Born: 1806-11-15 Dauphin County, Pennsylvania
Died: 1903-06-12 Lacon, Illinois
Flourished: Lacon, Illinois
Robert Boal was a physician, surgeon, and state legislator. Born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Boal spent his early years in his native Dauphin County. In 1811, he moved with his parents to Cincinnati, Ohio. After his father's death in 1816, Boal lived with his uncle and received a rudimentary education in local public schools. He matriculated to Cincinnati College and later commenced the study of medicine with local physicians. He entered the Medical College of Ohio, graduating with his medical degree in 1828. He commenced a medical practice in Reading, Ohio. In 1831, he married Christiana W. Sinclair, with whom he had three children. In 1832, Boal returned to Cincinnati, where he practiced medicine and served as a demonstrator of anatomy at his alma mater. He practiced medicine in Cincinnati until 1836, when he moved to Marshall County, Illinois, and was one of the founders of the town of Lacon. He won election to the Illinois Senate in 1844, and served two terms. In 1850, Boal was practicing medicine in Lacon and owned real property valued at $3,400. In 1854, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, and won re-election in 1856. During the legislative session of 1855, Boal supported Abraham Lincoln for U.S. Senate until, at Lincoln’s request, shifted his vote to Lyman Trumbull, the eventual winner. He also chaired the legislative committee created to investigate conditions at the Illinois Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and in 1857, he received appointment as one of the directors of the institution. Boal represented Marshall County at the Anti-Nebraska Convention in 1856, and he became a founder of the Republican Party in Illinois. In 1860, Boal owned real property valued at $6,000 and had a personal estate of $200. He served as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1860. Upon commencement of the Civil War, Boal received appointment as surgeon of the board of enrollment for the Fifth Illinois Congressional District. In 1862, he moved to Peoria for this work. Boal served in this capacity until the end of the war, when he resumed the practice of medicine in Peoria.
Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, ed. by David McCulloch (Chicago: Munsell, 1902), 2:483; The United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-Made Men: Illinois Volume (Chicago: American Biographical, 1876), 25-26; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 211, 213, 220, 221; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Lacon, Marshall County, IL, 103; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Lacon, Marshall County, IL, 90; Gravestone, Springdale Cemetery and Mausoleum, Peoria, IL.