THOMAS MUNROE, M. D., Rushville, Illinois. There is, in the career of the earnest professional or business man, toiling on through the busy, work a-day years of a long and arduous life, but little to attract the attention of an idle reader in search of a sensational chapter. But for the mind fully awake to the real meaning of human existence there are immortal lessons in the life of the man who, without other means than a strong arm, a true heart and determined will, conquers adversity, overcomes obstacles, and closes the evening of a long life with an honorable competence and good name. Such a man is the subject of this biography, Doctor Thomas Munroe.
Doctor Munroe was a son of John and Ann (Wells) Munroe, and was born at Annapolis, Maryland, January 4, 1807. His father and mother were both natives of Maryland; the former was born August 6, 1763, and the latter January 20, 1771. They were married May 14, 1789. The boyhood of Thomas Munroe did not differ much from that of other boys born of and reared by Christian parents, who held progressive and correct ideas of the higher duties and privileges of American citizenship. He entered school at an early age, and, being an apt scholar, made rapid headway in his studies and graduated from St. John's College with honors, having taken the full classical course.
After finishing at St. John's College, he decided to adopt the profession of medicine as his life-work. He began reading under the direction of Dr. Dennis Claude, and later entered the University of Maryland in Baltimore, from which he graduated with the degree of M. D. in 1829. All through his life, Dr. Munroe took a just pride in having upon his diploma the famons names of Drs. Roger B. Taney and Reverdy Johnson, -- the first as to Provost, the second a member of the executive committee of the University of Maryland.
After graduating, Dr. Munroe began the practice of his profession in Baltimore, but after twelve months concluded it was better for him to go West. In accordance with this wise conclusion, he closed up his business in Baltimore, and in 1834 removed to Illinois and settled in Jacksonville, where he remained until 1843, when he came to Rushville, and was actively engaged in professional labor until the breaking out of the civil war, when he offered his services to his country, and was commissioned Surgeon of the One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois Volunteer infantry. He participated in all the marches of the regiment, and was in all its campaigns and battles for two years; at the end of that period he was obliged to resign his commission on account of ill health. He returned to his home and resumed his practice, which he continued, with great activity and success, until a short time previous to his death, which occurred April 23,1891.
Dr. Munroe was married October 5, 1841, to Annis Hinman, who was born at Utica, New York, December 10, 1815; her father, Benjamin Hinman, was a native of Southbury, Connecticut; he was a son of Deacon David Hinman, who was a son of Benjamin Hinman, who was a son of Benjamin Hinman, Sr., who was a son of Sergeant Edward Hinman, the first settler of that name in this country. (See genealogy published by R. R. Hinman, New York.) Mrs. Munroe's father was a soldier in the war of the Revolution, and had the title of Major; he was one of the early settlers of Little Falls, New York, and purchased a large tract of land there; he afterward removed to Utica, New York, and died in Pennsylvania in 1821, while making a business trip to the State. He married Anna Keyser, who was born at Fort Keyser, New York, a daughter of John Keyser, of Montgomery county, New York. Her father was taken captive by the Indians during the Revolutionary war, and was carried to Canada, where he was held for three years; his death occurred at Fort Keyser, his wife survived until August 9, 1863; she was living in Illinois at that time, her sons being among the pioneers of Brown county; they emigrated to the State in 1836, and were of a party that laid out the town of La Grange.
Children are indeed blessed who have educated and Christian parents to guide and direct those early impulses which have so much to do with the ultimate direction of ambition and mentality; and no family of children were ever more favored in this than the children of this good father and mother. The breadth of Dr. Munroe's mind, his great wisdom in giving his children splendid educations and permitting them to select their own vocations, is manifest in the marked degree of success which has attended their efforts. The eldest son, Thomas, is one of the progressive and successful men of Muskegon, Michigan, being the head of the well-known firm of Thomas Munroe & Co., and the general superintendent of the Thayer Lumber Company, both of Muskegon. In this double capacity he has acquired more than an ordinary fortune, and, with his marked success as a financier. He has won a greater meed of victory - that of the love and respect of all who know him.
The second son, James E. Munroe, resides in Chicago, and is engaged in the practice of law. He is a lawyer, of good ability, fair attainments and great industry. As the result of twenty years of labor at the bar he has acquiesced a large practice and a handsome competence.
The daughter, Mary A., of Rushville, is deeply interested in all that pertains to the betterment and advancement of mankind. She resides at the family home, the companion and comfort of her aged and gentle mother. Her brothers, Hinman and Charles G., are also residents of Rushville, the former being married and residing in a happy home, a close neighbor of his mother. Charles G. is a member of the family at the old homestead, and is engaged with his, brother Hinman in the lumber business, in which they are eminently successful. The youngest son is a resident of Muskegon, Michigan, where he holds a position of trust under his brother. Dr. Munroe was related to such men as Jonathan Pickney, Nathan Hammond and William Munroe, all of whom occupy honored places in the early history of the United States from their participation in the notable events incident to those times. The fine engraved portrait of Dr. Munroe, which faces this sketch, was executed specially for this history. An examination of the portrait will reveal better than word-painting the character of the man herein recorded.
In the death of Dr. Munroe, the city of Rushville lost one of the men whose great mentality, indefatigable energy and true Christian manhood did so much to make the city what it is. The following appeared in the Schuyler Citizen a short time after Dr. Munroe's death, and was written by his eminent co-laborer, Dr. J. N. Speed: "No man in the community performed more faithfully the duties of a citizen and a Christian, or led a more exemplary life than he did; and this could be as truly said of him during his army as well as his civil life. He was a lifelong member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and always held one or more official positions; and, what is a little remarkable, he held the position of Recording Steward and Secretary in the Rushville Methodist Episcopal Church continuously for thirty-eight years, and then resigned by reason only of the infirmities of age, I doubt if in the memory of any person a like office has been filled for so long a time continuously by the same person, and certainly no more faithfully. He was very regular in his attendance on the means of grace. Even after the first admonition of his approaching affliction his seat at church, day and night, at prayer-meeting and class-meeting, was very seldom occupied by any other than himself. As a citizen he always took an active interest in the affairs of the public, and his influence was always, on the side of the public welfare. As a physician Dr. Munroe was ever studious and attentive, and his habit of study continued even after his active practice ceased, and in all his intercourse with his brother physicians he was the embodiment of professional rectitude, and in this respect he had no superiors and but few equals. He was looked upon by all who knew him as a perfect gentleman. He was always kind to the poor, and the resources of his skill and watchfulness were as faithfully extended to the pallet of the lowly as to the silken couch of the affluent, thus manifesting in his life the saying of the venerable Beerhaave, that 'the poor were his best patrons because God was their paymaster.' "
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 125-127.
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