FRANCIS O. HARRISON, M. D.
After thirty-four years of faithful and conscientious labor in the field of medicine in and about Christopher, Illinois, Dr. Francis O. Harrison is one of the most highly esteemed physicians of Franklin county, and during his long and useful career has built up an enviable reputation not only in his profession but as an able business man, a successful agriculturist and a citizen of sterling worth. Dr.
Harrison was born near Mulkeytown, in Franklin county, November 6, 1846, and is a son of Christopher and Mary (Swain) Harrison.
The paternal grandfather of Dr. Harrison, Lemuel Harrison, was a native of North Carolina, from which state he came to Franklin county as a pioneer, and here became successful in farming, and held numerous offices within the gift of the people. He served as county surveyor for some time, and until his death in 1851 acted as circuit clerk. His son, Christopher Harrison, was born in Franklin county, and was engaged in farming here in 1850, at the time of the gold rush to California. Joining the throng that crossed the country to attempt to make their fortunes, he was one of the unfortunates who contracted cholera and he died in a boat on the Mississippi river, living but six hours. His wife, Mary Swain, was the daughter of John Swain, who was born in Tennessee and came to Illinois early in life. He also, was engaged in agriculture, became well-to-do, and at the time of his death, which occurred when he had reached advanced years, he was well known all over Franklin county.
Francis O. Harrison was able to secure only a meager schooling, as the death of his father left the family in humble circumstances, and the help of the sturdy young son was needed in cultivating the little property the parent had left behind. He was an ambitious youth, however, and lack of attendance at the country schools did not prevent him from acquiring an education, as whatever time he could find from his work was spent in reading and study, and thus he became well informed in a general way. He worked on the home property until he was twenty-two years of age, at which time he was able, by investing the money which his habits of industry and economy had enabled him to accumulate, and by going into debt for a part of the property to purchase himself a little farm, and this he started to cultivate. It had been his ambition from youth, however, to enter a professional life and when he had cleared his land from debt and could see that he was making progress, he started to study medicine, with the result that he subsequently entered the Eclectic Medical Institute at Cincinnati, Ohio, and was graduated therefrom in 1878. On his return to his farm he “hung out his shingle,” and at once began a practice that has grown year by year until today there is no better known physician in Franklin county. In the meantime he continued farming, and at one time was the owner of five hundred acres of land, but in 1909 sold off a farm of two hundred acres. In addition he is a stockholder and director in the First National Bank of Christopher, has various commercial and financial interests and valuable real estate holdings, and is considered one of Christopher's most substantial men. Being desirous of increasing his medical education, in February and March, 1912, the Doctor pursued post graduate course in the New York Post Graduate school and hospital of New York City. Taking up as the principal study of diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. Dr. Harrison congratulates his good fortune as being a very healthy man. He has lived for years in succession, without an ache, or pain.
In 1868 Dr. Harrison was married to Miss Maria Burkitt, a daughter of William Burkitt, one of the pioneer farmers of Franklin county. She died in 1881, without issue. The Doctor remaining a widower for about three years then married her sister, Emily Burkitt, who died in the year of 1891. Of this union three children were born, Lottie, Noba and Littie, now living. About five years after the death of his second wife he married Eva Neal, daughter of John R. Neal, a successful farmer of Franklin county. Six children were born to them, three boys and three girls. Ivan, Velma, Ethan, Ovel, Viva and Neva-Dot, all now living but Ethan, he having been about two years old at his death. Dr. and Mrs. Harrison are members of the Church of Christ of Christopher, Illinois. He is an Odd
Fellow and his profession connects him with the medical societies, being a member of The Illinois Electic Medical Society, and also of the National and he attends those societies. He has served as a member of the board of Pension Examining Surgeons at Benton for over sixteen years and has acted as secretary of said board for the last ten years, being secretary at the present time. Dr. Harrison is a stalwart Republican in politics, and has tried to do much for his party, but has acted as an onlooker rather than an office seeker. But for several years he has been a member of the county central committee, and has discharged his duties as a citizen by serving for a number of years as a member of the school board. His long residence of this section has made him hosts of friends, who recognize and appreciate his many sterling traits of character. He was one of the pioneers of Christopher, Illinois, in starting the little village, now a city of about three thousand inhabitants, the Doctor having the honor or liberty of naming the town Christopher in honor of his father, who at one time owned a part of the land on which Christopher is built.
In conclusion the Doctor wishes to go on record that he has been against the saloon, and since he became a voter he has always voted and argued against intoxicants believing that it has been and is causing more deaths, destruction and sorrow than anything that was ever placed before the public. He fully believes that the poison not only destroys the body, but destroys both body and soul.