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Below is a family biography included in The History of Franklin County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Dr. John Isbell, physician and surgeon, of Washington, is a native of Osage County, Mo., born in 1844, the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Wallace) Isbell. The father was born in Amherst County, Va., in 1812, and was of French descent. He was a farmer and merchant by occupation. In his youth he, with his widowed mother and one brother and three sisters, came to Osage County, Mo. It was in this county that Zachariah was married and where he settled. He sold goods in Linn for several years, and was afterward elected sheriff of the county, and re-elected, serving two terms. He also served two terms as Representative, and was a member of the Constitutional Convention. In 1883 he moved to Louisville, Ky., and in October, 1887, left there and went to Fort Smith, Ark., where he now resides. His wife was born in St. Louis County, Mo., and was of Scotch-Irish descent. She died in 1849, and Mr. Isbell was married again. Three children were born to his first marriage; one son died; our subject being the eldest living. He received his literary education at St. Louis University, and at the age of twenty commenced the study of his chosen profession under Dr. Benjamin F. Burch, of Washington; after studying three years, in 1866 he entered the medical department of the University of Virginia, at Charlottesville, and in June, 1867, graduated as an M. D. In the winter of 1867 and 1868 he attended the St. Louis Medical College, taking a clinical and hospital course, and after graduating practiced one year with his preceptor. In 1869 he went to the place of his birth and here practiced two years. In 1873 he went to Kansas City, where he remained until the fall of 1875, when he came to Washington, and has remained here ever since. While a resident of Kansas City he was demonstrator of anatomy in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, being elected by the board of the institute. June 13, 1877, he married Miss S. Bell McDonald, a native of Franklin County, Mo., born in 1858, and the daughter of James C. McDonald. To this marriage were born two children, viz.: Alice Maude, born in 1878, and Mary, an infant daughter, born in 1887. The Doctor is the oldest practicing physician in Washington, and is now actively engaged in the work. He is a Democrat in politics, casting his first presidential vote for Seymour and Blair, in 1868. He is a member of the State Medical Association, is a reader of a great many medical journals, and has the largest medical library in Franklin County. He and wife are members of the Presbyterian Church. During the war he was a strong Union man, and in 1863 enlisted in Company A, as first corporal, and when the Twenty-eighth Regiment of Enrolled Militia of Missouri was organized the Doctor was elected quartermaster of the regiment, with the rank of captain, and served in that capacity until hostilities ceased.

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This family biography is one of 305 biographies included in The History of Franklin County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: Franklin County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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