Historical Plaque Properties

 

Dr. Robert Stewart - General Practitioner - Chicago
148 Water Street
1889

Robert Stewart was born in 1863 on a farm in North Easthope Township, the fifth of nine children born to James Stewart and Catherine Fraser. James and Catherine were born in Perthshire, Scotland and shortly after their marriage about 1850, the couple emigrated to Canada and a new life in Perth County.
While Catherine was thirteen years younger than James, she died suddenly of rheumatic fever on August 11, 1871 at the age of forty. As a single parent, James raised the family on the farm until he suffered a fatal stroke, at the age of sixty-nine, and died on July 26, 1888. He was laid to rest next to Catherine in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Cemetery in North Easthope.


As a result of his share of the inheritance, Robert was able to build the house at 148 Water St. in 1889 where he provided accommodation for two of his sisters and two of his brothers as well as for Ann and John Fraser, his aunt and uncle. Though Robert was only 28-years old various documents of the time list him as a “retired farmer” and a “gentleman” suggesting a man of independent means. Robert owned the house for ten years, providing accommodation for members of his family, but only lived in it for a year.


It appears that Robert had a clear plan for his life and left Stratford in 1890 emigrating to Chicago where he was likely accepted into Rush Medical College.  The College, which opened its doors in 1843 and is the oldest medical school in the State of Illinois, was named after Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signatory to the American Declaration of Independence. According to its profile, during the College’s first century, more than ten thousand physicians received their training there and a “Rush Doctor” was a highly prized commodity in the American West of the 19th Century. In 1883, the College also began to operate the Chicago Dental Infirmary. The College was also affiliated with the University of Chicago from 1898 until 1842.


The 1900 U.S. Census records that Robert had established his practice in Chicago’s Ward 4, which also included his younger brother Duncan who had also graduated as a doctor and a business partner who was a dentist.
Robert continued to practice medicine in Chicago until his death at the age of fifty-nine on July 12, 1922. He is buried in Chicago’s Oakwood Cemetery.


Though he never married, it is evident Robert was a generous and caring family man as throughout his life he had brothers, sisters, an aunt and uncle and a cousin live with him at various times right through to the end.
The Stewart’s also exemplify many immigrant families whose first generation started by clearing the harsh wilderness into productive farm lands. By the second generation, two of the Stewart sons were doctors, another was a lawyer and a third headed west to settle and farm in Manitoba.