Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Dr. John J. McWilliams, M. D.

It would be difficult to designate a name more honored in Crawford county than that of Dr. John J. McWilliams. For twenty-eight years he has been identified with the medical profession in this county and during the last twenty-four years has been a resident of Charter Oak.

He was born at Denison, June 5, 1860, a son of Dr. David McWilliams, who practiced in Crawford county for more than forty years, passing away at Denison in 1898 at the age of eighty-one years. He was a native of Belfast, Ireland, and after coming to this country spent several years at Pontiac, Illinois, but removed to Crawford county, Iowa, in 1857, eight years after the first permanent settlement was made in this county. He became one of the most noted physicians in this part of the state.

He was twice married, and by his first marriage two children were born: Hugh C., who engaged in farming and is now living retired at Denison; and David H., a large landowner and druggist who is living retired at Charter Oak.

The second wife of Dr. McWilliams was Mary Cleghorn before her marriage. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and became the mother of seven children, namely: Charles, who died at the age of two years; John J., the subject of this review; Elizabeth J., now the wife of J. S. Nesbit, a farmer of Missouri; Charley M., who is in the government service at Denison; Marie A., now the wife of Henry Slater, a farmer of Denison; Emma, the wife of Albert Healey, who is in the furniture business at Oto, Iowa; and Lillian, the wife of Rev. L. C. McCuen, of Kearney, Nebraska.

John J. McWilliams received his preliminary education in the common schools, and, having decided to follow in the footsteps of his father, entered the Keokuk (Iowa) Medical College at the age of nineteen, completing the course available in that institution, after which he matriculated in Rush Medical College of Chicago, from which he was graduated with a degree of M. D. in 1883. Immediately after leaving college he began practice at Denison but four years later removed to Charter Oak, where he has ever since made his home. Of the three physicians now in this place he was the pioneer and he is recognized as one of the foremost medical practitioners in the county. He opened the first drug store in Charter Oak, which he maintained for twenty years, disposing of it in 1904 in order to devote his entire time to a large and growing practice.

On the 15th of April, 1883, Dr. McWilliams was united in marriage to Miss Ada C. Lyon, who was born at Morrison, Illinois, in 1862, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. N. J. Lyon, bath of whom were natives of Vermont. There were five children in their family, namely: Nellie, now the wife of Daniel Fegan, of Clinton, Iowa; Julia, who died at the age of fifty-one years; Harley, of Morrison, Illinois; Ada C., now Mrs. John J. McWilliams; and Frank, also of Morrison.

Two children came to bless the union of Dr. and Mrs. McWilliams: Nellie L., who was born July 2, 1884 and is now attending business college; and Homer D., who was born February I, 1889, and is a graduate of the high school. He is living at home.

Dr. McWilliams and his wife are faithful members of the Methodist church and active workers in its behalf. Politically he has ever since arriving at manhood given his support to the republican party and his voice has often been heard in its councils. He served for nine years as postmaster of Charter Oak under Presidents Harrison, Cleveland and McKinley. He has been a member of the city council ever since its organization and is now serving his third term as mayor of the town. He has -been from the beginning of his professional career a close student 'not only of the best books relating to the science and art of healing but also of the best magazines and reviews. He has learned much in the course of an extensive practice that is not to be found in print, and as he is a thinking man of original views he is not closely bound by tradition but often uses his independent judgment to excellent advantage. He possesses the entire confidence of the community and also of the medical profession in Crawford and adjoining counties.

Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.