After nearly forty years spent .in ministering to the needs of suffering
mankind, Dr. Edmund C. Park, of Flora, Illinois, has practically retired
from the practice of his profession and is now living a semi-retired life on
his handsome farm in Clay county. During the Doctor's long and useful career
he has been physician, soldier, merchant and agriculturist, and at all times
a public-spirited citizen, and no one has the confidence and esteem -of his
fellow men in a greater degree. Dr. Park was born in South Carolina, October
18, 1836, and is a son of Edmund C. and Susan M. (Wilkins) Park, both born
in that state.
Thomas Park, the grandfather of the Doctor, was a prominent educator and occupied a chair in Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina, where he died, and where he was the owner of a large plantation and a number of slaves. His son, the father of our subject, was educated to be a physician, and in 1840, with his wife and children, came to Illinois, settling at Greenville, Bond county, where he practiced medicine until 1849. Dr. Park then started for California, having contracted the gold fever, and with eight other adventurous souls started to cross the country overland. When the little party was near Independence, Missouri, however, the cholera plague struck their camp and three of the party, including Dr. Park's father, passed away, the lad then being only thirteen years of age. He was left alone with his mother, who was the daughter of Samuel Wilkins, a native of South Carolina and a Missionary Baptist missionary and preacher for many years. He moved to Illinois in 1844 and entered land, but only remained a short time, returning to his native state, where his death occurred.
The early education of Edmund C. Park was secured in the schools of Greenville, Illinois, where he had as a schoolmate the late Robert Ingersoll. After the death of his father he went to California, but did not remain long in that state, returning by way of the Isthmus. While on the return journey, and in Havana, Cuba, he witnessed the public execution of Narciso Lopez, the Spanish- American filibuster, who after a career marked by murder and revolutionary activities was put to death September 2, 1851. On his return to Illinois, Dr. Park took up the study of medicine under the tuition of his uncle, Dr. C. K. Hender, of Olney, and he subsequently entered the Chicago Medical College, being graduated therefrom. He began practice in LaClede, Illinois, where the outbreak of the Civil war found him, and in 1862 he gave up his practice to answer the call for volunteers. Becoming first lieutenant of Company H, Sixty-second Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, he was soon promoted to the rank of captain and detailed to hospital duty. He served with distinction with the same organization until the close of the war, having an honorable record for faithful, cheerful and capable service, and then returned to LaClede to pick up the broken threads and resume his practice where he had left off. In 1872 Dr. Park moved to Flora, and there began a practice that lasted for something like forty years, during which time he gained the affection and confidence of his fellow men in an exceptional degree. Known as an experienced physician and surgeon, and as a man who had served his country, his practice was large from the start, but each year found him widening his circle of patients, acquaintances and friends, and when he decided that he had completed his duty and that he had earned a rest from his labors the community expressed their regret in no uncertain terms. During five years the Doctor was the proprietor of a pharmacy, but of this he also disposed, and he is now living practically retired, the greater part of his attention being given to apple raising. He has been deservedly successful in a material way, and in addition to his large farm is the owner of considerable city property in Flora. Always conscientious in regard to public duty, Dr. Park has been called upon to fill various offices, and he is now acting very capably as county coroner. He has been stanch in his support of Republican principles, and the leaders of the party in Southern Illinois consider him one of their valuable workers. For many years a Mason, he belongs to LaClede Lodge and Chapter, being past master of the former and having represented it in Chicago more than forty years ago. He and his family attend the Presbyterian church, and all are well known in religious and charitable circles.
In 1857 Dr. Park was united in marriage with Miss Emma Dowler, daughter of Frank Dowler, an early settler of Indiana, who later moved to Fayette county, Illinois, being a merchant at the time of his death in Vandalia. Mrs. Park died in 1896, having been the mother of four children, as follows: Emma Lula, who is living with her father and acting as his housekeeper during his declining years; Kate, who married William J. Selby and resides in Flora; Marion, deceased, who married Samuel Norwood, of South Carolina, and was living in that state at the time of her death; and Dr. Edmund C., Jr., who now has an excellent practice in Chicago, and who was for fifteen years one of Flora's best known professional men.
Extracted 09 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1246-1247.