ROBERT J. MITCHELL, M.D., one of the oldest as also one of the most eminent physicians of Girard, Illinois, was born on a farm, near Lancaster, Schuyler County, Missouri, October 30, 1843, and is one of the three surviving children of Isaac and Sarah (Underwood) Mitchell.
Isaac Mitchell was born March 1, 1815, on his father's farm near Harby, Nottinghamshire, England, and was a son of Richard and Susanna (Clapman) Mitchell, the latter of whom died January 16, 1841. Of their 10 children, Isaac and William were the only ones to come to America. William located in Greene County, Illinois, and reared a family of five sons and two daughters. Isaac was the younger brother and he also located in Greene County, where he engaged in farm work and attended school. In 1841 he married Sarah Underwood, who was born in Harrison County, Kentucky, August 12, 1811, and was a daughter of Francis and Margaret (Jarvis) Underwood, the former of whom was born in Shropshire, England, August 9, 1767. He came to America as an officer in the British Army, but, never returning to his native land, settled in Kentucky and in 1799 married Margaret Jarvis. She was born October 9, 1784, and was a daughter of Robert and Mary Jarvis, natives of Dublin, Ireland, who settled first in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, moved then to Lafayette County, Kentucky, and died at Troy, Ohio. In 1839 Francis Underwood came to Illinois, settling on a farm seven miles west of Carrollton, where he purchased land which he converted into one of the fertile farms of that section, and there he died June 20, 1853, the death of his widow following on August 20, 1860. They reared four sons and five daughters. After his marriage, Isaac Mitchell removed to Missouri and was one of the pioneer settlers of Schuyler County. His purchase of a squatters claim was followed later by purchase from the government. A half-completed log cabin was finished by Mr. Mitchell, and there in the wilderness, threatened by Indians and visited by the wild creatures of the forests, this enterprising pioneer and his courageous young wife began domestic life. Conditions were hard, hardships were continual and deprivations of every kind were accepted as inevitable. In those days no railroads crossed the country, the nearest market was 75 miles distant, and the only means of transportation was up and down the Mississippi River, which then, as now, rolled its great yellow waters to the Gulf. Despite all drawbacks, Mr. Mitchell developed a good farm and reared children who have inherited his energy and perseverance, in addition to his admirable personal characteristics. Finally he decided to return to Illinois, in order to give these children better educational opportunities, and consequently he settled on a farm in Madison County, which he leased for eight years. In 1873 he retired to Girard, where he lived in comfort until his death. The four children of his family were: William F., a noted physician located at Lancaster, Missouri; John M., a gallant soldier in the Civil War, a member of the 21st Missouri Infantry, who died while in the service at Memphis, Tennessee; Robert J. , of this sketch; and Mary J.
Dr. Mitchell completed his literary education at Shurtleff College, Upper Alton, Illinois, where he was graduated in 1869. His medical reading was pursued under the direction of his brother, Dr. William Mitchell, and he then entered Rush Medical College, at Chicago, where he was graduated with high honors in 1871. He immediately located at Girard, and is thus the second oldest physician and surgeon of the city. For some 14 months Dr. R. S. Cowan was associated with Dr. Mitchell, but with this exception the latter has practiced alone. In addition to the general line of practice, Dr. Mitchell has, through scientific study and experiment, made something of a specialty of diseases of the eye and ear, and his success in this particular line has added to an already eminent professional reputation. He has always been a close student and keeps thoroughly abreast of the times, taking advantage of membership in the American Medical Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, and the Macoupin County Medical Society. The last named organization, which is one of vast importance in the county, was organized by Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Cowan and a few others and reflects credit upon their progressiveness and their professional and philanthropic zeal.
Dr. Mitchell was married April 23, 1873, to Julia A. Bennion, who is the accomplished daughter of Randle Bennion, a native of Wales. Two daughters compose the household - Mabel and Anna V., who are favorites in Girard society. The family affiliate with the Baptist Church.
Politically Dr. Mitchell is a Democrat. He has served on the city council and as a member of the Board of Education, and has been active in promoting sanitary measures in the city. Fraternally he is a Free Mason, belonging to Girard Lodge, No. 171, A.F. & A.M., and Chapter No. 132, R.A.M. Professionally, socially and publicly, Dr. Mitchell is one of the representative men of Girard.