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The subject of this sketch was born in Donegal county, Ireland, August 9, 1832. His parents were Thomas and Esther Rankin McAdoo, and Joseph was the oldest of six children, four brothers and two sisters. He came to America with his parents in 1838, locating near West Greenville, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, and there resided till he completed his education, which was partially obtained in the common schools of the county, and completed at Westminister College, and at Philadelphia. He began teaching school at eighteen, teaching in several districts, where others failed because of bad order in the school room. Young McAdoo’s executive ability enabled him to bring order out of chaos and to pass class after class through the advanced arithmetical course in the short term of three months.
For four years he carried on coal and ore mining operations quite successfully, but quit to finish his education. He located in Tiffin, Ohio, in 1856, where be began the successful practice of medicine.
During the civil war, he was, a part of the time, connected with the Ohio National Home Guards, and, in 1864, was chosen first lieutenant of Co. A, 164th Reg. Ohio Vol. Infantry, and at the close of his term, was complimented by President Lincoln. In 1865 he came to Missouri in search of a dryer climate, locating at Huntsville, Randolph county, where he remained till 1867. He then came to Springfield and built the first brick store-house on College street, being the third or fourth erected in the city, where he has for several years conducted a wholesale and retail drug and grocery business. Though he has invariably avoided politics and theology, his turn of mind fits him for such pursuits, as he is physically and mentally combative, and of argumentative and positive character. He was elected to the city council from the 3d ward in 1870 and served through ’71. In 1879, the Republicans headed their city ticket with his name for mayor, and for the first time in 13 years, the entire ticket was elected. Dr. McAdoo was married January 1st, 1857, in Sandusky, Ohio, to Mrs. Mary A. Smith, of Tiffin, Ohio. To this union there were born two daughters and one son, the latter of whom died when six years old.
Mrs. McAdoo and daughters are members of the Calvary Presbyterian church. The doctor’s father and mother died several years ago. Both his grand and great-grand ancestors lived to be over a hundred years old; and the uncle, after whom Joseph was named, is living, at this writing and is upwards of 96. He was born in the same house as Joseph, which house is over 500 years old. All the Rankin family seem to have been born mechanics, and all were of strong mind and positive character. When but five years of age, Dr. McAdoo had small pox, and was sick nine months and blind for six weeks. His strong constitution, however, brought him through that spell as it did also during, the civil war in this country, when he was given up to die at Fort C. F. Smith on Arlington Heights.