submitted by Ronna Thuman, November 14, 2007

Dec. 31, 1878 (hand written)

At 4 o’clock this morning, at this home in this city, after a lingering illness, peacefully passed away the spirit of Dr. J. M. Robertson.

Dr. Robertson was one of the oldest medical practioners in this State. He was born in Washington county, Pa., Oct 14th, 1804, and had therefore reached the ripe age of 74 years. He was of Scotch parentage. His father died when he was only six years of age and his mother when he was 16. He was thus left orphaned and destitute, but not altogether friendless. He found a kind patron in Dr. William Stephenson, of Cannonsburg, Pa., (whose name the only son of the subject of this sketch perpetuates) who aided him in completing his education. He received literary culture at Jefferson College, Cannonsburg, Pa., and graduated at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1827. For six years, he practiced his profession with moderate success in Lancaster county, Pa., but in 1833 he moved to Franklin county, Ohio. Remaining there six years, he again moved westward, stopping in 1838 at Burlington, in this State, where he opened a drug store and did a good business for several years, till he entered into an unfortunate partnership by which his gains were nearly all swept away. Finding some wild lands in Louisa county on his hands, he removed to Columbus City, where he resumed the practice of medicine, continuing it for 26 years, during which time he fully repaired his pecuniary losses and gained a reputation and competence upon which he was able to rest in case during his declining years.

In 1869 his son, Dr. W. S. Robertson, who has attained a State-wide reputation as a practitioner, removed to Muscatine for a more extended field of operations. In 1870 the father followed and continued his professional practice till 1874, when he retired from active life.

On the 5th of March, 1829, the subject of this sketch married Miss Maria Armstrong, of Lancaster county, Pa., who survives him. The son above mentioned is the only child by this marriage.

In politics the deceased was an old-time Whig and then a Republican. I865 he was elected to the State Senate from Louisa county and served four years with honor to himself and acceptably to his constituents.

At the age of 14 years he joined the Presbyterian church and remained a consistent member to the end, holding the office of elder for many years and being valued for his active labors both in the church and in the Sabbath School. His end, as already intimated, was peaceful. The language of the poet Bryant could truthfully be applied to him:

“Sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one that wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and He’s sown to pleasant dreams.”

His last illness dates from the middle of July. He was taken to his bed on the 2d of August, since which time with the exception of about two weeks, he was confined closely to his house. His malady was Bright’s disease of the kidneys.

The funeral will take place at 10 o’clock Thursday forenoon from the Presbyterian church.

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