Robert Boal, M.D. is honored by the Cincinnati street name on Prospect Hill.
Here are 3 reports of his biography,

followed by evidence of his relationship with Abraham Lincoln, and formation of the Republican party. 

Lastly, from records of the "Old Settlers Reunion of Marshall County, IL:  speeches and honors in his elder years.

Searched and compiled 2005 March by
john r schmidt, M.S.   john@NCAD.Net
426 Boal St.
425 Pueblo St. 45202

2008 Aug 22 -  In 2005, #1 and #3 were discovered at which today notes:  "history and genealogy websites are no longer available."

2009 02 07  In this version, for readability, most meta-data has been stripped and most links updated. 

2013 11 17  discovered, then on 2015 08 26 corrected:

Thank you for suggestions for improvement, contributions, and other feedback.

 (1806 - 1903)

1.___________________________________________________________________________   Written 1902:

Robert Boal, M.D., veteran physician and surgeon of Illinois, now of Lacon, Marshall County was born near Harrisburg, in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, November 15, 1806, the oldest of a family of four children, his parents being Thomas and Elizabeth (Crain) Boal. Both of his parents were natives of Dauphin County, but of Scotch descent, their ancestors having come to America at an early period. The father was a merchant who, having removed to Cincinnati with his family in 1811, conducted his business there until his death, which occurred in 1816.

Son Robert at 10 then became a member of the family of an uncle, also a resident of Cincinnati, for whom he was named, and, after receiving a rudimentary education in the public schools, took a partial course in the Cincinnati College.  Having determined to enter the medical profession, he spent a year and a half reading medicine with Dr. Wright, of Reading, Ohio, which he afterward continued with Drs. Whitman and Cobb, who were professors in the Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati, which he finally entered as a student, graduating therefrom in 1828. He then began practice at Reading, but four years later returned to Cincinnati, where he continued in practice for three or four years, a part of the time holding the position of Demonstrator of Anatomy in his Alma Mater.

Meanwhile, in 1834, he made a tour through Central Illinois with a view to settling in the State, which he carried into effect two years later, at 30, by his removal with his family to Lacon (then Columbia), Illinois, which continued to be his home until 1862, when, having been appointed Surgeon on the Board of Enrollment for the Fifth Congressional District, he removed to Peoria. His service in this capacity continued until the close of the Civil War in 1865, and, during that period he examined some 5,000 volunteers and drafted men, a large majority of whom were mustered into the service and fought for the preservation of the Union. While discharging the duties of this office and some twenty-five years afterward Dr. Boal continued in the practice of his profession at Peoria, being a prominent member of the Peoria Medical Society, and, for a part of the time, its President, as well as a member of the American and State Medical Associations, of the last of these being elected President in 1882. He was one of the organizers of the Edward Dickinson Medical Club (of Peoria), of whom only three of the nine original members now survive -- Drs. Boal, Steele and Murphy. He was also one of the founders and original incorporators of the Cottage Hospital of Peoria, of which he served for a time as director.

Dr. Boal, while not neglecting his profession, was an earnest opponent of the extension of slavery during the period following the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; and he was one of the potent factors, in this section of the State, in the organization of the Republican party -- being a delegate from his county to the historical convention at Bloomington, in May, 1856, which nominated the first Republican State ticket in the history of the party in Illinois. In 1860 he was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention at Chicago, which nominated Mr. Lincoln for the Presidency for the first time.

The civil positions held by Dr. Boal included those of State Senator from 1844 to 1848, and Representative in the General Assembly for two terms (1854-58) -- during the first of these two terms (1855) being one of the most earnest supporters of Abraham Lincoln for United States Senator, at whose personal request he finally cast his vote for Lyman Trumbull, thereby defeating the hopes of the opposition for the success of their candidate, and contributing to the beginning of the career of one of the most conspicuous members of the United States Senate during the war period, and which was continued for eighteen years. During the session of 1855, he was appointed upon a joint Legislative Committee to investigate the affairs of the State Institutions at Jacksonville, serving as Chairman of the committee, and, on the accession of Governor Bissell in 1857, was appointed one of the Trustees of the Institution, for the Deaf and Dumb -- a position which he occupied continuously by successive reministrations of Governors Yates, Oglesby, Palmer and Beveridge -- for the last five years of the time being President of the Board.

On May 12, 1831, Dr. Boal was married, at Reading, Ohio, to Christiana Walker Sinclair, their wedded life extending over a period of more than fifty years. Mrs. Boal was of Scotch descent, and a lady of intelligence and refinement. She died in June, 1883, leaving, besides her venerable husband, a family of three children -- two sons and one daughter.  Charles T., the older son, is now a business man of Chicago, while the younger son, James Sinclair, studied law, and was for some ten years Assistant United States District Attorney, under various administrations, but died in 1888. The daughter, Clara B., became the wife of Col. Greenbury L. Fort, who was a soldier of the War of the Rebellion, and afterward served for four terms as a member of congress from the Lacon District.

About 1893 Dr. Boal removed from Peoria to his former home at Lacon, where, in the ninety-sixth year of his age, with unimpaired faculties and remarkable vitality, he is spending the evening of a busy and earnest life with his daughter, Mrs. Greenbury L. Fort. His career has been as conspicuous for its usefulness to the State and the community in which he resides, as it has been for its long continuance and the results which have been achieved within the period which it has covered. Dr. Boal is at the present time (1902) the oldest living alumnus of the Medical College of Ohio -- now the Cincinnati University -- at which he graduated nearly three-quarters of a century ago.

From the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II. Chicago and Peoria Munsell Publishing Company, 1902. Pg. 483.

2. ________________________________________________________________
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 northern 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 required 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 turning 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 convinced 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 has 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.

3.___________________________________________________________________  1890
Robert Boal, M.D.
This name will at once be recognized as that of a physician well versed in the theory and skilled in the practice of his profession, who has for years enjoyed a fine practice and an exalted reputation in medical circles. It will be recognized also as that of one who has been connected with the legislative work of the State and with her benevolent institutions, in every position to which he has been called, performing the duties devolving upon him with discrimination, courage and zeal. No resident of Peoria is more deserving of representation in a Biographical Album than Dr. Boal, the main facts in whose history it is our purpose to relate.
Dr. Boal comes of excellent parentage, being a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Crain) Boal, natives of Dauphin County, Pa. The father was a merchant who, having removed to Cincinnati in 1811, conducted his business there until 1816, when he was called from time to eternity. His widow subsequently removed to Dayton, where she became the wife of John H. Williams, to whom she bore a daughter, Eliza J. This daughter became the wife of Judge Charles Sherman, of Cleveland, a brother of Gen. W. T. and Senator John Sherman. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sherman were the parents of two daughters, who became the wives of Don Cameron and Gen. Miles respectively.

The subject of this sketch is the eldest of his father's children, and was born in Dauphin County, Pa. November 15, 1806. He had one brother, William C., who died near St. Charles, Mo., in 1859, and two sisters -- Mrs. Martha McEwen, now living in Montezuma, Ind., and Mrs. Mary Snyder, whose home is in Lacon, this State. His father dying when Robert was but a lad, the latter was taken in charge by an uncle, Robert Boal, for whom he had been named. The uncle was a resident of Cincinnati, where our subject received his rudimental education in the common schools and prosecuted his studies up to the junior year in the Cincinnati College. Desiring to make the profession of medicine his own, he then began its study with Dr. Wright, of Reading, Ohio. After a year and a half spent in the office of that gentleman, he returned to Cincinnati and entered that of Profs.Whitman & Cobb, both of whom filled chairs in the Ohio Medical College, at Cincinnati. He finally entered the institution from which he was graduated in 1828, immediately thereafter beginning practice at Reading, Ohio.
Dr. Boal remained in the village mentioned four years, after which he opened an office in Cincinnati, remaining there until 1836. For three or four years of the time he was Demonstrator of Anatomy in his Alma Mater. In 1836 he came to the Prairie State, locating at Lacon, where he continued to reside until 1865, at which time he changed his location to Peoria. In 1844 he was elected State Senator on the Whig ticket and for four years gave his attention to the interests of his consituency and the State at large. In 1854 he was sent to the House, re-elected in 1856, and at the close of the session, in 1857, was appointed by Gov. Bissell, Trustee of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Jacksonville. To that position he was reappointed by Richard Yates in 1861, and the appointment was continued by Govs. Oglesby, Palmer and Beveridge, the entire term of his service being seventeen years, during the latter part of which he was President of the Board.
In 1862 Dr. Boal was appointed Surgeon of the Board of Enrollment for the Fifth District, in which capacity he served until the close of the war. Since that time he has been ardently pursuing the duties pertaining to his profession, for which he is so well qualified and in which he takes great delight. He is President of the Peoria Medical Society and a member of the American Medical Association. In 1882 he was made President of the State Society, holding the office one term. He can justly claim to be one of the makers of the Republican party, to which he has adhered without a shadow of turning since its organization, he being a delegate to the Convention at Bloomington, in 1856, that formed the party in Illinois. When a member of the legislature he and the late Judge Stephen T. Logan voted persistently for Abraham Lincoln, until entreated by their favorite to cast their ballots for Trumbull and thus prevent the election of Matteson. They did as they were requested, and, thanks to the magnanimity of Lincoln, Trumbull was elected.
The marriage of Dr. Boal and Miss Christiana W. St. Clair was celebrated in 1831, and was followed by a happy wedded life of more than half a century. Mrs. Boal crossed the river of death in June, 1883, leaving to her dear ones that best of all legacies -- a record of kindly deeds springing from a noble character. She was the mother of two sons and one daughter. The first-born, Charles T., now resides in Chicago, engaged in the wholesale stove and iron business, his establishment being known as the Charles T. Boal Stove Company. The younger son, James St. Clair, died in Chicago in 1888. He was a lawyer by profession, and for the last ten years of his life First Assistant United States Attorney in the Garden City. The daughter, Clara B., is now living in Lacon; she is the widow of Col. G. L. Fort, who represented what was then the Eighth Congressional District of Illinois, for eight years, and who died January 13, 1883.

Portrait and Biographical Album of Peoria County, Illinois, Chicago Publishing Company, 1890, pg. 805.

Boal involvement in Abolition in Cincinnati 1834

Dr. Boal - Founding Member of the Illinois Medical Society

Association with Abraham Lincoln

Monday, May 1, 1843. Pekin, IL.

Whig convention of seventh congressional district meets. Lincoln, one of eight delegates from Sangamon, takes active part. As delegation chairman, he withdraws E. D. Baker's name as candidate when it appears certain Hardin is to be nominee. Lincoln moves that delegates, as individuals, favor Baker as candidate for Congress in 1844. Lacon Illinois Gazette, 6 May 1843. He meets Dr. Robert Boal of Lacon at convention.



to Benjamin. F. James Esq. Springfield, Ills., Dec. 6, 1845.
Dear Sir: To succeed, I must have 17 votes in convention. To secure them, I think I may safely claim Sangamon 8, Menard 2, Logan 1, making 11, so that if you and other friends can secure Dr. Boal's entire senatorial district, that is, Tazewell 4, Woodford 1, and Marshall 1, it just covers the case. . . .
Upon the whole, it is my intention to give him the trial, unless clouds should rise, which are not yet discernible. This determination you need not, however, as yet, announce in your paper, at least not as coming from me. . . .
In doing this, let nothing be said against Hardin . . . nothing deserves to be said against him. Let the pith of the whole argument be ``Turn about is fair play.'' Yours very truly,
P.S. . . . A. L.



6 December 1845. Lincoln writes and signs assignment of errors in Murphy v. Summerville (SC).

Wednesday, January 7, 1846. Springfield, IL.  Patterson et ux. v. Edwards et al., slander case from Mason County, is argued in Supreme Court by Minshall for plaintiff and Lincoln for defendant.

SPRINGFIELD, January 7, 1846. Dr. ROBERT BOAL, Lacon, Ill.

DEAR DOCTOR:--Since I saw you last fall, I have often thought of writing to you, as it was then understood I would, but, on reflection, I have always found that I had nothing new to tell you. All has happened as I then told you I expected it would-- Baker's declining, Hardin's taking the track, and so on.
If Hardin and I stood precisely equal, if neither of us had been to Congress, or if we both had, it would only accord with what I have always done, for the sake of peace, to give way to him; and I expect I should do it. That I can voluntarily postpone my pretensions, when they are no more than equal to those to which they are postponed, you have yourself seen. But to yield to Hardin under present circumstances seems to me as nothing else than yielding to one who would gladly sacrifice me altogether. This I would rather not submit to. That Hardin is talented, energetic, usually generous and magnanimous, I have before this affirmed to you and do not deny. You know that my only argument is that "turn about is fair play." This he, practically at least, denies.
If it would not be taxing you too much, I wish you would write me, telling the aspect of things in your country, or rather your district; and also, send the names of some of your Whig neighbors, to whom I might, with propriety, write. Unless I can get some one to do this, Hardin, with his old franking list, will have the advantage of me. My reliance for a fair shake (and I want nothing more) in your country is chiefly on you, because of your position and standing, and because I am acquainted with so few others. Let me hear from you soon.
Yours truly,

Results of Lincoln v Hardin for Whig Rep  
Tuesday, July 21, 1846.
Near Henry, IL.
[Dr. Robert Boal, of Lacon, in letter to Richard Yates August 25, 1860, wrote:]

"Cartwright sneaked through this part of the district after Lincoln, and grossly mis-represented him."

[By early June, 1849, Lincoln was personally mobilizing support from Illinois Whigs in behalf of his candidacy for the commissionership of the General Land Office. See Collected Works, II, 50-54.]   [Thomas Ewing]
From Robert Boal to Abraham Lincoln1, June 7, 1849
Dear Sir
Yours of the 3d inst2 was received on yesterday, I enclosed you will find what I hope will meet your wishes-- Mr Ford has expressed his views in an editorial which he will send you, -- I took the liberty of showing yours of the 3d to me, to J J. Fane Esqr-- Having some personal acquaintance with Secty Ewing, he has written to him upon the subject of your appointment We all feel anxious that you should get the appointment, and would do any thing in our powers to effect it. With my best wishes for your success
I am now as always
Your friend
Robert Boal
Lacon June 7th 1849
[After deciding to run for the Senate in 1854-55, Lincoln corresponded broadly with political associates to determine the leanings of new members of the Illinois General Assembly. Those members would determine his success or failure.] [Archibald Williams]  [Richard Yates]
From Robert Boal to Abraham Lincoln1, November 15, 1854  [Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]

Lacon Nov. 15th 1854
Dear Sir
Your letter of the 12th inst.2 is just received.-- In reply, I will only say, you may rely upon my support for U. S. Senator -- and no one of your friends will feel more gratified to see you occupy that position than myself.
I am sorry to hear of the defeat of Williams & Yates, as I had hoped our state would send an Unbroken Anti Nebraska delegation to the next Congress-- Yet after all we have done well, and can congratulate ourselves on having achieved a "famous victory"
Yours truly
Robert Boal,gottscho,detr,nfor,wpa,aap,cwar,bbpix,cowellbib,calbkbib,consrvbib,bdsbib,dag,fsaall,gmd,pan,vv,presp,varstg,suffrg,nawbib,horyd,wtc,toddbib,mgw,ncr,ngp,musdibib,hlaw,papr,lhbumbib,rbpebib,lbcoll,alad,hh,aaodyssey,magbell,bbcards,dcm,raelbib,runyon,dukesm,lomaxbib,mtj,gottlieb,aep,qlt,coolbib,fpnas,aasm,scsm,denn,relpet,amss,aaeo,mff,afc911bib,mjm,mnwp,rbcmillerbib,molden,ww2map,mfdipbib,afcnyebib,klpmap,hawp,omhbib,rbaapcbib,mal,ncpsbib,ncpm,lhbprbib,ftvbib,afcreed,aipn,cwband,flwpabib,wpapos,cmns,psbib,pin,coplandbib,cola,tccc,curt,mharendt,lhbcbbib,eaa,haybib,mesnbib,fine,cwnyhs,svybib,mmorse,afcwwgbib,mymhiwebib,uncall,afcwip,mtaft,manz,llstbib,fawbib,berl,fmuever,cdn,upboverbib,mussm,cic,afcpearl,awh,awhbib,sgp,wright,lhbtnbib,afcesnbib,hurstonbib,mreynoldsbib,spaldingbib,sgproto
[After deciding to run for the Senate in 1854-55, Lincoln corresponded broadly with political associates to determine the leanings of new members of the Illinois General Assembly. Those members would determine his success or failure.]

[Section 7 of Article 3 of Illinois's 1848 Constitution forbade a member of the General Assembly to accept an appointment to the United States Senate during the term for which he had been elected.]

[For Lincoln's response see Collected Works, II, 289.]

Peoria Novr 16th 1854
from Elihu N. Powell 

Dear Lincoln
Your favor of the 10th instant2 only came to hand last evening I embrace the first opportunity to reply
Our election here terminated gloriously We have elected Grove and Henderson in this Representative District And Dr Arnold to the Senate in this Senatorial District Dr. Boal is also elected to the House from the Woodford Marshal & Putnam District all of whom are good Whigs and I think all are for you And you may rest assured that I will use all my powers with them and any others in your behalf.

But allow me to call your attention to a matter connected with the subject of your letter well worthy of your attention and perhaps immediate action You I see have been elected as a member of the Legislature. Allow me to call your attention to the 7th Section of the 3rd Article of our new Constitution which makes you ineligable for the Senate of the U S. Now if you decline accepting the seat in the legislature and so notify the Governor and have a new election this will save your bacon I merely suggest this as worthy of your immediate consideration It has been talked of here amongst some of us as your being the choice for Senator and the fact of your ineligibility has been mentioned which will have a tendency to injure your prospects unless it is removed immediately Let me hear from you on the receipt of this letter on this point Are you not ineligable if you take your seat? Can you not decline serving before you take your seat and have another election and save yourself? Be sure to write me immediately.

Again let me repeat I am for you against all others from any quarter and shall be glad to do what I can for you. I believe we will have an Anti Nebraska majority in both houses Now as whigs we must be liberal in the organization of the Senate & House in the disposal of the offices between Whigs & Anti Nebraska democrats, if we want to get the U S Senator Is not this right These are my veiws

I hope to be in Springfield in December and shall probably be there when the legislature meets. I do not know of any office I want there unless it should be to bear expenses while log rolling for friends

But write me fully on receipt of this for I can do you good of the difficulty is removed suggested above



E.N. Powell

[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]

Lacon Dec. 7th 1854
Dear Sir
Your letter of the 29th reached me two days since. I think your suggestion as to the course of your friends in reference to the Senatorial election, a good one, and if carried out by them (as I hope and believe it will be) gives you a fair prospect of an election;
So far as any effort of mine, can aid in securing such a result, it will not be spared, and in any way in which I can assist you, my services are at your disposal-- I will leave home on Friday and reach your City on Saturday morning previous to the commencement of the session; in the mean time should any thing occur, to change the present aspect of affairs, please let me know-- Mrs B. will be with me during the Session, and I will take it as a favor, if you will see whether I can obtain a room for at the "City Hotel" for her & myself, and upon what terms, & write me? I prefer a Public to a private House--

I learned to day that you have resigned your seat in the House and that a Special election is ordered for the 22 dist, Will this step affect your prospects favorably, or other wise? Can the opposition make any thing out of it.? Please write me soon,
Your friend
Robert Boal
(By J. 0. Cunningham.)    {at 1900 Commemorative of this Convention, Dr. Boal was honorary Vice President}
No meeting of the people of the State of Illinois was ever held which effected greater results to the State, the Nation and to those who participated in its deliberations, than did that which assembled at Major's Hall in the City of Bloomington, on the 29th day of May, 1856.
Another assertion there made as to those named as participants in its deliberations and as to its effects upon them. is also true. Coming from the doors of Major's Hall at the close of that convention was Abraham Lincoln, a future President of the United States. the Emancipator of a race, whose memory the wide world reveres; there came also Richard Yates, the great War Governor of Illinois, who was eminent as a United States Senator; another Governor of Illinois, no less distinguished as a Senator and as a Major General in the War of the Rebellion. John M. Palmer, was of the number; there came a future Cabinet Minister and United States Senator, Orville H. Browning; there were also William Pitt Kellogg, Burton C. Cook, Thomas J. Henderson, Abner C. Harding, John Wentworth, Thomas J. Turner, Owen Lovejoy, and perhaps others who served terms in Congress of various periods; there was also Norman B. Judd, who became a foreign minister; there were well known citizens who afterwards became members of the General Assembly, among whom maybe named A. W. Mack, J. X. Eustace, Isaac C. Pugh, Dr. Robert Boal, Nathaniel Niles, Isaac L. Morrison, John 11. Bryant, H. C. Johns, and Washington Bushnell who also filled the office of Attorney General of this State; there were those who before and after this date distinguished themselves as leaders of public opinion in the capacity of editors of newspapers, among whom may be named D. S. Parker, of Kankakee, Geo. T. Brown, of Alton, George Schneider, of Chicago, B. F. Shaw, of Dixon, W. H. Bailhache, of Springfield, C. H. Ray, Joseph Medill and J. L. Scripps, of Chicago. It is but just to say that Mr. Selby was prevented from being at the convention on account of having suffered from an assault made upon him by a ruffianly opponent.

Sunday, Sept. 14, 1856.

Dr. R. BOAL, Lacon, Ill.

MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 8th inviting me to be with [you] at
Lacon on the 30th is received. I feel that I owe you and our
friends of Marshall a good deal, and I will come if I can; and if
I do not get there, it will be because I shall think my efforts
are now needed farther south.

Present my regards to Mrs. Boal, and believe [me], as ever,

Your friend,



Sunday, September 14, 1856. Springfield, IL. Browse Month <month.php?date_value=1856-09-14>

Lincoln writes Robert Boal, promising to be at Lacon September 30, 1856 if possible. He also urges Frederick Hecker, exiled German revolutionist of St. Clair County, to speak in Springfield on 25th, "when we expect to have a large mass-meeting." He declines invitation to speak in Iowa on 23rd. Iowa is safe, but in Illinois "much hard work is still to be done." Abraham Lincoln to Robert S. Boal


14 September 1856, CW <show_cite.php?corresp=books_Basler2>, 2:375;

Abraham Lincoln to Friedrich K. F. Hecker <;rgn=div1;view=text;idno=lincoln2;node=lincoln2%3A398>, 14 September 1856, CW <show_cite.php?corresp=books_Basler2>, 2:376;

Abraham Lincoln to Henry O'Conner <;rgn=div1;view=text;idno=lincoln2;node=lincoln2%3A399>, 14 September 1856,;rgn=div1;view=text;idno=lincoln2;node=lincoln2%3A416

Dr. R. Boal Springfield,
Dear Sir: Decr. 25. 1856

Yours of the 22nd. is just received.

I suppose the ``Chenery House'' is likely to be the Republican Head Quarters. I find the best that can be done there is to give you the room you had two years ago, or one like it, at $21 per week, with fire and light, for the two persons. I do not believe you can do better, at any of the Hotels. If you conclude to take it, Mr. Chenery wishes you to write him immediately.

When I was at Chicago two weeks ago I saw Mr. Arnold; [2] and from a remark of his, I inferred he was thinking of the Speakership, though I think he was not anxious about it. He seemed most anxious for harmony generally, and particularly that the contested seats from Peoria and McDonough might be rightly determined.

Since I came home I had a talk with Cullom, [3] one of our American representatives here; and he says he is for you for Speaker, and also that he thinks, all the Americans will be for you, unless it be Gorin [4] of Macon, of whom he can not speak.

If you would like to be Speaker go right up and see Arnold. He is talented, a practiced debater; and, I think, would do himself more credit on the floor, than in the Speaker's seat. Go and see him; and if you think fit, show him this letter. Your friend as ever


[1]   ALS, owned by H. T. Morgan, Peoria, Illinois.
[2]   Isaac N. Arnold, representative from Cook County.
[3]   Shelby M. Cullom.
[4]   Jerome R. Gorin.


2008 02 07:  updated site:

One of Mr. Lincoln's warm friends was Dr. Robert Boal, of Lacon, Illinois. Telling of a visit he paid to the White House soon after Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, he said: "I found him the same Lincoln as a struggling lawyer and politician that I did in Washington as President of the United States, yet there was a dignity and self-possession about him in his high official authority. I paid him a second call in the evening. He had thrown off his reserve somewhat, and would walk up and down the room with his hands to his sides and laugh at the joke he was telling, or at one that was told to him. I remember one story he told to me on this occasion.

"Tom Corwin, of Ohio, had been down to Alexandria, Va., that day and had come back and told Lincoln a story which pleased him so much that he broke out in a hearty laugh and said: 'I must tell you Tom Corwin's latest. Tom met an old man at Alexandria who knew George Washington, and he told Tom that George Washington often swore. Now, Corwin's father had always held the father of our country up as a faultless person and told his son to follow in his footsteps.
"'"Well," said Corwin, "when I heard that George Washington was addicted to the vices and infirmities of man, I felt so relieved that I just shouted for joy."'"


End of current findings of Boal's relation to Lincoln.

The Legacy of Dr Robert Boal

Lacon is the oldest town in Putnam , Marshall, Bureau, or Stark counties, and one of the oldest in Northern Illinois. The site was slected early in 1831, by Gen. Jonathan Babb and Maj. Henry Filer, of Somerset, Ohio, who left a sum of money with Col. Strawn, a farmer residing in the vicinity, to enter the fractional tract of land “adjoining what is known as Strawn’s Landing,” at the next Government land sales in Springfield. It was purchased in July, and a small town (130 lots) laid off upon it the 6th of August, 1831, to which the name Columbia was given. The town remained unoccupied, except when the rangers in the Black Hawk war met upon its site to be enlisted or afterwards to perform guard duty, until the autumn of the next year, when a small frame house was put up by Henry K. Cassell, but not made ready for occupancy.
In the spring of 1833 another building was erected by Elisha Swan, a young trader who had been selling goods for several months at the bluff back of the town. He removed to Columbia the same season, with his family, and opened a small store. They were the first white inhabitants of Lacon. The Indians had not yet altogether fled the country; and parties of them frequently came to trade with Mr. Swan. Thaddeus W. Barney, from Western New York, arrived the following year, and built a two-story log cabin on Main street, which was afterwards occupied for hotel purposes. His family becoming sick, he left for St. Louis in the fall of the same year – taking passage, for lack of better facilities, in a large canoe. Mr. Cassell had meanwhile removed to his house in Columbia. George Snyder and family arrived from Ohio the same autumn; also Jesse C. Smith and Jos. H. Johnson, who obtained a donation of lots from Col. Strawn, and commenced the erection of a large steam flouring-mill.
In 1835, Gen. Babb, one of the proprietors of the town, with a number of others, settled in the place, which probably contained fifty persons by the opening of 1836. That was the principal year of colonization. A considerable colony, including Ira I. Fenn, Esq., (who had purchased an undivided half of the town side,) Wm. And Norman Fenn, Wm. Fisher, Sam’l Howe, Sr., Sam’l Howe, Jr., Chas. Barrows, Hartley Malone, Wm. C. and Dr. Robert Boal, D. W. Barney, and others, emigrated from Hamilton, Dayton, and Oxford, Ohio, to make their homes in Columbia (renamed Lacon).

Robert Boal, M.D.
Honored Elder

Taken From the Henry Republican
June 13, 1872

Henry A. Ford
Senator Bangs introduced Mr. Henry A. Ford, who said that he was comparatively a stranger there, but was proud to obey the call to the stand where were farmers and senators about him. He spoke of Lacon as his boyhood home, and was much gratified at coming at this time. He compared the early days with now, and recalled much of early pioneer scenes, and presented them in a very pleasing light. In his boyhood days a playmate and himself had dreams of some day writing up the history of the early days of Marshall and Putnam counties, and he alone had the realization thereof. He spoke of the Blackhawk war, of Capt. Haws mustering a company at Lacon and Hennepin, and recited the names of the officers. He likes these reunions, the recital of the early experiences, which were valuable as local annals and material of history. Spoke of volumes written of family genealogy and history, and its importance, and how these reunions called out the moral, social, and intellectual lessons for the following generations, lessons we all need to heed.
His father came here in 1837, and started his paper in December of that years, and was the oldest publisher, he thought, now living in the state. Hardly a house was here then; prairies full of various kinds of flowers that now have disappeared; alluded to our plain living, simple amusements, complexion of society, political campaigns and worship; the lyceums were well attended, and believed even many present had learned the art of public speaking by this means; he judged them much more useful than the brilliant lecturers substituted today. He alluded to the sickly seasons of a new country, when everybody were walking ghosts, more weak than strong ones, and not enough strong to wait on the weak. Spoke of his Lacon comrades - the Boals, Garriguses and Readers, and others, some in different states, some brave enough to die for their country, and only two left in Lacon - Dr. Reader and Jacob Garrigus. He recounted the 40 years of development of this state, of railroads, mines and stone quarries, manufacturers, the flourishing towns and beautiful farms, and 160,000 population of northern Illinois.
He described the Indian war of 1832, how Phillips was murdered, the organizing of the settlers for defense, the mustering at Columbia (now Lacon) and Hennepin under Col. Shaw, Capt. Barns and John Wier. Recurring to Lacon, Henry J. Cassel built the first house, Elisha Swan the second, the latter’s still standing though clapboarded. A Snider house he remembered with floor of puncheon (slabs.) Another was Thaddeus Barney, who built a cabin; family got sick, and all left for St. Louis in a canoe, one of whom was before him who took that trip. In 1833 came George Snider, Jesse Smith, and Joseph Johnson, and in 1836, the Fishers, Howes, Malones, Dr. Boal and A. W. Barney. At this juncture he drew his written lecture from his pocket, and said he had spent all his time in a talk, and concluded to omit it.
Here followed a song “Auld Lang Syne” by the glee club, and then picnic dinner, the coffee and tea being provided by the citizens of Lacon. After dinner Dr. Boal was the first speaker. He was proud to be here and could hardly find words to express it. Felt that Mr. Ford’s words were all true. Wanted to talk of old scenes, and had met to recount the old battles over again. He gave the experience of doctors of that time, that while circuit preachers had their rough experiences, the doctors rode day and night, in all kinds of weather, in perils and privations, protracted absences, etc. But he always found warm hearts, good meals and comfortable beds where he went. Of the many physicians of those days scarce one remained. They were days of hard work and poor pay - yes, hard work and poor pay. Had taken his pay in wheat often, at 25 cents per bushel, carted it to Chicago to exchange for medicines to use in his practice. Recounted the days when wildcat money abounded, and the postoffice would take only silver money, how people couldn’t raise 18 2/3 cents for letters sent them. His remarks were very entertaining, concluding by reading a long letter from his wife to the old settlers meeting, reciting much history of the early day, which was very interesting.
Father George H. Shaw followed, but the wind and his feeble voice prevented us from hearing a word.
The 1875 Old Settlers Meetings
Taken From the Henry Republican
June 17, 1875 and September 2, 1875
The Old Settlers
Their Annual Pleasure Meeting. - A large Attendance - Oration by Hon. Mark Bangs, and brief Speeches by Dr. Boal of Peoria, Wm. Maxwell, Wm. Atwood, Samuel Henthorn, and others - Dinner, Singing and general good time. - Personals, etc.
Dr Boal's Speech
Dr. Boal was then called on, who was glad to meet with the old settlers; a thousand memories were inspired by this meeting. He set foot in Lacon 41 years ago last November, in the prime of life and vigor of youth. But two houses were there, one belonging to Henry K. Cassell, and another building. In the latter there was a hole cut for a door and one for a window, but the family, being afflicted with ague, became disgusted and left the embryo city. On Crow Creek he visited one Swan, and Col. Babb, the only settlers there. He described a prairie fire, the first he had seen, the flames reaching sky high, making a grand spectacle. Jesse Smith was an old settler, a shrewd far seeing man, who predicted that railroads would some day cross the whole country, and canals and rivers become obsolete for transportation, which prediction is measurably fulfilled. Going back east, he returned later with Mr. Fenn and Wm. Fisher, some six or eight houses having been built during the time. He carried the chain in surveying many of the lots of Lacon.
He called up reminiscences of Col Babb, a humorous character. Babb once accosted a neighbor, who was bringing to market a load of hogs. “Hogs, eh?” “Yes.” “Bringing your fellow creeturs to market, are you.” A joke rich in those days. Babb was also a great Harrison man, and badly afflicted with rheumatism. On his election he illuminated his house, and being in pain, amid groans, would cry out, “Polly, light another candle. Isn’t a democrat feels as bad as I do; Polly, light another candle.” [Great laughter.]
Comparing the early years as now, he brought to mind the saying of John Phenix, how little George Washington knew, having never used a postage stamp, witnessed the telegraph or rode on a railroad. What changes had taken place - in the words of Gov. Reynolds, “everything changed except the sun and the Mississippi.” He should ever bear in heart the friendship and kindness of the people of Marshall county who had made him what he was, or ever hoped to be.
At this juncture, in consequence of the crowd outside it was proposed to repair to the grove, which was agreed to. While a large congregation filed out, the choir struck up “When I can read my title clear,” to the old tune of “Mt. Pisgah,” in which all joined with hearty earnestness and pleasure. On the steps a lady photographer took two negatives of the old settlers. Assembled again in the court house shade, the speaking was resumed.
The 1876 Old Settlers Picnic and Reunion
Taken From the Henry Republican
August 24, 1876
The Old Settlers Meet Together, Shake Hands, and Talk Over "What Had Been." - Dr. Robert Boal the Orator, - A. M. Pool, John Williams, Jeriah Bonham, E. L. Monser, Joshua Myers, and others tell early experiences - A Rousing Good Time
Wednesday last, in the court house yard at Lacon, did the old settlers of this region, once again enjoy a re-union among themselves, their progeny, great and multitudinous "as the sand of the sea for numbers," and everybody else who had the impulse to go and enjoy it. A stage had been erected, and lavishly embellished with the colors of the country, and everything made ready for the "feast of reason and flow of soul." At an early hour the carriages began to enter the city from every direction, and at noon the assemblage to the number of 2000 gathered about the state, till every seat was occupied and standing room very nearly was at a discount. Dinner was the first thing in order, and this, from the baskets, was disposed of in groups about the grounds and in the court house, to the satisfaction of keen appetites and longing vacuums. At half past one, the Whitefield cornet band, commenced a lively air at the state, which was the signal for the commencement of the exercises. Uncle Charley Gapen, P.M., which is postmaster of Lacon, presided.
Dr. Robert Boal
Rev. L. Russell offered the invocation, when Dr. Robert Boal, who was the orator of the occasion, was introduced to the assemblage.

WE had met, he said, to renew the old acquaintance, to pause on the journey of life and look back upon the past. He thought it well to look behind us, and review what had past, that we might more readily enjoy the prospective; to review its triumphs and defeats, its sorrows and joys, its hardships and its blessings, that we might cull wise lessons for the future. It had become a custom to meet here, and with each succeeding year renew the old acquaintance and talk over the past.
The speaker then referred to his coming to this region. On the south was Col Bell; on the north the Russells and Antrims. At Henry, Major Thompson and his son-in-law, Sampson Rowe had the only two houses, while Livingston Roberts lived about where he does now. He alluded to facts how nations and towns sometimes hang upon a slight accident. That three commissioners, sent from Peoria to locate a county seat, were commissioned to look at Henry, but coming to the river, could not get over, and passing on up to Hennepin, finally located it there. Had Henry been selected he thought the counties would not have been divided up (as) they are now, and it might have been the county seat of a large area of county.
After this the Sniders, Culver and Blossom had settled west of Henry, but beyond all was a wide unabated waste. Further south Bonham had settled, Mr. Graves where Sparland now is, the man whose tragic death occurred in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Thompsons settled west of Sparland, and the Drakes at Drake's grove, but none between them and Spoon river, which river was reached by a furrow made to mark a way thereto. He forgot to mention another settler at Henry, as good a man as there was in any country, Charles Nock. He said Henry was a trio of towns, having Dorchester below and Webster above, the latter named after the congressman Daniel Webster. The senator once saw this island, and was told that it was named after him, which contained one house and a saw mill, when he exclaimed, "What a pity to spoil so nice a farm!"
The speaker came to Marshall county in 1836, and emigration flowed in rapidly, and lay out towns on paper. Long Point was one of these paper towns, and he saw his friend Maxwell present, at work on its first log house. At Lacon there was the Swan and Castle cabins and the commencement of a third. The builder of the latter and his family getting the ague, suffered much for three months, and becoming discouraged, deserted the claim, and finally left in a canoe for Peoria and St. Louis.
The speaker spoke at some length of the hospitality of the people of those days, of the internal improvements that were inaugurated, and the "hush money" that was voted to each county to secure the enterprise, indicating, that by a technicality, Marshall was cheated out of its share in the $2,000,000 Abner Moon pocketing it. He alluded to the hard times of those days, the great debt involved, and the final recovery of its credit by selling its scrap iron, the imposition of the two mill tax, etc.

He referred in glowing terms to our free school system, by which we are enabled to discharge the high duty of citizenship; of the war for the union, and how we had come out of its death throes better than ever; how 4,000,000 slaves had become freemen; and of the sainted Lincoln, who had never abused his power.

He alluded to the dead of the old settlers of the past year, reading the names of Caleb Mathis, Mrs. Alanson Morgan, Mrs. David Snider, Mrs. Harrison Gregory, Mrs. Mary Garrigus, George W. Myers, Dritzita Myers, and Lewis Layman.
Ye Olden Tyme
The 1878 Old Settlers Reunion
Taken From the Henry Republican
August 22, 1878
Speeches by Messrs. Boal, Haws, Dent, Russell, Burns, Gallaher, Fort and Mrs. Bullman
Dr. Boal's Address
Dr. Boal commenced his remarks by saying that two years ago, he was enexpectedly called upon to supply the place of one of the distinguished citizens of the county, Hon. T. M. Shaw, who was unavoidably prevented from addressing them, and today, found himself in the same predicament, coming before them as the substitute for another of their old and honored citizens, Judge Bangs, whose official duties kept him away. He regarded it as a great personal compliment that he had been selected upon these two occasions to fill the place of these eminent "old settlers." He regretted their disappointment, and was sorry he could so inadequately supply their places. At an "old settlers" meeting, the mind instinctively goes back to the past, and the places and actors of bygone days, in various portions of the county, are brought to our remembrance. In bringing before you today the names of old settlers, only those will be mentioned who from the public or official position they occupied, or whose marked traits of character, or some peculiar incident connected with their lives, rendered them more generally known than others.
On the east side of the river we had Wm. Maxwell, one of the first commissioners of the county, who is still living, a respected and honored citizen. Col. Bell, who represented the county in the legislature, Robert Barnes, one of the commissioners of Putnam county when it included the territory of what is now Bureau, Stark and Marshall counties, and for many years subsequently an upright and popular magistrate. George H. Shaw and Charles S. Edwards, both of whom occupied public positions in the county, with honor to themselves and acceptably to the people. Gen. Jonathan Babb, one of the proprietors of the city of Lacon, a shrewd, intelligent man, of whom many characteristic anecdotes are told. Jesse C. Smith who built the first well in Lacon, one of the most remarkable men which the county at that time contained. Executive in his habits, of great and varied information, who 40 years ago predicted that the immense commerce and trade of the country would be done mainly by railroads, and that they would to a great degree supercede rivers and canals. Although he did not live to see it, time has more than demonstrated the truth of his prediction.
Sanford Broaddus, Col. John Strawn and John Wier, were all men of well marked and somewhat eccentric traits of character. The latter, it was said, was obliged to leave Virginia in consequence of his anti-slavery opinions, and his advocacy of human rights; all honor to his memory.

The list would be incomplete without a reference to one, who although not a citizen of your county, has been with you every year for almost half a century - a man who has done more for the farmers and laboring men of Marshall county, than any other, honest in his dealings, just and exact in his business, whose word was never forfeited, whose ear was never closed to the cry of distress, and whose hand was ever ready to assist the poor and unfortunate. The financial storm has swept over him, and destoyed the accumulations of years of honest toil, and left him in his old age a stranded wreck, yet today, the speaker would rather have the good name of Jabez Fisher, than to be possessor of the millions of Vanderbilt, or the income of a bonanza king.

On the west side of the river we had Major Thompson, the first settler of the city of Henry; Chester S. Woodward, Warford Bonham, one of the first commissioners of Marshall county, a most worthy and upright man, who lived for many years as a patriarch among his numerous descendants.

Hooper Warren, the first circuit clerk of old Putnam county, a pure man, and one of those noble and heroic band of men whose pen and influence saved our state from the curse of slavery, and started her upon her career of greatness and prosperity. He lived an honest life, and died in honorable poverty.

The history of George Reeves, the reported accomplice of a gang of horse thieves and counterfeiters, and his expulsion from the county was simply alluded to. The sad fate of Graves, the owner of the land on which Sparland now stands, was touched upon. He was lost in the winter of 1846, with the Donner party, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, on his way to California. One of his peculiarities was, that he never wore a hat, or any sort of covering on his head. The scorching rays of the summer sun, and the piercing blasts of winter, always beat upon his bare and unfortunate head. There were many other names of whom honorable mention should be made, if time permitted.
The various paper towns were spoken of - the period of inflation in 1833, 4, 5 and 6, was alluded to. The financial crash of 1837 and the subsequent hard times was spoken of and compared with the present. In the speaker's opinion we have much less cause to complain than they had in 1837. Economy, industry and courage brought them through. Upon this they relied rather than upon visionary and impracticable modes of government relief. The mode of dress, houses, social life, simple habits, hospitality, and other characteristics of the old settlers were alluded to. The education and intelligence of the people at that time was spoken of, and in the speaker's opinion compared favorably with that of the present day. Other points of local interest were touched upon and the address was concluded by reminding the old settlers that every passing year severed a link of the chain that bound the past to the present, and wishing for them, health and happiness, for the remainder of their days.
At the conclusion of his address, which occupied some 40 minutes in delivery, the assemblage was dismissed for dinner. This was an interesting feature of the day's programme. Groups were scattered in all parts of the grounds, and families and friends uniting, formed large parties, who dinners tasted better by the variety, sociability and good cheer that attended their partaking together. In connection with the dinner tea and coffee was served by the generosity of the Lacon people bo all who desired them. Many of the bills of fare were ordered a la "pioneer" and many a "spread" was rich in variety as well as relishable in taste for the inner man.
The Afternoon Exercises