Sunday, July 24, 2011

Backward Glance - Eugene Marguerat

The journey for Eugene Marguerat from his birth near Lausanne, Switzerland, to finally settling in Chicago, Illinois, held many twists and turns. Born to a prominent clergyman, Isaac Marguerat, and his wife, Barbara Lisette Debonneville, on June 7, 1829, Eugene received his early education in Lausanne, graduating from the National College of Lausanne. He was known to be especially accomplished in Latin, as well as a knowledge of Greek and the ancient classics.  He traveled to Paris, France, where he began his study of medicine. 

In 1850, with other young men, he departed from his studies for a time and took passage on the St. Denis for America in pursuit of land and fortune as a farmer. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America in Tioga County, New York, on August 6, 1855.

After visiting western New York, he was persuaded that his future did not lie in farming. He took a position as a professor at Owego Acadamy, teaching French and the classic languages. One of his students in French literature was John D. Rockefeller. Eugene taught there for three years. He was also a proponent of Esperanto.

As soon as he was able, he resumed his medical training. In 1855, he entered Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, receiving a degree in 1857. He matriculated to the medical department of New York University, where he graduated in 1859, and received his diploma in 1860. He also studied cases at Bellevue Hospital in New York, and in Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. He was first a practicing physician in Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York, under the tutelage of Charles A. Coryell, where Eugene was enumerated as living in the John Hedden household in 1860.

Also living in Ithaca with Dr. Coryell was his granddaughter, Grace Eliza Coryell. On October 10, 1860, Grace and Eugene were married, presumably in Ithaca. 

In 1861, Eugene was found worthy by the state of New York to serve as a surgeon to the troops during the Civil War. However, having removed to Chicago in 1862, he volunteered there and was sent to care for the sick and wounded at the Battle of Pittsburg Landing (Shiloh). He fought the epidemics of cholera and smallpox in the early days of Chicago.

His list of accomplishments and associations is substantial.
  • Chicago Medical Society, 1863-1907
  • Woman's Hospital, founding member
  • Woman's Medical College of Chicago, founding member, professor
  • French Benevolent Society
  • Swiss Benevolent Society
  • Freemasonry, lodges of Rome & Constantine
  • Transcontinental Aerial navigation Company (air ship), incorporator
Eugene & Grace Marguerat were prominent citizens of Chicago, and were often seen in the social pages. They had seven children: Claire Elise, William Allen, Charles Coryell, Eugene Francois, George Coryell, Henri Debonneville and John Parsons.

His life seems to have been one during which learning and service played central roles. On March 7, 1907, Dr. Eugene Marguerat died of a cerebral hemorrhage, surrounded by his family. His remains were cremated at Graceland Cemetery, as was his wish.

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