the date of his fatal illness. His other relations to his profession have been of equally high rank. It was owing to his single and zealous prosecution of the project before the Legislature, that a bill passed providing for an asylum for feebleminded children, and resulting in the magnificent State Institution at Glenwood, Dr. Robertson being made Present of its Board of Trustees. He also filled the office of President respectively of the Muscatine County Medical Society, Eastern Iowa District Medical Society, and Iowa State Medical Society, and was President of the Iowa State Board of Health at the time of his death, To no other member of the profession, of whatever school, is the State indebted for its admirable sanitary regulations in respect to infectious diseases, or for the reforming character of its medical practice, as to Dr. Robertson.

Deceased had an equally active part in the public and progressive affairs of his city. Besides taking a pecuniary share in such concerns as our Water Works and other public enterprises, he was a liberal investor in Muscatine manufactures, and was always among the first to promote the encouragement of every project having the good and prosperity of the city in view. He took great interest in preserving the veteran associations of the war, was elected Colonel of the Muscatine county regiment of veterans, commander of Shelby Norman Post in our city, General of the Eastern Iowa Division of Veterans, and Memorial Day was often honored with his Presidency and eloquent addresses. Dr. Robertson was also a distinguished member of the Masonic Order, and at his death was Grand Commander of DeMolay Commandery No. 1., of this city. He was a communicant of the First Presbyterian church of Muscatine and none stood before him in his liberal support of it service and charities. On the 10th of June, 1856, Dr. Robertson was wedded to Miss Annie E. Charlton, of Cattaraugus county, New York, a lady whose rare virtues and accomplishments have been the joy and solace of her companion, and whose loving devotion has been luminously crowned in the trying and woeful period now closed. Of five children, two survive, a son, Charles, a student in the State University, and a daughter, Nellie, attending school in our city.

The causes leading to Dr. Robertsonís prostration and paralysis appear to have been of the character which laid Gen. Logan in the grave. Of a highly sensitive organization and temperament, the Doctor had felt the losses he and his business associates had sustained, both in the embarrassments following the enforced evacuation of the Indian Territory by his cattle company, and the burning of the Muscatine Manufacturing Co.ís mill and lumber; but these things had been borne and time given to recover from their depression. There was another reverse, if it may be so called, which struck this highly-strung spirit of the Doctor to the life, from which he could not recover. On the 30th of October last, there appeared in the Tribune in this city, a brutal and wanton attack from an anonymous correspondent upon Dr. Robertsonís reputation and career as a soldier. Like Gen. Logan, under a similar assault from a Cincinnati paper, our spirited townsman felt the blow as none other ever dealt him. His whole nature kindled into flame at the outrage, and his friends and the public shared with him in his indignation. He could not dispossess his mind of so false and wanton a calumny. It was like a mortal arrow that could not be withdrawn. On the 9th of November he went to Des Moines to attend a meeting of the State Board of Health and was accompanied by his wife. They returned on the 12th, when the Doctor sought his couch, never to leave it again in life! General Logan was counted the bravest of the brave, but if his grand service for his country could not silence his detractors, only one thing could-his death. So with our gallant townsman, to whom his patriotism and his record on the field were dearer to him than life.


The Old Settlers.
Memorial Proceedings on the Deaths of G.W. Corriell and Dr. Robertson.

The Old Settlers met at the City Hall Jan. 21, 1887, on occasion of the deaths of Dr. William S. Robertson and George W. Corriell.

The president of the society presented a memorial on George W. Corriell, who died Jan. 13, 1887, aged 57 years, as follows:

    Believing it to be the desire of every Old Settler that the death of one who has resided in our city thirty-seven years should be noticed. In the summer of 1850 Mr. Corriell and myself worked on the store building of Gen. J.G. Gordon. We were beginners in learning our trade. It was Mr. Corriellís first brick work in the State. Since then he has had charge of the brick-work of more buildings than any other man in our city. Commencing, as he did, at the brick age of our town and following his trade with untiring energy until the time of his death, it can well be said that he has done his share of building our now substantial city. Mr. Corriell would be called one of our useful men-a practical, hard-working man-who gave employment to a large number of others, and who was always respected and esteemed. In his religious and social standing there were few, if any, held a more prominent place; on moral and educational questions he could be found on the side calculated to better the condition of his fellow man. In his death his family, the city and the Old Settlers have sustained a loss that cannot easily be replaced; therefore be it

    Resolved, That we tender our sympathy and condolence to his family and relatives.

Mr. Walton also presented the following historical statement in reference to Dr. Robertson, to go upon the records:

    In June, 1838, the steamboat Brazil brought to this territory, now the State of Iowa, eight person, who settled in this county as follows: Alonzo Brockway, James Brockway, Asa Walton, Mrs. Amos Walton and her two sons, Josiah P. Walton and John W. Walton, Mrs. James Robertson, her son, the late Dr. William S. Robertson, on whose death we have met here to take action (his father, Dr. James Robertson, having preceded them). Of these eight person there are but survivors: Alonzo Brockway and myself.
*** continued on page 229 ***

The late Dr. William S. Robertson and his mother landed at Burlington, on the night of June 10, 1833. He spent his boyhood days there until 1844, when the Robertson family moved to Columbus City. Here he commenced the practice of medicine with his father. During the following fifteen years, there were few houses in the southwestern portion of the county, that is to say west of Cedar river and south of Nichols, that had not been physicians had a better or more honorable name, or were better respected.

Mr. Bridgman remarked that it was his privilege to know Dr. Robertson since he was a little boy in Burlington, playing in front of his fatherís drugstore, and paid a very high tribute to his qualities as a physician, citizen and Christian-a most prominent and useful citizen in all the walks of life.

A. Jackson bore testimony to the very able abilities of both Mr. Corriell and Dr. Robertson; both in their line excelled, and leaving lasting evidences of their usefulness among us.

John Mahin, mentioning instances of Dr. Robertsonís ability and kindness of heart, bore testimony to his superior abilities in his profession.

R.B. Huff said he had known Dr. Robertson all his life and said he was boy and man, the freest from anything wrong as any man he ever knew. He was eminent in his profession and sought after for his abilities as a physician and friend, and had a State reputation as an able physician and loyal to all that is best in human nature.

A committee having been appointed or resolutions, the following, introduced by Mr. Mahin, were adopted:

    On the Death of Dr. Robertson.

    Dr. Wm. S. Robertson died, at his home, in this city, Jan. 20th, 1887. The Old Settlers of Muscatine are profoundly sensible of the calamity which has bereft their city of one of the first, if not the foremost, of its citizens. In some important respects Dr. Robertson had not a peer among us. In the breadth and advancement of his professional education; his long-continued and masterful contributions to medical science, as one of its most honored professors at the State University; his benevolent activity in the same cause, as projector of the institution at Glenwood for feeble-minded children and presidency of its board of trustees; his intelligent and zealous presidency of the State Board of Health and labors in securing the best sanitary conditions for society and the State, and in his earnest and efficient service for promoting the worth and dignity of his profession, he had few peers in Iowa. In other fields of usefulness he has shown an equal nobility of character. Though wedded by long study and successful practice to his calling, on the first appeal of an imperiled Union, he abandoned the lancet for the sword, and gave proof, in every emergency of camp and field, of possessing the fortitude, the bravery and self-sacrifice which distinguish the true hero and patriot. His active and liberal church membership witnessed to his being a devout and generous believer in the grand things which make for peace and good will to men. He bore the same lofty standard of chivalry and brotherly sentiment in Masonic circles and his successive and unbroken election as Grand Commander of DeMolay Commandery No. 1 attest the noble esteem felt for him in this ancient and honorable Order. In civic life he was the generous, public-spirited citizen; in the home and private circle, the loving and faithful husband, the devoted father, and the noble friend. The death of such a man is an irremediable loss, which cannot be measured or expressed; it can only be mourned.

    But what shall we say to the sorely afflicted family, widowed and orphaned, deprived of the protecting care and council of husband and father? We can only leave them to that Higher Power and ask for them His tender care.

    ďAnd when on bended knee, with willing lips they kiss the chastening rod, and thus learn the way through the golden gate to the great white throne of God.Ē

    To the widow and children whose home and life have been desolated by this providence, the Old Settlers of Muscatine respectfully tender the fellowship of their sorrow and sympathy, and the Secretary of this society is instructed to enter this memorial upon the records of the society.

A reunion meeting of the Old Settlers was thought desirable and time and place left to the discretion of President Walton.

On motion adjourned.

J.P. Walton, Pres.
P.Jackson, Sec.

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