Berry’s book on the eminent Jacksonville surgeon, topic of discussion


A former journalist used a lifetime of experience to write a book about a Jacksonville man who was important not only in his small community but in medical communities around the world during the 1800s.

Robert “Bob” Berry of Springfield wrote “David Prince: Pioneer Surgeon” about a Connecticut doctor who moved to Jacksonville after his family moved to the area while attending medical school of Cincinnati.

“He had an international reputation for his work in orthopedics and plastic surgery,” Berry said of Prince. “In the 1800s, there were few doctors doing specialties. He specialized in not just one, but two – you can add eye surgery to that as well – so he was important in the medical community. ”

Berry, who was the Jacksonville correspondent for the State Journal-Register in Springfield before becoming a director for Jacksonville Municipal Utilities, will talk about his book and sign copies of it on a 7 p.m. show Wednesday at the Jacksonville Public Library.


It is a visit that completes the loop of the book.

“When I retired a few years ago, I wanted to take on a book project because I had plenty of time to research,” Berry said.

While doing some of this research at the Jacksonville library, Berry came across information about Prince.

“I started looking and there was a lot of information on him,” Berry said. “… He was well known nationally and internationally and I thought, ‘It’s not just local history.’ “

Prince moved to Jacksonville in 1843 at the age of 27, after being recruited to teach anatomy and surgery in the medical department at Illinois College, Berry said.

“Not many people know there was a medical department at Illinois College,” he said. “It only lasted five years, for financial reasons.

Prince eventually moved but returned to Jacksonville until his death in 1889.

“Jacksonville was her home,” Berry said. “He was also very active in Jacksonville community activities,” most notably as a member of a literary society like the Jacksonville School Board. A college was later named after him, although it closed in 1957 and became an administrative building before the building was finally demolished.

Prince’s importance – both at home and abroad – has been key for Berry wanting to tell his story, Berry said. But the availability of information, including the more than 100 medical articles Prince has written for various journals, was also high on his list.

“I found a tremendous amount of information,” Berry said, including many of Prince’s writings. “He kept a journal during the Civil War. This meant there was a lot of first person information about him.

Berry will share some of this information, as well as some of his own efforts to write the book, at Wednesday’s conference. He will also sign copies of his book.

“I’m going to give a glimpse, a brief glimpse into his life and his outstanding accomplishments,” Berry said. “… And I will speak about my experience while writing the book.”

“David Prince: Pioneer Surgeon” is available for $ 16.95 from most online booksellers and will be available at a discounted price at Wednesday’s conference, Berry said.

Free entry. Masks are mandatory.


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