Dr. William Henry Randall was for thirty years a resident of Augusta, and during that period he occupied so high a position in the public esteem that no history of Des Moines county would be complete which did not accord to his name and life a prominent place. Dr. Randall was born in Wilton, Me., on the 14th day of June, 1830, a son of Esek and Edith (Pickens) Randall. The father, who was by trade a miller, was a native of Middleboro, Mass., the date of his birth being 1800, and was a son of Joshua Randall, whose wife was a member of the Hoar family of Massachusetts. Joshua Randall, who was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, removed to Maine when his son Esek was in infancy, and in that State he passed his remaining years. He became the owner of a farm near the town of Wilton, and while engaged in farming also continued his work as a minister of the gospel, until he came into disagreement with his congregation regarding some point of doctrine, when he ceased preaching, and thereafter devoted himself to farming.
Esek Randall grew to manhood near Wilton, and having received a good education, became a teacher. He later purchased a mill at East Dixfield, Me. He was the father of seven children, of whom our subject was the fourth, while he himself was a member of a family of five brothers, two of whom were graduates of Bowdoin College, one of these being a classmate of the poet Longfellow. Two of his brothers followed the profession of law, while another embraced a business career as a merchant.
The subject of this memoir early became a student in the academy at Thetford, Vt., where he pursued a course of study, and on the completion of his work there he followed the paternal example and took up teaching. He was teaching at Upton, Worcester county, Mass., in 1853 when he met Miss Martha Fowler, who afterward became his wife. He taught there for a few years, and then began the study of medicine in the medical college at Castleton, Vt., from which he was graduated with the degree of M. D. about the year 1857. A believer in the splendid future of the West, he at once removed to Illinois, locating at Ingraham, Clay county, where he rapidly built up a large practice. Meantime he had maintained a correspondence with Miss Fowler, and in 1860 returned to Upton, Mass., where on June 14 of that year they were united in marriage. They took up their residence at Ingraham, Ill., but in 1863 the perils of the great crisis through which the nation was then passing appealed so forcibly to Dr. Randall's patriotism that he returned to the East and enlisted in a Massachusetts regiment as a private. He was first stationed at Gallope Island, a training camp, and after a few weeks Mrs. Randall visited him there, and carried him a commission as assistant surgeon in the Nineteenth Maine Regiment. She then went to the home of her father, where she remained during her husband's service with the army. He went at once to the front, where about a year later his distinguished abilities brought him appointment as surgeon with the rank of major. He continued with the Federal forces until the end of the war, when he was mustered out of the service with his regiment at Augusta, Me. Mrs. Randall was there to meet him, and shortly afterward they went to live at Rome, Richland county, Ohio, making that their home until their removal to Augusta, Des Moines county, Iowa, in 1869.
Miss Martha M. Fowler, who became the wife of Dr. Randall, was born at Upton, Mass., a daughter of Hiram and Anna (Whitney) Fowler. Her father was a native of Rohobeth, Mass., and in addition to his occupation of farming was very well known as a lecturer. The mother, born in Upton, belonged to that celebrated Whitney family which has for one of its members the famous Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. She was a woman of ability and culture, and to her children were given the same advantages of excellent academic education which she herself enjoyed. To Dr. and Mrs. Randall were born two children, Anna, born in Clay county, Illinois, married W. A. Murphy, and now resides in Denmark township, Lee county, this State. She has three children: Martha, a graduate of Denmark Academy and of the Business College at Dixon, Ill., and now a teacher in Lee county; Annabel, at present a student at Denmark Academy; and Randall, a pupil in the grammar grades at Denmark. Osman, the second child of Dr. and Mrs. Randall, was bom at Rome, Ohio, in 1867, and died at Augusta, Iowa, in 1874.
While Dr. Randall was all his life greatly interested in public affairs and in all matters of politics, his professional practice was at all times so great in volume that he was unable to give more than a modicum of his time to partisan activities. Born and reared a Democrat, he early allied himself with the Republican party, his first ballot being cast for General Winfield Scott for the presidency in 1852, and his second vote for John C. Fremont in 1856. He also ever evinced absorbing interest in the progress and welfare of popular education, which he believed to be thoroughly in concord with his exalted ideals of American liberty. From a material point of view he was highly successful, as his medical practice was very lucrative. He was a man of strong and resolute character, noted for the purity, integrity, and fearless uprightness of his life, and was possessed of natural talents far beyond the ordinary. It was in no selfish spirit that he dedicated his powers to the service of humanity, and he received his reward in the high respect and warm regard in which he was ever held by those who knew him. He died at Augusta on Dec. 23, 1899. A devoted husband, a loving, indulgent father, and a strong, true man, he has left a memory and an influence that shall long endure. Mrs. Randall is a lady of exceptional ability, of pleasing presence and conversational powers, and inherits the instinctive culture of her many generations of Puritan ancestry. She has a wide circle of acquaintance, and her home is the center of a refined hospitality.