Written for the Palatka Weekly News
Died on Tuesday morning, August 5 1889 at his residence, McMeekin, Dr. F.M. McMeekin, of failure of the valvular action of the heart.
There are few readers of the above who will fail to feel a sense of personal loss and bereavement. Dr. McMeekin was not one whose brilliant career had made him popular, nor whose wit and oratorical powers had been the means of securing the respect and affection of all associates. His hold on the public mind was secured by something more enduring, more substantial. It lay in the fact that the general good, the cause of the people was always foremost in his thoughts, conversations and notions. A zealously continued interest in the welfare of all, engendered in them reciprocal feelings of regard which will be as permanent as memory itself; and few there are who do not hold him in respect, and many will miss his counsel.
Francis Marion McMeekin was born in Union District, S.C., January 14, 1830, and was therefore in the fifty-ninth year of his age at his passing. He possessed an inherent quality, energetic perseverance, he was able to graduate from the Charleston Medical College at the session of 1854, and at once began the practice of his profession. Two years later he married Miss Harriet Margaret Glenn Johnson, and in 1858 removed to Florida.
On the breaking out of the war he enlisted in the Confederate service as a surgeon and as field officer; his services as surgeon being almost constantly in demand alone prevented his attaining distinction as a military leader.
At the close of the war he returned to Florida, and combined agriculture and the practice of medicine. His sound judgment and extensive information soon made Dr. McMeekin prominent in county politics, and as evidence of the confidence of the people in him, and a recognition of the value to them of his services, he was repeatedly sent as their representative in the State Legislature, serving in both the upper and lower house.
To say that politically he was a Democrat is like attempting to confine and limit a mighty river to the bed of a brook. His mind was far too comprehensive, his policy too extensive, too far-reaching to enable us to say of any party that set forth his views.
In the scope of his comprehension he was prouder than his party, too liberal and complete to be no more than a Democrat. He had the ability not only of [illegible] issues and problems of his [illegible] and State, but to appreciate in their full importance those great questions of national [illegible] to refuse to assist by his reliable counsel those who might need his help from the hand in fields to the politician in high offices and herein doubtless lay the secret of his lasting popularity. That the political prestige of Dr. McMeekin waned during the last few years is no proof of any depreciation in the worth of his services; rather, it tends to show diminution in the party supporting him, or rather to which he gave support, of those great principles of political integrity and straightforwardness so prominent in his own character.
The contributions from his pen to the columns of various papers of the State always received a careful perusal; and while the theories therein promulgated were not always approved, his articles always possessed a force arising from a consciousness insensibly conveyed, that the writer was speaking from a conviction of right; and the correctness or incorrectness of his ideas time alone will demonstrate: for who is there who possesses a clearer understanding than he himself, and who will presume to assert with authority the fallacy of his views?
To describe the character of Dr. McMeekin is as impossible as it is unnecessary. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and in him was personified in a rare degree the great principles of virtue and integrity, fundamental in that order.
The immediate cause of his death was as stated in the above notice; but his general health had been failing for more than a year. A short time ago he visited some mineral springs in South Carolina, in the hope of improving his health; but on arriving at the springs he was immediately taken worse, his trip having aggravated his diseases. He soon became critical, and his brother was advised by the physicians to return home with him. The journey itself was perilous for one in his condition, but was safely accomplished. He rallied somewhat under the tender ministrations of his own loved ones, but soon began to decline, his ailment being beyond the permanent aid of medical skill.
This continued for over two weeks, and on Tuesday morning, August 5, it was evident that his sufferings were nearly ended; and at 10 o’clock, surrounded by his family and friends, life peacefully ended.
The obsequies were conducted by the Hawthorn Lodge, F. & A. M., Rev. L. J. Burton delivering an eloquent and effective funeral discourse, and the fraternity conducting the interment in Ochwilla Cemetery.
A family circle is broken for the first time; a community has lost one more than simply a good citizen: the county and State a solon in the administration of their affairs. But the loss was unavoidable. The lamp of life burned low, and the darkness of its extinguishment extends far more than a local territory. All, feeling a personal sorrow, extend only the more warmly their empathy to the bereaved relatives.
The loss is irreparable; a vacancy is left which cannot be filled, for Dr. McMeekin possessed and individuality, distinct personality of his own, whose counterpart will not be found; but in the common grief let all draw instruction from the lessons in the book of life just closed.
With deep sorrow we record the death of Dr. F. M. McMeekin, of McMeekin, Putnam County. The State of Florida marks his loss, for they can ill afford to spare from the ranks a citizen of such unswerving integrity and undoubted ability. The obituary notice in another column expresses all we could of said. Those who knew Dr. McMeekin in either public of private life will appreciate that notice, while those who have settled in Florida since sickness came to him readily understand what and irreparable loss our county mourns.