William B. Sims

4th Illinois Cavalry


Dr. Sims has practiced medicine at St. Joseph since 1870. He was born in Blount county, East Tennessee, April 14th, 1836. His grandfather was an early settler of East Tennessee. His father's name was William G. SIMS, and his mother's name, before marriage, Mary E. CUSICK. Dr. Sims was the ninth of a family of twelve children. He belongs to a family celebrated for its vigor and longevity. His paternal grandfather died at the age of one hundred and ten, and his hair at that extreme age was turned only slightly gray; his father died at eighty, with his hair as black as when thirty.


In 1840, when he was four years old, his father moved from Tennessee to Edgar county in this State. When he was eleven years of age his mother died. At the age of thirteen he left home and began learning the trade of a shoemaker. He afterward followed this business for himself, in Edgar and McLean counties.


The war of the rebellion breaking out, Dr. Sims, in 1861, enlisted in the 4th Illinois cavalry, and served in the Union army till the fall ______. His regiment was connected with the army of the Mississippi; it _______ Grant's brigade while that general was a brigade commander, and remained under him during his successive promotions, company A of the regiment being selected as his body guard. Dr. Sims took part in the battle of Fort Donelson, after which he was detailed for detached service in the quartermaster's department. Till within the last nine months of his service he held the position of chief saddler for his regiment. In the spring of 1864 he was placed on hospital services, and was given the position of ward-master, and had charge of the three hospitals at Natchez, Mississippi; he held this responsible position till the expiration of his enlistment.


On his return from the army he came back to Leroy, McLean county, where he established himself in his old trade. While in the hospital service at Natchez his ideas were first awakened in regard to the study of medicine and the career of a physician. His position in charge of the hospital made him interested in various diseases, and gave him excellent opportunities to learn considerable of the practical part of the medical profession. He consequently determined to prepare himself as a physician. He began the study of the profession at Leroy in 1866. In the year 1868 he went to Farmer City and continued his reading under Dr. G. W. Cochran. He was still compelled to work at his trade in order to furnish himself with means for the support of his family. But he had set his heart on being a physician, and was determined to succeed. He worked at his trade ten hours a day, slept six, and the remainder of the time was assiduously devoted to study. The winter of 1869-70 he attended lectures at the Rush Medical College at Chicago.


He began practice in the early part of the year 1870 at St. Joseph. His preparation for his profession had taken all the means which he had been able to command, and he was wholly without financial support when he came to this county. He lacked a dollar of having money enough to pay the freight on his household goods. His two oldest boys walked through from Leroy, driving the cow and making the trip in two days. He was without a horse, and hired one of parties in town, at so much a mile, till his means enabled him to purchase one of his own. But amid these discouragements, which would have been enough to dishearten any ordinary man, he had firm faith in the future, and never for a moment doubted his ultimate success. He was the first physician to locate in the town; the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western railroads having been completed only a short time before, and the new town of St. Joseph founded. He had been in town not two hours when he was called in to attend a case, and has retained the practice of the same family from that day to the present. His natural qualifications seemed to adapt him to the practice of medicine, and he has made a capable and popular physician in that section of the county. The first year his practice amounted to fifteen hundred dollars, and he has kept a successful and growing practice from that time until now.


He started a drug store in 1875, of which he was proprietor till the spring of 1877; the sales for the last year he had charge of this store amounted to twenty thousand dollars---an extremely good business for a store of that character in a town of the size of St. Joseph. He was married on the 8th of March, 1855, to Sarah J. MEDLEY, of Vigo county, Indiana. He has eight children. His eldest son, Samuel N., studied medicine with his father at St. Joseph; attended lectures at the Rush Medical College at Chicago, and the Louisville Medical College at Louisville, from which latter institution he graduated in the spring of 1877, and is now practicing medicine with his father. His next son, Joseph M., is railroad agent and telegraph operator at Ogden. His other children are William F., David M., George E., Charles B., Sadie F. and Oran B. Dr. Sims has been a Republican since 1860.

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