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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Robert E. Lee Jessee, M.D.

SOURCE: "The Biographical Record of Champaign County, Illinois," The S. J. Clarke Publishing company, Chicago, 1900


ROBERT E. LEE JESSEE, M. D., a prominent and successful physician and surgeon of Philo, was born in Crittenden township, this county, November 13, 1870, and is the eldest son and child of John T. and America E. (Bickley) Jessee, natives of Virginia, and representatives of old and highly respected families of the Old Dominion. The father was born in 1836, the mother in 1853. In 1869, shortly after their marriage, which was celebrated in their native state, they came to Illinois, and took up their residence in Crittenden township, Champaign county, where the father purchased one hundred and twenty acres of wild prairie land. He at once began to improve and cultivate his place, and there made for himself and family a comfortable home. He followed farming quite successfully throughout life, and by his straightforward, honorable course won the confidence and respect of all with whom he came in contact. He was a faithful member of the Baptist church, and a Democrat in politics, a recognized leader of the party in his community. He served as supervisor two terms, was assessor several terms, and held other local offices in Crittenden township. He died in 1890, honored and esteemed by all who knew him. His wife is still living and continues to reside on the old homestead. Of the eight children born to this worthy couple two died in infancy. Those living are Robert E. L., our subject; Minnie, wife of W. T. Thrash, a farmer of Tolono township, by whom she has two children; Belle, wife of R. H. Ford, of Tolono township, by whom she has one child; and Grace, Clarence and Nellie, who are at home with their mother.

During his boyhood Dr. Jessee attended the district schools of his native township and remained at home, assisting in the work of the farm until reaching manhood. Having aspirations for a professional career, he took a teacher's course at the National Normal University, Lebanon, Ohio, from which he was graduated in 1890. For two years he engaged in teaching school, and during the latter years commenced the study of medicine under Dr. Lamb, of Tolono. In 1892 he entered the Northwestern University School, of Chicago, for a four years' course, and was graduated from that institution in 1896, with the degree of M. D. During his residence in that city, he was married, in 1895, to Miss Myrtle E. Powers, who was born in Cook county in 1875, a daughter of Jay and Eve (Veeder) Powers. The doctor and his wife have two children, Bruce and Merrill.

Immediately after his graduation, in 1896, Dr. Jessee came to Philo and purchased the property and practice of Dr. J. M. Bartholow, now of Urbana. He began practice here in rather a limited territory, but success has crowned his efforts, and today he enjoys a good practice which is constantly increasing. The Democratic party finds in him a stanch supporter of its principals, and he is now serving his second term as mayor of the village in which he lives. He is also secretary of the school board, and as a public-spirited and progressive citizen he takes a deep and commendable interest in everything which will advance the public welfare and promote the prosperity of the community. He does not, however, allow other things to interfere with his professional duties. Socially he is a member of Centennial Lodge, No. 747, A.F. & A. M. of Philo, and is a member of Mispah Lodge of the I.O.O.F., No. 364, at Philo. Religiously he holds membership in the Methodist Episcopal church and is on the board of trustees. Both as a physician and citizen he stands deservedly high in public esteem.

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