No one in Peru, LaSalle county, has lived here as long, uninterruptedly, as has the honored old citizen whose name stands at the beginning of this sketch. Half a century ago he established himself in practice in this town, and though he is now four-score years of age many of his old friends and patients are urgent in their desire to retain his medical attendance whenever illness seizes upon them. He is still as ambitious and enterprising as are many men of half his years, and the invaluable experience he has acquired in a life-time of professional work would be to any young practitioner a treasure-house of wealth untold could the venerable physician's wisdom be transferred. The only surviving charter members of the LaSalle County Medical Society are Drs. Milling and Hatheway. The former has always kept up his active relations with the society, and moreover has belonged to the medical organization of the state. His acquaintanceship is very extensive, and in scores of families his name has been a household word for the greater part of the existence of Peru, which town he has seen developed from a hamlet to a large and prosperous place.
Nine children were born to John and Susan (Siddel) Milling, and only three of the number survive, namely: Dr. Milling, of this sketch; Jane, who resides at the old homestead in Ireland, and is now ninety-five years of age; and Elizabeth, also a resident of the parental home, and now in her eighty-sixth year. Their father, who was a farmer of county Louth, Ireland, died in 1823, when about seventy years of age, and their mother's death occurred the previous year. They were both Episcopalians in religious faith. The paternal grandfather of our subject, John Milling, was a physician also, and lived and died in the Emerald Isle. He had eleven children. Mrs. Susan Milling was one of three children, and her father, likewise, spent his whole life in Ireland.
Dr. J. T. Milling was born in county Louth, Ireland, April 16, 1819. In his school-days he studied Latin and Greek, and chose his course with special reference to taking up medical work later. In accordance with the custom of that time he graduated in the several departments of the Royal College of Surgeons, receiving separate diplomas from each branch. He was graduated in the surgical department in July, 1842, and in the general medical department in 1843. Entering the college in 1839, he was not deemed thoroughly competent to practice until he had spent four years in earnest study and hard work — rather of a contrast, so he found, to the loose methods in vogue on this continent, at the same time, when any man who had spent a few weeks or months in assisting an established physician might set up an office and practice of his own, if he chose to do so. It was in 1843 that Dr. Milling sailed to the United States, and, locating in Princeton, Bureau county, Illinois, he continued to practice there until 1849, when he became a permanent resident of Peru. For years his life was not an easy or desirable one, in many respects, for it meant to ride through all kinds of weather, far and near, across swamps and over roads of the worst possible description, to suffer hardships to which the modern practitioner is an utter stranger. He never neglected the call of the suffering, and rarely considered his own comfort or convenience. He endeared himself to hundreds, and his name has been spoken with love and reverence throughout this locality for years and years.
The sharer of the Doctor's joys and sorrows for almost a half century, his devoted wife, formerly Elizabeth Leech, is still living and is the center of his home and affection. They were married on the loth of July, 1850, and became the parents of two beautiful daughters, both of whom were summoned to the better land when at the threshold of mature life. Mary Virginia died at twenty-three and Frances Elizabeth at eighteen. The parents of Mrs. Milling were John and Mary (Parr) Leech, natives of Dublin, Ireland, who came to America about 1795, when they were children, and with their respective parents settled in the vicinity of Steubenville, Ohio. The latter were pioneers of Jefferson county, Ohio, and at death they were placed to rest in a country cemetery there. In early days John Leech belonged to the state militia of Ohio. About 1833 he came to Illinois and settled on the present site of Peoria, when the only structure there consisted of a fort. At the close of two years or so he went to Putnam county, where he died in 1839. His widow survived him, and died in 1880, at the advanced age of ninety-three years.
From the time that he received the right of franchise in this, the land of his adoption, the Doctor has adhered to the Democratic party. For some four years he served as county coroner, and for two-score years he has been examiner for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. The home in which he and his loved wife have spent almost all of their happy married life was built in 1852, and thus is one of the oldest houses in the town or county. In the summer of 1895 occurred one of the pleasantest events in the quiet but laborious career of this worthy couple. They made a tour of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, visiting the old home of the Doctor in the Emerald Isle, and having a most enjoyable time generally. In religious creed he holds to the one in which he was reared, the Episcopalian, while Mrs. Milling's preference is for the Presbyterian church.
Extracted 26 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 2, pages 424-426.