Ohio Biographies

Isaac Holmes Marshall

ISSAC HOLMES MARSHALL, M.D. The medical profession in Cleveland has many reasons to remember gratefully and lastingly the life and services of Isaac Holmes Marshall. His services were those of a capable physician of advanced ideas and high attainments and he constantly made his profession a medium of broad and beneficent work to the community at large.

He was a Scotch-Irish descent. The founder of this branch of the Marshall family in America was James Marshall, who came from County Tyrone, Ireland, about 1776 with his brother Robert. Both soon afterwards joined the Pennsylvania troops for service in the Revolutionary army. James Marshall and family located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but in 1805 removed to the Western Reserve of Ohio, where they bought a section of land.  

William Marshall, son of James and father of Doctor Marshall, was a soldier in the War of 1812. His wife, Rachel McElroy, was not behind him in patriotic devotion to her country. She rode all the way to Pittsburg on horseback and brought salt in her saddle bags to the soldiers, who very much need that commodity. While her husband was in the service of the country she planted the crops and tended them with the aid of her small children. The Marshalls were pioneers in Trumbull County and their home was the regular meeting place of the Methodists until a separate building could be erected for church purposes in that locality. Rachel McElroy’s grandfather was Adam McElroy, a soldier in the Revolution. Her uncle John McElroy was also Fife Major in Washington’s army.  

Doctor Marshall, grandson of James and Lydia (Carson) Marshall and tenth and youngest child in the family of William and Rachel (McElroy) Marshall, was born September 17, 1821, at Weathersfield in Trumbull County, Ohio. He attended district schools in his native township until fourteen, after which he was sent to a select school in Girard, Pennsylvania, and was a student at the Academy of Ellsworth in Trumbull County until about 1840. Some of his early experiences were as clerk in a grocery and provision store at Milwaukee and as teacher of a district school in Trumbull and Mahoning counties for five or six winters.

In 1845 he began the study of medicine with Doctor Loy of Liberty, Ohio, and then entered the medical department of Western Reserve University under Dr. Jacob J. Delamater and Dr. I. R. Kirtland. He graduated M. D. in February 1847, and soon after taking his diploma began the practice of his profession, at first in Milwaukee, then in Oldtown, Ohio, and finally in Cleveland with his brother-in-law, Dr. Henry Everett. On Coming to Cleveland Doctor Marshall located on Brownell Street, opposite the Erie Street Cemetery. This was the family home until 1872, when they removed to 1012 Euclid Avenue, the house in which Doctor Marshall died after having practiced medicine forty-five years.  

He found in medicine truly a life work, and in the profession he achieved success and more than local reputation. He was especially noted as a diagnostician of eruptive diseases. He had the distinction of being the first surgeon in this country to cure insanity by castration. That successful operation was made in 1864 and is reported in the Medical and Surgical Reporter of Philadelphia in 1865.  

Doctor Marshall served as president, as vice president and treasurer of the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland, was coroner of Cuyahoga County in 1863, was member of the city board of health from 1863 to 1875 and its secretary in 1864, was health officer from 1863 to 1867, was infirmary and city physician from 1863 to 1875, and in 1871 was appointed surgeon of the Travelers Insurance Company. A couple of sentences from the report he made as infirmary physician about 1864 has special interest as items in Cleveland’s history: “I found there had been no means of conveying patients to the hospital but in an open express wagon. Believing to carry a person through the streets with smallpox endangered the public health, therefore I procured a covered vehicle.  

“Recommend the system of sewerage be perfected and urge the passage of an ordinance requiring the owners of property to make sewerage connections and to prevent families from throwing their waste water into the street, thereby keeping up a constant mudhole and stench.”

Doctor Marshall was also a member of the City Council from 1859 to 1861. In 1864 he was treasurer of the Fourth Ward Relief Association for the benefit of the soldiers. In 1872 he also acted as president of the Fourth Ward Republican Club.  

As he was unable to pass the physical examination for surgeon in the Civil war he did what he could in sending troops to the front, in giving his medical service without charge to the soldiers’ families and he had also been active in the conduct of the underground railway for the passage of fugitive slaves. While president of the Fourth Ward Republican Club he presented a handsome banner to Captain McIllrath’s Company B of the Light Guards. He became affiliated with Iris Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, in 1867.  

Personally his distinguishing qualities were honesty of purpose, integrity, kindness and with all a great modesty. Doctor Marshall died at Cleveland March 30, 1895, and was laid to rest in the Lake View Cemetery.  

On October 10, 1848, he married Mary E. Everett, of Liberty, Trumbull County, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Pheil) Everett. Mrs. Marshall died August 15, 1875. Their children are: Everett; Holmes; Sarah R., who married William M. Safford; and Mary E., who became the wife of Dr. Perry L. Hobbs.


From Cleveland, Special Limited Edition, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1918