PALMER, GEORGE THOMAS, M.D. - That the professional man, in spite of the exactions of his calling, may prove himself of inestimable worth to the community in which he resides, by taking an active part in its civic betterment, is demonstrated in the experience of Dr. George Thomas Palmer, to whom belongs the credit of having placed the health department of the city of Springfield upon a sound and efficient basis. Dr. Palmer was born here March 7, 1875, being the son of John Mayo and Ellen Clark (Robertson) Palmer, and grandson of Senator John M. Palmer. The latter, who became one of Illinois most eminent men, was born in Scott County, Kentucky, but came to Illinois, where he was educated in Shurtleff College. At the beginning of the Civil War, he was made Colonel of the Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Regiment; later becoming Major-General in charge of the Fourteenth Army Corps. Still later, he was made Military Governor of Kentucky, and directed the affairs of that Commonwealth as only a man of his unusual executive ability could have done. His incumbency of the gubernatorial chair of Illinois, to which he was elected on the Republican ticket, was marked by a brilliant and forceful administration, and he was equally valuable in the United States Senate. His election as Senator was made on the Democratic platform, but during the money troubles and free silver agitation, he cast his influence with the gold Democrats, and ran on the ticket of that party for President. Dr. Palmer was equally fortunate in his maternal grandfather, Dr. William A. Robertson, who was a well know student, physician and philanthropist of Carlinville, Illinois. An enduring monument to his memory exists in Robertson Hall of Blackburn College, which he built.
John Mayor Palmer, father of Dr. Palmer, was born in Carlinville, Illinois, March 10, 1848, and his wife was born in the same place. Mr. Palmer attended Blackburn College and was graduated from the Harvard Law School with the degree of LL. B. For many years he was engaged in the practice of law with his father and the late William E. Shutt, but in 1888, he went to Tacoma, Washington, later to remove to Chicago, where he formed a partnership with ex-United States Senator James R. Doolittle, of Wisconsin, and Edgar B. Tolman, under the firm name of Doolittle, Palmer & Tolman. So distinguished was his career in Chicago, that he was made Corporation Counsel of Chicago under Mayor John P. Hopkins. Mr. Palmer, who was recognized by his colleagues as one of the most brilliant student lawyers of the State, died at Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1904.
Dr. Palmer passed his boyhood in Springfield and in the State of Washington, attending successively the public schools of Springfield, Wyman Institute at Upper Alton, Illinois, and Washington College, at Tacoma, Washington. In 1898, he was graduated from the Medical Department of the Northwestern University. While still a boy in Springfield, he edited an amateur paper, a paper at Wyman Institute, now the Western Military Academy; was editor of the first school paper in the State of Washington, and has always retained his interest in literary and journalistic work. In connection with his brother, Robertson Palmer, and Herbert S. Hadley, now Governor of Missouri, he managed the Northwestern Law Review, and later became the first manager of the Bulletin of the Northwestern University Medical School. For eight years, he was editor and publisher of The Chicago Clinic, having associated with him Dr. Marcus P. Hatfield, Professor of Pediatrics in the Medical Department of the University of Illinois, and in the Chicago Clinical School.
On leaving medical school, Dr. Palmer engaged in the practice of medicine in Chicago, and, serving under Dr. Marcus P. Hatfield, became instructor in the disease of children in the Chicago Clinical School and founder of the Trinity Diet Kitchen for Infants, the first milk charity for infants to be established in the West. In 1903, he was made assistant secretary of the Illinois State Board of Health and upon his appointment to that office, he returned to Springfield. In 1905, Dr. Palmer rendered valuable service when in charge of the yellow fever quarantine at Cairo, but his desire to resume his professional work, brought about his resignation in 1907, and he entered the private practice in Springfield. In 1909, his public health service received public recognition and he was appointed head of the Health Department by Major John S. Schnepp, which office he now holds. During his administration, he has succeeded in completely reorganizing the department and placing it in a position of efficiency said to be second to none other in the State, and with all the improvement in public service, the expenditures of the office were reduced almost $3,000 during the first year. He is now Trustee of the Orphanage of the Holy Child; Director and First Vice President of the Illini Country club, and is physician to the Springfield Hospital, the Old Ladies' Home for the Friendless. He has served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Sangamon County Medical Society and belongs to the Illinois State Medical Society and belongs to the Illinois State Medical Society, the American Medical Association, the Chicago Medical Society, the Chicago pediatric Society and the American Medical Editors' Association. He is a very prominent member of Christ Episcopal Church and is a member of the vestry of that organization.
Dr. Palmer is also a member of the committee chosen by the Chicago Tuberculosis Institute to organize a state wide crusade against tuberculosis, and is Chairman of the Committee on public Hygiene of the Illinois State Conference of Charities and Corrections.
On June 22, 1898, Dr. Palmer was married at Alton, to Maude Gregg. Mrs. Palmer has been exceedingly active in civic and philanthropic work in Springfield, serving as President of the Springfield Woman's Club for the year 1909-1910.