The subject of this sketch has gained prestige in the healing art, which
is always the outcome of close application and the ability to apply theory
to practice in the treatment of diseases. Good intellectual training,
thorough professional knowledge, have made the subject of this review
successful in this chosen calling, having been in practice here for over a
quarter of a century, during which time he has built up a lucrative
Dr. G. W. Downey was born in Princeton, Indiana, March 1, 1832, the son of William and Anna (Davis) Downey. Grandfather Downey, who was a millwright, which trade he followed all his life, was born in Ireland, came to America and settled in Virginia, where he spent the remainder of his life, and where he reared his children, being survived by six children, who lived to maturity. There were three ministers in the family. Grandfather Davis, who was also from Ireland, came to America and settled in Tennessee, later removing to Indiana, where he spent the remainder of his days, devoting his life to farming, living to an advanced age and rearing a family consisting of four daughters.
The father of our subject, who was born in Virginia, moved to Indiana when he reached manhood and followed his trade, that of millwright, having learned it from his father, but feeling that he was called to higher work, he abandoned this and developed into a Cumberland Presbyterian minister of considerable notoriety, living to be over sixty years old. He was the father of twelve children, of whom the subject of this sketch was the youngest. The wife of Rev. Downey passed away at the age of sixty-four years.
Doctor Downey attended school in Indiana and when a young man worked out as a day laborer, his family being poor, making it necessary for him to earn his own living, but while somewhat unpleasant, it was good discipline for him and he developed an individuality which made greatly for subsequent success. Saving what he could with a view to obtaining a higher education, he was enabled in a few years to enter college at Newberry, Indiana. Believing that his true life work lay along medical lines, he began the study of medicine in Indiana. He took a medical course in Chicago and later in Iowa, having made a good record for scholarship in both.
Our subject practiced medicine for a period of four years before the breaking out ot the Civil war, in which he took conspicuous part, having been one of the patriotic volunteers who went forth to battle for the nation's rights. He enlisted in October, 1861, in Company F, Fifty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served two years. He was in the great battle of Corinth, having been through the siege there; also took part in other engagements and marches in which his regiment participated, and was discharged on account of disease contracted while in line of duty.
After the war our subject returned to practice, locating in Hamilton county, Illinois, later removing to Washington county, then to Marion county in 1882, and has been in practice here ever since. Wherever he has practiced he has left an honorable name and a reputation as a high class physician and a conscientious citizen.
Doctor Downey was united in marriage in 1858 to Margaret Pace, daughter of Joseph Pace, whose people were originally from Kentucky. Seven children were born to our subject and wife, two of whom are deceased. Those living are: Annie, the widow of Cyrus Hamilton; Homer is married and has two children; Ada is the wife of a Mr. Knox and the mother of three children; Corrine is married and has one child; George is the fifth child and youngest. A singular coincidence in the history of the Pace family is the fact that Mrs. Downey's grandmother on the father's side of the house fell and broke a hip; Mrs. Downey's father also fell and broke a hip; later his twin brother broke his hip in a similar manner; then his daughter fell and broke her hip; later Mrs. Downey's brother fell and broke his hip; finally Mrs. Downey fell, breaking her hip, from which she has become a life cripple. In each case it was the right hip.
Our subject is a member of the ancient and honorable Masonic fraternity. Both he and his wife are members of the Methodist church, the latter having been a church member since she was fourteen years old. In politics Doctor Downey is a Republican, and he has the interests of his community at heart, ever laboring for its development along political, religious and educational lines. His comfortable and well furnished home in Sandoval is frequented by his many friends and those of the family, and holds high rank in this community.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 545-546.