The three Drs. Meachem
The Meachem Library
Goes with Celebrate Racine Story on The Doctors Meachem — Racine Journal Times, June 30, 1998
Dr. John Goldesbrough Meachem Sr.
The eldest Meachem was born in Axbridge, England, on May 27, 1823. His family moved to New York in 1830. Meachem began his medical education in 1841 at the Geneva Medical College and graduated from Castleton Medical College in 1843. Even though he was the youngest student in the class he wasn’t yet 20 years old he had the highest honors of 150 students.
Meachem moved to Racine in 1862 with his wife, Myraette (Doolittle), and son, John Jr. He had become interested in Racine real estate years earlier through his brother-in-law, Senator Doolittle.
In 1863 Meachem became a surgeon at Camp Utley. He organized the Racine County Medical Society and later became president of the Wisconsin State Medical Society. In 1871, he began working toward the foundation of St. Luke’s Hospital after realizing the city’s need for a health care facility.
He was elected mayor of Racine in 1873 and served three terms.
He died Feb. 1, 1896 at his home, 734 College Ave.
“He was upright, honorable and outspoken in all that was for the good of society and government,” his obituary stated.
Dr. John Goldesbrough Meachem Jr.
Dr. Meachem Sr.’s son, John Jr., was born in New York on June 10, 1846. He moved to Racine with his parents when he was 16 years old. He graduated from Rush Medical College two years later, again the youngest member of the class.
John Jr. was especially interested in obstetrics and was considered one of the best physicians in Racine.
When his father began the push for St. Luke’s Hospital in 1871, John Jr. jumped on the bandwagon. It was his responsibility to find a building for the hospital. He found a double house on Park Avenue and Tenth Street, which the hospital rented for $200 a year.
He served 12 years as president of the Racine Board of Health. He initiated the installation of the city’s first sewers and artesian wells, after studying the lax sanitation and polluted streets.
He married Eliza Smith in December 1870. They had two children, John III and Florence Eliza, who died at the age of 6.
The second Dr. Meachem served Racine for more than 70 years, quitting his practice only when he lost his sight near the end of his life. He died in 1942 at the age of 96.
Dr. John Goldesbrough Meachem III
The youngest “Dr. John” was born Aug. 9, 1873, in his parents’ house on Seventh Street. He graduated from Racine College in 1892, then attended Rush Medical College in Chicago. He graduated with his medical degree in 1897.
This Meachem moved around more than his predecessors. He worked in New York City, London and Chicago. He came back to Racine in 1900, only to leave for California in 1906.
John III returned for good in 1910 and joined his father’s practice. He was a member of the St. Luke’s staff, working as the attendant physician at Maternity Home, Children’s Hospital and St. Luke’s.
In 1924, he served as medical examiner and surgeon for the Racine Fire and Police Commission.
Never married, John III died in 1926 at the age of 53. He willed most of his estate to St. Luke’s Church and hospital.
Dennis Tully: Dr. John G. Meachem and Dr. John G. Meachem, Jr. 409-411 7th St. had a Medical Practice in this building and it was also the residence of Dr. Meachem, Sr. in the 1880’s. The First Presbyterian Church on the Southwest corner of 7th and College Ave. is at far left. The parcel is now part of the Wisconsin Telephone Co. premises. Photo is from the Racine County Historical Collections.