Biographical Sketch of Dr. Robert Nicholas Ross

January, 1837 – May 15, 1898

Robert Nicholas Ross was born in the month of January, 1837 in Shelby County, Tennessee to the farming family of William and Cary Ross.  (Of note, in the 1850 U. S. Census, John Ross, age 26, assumed to be a sibling to Robert, appears in the family with the occupation of physician.)  In 1857 Robert was a freshman at Andrews College at Trenton, Gibson County, Tennessee.  “Before the war he came to Lonoke, then Prairie County.” 1  “He went into the army.  A wound received there from which every now and then all through life he suffered more or less unfitted him for longer service as a soldier, and he was discharged.”2

On July 31,  1862 he and Nancy M Kirk were married in Brownsville, Prairie County.  In the 1870 U. S. Federal Census the couple’s home is in Prairie, Pulaski County and they were the parents of son Samuel W., age 2, and daughter Maggie, age nine months.  Robert’s occupation is given as physician.  In the 1880 census they were the parents of sons Samuel W., age 12 and Emmett K., age 5 and daughter Jewell, age 3 and living in Lonoke, Lonoke Arkansas.  Wife Maggie died on April 28, 1893 and is buried in Lonoke Cemetery.  Dr. Ross remarried on September 6, 1894 to L J Howell in Lonoke County.

“His payments, normally, were most likely a side of pork, maybe a dozen eggs, possibly a hen or a pound of butter.  Such payments were in lieu of money which in those days was noticeably absent or not plentiful.

On many occasions Dr. Ross was asked in help in choosing a name for the new baby he had delivered, if it was a girl, he named her Jewell for his only daughter.”

“Dr. R. N. Ross, physician, is serving Lonoke station.  The Lonoke, becoming involved in debt by the building of a new church, Dr. Ross who is a local preacher as well as a prominent physician, serves the church without salary, allowing his salary to go on the debt, thus himself paying $800 per annum.”4

“In his profession, he won at the first, and retained the affection and confidence of his patrons.  If in this line he had a fault it was because his plastic heart responded we might say too readily and deeply to the sick whom he attended.

Dr. Ross died in his home at 8 o’clock Sunday morning, May 15, 1898.  “It seemed a fitting hour.  The first bells had not sounded, and everything was still and peaceful in town, the upbuilding and support of which he had labored so faithfully and unremittingly.”5

“Dr. Ross has done more than the average citizen in protecting the fair name of Lonoke and has been identified with every good work, looking to the reform of that town.  He was beloved by all people, a friend to all classes and races.  He was a practicing physician and pastor of the Methodist Church.  His loss will be felt many days in Lonoke, especially with the people of his church.”6 Burial was in Lonoke Cemetery.

1 Encyclopedia of Arkansas: Brownsville served as the county seat of Prairie County for twenty-two years, 1846 until 1868.  In 1873 Lonoke County was created.  Brownsville is now a part of Lonoke County.

2 Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock, Arkansas), May 20, 1898, Page 6

3  “Dr. Robert Nicholas Ross”, Shirley McGraw, Lonoke County Museum

4 The Southern Standard (Arkadelphia, Arkansas) May 20, 1898 Page 2

 5 Arkansas Democrat op. cit., Page 6

6 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee) May 23, 1898, Page 8


John T. Mitchell, BBA                     June 17, 2023