Lee County Biography

George W. Hewitt


George W. Hewitt M. D., was one of the ablest and most distinguished physicians of his day who practiced in Lee County many years, and by his death his profession was deprived of one of its noblest representatives, and his community met with a sad loss, many a household mourning for the beloved and honored physician whose presence had so often brought healing, and whose friendship is now a pleasant memory. It gives us pleasure to place his life record on these pages, together with that of his son, Dr. Henry M. Hewitt, upon whom his father's mantle has fallen, and who has already attained distinction as one of the most learned and skillful physicians of this part of the State. Dr. George W. Hewitt was born in Middleburgh, Franklin County, Pa., December 23, 1830, a son of G. W. and Margaret (Conklin) Hewitt, to whom were born four sons and three daughters. His parents were wealthy, and left each of their children a handsome fortune. Although he was rich and could have led a life of ease and luxury, he was of far too active a temperament for that, and chose instead to enter the laborious profession of a physician. He began his studies with Dr. Chew, of Baltimore, Md., as preceptor, and at the same time at­tended lectures at the University of Maryland, from which he was graduated in 1854, with high honor, having attained a remarkable degree of proficiency in his studies. In the spring of the same year, he came to Illinois as offering a wider field for the exercise of his talents than some of the older States, and on the 1st of May opened an office at Franklin Grove. He was untiring in his devotion to his profession, and ere long became widely known, not only in Lee County but far beyond its bounds, as a physician of unusual intelligence and ability, the people among whom he settled early recognizing his professional merits, and to the last day of his life his friends and patrons looked upon him as preeminently the best medical adviser in this section of the country. He also had a high standing among his brother physicians as one who kept well abreast of the times, was quick to perceive the value of new methods, and to adopt them wherever feasible in his general practice, which was large, and he was honored by appointment to various distinguished positions in connection with his calling. In 1871 he was a delegate from the Illinois State Medical Society to the American Medical Association, and besides being a member of the latter was an honorary member of the California Medical Society. His course was patriotic during the war, and he rendered valuable service to the Government as surgeon of the Thirty-fourth Illinois Infantry, and he was a member of Col. Kirk's staff as Brigadier Surgeon when the Colonel was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General.

On September 26, 1856, Dr. Hewitt, Sr., was wedded to Caroline Davis Miller, and theirs was a true marriage, whose happiness was uninterrupted I until the death of the beloved wife seven years later, November 19, 1863. She left two sons, Henry M. and George W., who were aged respectively five and three years when they were so sadly bereft of their mother. After that they were well cared for by their aunt, Miss Amanda, T. Miller. George W. Hewitt was born July 31, 1859. He attended medical college two years during his youth, but on account of ill health was obliged to give up his ambition to be a physician, and turning his attention to the study of law, he was educated for that profession at the Union Law School, of Chicago, from which he was graduated in the Class of '82. He is now one of the most prominent attorneys of Western Iowa, having his place of residence at Council Bluffs: he is one of the leading Masons of that vicinity, and has taken the thirty-second degree.

The elder Dr. Hewitt was scarcely past the prime of life, and it seemed as if many more years of usefulness lay before him, when his brilliant career was terminated by his untimely death. September 1, 1879, his team ran away, and he was thrown off a bridge to the stream twenty feet below. He received injuries from which he only partly recovered, and in October, 1880 had his first stroke of paralysis. January 5, 1881, he had a second stoke, which caused his death on the 12th of that month. The community where he lived for so many years was plunged into sorrow at his demise, I as he had identified himself with its every interest, and was always foremost in all that pertained to its social and religious life. He was prominent as a Knight Templar Mason, and was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, where his presence is missed, as well as his generous benefactions in promoting its every good work. The Doctor was I a sound man of business, added to his inherited I property, and left a large and valuable estate, which has been ably administered by his son, our I subject. Henry M. Hewitt, M. D., was born August 24, 1857. He was given a liberal literary education at the Illinois State Normal School and at the Northwestern University. He ranked high in scholarship at both institutions, and laid a solid basis for his medical studies, which were pursued at Rush Medical College, Chicago, whence he was graduated before he was twenty-one years old. As he was too young to practice his profession, he further fitted himself for it by spending one winter in the hospitals of New York, and then he passed ten months in Europe in visiting the hospitals at Heidelburg, Paris and London, where he gained a practical experience in his calling that has been of incalculable value to him since his re­turn, when he established himself at Franklin Grove, entering upon his practice here at his old home in 1879. He needed no introduction to the people among whom his boyhood days had been pleasantly passed, who regarded him with favor for his own sake, as well as for that of the father whom they so revered. He early showed that he had inherited in a full degree the talents that placed his father at the head of the profession, and he has already won an enviable reputation as a very successful practitioner.

Dr. Hewitt was married October 17, 1883, to Miss Eliza J. Durkes. She is a native of Franklin Grove, born June 16, 1859, and is a daughter of Conrad Durkes. Mrs. Hewitt is a lady of culture, having been finely educated in the famous Mt. Holyoke Seminary for girls, at Holyoke, Mass., from which she was graduated in the Class of '82. Her pleasant marriage with our subject has brought them three children: George W., born May 26, 1885; Mary D., September 1, 1889, and Henry M., Jr., November 16, 1891.

The Doctor devoted himself so assiduously to his beloved profession that his health failed while he was administering to the ills of others, and June 15, 1888, he abandoned his practice to travel to California to recover his former vigor. He was accompanied by his wife, and for twenty-two months they journeyed over the Golden State with a horse and buggy, and visited all parts of it. Returning to Franklin Grove April 1, 1890, re­stored to health and with a fresh supply of strength to enable him to withstand the strain of his professional life, he resumed his practice. The Doc­tor is also quite a competent business man, and manages his financial affairs with consummate skill. He is wealthy, and besides his property at Franklin Grove, has a farm in Iowa, and a ten-acre, five-year-old orange grove at Rialto, Cal. His pleasant social qualities, courtesy and consideration in his intercourse with all with whom he comes in contact, whether of high or low degree, have won him many friends.

Politically, he is a Republican, and his connection with the Masonic Society is as a Knight Templar County, Pa., December 23, 1830, a son of G. W. and Margaret (Conklin) Hewitt, to whom were born four sons and three daughters. His parents were wealthy, and left each of their children a handsome fortune. Although he was rich and could have led a life of ease and luxury, he was of far too active a temperament for that, and chose instead to enter the laborious profession of a physician.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892

Biography for Carrie D. (Miller) Hewitt /wife of Dr. Hewitt

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