Biography - R. C. FLOWER

The gentleman, whose portrait appears above, is the second son of Alfred and Elizabeth Flower, and grandson of George Flower. He was born near Albion, in Edwards county, Illinois, December 16th, 1849. His father, Alfred Flower, was a minister, and, like many ministers in early times, witnessed the inconveniences of limited circumstances. He made, however, an extraordinary effort to give his children, in their early years, an education. By great efforts and sacrifices on the part of his parents the best teachers of that day were employed and boarded in the house that they might devote their entire time to the education and improvement of their children. At the age of thirteen, R. C. Flower, a frail and delicate boy, desirous of obtaining a more thorough education, left his prairie home and went to Indianapolis, Indiana. His trials and struggles for years in search of knowledge were numerous, bitter and long indeed the events of this period of his life would make a long and interesting history in itself two hundred miles from home, an entire stranger in the city, he entered college with three dollars and seven cents in his pocket, which was his entire capital. Every cent he spent he had, by his own efforts, to first earn. Fortunately he had settled in his own mind the precept "that the man must make the circumstances, rather than the circumstances the man." In his college course he studied theology, law, and medicine, and, being early admitted to the bar, he had before him a most promising future. Owing to early influences and the advice of his associates he was induced to abandon the profession of his choice and enter the ministry. He belonged to the Disciple or Christian church, a denomination of great strength in the west. He always had one of the most desirable churches in the denomination for his charge, and preached extensively in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. Within four years he held fourteen public discussions, and, in many instances, with the leading and champion debaters of other denominations. Mr. Flower's oratorical parry and thrust style of argumentation rendered him a formidable antagonist to meet in debate. Shrewd, smart, quick and of astonishing self-possession, he never became excited yet never failed to excite his opponent. By masterly eloquence and irresistible magnetism he would carry his foes as well as his friends, and in the excitement of the moment compel his opponents to cheer his arguments against their own belief. In wit he had few equals; in pathos and sarcasm, none.
During all this time R. C. Flower continued his studies in medicine, purely because of his love for the science. In December, 1875, he went to Alliance, Ohio, to take charge of a large and wealthy church. As usual, the crowds to hear him became very great, so that no house in the city could hold his vast audiences. It was soon whispered round that the eloquent preacher was not sound in the faith that he was not sound on the questions of baptism, hell, personal devil, hereditary depravity and many other church doctrines. This created an intense excitement in the denomination. Convention after convention was held to try the young preacher for heresy. But no trial was ever held; the eloquent tongue, shrewd and fertile brain, defeated the plans of his opponents, and, under all circumstances, would he carry the conventions as he would a public audience. This done, R. C. Flower publicly withdrew from the denomination, and carried with him his entire church, with a few unimportant exceptions. He organized an Independent church upon a broad and liberal basis - a church he claimed "should be free from all priestcraft, popecraft, bookcraft, and all superstitious and illiberal doctrines, and that it should be as broad as the wants of man, as deep as his fall, and as high as his aspirations."
He built a large and magnificent house of worship upon the highest point in the center of the city; and today this Independent church stands forth (a monument of his success) as one of the largest, wealthiest and most influential societies in all the State.
About this time, Dr. R C. Flower went actively into the practice of medicine. In less than four months (on account of his almost miraculous success), his practice became so great, he was compelled to employ assistant physicians as well as establish a large health institute. His success in the practice of medicine more than outrivaled all his preceding achievements.
His practice drifted largely eastward, and the Doctor finally determined to move to the great cities of the east where he could more successfully operate his almost supernatural healing powers. In accordance with these feelings, he sold out his Institute in February, 1880, and transferred his practice to Philadelphia, and New York. From this on, his practice became very great. His cures were so numerous, and so phenomenal, that he became a wonder in the east. Always anxious to live in Boston, and many attractions drawing him to the hub, he gave up his beautiful residence on Fifth Avenue, New York, and transferred his practice in May, 1882, to the Athens of America. In Boston he has built up a practice which is said by many to be the largest in the world.
His offices are some distance from his residence, and under no circumstances will he mingle business with the pleasures of his home. A phenomenal feature in his practice is his method of diagnosing disease. He never asks a patient his trouble, but the instant he takes the hand of a sick person, he tells most accurately the disease in all its ramifications. This phenomenal phase of his practice, has brought to him thousands upon thousands of patients, and it is claimed that out of upwards of one hundred thousand examinations he has never made a mistake. In the business world Dr. R. C. Flower is as great a wonder as he is in the practice of medicine. It is said by his most intimate friends, that in all his many business enterprises he has never lost a dollar. His intuitional powers in detecting the actual condition of the markets seem almost infallible. If he buys stocks they go up, if he sells, they go down. He has made fortunes for many of his friends, and saved many from ruin, by advising them when to buy, and when to sell. He is largely interested in some of the largest manufacturing companies in New England, also some of the largest and richest mining companies in the world.
He is a man of great individuality, a man of methods, and a man, who from all appearances, does the work of a hundred men.
He never went into any thing which did not succeed, and some of his friends, prominent and leading minds in the business world, unhesitatingly declare (as superstitious as the statement may seem to some) that over his every movement is a star of destiny which enables him to evolve success out of any enterprise.
Within the last few years Dr. Flower has made some large fortunes, and fortunes has he given to his friends and the needy around him. He gave away last year to his needy patients, over fifty-nine thousand dollars. No patient was ever turned away because he was too poor to pay, and no beggar ever left his door hungry and empty in pocket. Regarding his religious views, we have been permitted to quote the following extract from a letter written by Dr. R. C. Flower, in December, 1882, to an old friend in Philadelphia, in answer to these three questions.
"First. What value has money to you? 2d. What is your religion? 3d. What are your ideas of good and evil?" "In answer to your questions, I would say. First. Money has no value to me except for the pleasure it gives to others; according to the pleasure you get out of a dollar, is the dollar valuable; and a dollar which never makes a human being happy, is a valueless, useless coin.
"Second. I do not hold to any special church creed. I have long since given up the sham of shadow and form. To me, religion is to do as you would be done by, to enjoy yourself, and to give to others all possible pleasure. To do something worthy of a healthy brain, worthy of an existence, worthy of an infinite soul, and to leave the world better for having lived. I believe in the ultimate and just punishment of all sin and in the final happiness of all men. I believe that the more lovely, pure, gentle and beautiful you make this life, you will begin in correspondingly beautiful conditions in the life to come. I hold that every man has a right to express his honest thoughts; thought is like a river, rather than a stationary pool, it grows deeper and broader with the birth of every second. Thought in the loco-power which never exhausts, tires nor wanes, and moves the ship of life to-day through brighter seas, and beneath fairer skies than those of the past; makes the new a possibility, and generates every day a bud for to-morrow's blossom. Thought is the sun of the harvest, the star in darkness, the dew drop of all foliage. For me to honestly and constantly think is right; hence it cannot be wrong for me to express my honest thoughts. I believe in the immortality of man, and that no clouds, mists, or barriers exist, or can exist, between the spirit world and the intuitional spiritual minded person.
"Third. - Good is pleasure - evil is sorrow. All sorrow is evil, all pleasure is good. To cause sorrow, to allow it to exist when you can prevent it is to do evil. To create pleasure, to perpetuate it, is to create and perpetuate the germ essence of goodness. The following verses, as they come to me, still better express ray idea of good."
There is no good outside of that which helps a human soul;
There is no creed of all the creeds that's worth a pence,
Except the creed of pure good deeds richly given to those in need
And ever from the soul of love flowing hence.
Good is a deed or word ever so small or feebly spoken,
Designed to lift a burden, to cheer the weary heart of struggling life.
Rest to the trudging form and hope to blighted prospects crushed and riven,
The feeblest effort to light the lip with smiles in lieu of shadows from disappointments' night.
Doing because it is sweet to do something to help another,
Conscious that the lowest human life is my sister or my brother,
Defending the abused and down-trodden, uplifting the fallen and weak,
Not ashamed to help the lowest, nor too proud to see the poorest, nor afraid to the vilest to speak.
Dissolve my life into such a creation, that from every step and from every pulsation
Burst a ray of light to guide some eye, a mountain spring some soul to revive
A breast of hope in which some broken life may trust and rest in peace,
A life which will cast in the human form, a face that can never shed aught but a smile.
Inspires the eye to piteously see the homes of want, though palaces are unobserved.
The ear and heart to hear and heed the muffled cry from the vilest soul, sin stained and crushed,
Though cursed by the world for plucking from the field of thorns
This bruised and sin stained bud of heaven.
Good is to do to my neighbor's child as I would have my neighbor do to mine.
Never a pit so deep, so dark, so wild and vile,
Into which if my dear child should fall,
I would not move the earth and heaven to pluck him from the burning.
Thus should every child be loved and sought and saved,
And doing good is doing that which does all this,
And nothing less is doing good as he would do who said to others do
As you would have to yourself others do.
This is my creed and such shall be my life,
Nothing less can I accept - nothing more can I conceive,
Thus will I make the world better for having therein lived,
And better will I be for having lived therein."
Dr. R. C Flower's palatial residence on Commonwealth avenue is one of the finest in the city; the situation is the choicest on what is claimed by Bostonians to be the grandest and most superb of all American streets. Here the hand of art and design has played a great part the cost has never been considered in giving comfort, elegance, and beauty to this model home, and within these radiant rooms and granite walls live the happiest hearts of earth. The Doctor takes great interest in his home, and in every little thing about the place. He might be considered a domestic man, for when not actually engaged in his business he is at home, or with his family at some place of amusement, or riding with them behind his prancing span.
He has been twice married. First in December, 1870, to Miss Ella Nicholson, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, a most beautiful, elegant, and highly accomplished woman; she died in 1876 of quick consumption. In this marriage four sons were born, two of whom preceded their mother to the spirit world, the other two are living.
In the summer of 1877 Dr. Flower was married to Miss Mayde M. Manfull, of Alliance, Ohio. This young, loveable and gifted woman possessing rare attainments, was a great favorite with all who knew her, and was well fitted for the position her marriage called her to fill. The Doctor has been remarkably fortunate in his marriages, and this he appreciates, for his devotion to his home and family is almost idolatry. By his second marriage he has one child, a daughter.
We close this biographical sketch of one of the most remarkable of men. A man who is a thorough success in every thing, who has made for himself and others a heaven on earth, and has settled beyond doubt that by study, industry and integrity you can attain eminence, and realize and enjoy most fully your own triumphs.

Extracted 12 Aug 2017 by Norma Hass from 1883 A Combined History of Edwards, Lawrence, and Wabash Counties, Illinois, page 225.

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