Friday, August 20, 2010

Francis X. Crawford

Year Served: 1911 to 1915

Boston’s last Port Physician was Francis Crawford, a Harvard Medical School graduate who spent over ten years working for various Boston hospitals before taking a position with the quarantine department. Crawford was given the opportunity to serve as Port Physician when his immediate supervisor, William M. Gay resigned his post on September 1, 1911. During the previous six months Crawford served as the assistant port physician when a cholera scare jolted the Mayor Collins and Samuel Durgin, Chairman of the Board Health, into action to avert a potential crisis. In July 1911, Crawford assisted with preparations to make Gallop’s Island capable of housing a large number of potential cholera cases. According to the July 25, 1911 Boston Daily Globe, the Boston Board of Health, held a conference with acting Mayor Collins to transfer $5,800 to the quarantine department for beds. The bed were needed so that “passengers on two steamers expected to arrive at Boston on Aug 1 from cholera infected ports of Europe may be kept on Gallops island, the city quarantine station, during the incubation period of cholera germ.”

The city’s concern with communicable disease was at epic proportions in the years just before World War I and Crawford was at the center of these concerns. As European immigrants continued to arrive in Boston by the thousands the Crawford saw growing pressures to turn the quarantine department over to the federal government. Since 1893, the U.S. Public Health Service had been directing state and local operated quarantine stations in the proper disinfection and medical inspection procedures required to comply with federal law and international sanitation treaties. Mayor John Francis Fitzgerald was hesitant to relinquish control over quarantine services. After all, it represented an important public service and gave him the ability to offer patronage positions to the wide range of “hangers on” that lived in the Irish neighborhoods of South Boston.

Within three years of his appointment Crawford would know that his position as port physician would soon end and be taken over by the U.S. Public Health Service. Anticipating a transition a federally managed quarantine station, Crawford worked behind the scenes to convince Mayor Fitzgerald’s successor, the legendary Michael Curley to cut a deal with the U.S. Surgeon General. The city would be happy to turn the quarantine station over to the USPHS but the deal must ensure that Crawford and some of his staff were retained as federal workers under the USPHS operation of Gallop’s Island. His backroom deals were finally realized in the spring of 1915 when the Boston City Council agreed to sell the quarantine station and Gallop’s Island to the U.S. Government.

When the city transferred its quarantine department to the federal government, Surgeon Samuel B. Grubbs of the USPHS arrived in Boston and assumed charge of the quarantine station at Gallup's Island effective June 1st. The agreement provided that the federal government would hold the lease of the station for one year at an annual rental of $1 pending the agreement as to the price for which the station shall be sold by the city. It also provided for the federal government take over of city employees in the quarantine service so that Dr. Francis X. Crawford could continue in service under Dr. Grubbs.

Crawford’s work for the USPHS did not last long. By 1924, the Boston Daily Globe reported that Crawford was working for United Fruit destined for the Canal Zone. The duties of the medical inspectors working for the USPHS were enervating to most ordinary mortals and Crawford probably saw the need to move on to less tiring work. After all, at the time of his transition to the USPHS, he was one of the oldest physicians to ever work in the quarantine department. Crawford’s work as the medical director for the United Fruit Company may have resulted from his wide ranging connections with the shipping magnates in the Boston area.

Crawford died on August 19, 1944 aged 71, of cerebral hemorrhage.


1. JAMA, 1911, Vol. 57, No. 14, September 30, 1911, p. 1142

2. Dr-Gay Port Physician., Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922); Mar 14, 1911; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Boston Globe (1872 - 1979) pg. 9

3. JAMA, 1911, Vol. 64, No. 25, June 19, 1915, p. 2076.

4. Port of Boston, Boston Daily Globe, January 13, 1924, p. 11

5. JAMA Vol. 126, No. 11, November 11, 1944, p. 721.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thodore Dexter

Years Served: 1825 to 1826

While little is known of the life of Theodore Dexter we know he had a very short service as Port Physician to the city of Boston. The Boston City Council selected Dexter for the position after Thomas Welsh, one of the city’s most popular physicians of the early 19th century, chose not to be considered for the post. His service occurred at a time when the city of Boston had little public health leadership reflecting Mayor Josiah Quincy’s belief that such decisions should be managed by elected officials – not laymen who had managed the Independent Board of Health from 1799 to 1822.

Within a year of his public service he returned to private practice and was actively engaged as a general practitioner at his office on 56 Hanover Street in Boston where he offered an “extensive assortment of medicines and surgical instruments of the best quality.” A public advertisement he placed in the Boston Medical Intelligencer claimed that all of his “preparations of Medicines called for, and all prescriptions will be put up with attention, punctuality, and accuracy.”

Theodore Dexter, son of William Dexter, of Mansfield, Connecticut, and grandson of Jonathan and Sarah (Rice) Dexter, was born in 1791. His mother was Lurania, daughter of Uriah and Irene (Case) Hanks, of Mansfield, Connecticut. His father settled in Hartford about 1795, and was engaged in the manufacture of combs. The son was prepared for College by his pastor, the Rev. Abel Flint (Yale 1785). When he entered Yale he gave his Christian name as Theodorus.

After graduation he studied medicine in Hartford with Dr. Mason F. Cogswell (Yale 1780), and in August, 1814, entered the United States service as Hospital Surgeon, stationed at Charlestown, Massachusetts. He retired from the service in June, 1815, and settled in Boston for the practice of his profession. About the middle of June, 1817, he married Sarah H. Fowle, of Boston. He was admitted to membership in the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1818 and with the exception of his one year appointment to the Port Physician post, was engaged in a private medical practice for the duration of his career.

He continued in Boston until his death on September 7, 1849, which occurred in Quechee Village, Windsor County, Vermont, while on a tour for the benefit of his health, at the age of 58. He was buried in Boston. One son and three daughters survived him.


1. Boston Medical Intelligencer, 1827, Vol. 5, No. 25, November 26, 1827, p. 408.

2. Dexter, Franklin Bowditch, Biographical sketches of the graduates of Yale college with annals of the College History, Vol. 6,Yale University Press, 1912, p. 470.

Edward A. Whiston

Years Served: 1865 to 1867

Edward A. Whiston, Boston’s eighth port physician was born on November 19, 1838 the son of Francis C. Whiston and Mary Eliza Andem. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in March 1861 after completing his thesis on anesthetics. Undoubtedly he was in contact John C. Warren who was the leading expert in the use of anesthetics and also had served as one of Boston’s Consulting Physicians from 1824 to 1857. Five months after graduating from medical school he was commissioned assistant surgeon the Sixteenth infantry regiment at the rank of first lieutenant on August 1, 1861. His commander was Colonel Powell T. Wyman of the Sixteenth regiment. The 16th regiment was recruited at camp “Cameron” Cambridge and was mostly composed of Middlesex County men. He left the Commonwealth for the seat of war on August 17, 1861 under the command of Colonel Powell T. Wyman, a West Point graduate and an accomplished officer. He spent over a year in Virginia providing medical support to his regiment during some of the most horrific battles of the Civil War including Kettle Run (August 27, 1862) and Bull Run (August 29th and 30th, 1862).

He was in charge of the 3rd corps hospital at Gettysburg and a field hospital of the army at Potomac. He was promoted to major surgeon of the Massachusetts First Infantry on March 5, 1863. He then mustered out on May 28, 1864. By May 25, 1865 he was admitted to the Massachusetts Medical Society as a fellow. Mayor Frederick Walker Lincoln Jr. appointed him Port Physician for the City of Boston from June 7, 1865.

His appointment lasted until February 28, 1867 a two year stint of duty which was one of the most important transition periods for the city’s quarantine station. During this time, its detention center was expanded from Deer Island to include the more remote Gallop’s Island, a 16 acre island named after the Indian fighter Captain John Gallop.

His marriage plans and desire to lead a normal life undoubtedly influenced his decision to step down as Port Physician. The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal of October 20, 1870 noted his marriage to Miss Emily P. Call of Charlestown on October 13, 1870. According to the Boston Globe he died on February 23, 1909 at the home of his daughter on Rockrimmon Avenue in Springfield, MA. He was survived by a son William E. Whiston of Boston and a daughter from Springfield, MA.


1. Accessed online: Massachusetts Vital records for Edward A. Whiston.\

2. Shattuck, George C., Annual Address delivered to the Annual Commencement of the Medical School of Harvard University, March 6, 1861, Boston, David Clapp Printers, p. 16.

3. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Massachusetts in the Army and Navy during the war of 1861-1865, vol. 2, p. 391.

4. Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, December 1, 1862, Boston, Wright and Potter State printers, 1863, pp. 186-190.

5. Harrington, Thomas Francis, The Harvard Medical School, A history, Narrative and Documentary: 1782-1905, Vol. II, New York, Lewis Publishing Co., 1905, p. 956.

6. Military Affairs, Boston Daily Advertiser, March 16, 1863, Vol. 101, Issue 77, p. 1.

7. Medical Communications, Massachusetts Medical Society, January 21, 1866; 10: American Periodical Series Online, p. 137.

8. Boston Daily Advertiser, June 7, 1865, Vol. 105, issue 133, p. 1. The advertiser announced his appointment by the Board of Aldermen.

9. Miscellany, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, October 20, 1870, p. 260.

10. Boston Globe, Well Known in Boston, Dr Edward A. Whiston Passes Away at Springfield, Boston Daily Globe, February 24, 1909, p. 3.

Silas Emlyn Stone

Years Served: 1863 to 1865

Silas Stone was born in Walpole Massachusetts on August 10, 1838, graduated Harvard Medical School in 1860. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, he offered his services to the Union, and on September 16, 1861 was commissioned assistant surgeon, with the rank of first lieutenant of the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment. He served in General Burnside’s successful expedition against North Carolina, and was present at the battles of Roanoke Island and Newbern where he contracted fever and was sent home. He was honorably discharged for physical disabilities contracted in the service, from which he never entirely recovered.

For the next two years he held the posts of Port Physician of Boston and physician of the City Institution on Deer Island. At the age of 25 he became the youngest man serve as port physician, a post he assumed on June 23, 1863 after the retirement of John Moriarty, Stone stayed on the island until July 15, 1865, several months after the Civil War ended. He then settled in his native town of Walpole in association with his father, Dr. Ebenezer Stone; and on the latter’s death in 1869 succeeded to his father’s practice in Walpole and vicinity which he successfully continued nearly a score of years until his own death on January 29, 1887. His work and that of his father resulted in a continuous medical practice in Walpole of Drs. Ebenezer and Silas E. Stone extended over a period of sixty years.

Historians of his day described Dr. Stone as a man of superior judgment and intelligence, polished and genial manner, and cultured refinement. He was held in high regard by the community in which he lived. He was active in the Norfolk Medical Society during his later years even though, after the war his health was precarious. For his own pleasure he occasionally traveled extensively both in Europe and America. His strong sense of duty and public spirit were shown in his bold stand on behalf of the employees of the large hair factory in Walpole, which compelled the owners to adopt disinfection of their materials to prevent charbon or anthrax, a distressing and then obscure disease which his monograph was considered an authority at the time. His seminal work on anthrax in Massachusetts is one of the earliest epidemiological studies of the occupational hazards of this disease in America.

It was worthy to note that Silas Stone married Sarah Elizabeth Hawes on October 6, 1861, less than two years before he became port physician for the Boston quarantine establishment. It is quite likely that Dr. Stone chose to return to work in Walpole in part by the desire to live a more normal life closer to his family and new wife. Life on Deer Island during the Civil War years must have been a lonely existence with limited opportunities to mingle with his family or his professional colleagues on the mainland.


1. Bowen, James Lorenzo, Massachusetts in the War, 1861-1865, Springfield, MA, 1889, Clark W. Bryan & Co; p. 359.

2. Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 88, No. 21, May 22, 1873, p. 536.

3. Bartlett, J. Gardner, Gregory Stone Genealogy: Ancestry and Descendants of Deacon Gregory Stone of Cambridge, Mass, 1320-1917, Boston, 1918; The Stone Family Association, pp. 583-584.

4. Human Anthrax, Second Annual Report of the State Department of Health of Massachusetts, Boston, 1917, Public Document No. 34; p. 490.

John M. Moriarty

Years Served: 1849 to 1863

One of the most challenging periods in the entire history of quarantine in Boston harbor occurred during the mass exodus of poor Irish following the potato famine that struck the Irish countryside in the late 1840s. It was during the height of this exodus that John M. Moriarty became port physician for the city of Boston. Appointed by Mayor John Prescott Bigelow on August 1, 1849 he endured 15 years of grueling work working on Deer Island soon after it became the city’s official quarantine station. Moriarty succeeded to this post after his brother died of a communicable disease during the height of the Irish migration to Boston. By law, Moriarty was required to live on Deer Island at a salary of $200 a year, a relatively low wage that had several perks including his own private residence and free board on the island. Moriarty succeeded Dr. Jerome Smith after his predecessor decided he had enough of the political micro-management that routinely resulted in countermanded or modified decisions by ward politicians with little or no understanding or concern for medical or public health issues which he faced. While Moriarty did not spend as much time in Boston harbor as Smith or Thomas Welsh, he maintained the third longest island tenure of all 19th century Port Physicians.

The Irish greatly admired Moriarty for his hard work and commitment to caring for a wide range of down and out immigrants at a time when ward politicians were all too happy to have these poor souls die in the harbor without setting foot in the city. During his island years he served as the superintendent of the quarantine hospital on Deer Island and as the physician to all city establishments located there including the House of Industry, House of Reformation and Quarantine station. Dr. Moriarty was a large man, weighing 300 pounds, extremely generous, a thorough gentleman with marked for his geniality. Apparently, in his earlier medical career in Gloucester his friends affectionately abbreviated his name to "Dr. Moriart." He was a successful physician, hard worker in the political arena and a member of the Democratic Party.

As port physician, Moriarty was required to board incoming vessels to ensure that no communicable diseases were imported from the tropics or European ports. Because of the cost and the strenuous work of rowing out to meet incoming vessels, Moriarty relied on the services of prison laborers, confined to Deer Island, who were forced to perform the menial work required to keep the quarantine station operational.

If the Port Physician found any “malignant” diseases such as typhus, dysentery, etc., the sick would be sent to the hospital and the vessel quarantined for three days. The Deer Island hospital admitted its first patients on 29 May 1847 prior to John M. Moriarty’s arrival on the island. At that time his brother Joseph managed the station and worked there until his death in December 1848 while battling typhus disease. Moriarty was the son of John Moriarty of Salem, Massachusetts and Abigail Moseley. Both he and his brother Joseph became physicians and both served as port physicians in Boston harbor.

In 1863, Moriarty was not re-elected to the office of port physician. On that occasion the Boston and Medical and Surgical Journal carried a feature story on his work. It stated, “In common with many of the profession and of the scientific community, we have to express our regret that the Board of Aldermen (by a majority of one vote only, we are glad to say) have concurred with the Common Council in the choice of a successor to Dr. John M. Moriarty as Port Physician. We have heard no grounds of objection against him, and we are not among those who believe that a change is always for the better, and that the judgment to be derived from long experience should go for nothing. We feel sure that if Dr. Stone, the new officer, and whom we hear well spoken of as a promising young physician, shall, after more years of experience and acquaintance with the duties of the office, attain to the popularity with which Dr. Moriarty has for the past fifteen years performed its functions, he will have every reason to be satisfied with his measure of success.”

Moriarty was appointed to this post when it was a dangerous one, and had just been made vacant by the death, by ship fever, of his brother, the first Physician at Deer Island. His administration of its affairs as Superintendent, under its various committees, has been marked by energy, industry, an amplitude of discretion, generous hospitality and good judgment, which have made the Institutions at Deer Island a favorite resort 'by all officers from other cities. Dr. Moriarty will carry with him into his retirement the best wishes of hosts of friends.”
He left office on June 22, 1863 after years of dedicated public health service.


1. Adams, George, The Massachusetts Register 1858, Serial Number 91, p. 231,

2. Pringle, James, History of the town and city of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Massachusetts, 1892, p. 108. Accessed online at:

3. Moriarty, G. Andrews, Captain Joseph Moseley of Salem and his Ancestors, Essex Institute Historical Collections, Salem, MA, Vol. 49, 1913, p. 183.

4. Non Re-Election of Dr. Moriarty, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 68; No. 22, July 2, 1863, p. 449.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

William Madison Gay

Years Served: 1911
William M. Gay is believed to have attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; he was listed as a member of the Alpha Delta Phi society at that school. He then received his medical degree (i.e. Doctor of Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1899. He moved to Boston where he took employment at the Long Island hospital and soon thereafter Mayor Thomas Hart appointed him assistant port physician on February 15, 1901 at a salary of $1,000 a year. The Boston of Health assigned him to work on Deer Island working under the leadership of Paul Carson, the Port Physician. During 1906 Dr. Gay inspected 89,315 passengers, the greatest number ever inspected in the two hundred fifty year history of island quarantine. That amounted to inspecting 244 men, women and children every single day of the year without fail. After years of performing these inspections, Gay must have seen the limitations of his island quarantine work.

Mayor John Francis Fitzgerald temporarily appointed him Port Physician in February 1911 when Paul Carson, the Port Physician, was placed in charge of the Board of Health’s Department of Child Hygiene. By the following month the Mayor appointed him the 16th Port Physician of the city with an announcement of his promotion carried in the March 14, 1911 issue of the Boston Daily Globe. His reign in that position was one of the shortest in the history of the Boston quarantine establishment. He resigned six months later on September 1, 1911. He had battled communicable diseases on Gallop’s Island for longer than any other assistant port physician. His battles against deadly diseases prepared for his next mission in life. Soon thereafter he joined the Army and rose to the rank of Major as a Medical Officer in World War I, cited for his bravery. As a Major in the World War, Dr. Gay won a citation for bravery when the hospital in which he was performing surgical operations at Verdun was bombed. He distinguished himself at Chateau Thierry also.

After the war Dr. Gay worked for the Veteran’s Administration with his last assignment at the Sunmount Hospital near Lake Placid, New York where he supervised the veteran’s administration facilities. He died on May 13, 1933 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


1. Catalogue of the Alpha Delta Phi Society, New York, 1899, Executive Council of the Alpha Delta Phi Society, p. 383

2. Maxwell., W.J., Editor, General Alumni Catalog of the University of Pennsylvania, 1917, p. 800.

3. Boston City Document #87, Officials and Employees of the City of Boston and the County of Suffolk with their residences and compensation, 1906, Boston, Municipal Printing Office, p. 44.

4. Boston City Document #19, Thirty Fifth Annual Report of the Health Department of the City of Boston, for the year 1906, 1907, p. 138.

5. J Am Med Assoc. 1911;LVI(9):March 4, 1911, p. 676.

6. Dr. Gay – Port Physician, Boston Daily Globe, March 14, 1911, p. 9.

7. J Am Med Assoc. 1911;LVI(13):April 1, 1911, p. 974.

10. J Am Med Assoc. 1933, Vol. 100:24, June 10, 1933, p. 1880.

Paul Carson

Years Served: 1897 to 1911
Dr. Carson died at age 53 on November 27, 1923 according to JAMA. Mayor Josiah Quincy appointed him Assistant City Physician on September 25, 1896. He served as Port Physician for 15 years, one of the longest periods of service of any physician since John Moriarty supervised the activities on Deer Island following the Irish Diaspora of the 1840s and 1850s. From February 1, 1907 to February 1, 1908 Dr. Carson and his staff inspected 60,812 passengers, 57,309 sailors and 3,120 cattlemen. This was one of the highest recorded levels of inspections in the city’s history, reflecting the growing immigration to America. He supervised the smallpox quarantine conducted on Gallop’s Island in 1901 to 1903 when the city’s landside pest house was declared inadequate to handle the epidemic. During his 15 years of service he supervised the medical inspection of 623,445 immigrants coming from all sectors of Western and Eastern European nations. Carson adhered to inspection and documentation requirements established by the U.S. Marine Hospital Service (USMHS). These quarantine inspection cards were establised by the USMHS. His budget for quarantine affairs doubled in the 15 years he served as the king pin of quarantine. In 1897, the city authorized him to spend $23,784 for quarantine work but by 1911 that budget was increased to $46,045. No matter the size of his budget, the quarantine station was unable to keep up with the hordes of immigrants that overwhelmed Boston in the early 20th century, setting up the economic rationale for the city to transfer this essential local service to the federal government some three years after his departure from this post.

Carson was one of the few port physicians that left a record of his quarantine philosophy and the administrative procedures he used to manage the inspection and treatment of the world’s deadliest diseases. In 1898, Carson explained the way quarantine procedures were carried out in Boston:

“Previous to 1893 there had been no uniformity in the conduct of the various quarantines. Each formulated its own rules, and carried them out in its own manner. Some were extremely efficient; others, the exact reverse. In that year this country was threatened with cholera, as nearly every continental port was infected. The impending danger being so great, the surgeon-general, M. H. S., called a meeting of all the prominent quarantine officers of the country to confer with regard to the best means of preventing, not only cholera, but the other contagious diseases. As a result of this conference, a set of regulations were made, which were to form a basis for all quarantines. Congress at about the same time authorized the sending of medical men to foreign ports to inspect the passengers and cargoes of vessels bound to this country, and also provided that every vessel bound for this country should have a bill of health from the United States consul, making the captain who failed to comply with this regulation liable to a heavy fine. The bill of health is a very important document to the health officers. It states the name, nationality, and rig of the vessel, the number of passengers, if any, number of crew, source and wholesomeness of food and water supply, number and character of cases of diseases that have occurred during the previous voyage, and, furthermore, the number and character of the quarantinable diseases that have occurred at the port of departure for two weeks previous to the time of sailing.”

Carson was intimately involved in the work of inspecting European immigrants and has given one of the finest first hand accounts of the process as follows:

“From June 1 to November 1 all vessels from ports south of Virginia are inspected, this
latter inspection being necessary to guard against the epidemics of yellow fever that occur from time to time along the Southern coast. The hours for boarding are from sunrise to sunset, and all vessels are boarded with as little delay as possible. Immediately after boarding the vessels, papers are examined, for all practical purposes the manifest, crew-list, and bill of health are all that are necessary.

The captain is then questioned as to whether any sickness or deaths have occurred during the voyage; and, if so, the ship's log is examined, to make out, if possible, their character. If the answers are satisfactory, an inspection is then made of all the quarters; and, by the time this is completed, the crew and passengers (if any) are mustered and ready for examination. For the crew, this examination consists merely in a careful scrutiny of each individual and a careful count to see that none are absent. The steerage passengers are then made to pass in single file before the physician with their vaccination ticket in hand. If any do not have these, they are made to stand to one side; and an examination into the cause of the absence is made. If, after the inspection has been made, everything is found to be in good condition, a certificate to that effect is given, so that the vessel may enter at the custom-house.”

In 1898 when Carson served as Port Physician, the quarantinable diseases, according to the United States regulations, were cholera, yellow fever, typhus, small-pox, leprosy, and bubonic plague. In addition to these Carson removed cases of scarlet fever, chicken-pox, typhoid, and measles. Following U.S. quarantine regulations, Carson could a vessel arriving with any one of the latter diseases, unless there is an epidemic, to depart after the removal of the case, as long as the case has been promptly isolated.

Carson left documentation that confirmed when a vessel arrived with cholera on board or from a port infected with this disease it was immediately sent to an anchorage within the quarantine limits. According to Carson, “all the passengers and crew are removed and bathed, and their clothing and hand luggage sterilized.” Soon thereafter they were allowed to enter the houses of detention. Here they were carefully inspected each day, and no communication is allowed between the various houses. If any cases appeared, they were immediately isolated. At the end of twenty-one days from the last possible chance of infection, if they were well, they were released from quarantine.

According to Carson, “This period covers the incubation of the disease; and, while it seems somewhat long and more or less of a hardship, yet, when we consider the severe financial loss which would follow the paralysis of commerce due to an epidemic of cholera, we take a different view of the matter. After removing the crew and passengers, the vessel receives attention.

It is first rendered mechanically clean, or as nearly so as possible. Then every part of the vessel which can by any possible means have become infected is washed with an acidulated solution of mercuric-chloride, 1 to 8oo. On any parts where mercury would have a bad effect a solution of formalin is used. All bedding, carpets, and fabrics of any kind are sterilized with steam at a temperature of 220 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes. The water tanks are emptied, and washed with a 2 per cent solution of potassium permanganate. After everything has been thoroughly dried, all the saloons and quarters are fumigated with formaldehyde for six hours, a pint of the 40 per cent solution being allowed for every one thousand cubic feet.

For yellow fever the treatment of passengers and vessel is the same as for cholera, except that the detention is but for six days. A vessel having small-pox on board would be allowed to depart after disinfection and fumigation, bathing and sterilization of the baggage. Only those who are sick or who cannot show satisfactory evidence of vaccination are detained.”


1. Deaths, JAMA, Vol. 81:25, December 22, 1923, p. 2131.

2. Boston City Documents #12, Annual Report of the Board of Health of the City of Boston, for the year 1896; 1897, p. 88.

3. Boston City Document #19, Annual Report of the Board of Health of the City of Boston, 1907, p. 122.

4. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1916, Washington USGPO, 1917, p 111, Table No. 68.

5. Accessed online:

David D. Brough

Years Served: 1895 to 1896

David D. Brough graduated from Harvard in 1893. Mayor Josiah Quincy appointed him the city’s 14th Port Physician on December 5, 1895 after Francis A. Lane resigned to return to private practice. He inspected 1,038 vessels in 1896, one of the greatest number of vessel inspections in the 19th century. During this same period he and his staff vaccinated 1,014 passengers and made sweeping improvements to the poor waster supply system that he inherited from Dr. Lane. He used convict labor to fix building foundations, repair the seawall and other sundry work all of which was provided to him at no charge by the Deer Island institution about a mile away. Brough was used to having convict labor to support his activities and he relied on Captain George T. Ranlett, the quarantine steamer’s captain to supervise their activities.

Under Dr. Brough’s direction, the city installed a new six inch water line was laid between Long Island and Gallop’s Island. The pipe was buried five feet below the seabed to avoid further damage to the line caused by Master’s with the habit of dragging their anchors. Living remote from urban life, Brough counted on his staff to maintain a full fledged farm to feed his staff and quarantine patients. During 1895, F.L. Blanchard, the Island’s Overseer produced 120 bushels of potatoes, 125 bushels of carrots, 63 bushels of beets, 19 bushels of turnips, 3 bushels of parsnips, 15 bushels of tomatoes, 10 bushels of onions, 400 pumpkins, 300 cabbages, 125 squash and 3 tons of hay.

The work of keeping Gallop’s Island a cost effective operation had to wear on him after a while. There were no public services like were found in the city of Boston so it took a hardy individual to stay on the island for any length of time. He did not remain in that position for more than a year, resigning on December 7, 1896 and accepting the post of Medical Director, a title assigned in lieu of City Physician due to an ongoing controversy between the Mayor and Samuel Durgin, Chairman of the Board of Health, over the authority to hire and fire this position.

Brough was interested in medical research and published an article titled, “Formaldehyde Gas a disinfectant” in the Medical Communications of the Massachusetts Medical Society. He was listed as a medical inspector for the City’s Health Department prior to 1904 when he was appointed Chief Medical Inspector for the city. In 1910 he advocated that those suffering from laryngeal and pulmonary tuberculosis be registered to better control this disease. In 1917 he was appointed deputy health commissioner of Boston, succeeding Thomas B. Shea. Dr. Brough died at the age of 55 in 1921 during his service to the Boston Board of Health.

1. Boston City Documents, Twenty Fourth Annual Report of the Health Department of the City of Boston, for the year 1895, Boston, 1896, pp. 114-119.

2. Medical Notes, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 135, No. 25, December 17, 1896, p. 632; Dr. Shea Named Medical Director on the Board of Health, Dr. David D. Brough promoted to Dr. Shea’s Place, Boston Daily Globe, December 10, 1896. p. 1.

3. Book Notices, JAMA, Vol. 31: No. 20, November 2, 1898, p. 1186-1187.

4. Medical News, JAMA, Vol. 54, No.8, January 18, 1904, p. 1630.

5. Medical News, February 19, 1910, p. 620.

6. Alumni Notes, Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 19, February 8, 1917, p. 595

Francis Augustus Lane

Years Served: 1893 to 1895

Francis Augustus Lane was born in 1866 and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1892. He resided on 29 Lakeview Avenue, Lynn, MA.

The February 4, 1892 edition of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal announced the appointment of Francis A. Lane as the assistant Port Physician taking the place of Rufus E. Darrah who resigned. Mayor Nathan Matthews Jr. promoted Lane to Port Physician on March 27, 1893 taking the place of Charles H. Cogswell. During his tenure many of the initial efforts to provide potable water and telephone service proved that technology of the day was unreliable and subject to breakdowns. The water line serving Gallop’s Island was discontinued due to numerous breaks in the line between Long Island immediately to the west and the quarantine station. Similarly the phone service that was brought to the island did not function properly and a new cable had to be extended to the island during 1894. Perhaps one of the most significant developments that occurred under his leadership was the development of animal laboratory on the island to prepare anti-toxine serum for those sick with Diphtheria. Stalls were built for five horses during December 1894 so that the city could develop a remedy for this disease. On December 25, 1894, five horses were transported to Gallop’s Island on the steamer “J. Putnam Bradlee” to begin one of the most significant public health initiatives of the late 19th century. Gallop’s Island had been used for experimental medicines and vaccine during previous epidemics and the diphtheria outbreaks facing Boston during the 1890s prompted a similar mission for the quarantine station.

Dr. Lane was only 27 years of age when he took the position of Port Physician. Evidently the isolated life style and difficult working conditions did not suit him. He resigned his post on December 5, 1895 to enter private practice after only a little over two years in the position. He was a fellow of the Massachusetts Medical Society. He prematurely died at the age of 51 on October 29, 1918 from exposure to pneumonia. He was survived by his widow and two children who lived in East Lynn, Massachusetts.


1. Harvard University Directory, Compiled 1910, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University, 1910, p. 394. This document provides Lane’s home address and his date of graduation.

2. Medical Notes, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 126, No. 5, February 4, 1892, p. 129.

3. Boston City Documents, Twenty Third Annual Report of the Health Department of the City of Boston, for the year 1894, 1895, pp. 108-109

4. Boston City Document No. 12, Annual Report of the Executive Department of the City of Boston for the year 1896, Boston, 1896, p. 105.

5. Recent Deaths, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 179, No. 20, November 14, 1918, p. 636.

Charles Hale Cogswell

Years Served: 1887 to 1893

Charles Hale Cogswell, M.D., son of George B. and Catherine (Brown) Cogswell, was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, March 23, 1859 and graduated from the Easton High School in 1876. He graduated from Dartmouth College, June 24, 1880 and studied medicine at the Harvard Medical School, graduating June 27, 1883. He was a very athletic young man, having won the quarter mile and half mile while on the Dartmouth track team at the Mott Haven games in 1879.

On August 20, 1883 he was appointed assistant port physician and sometime around 1885 the city appointed him as an attending Physician at Deer Island which was less than a mile away by boat. Mayor Hugh O’Brien, the city’s first Irish Mayor, promoted him to be 12th port physician on October 1, 1887. On December 8, 1887 the Massachusetts Militia commissioned him as a surgeon with the First Calvary. These military duties must have been limited in scope because he remained the Port Physician until he resigned on March 20, 1893 to whole heartedly pursue his military related professional interests. During his ten years with the quarantine department he was fully engaged with hospital work on both Deer Island and Gallop’s Island, facts that were revealed during an investigation conducted later in his career.

An indication of his unique discipline was his decision to marry Margaret Ward on April 18, 1889 while fully engaged in the affairs of the Quarantine Station seven miles out to sea. While there is no mention of whether Margaret stayed with him on the island, it would appear most likely that she lived with her husband in the housing provided for the Port Physician. Their marriage record indicates that Charles was a resident of South Bridgewater before their marriage while she came from Cambridge.

From 1889 to 1893 he served as a surgeon of the First Battalion Calvary of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (MVM) and was even a decent marksman according to the 1893 annual report of the Adjutant General. From 1893 to 1897 he served as the Superintendent and Resident Physician of the Home for Paupers (also known as the Long Island Institution).

His work as port physician occurred during the height of American anti-immigration sentiment when cholera was pervasive in Eastern Europe. Cogswell was charged with keeping germs at bay without adequate resources to complete his work. His ability to combat the cholera outbreak that emerged in 1892 was testimony to his military discipline and the support he received from Dr. Durgin, the Chairman of the Boston Board of Health. Thanks to the cholera scare of 1892, Mayor Matthews visited Gallop’s Island and found the conditions there so deplorable that he immediately called for a sweeping improvements in the sanitary standards used at the quarantine station. Dr. Cogswell must have been delighted by the public attention given to quarantine matters and its positive impact on his budget.

In the years following this service he undertook interesting public health work including working in private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts and then starting a hospital in Middlesex Falls Reservation using the Langwood Hotel for this purpose. He was a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Sons of the American Revolution tracing his lineage through a line of physicians to his great grandfather Private William Cogswell who served as a hospital surgeon’s mate in the Revolutionary War.


1. Harvard University Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636-1920, Cambridge, MA, 1920, p. 731.
2. Boston City Documents, Documents of the City of Boston, Volume 6, 1894, Boston, 1895, Published by Boston City Council, p. 2857.
3. New England Historical and Genealogical Society online vital statistics data base, accessed, August 15, 2010;
4. Annual Report of the First Adjutant General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for the year ending December 31,1892, Boston, 1893,
5. Warren, Aldice, G., editor, Catalogue of the Delta kappa Epsilon Fraternity, New York, 1910, p. 634.
6. Medical news, JAMA, Vol. 37, No. 20, November 16, 1901, p. 1325.
7. Cornish, Louis, National Register of the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, New York, 1902, p. 473. Accessed online:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Arthur G. Griffin

Years Served: 1883 to 1887

Arthur Griffin was born October 30, 1853 in Litchfield, New Hampshire. He went to preparatory school in Colby Academy, New London, NH and then graduated from Brown University in 1877 with an A.B. degree. Subsequently he attended Harvard Medical School (1878-82) and graduated in 1883. After Dr. Charles Archelaus Huse resigned as the Assistant Port Physician on May 8, 1882, Griffin was selected to fill the post. Democratic Mayor Albert Palmer appointed him as the eleventh Port Physician on August 8, 1883 when Dr. Alfred B. Heath transferred to the Board of Health as a Medical Inspector. Griffin contended with some of the most challenging public health issues of any previous port physician as over 170,000 immigrants entered Boston harbor during his term in office. With only the help of his assistant Charles Cogswell, Griffin worked tirelessly to process over 25,000 immigrants through the harbor every year. Hordes of European immigrants left their motherland hoping for a better life in America. Undoubtedly, many got through quarantine inspections by pretending to be well for the brief few seconds the doctor made his on board inspection. If passenger inspections were not enough to keep him busy, from 1883 to October 1887 Griffin also served as the Assistant Resident Physician on Rainsford and Deer Island hospitals – both of which were within a mile by boat from Gallop’s Island.

He married Mary Shirley on October 12, 1887 and, like previous port physicians, this spelled the end of his quarantine island career. After his marriage, the town of Malden hired him as their City Physician, a post he held until 1892. On December 1, 1900, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported Griffin had been appointed a member of the staff of the Malden Hospital. He was a member of the American Medical Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society. He died at the age of 76 on June 7, 1930 while on a fishing trip to Rangeley, Maine.


1. History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1885, 878 pgs, p. 486.
2. Delta Phi Catalogue, 1827 to 1907,
4. Boston City Document #107, Eleventh Annual Report of the Board of Health of the City of Boston, Financial Year 1882-83, p. 91..
5. Dr. Griffin Made Port Physician, Boston Daily Globe, August 7, 1883, p. 5.
7. Harrington, Thomas, The Harvard Medical School: A History, Narrative and Documentary, Vol. 3, 1905, New York, p. 1570 for a brief resume.
8. Medical News, JAMA, December 1, 1900, p. 1417.
9. Deaths, JAMA, July 19, 1930, p. 218.

Alfred B. Heath

Years Served: 1880 to 1883
Dr Heath was born in Jamaica Plains, a suburb of Boston circa 1859. He was a descendant of General Heath of Revolutionary War fame and a graduate of Brown University. After leaving that institution he studied medicine at Harvard and completed his education at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. Almost all of his life was devoted to public health and the care of the poor working in New York City and Boston. He had the unique distinction of working in the quarantine departments of two of the largest cities in 19th century America. He was first appointed assistant physician at Hart’s Island in New York a branch of Blackwell’s island where he worked for nearly three years. During his work in New York, Heath met his wife Miss Margaret Dunphy, the daughter of the superintendent of Blackwell’s Island, New York City’s quarantine station. Afterward he returned to Boston and was appointed assistant port physician on January 3, 1880. Eight months later, upon the retirement of Charles E. Woodbury, Mayor Frederick Octavius Prince appointed him Port Physician with responsibility for the inspection of immigrants arriving in Boston Harbor. In 1883 Dr. Heath was appointed superintendent of the Marcella Street Home for Paupers, the former building used to quarantine smallpox cases during the epidemic of 1872. He was well respected for his work with adolescent poor that were housed at Marcella Street Home for Paupers. Heath cared for two classes of poor; pauper children who were voluntarily placed at the home by their parents and neglected children who were placed there by order of the Court due to no fault of the children themselves but of the neglect of the parents. After ten years of very dedicated service at this facility he resigned his post to become a member of the wholesale drug firm of Smith, Benedict & Co. After only a few years in this position, on June 24 1895 Boston’s Mayor Edwin Upton Curtis appointed him to the prestigious post of Commissioner of Public Institutions, one of the most important public service posts in the city. While his official appointment was for a term ending April 30, 1898, it only lasted through Curtis’ term in office and for several months under the succeeding Mayor, Josiah Quincy. Quincy took exception to his excessive spending on public services for the poor, a charge that Heath rebutted as a politically contrived effort to oust him from this post for the sake of the Mayor’s patronage appointments.

1. Largely Due to Dr. Heath, Boston Daily Globe, March 17, 1895, p. 2.
2. Many Changes, Boston Daily Globe, July 2, 1895, p. 2.
3. Report of the Proceedings of the City Council of Boston for the year ending January 4, 1896, Boston, 1896, p. 631.
4. Heath Goes, Boston Daily Globe, October 28, 1896, p. 1

Charles Edward Woodbury

Years Served: 1880
The Boston Daily Globe called Dr. Charles E. Woodbury “eminently qualified for his position.” He was a native of New Hampshire and at 34 years of age an active and energetic man who could be jolly or grave depending upon the circumstances presented to him. The Globe called him “thoroughly a gentleman who discharged the unpleasant duties of his office in a way that leaves them shorn of anything disagreeable...” He performed his more pleasant duties in a way that makes them more agreeable causing the recipient to be very grateful to the Board of Health for appointing him Port Physician. His duties required him to be on the quarantine steamer all the time unless he quarantined passengers or crew on Gallop’s Island.

Prior to his appointment to the position of Assistant Port Physician on April 16, 1879, Woodbury studied in Europe for a year and for the previous four years served as a physician at the McLean Hospital. Mayor Frederick Octavius Prince, a democrat, appointed Charles Woodbury the city’s ninth Port Physician on January 3, 1880. Woodbury’s democratic political affiliations certainly helped him land this post. While he only had an eight months tour of duty, during his work on Gallop’s Island he set an example for an uncompromising work ethic. The Globe reported that Woodbury rose at sunrise ready for duty and from then to sunset he boarded every vessel that entered Boston Harbor. With the exception of the pilot, he was the first Bostonian to board every incoming vessel and without his approval no vessel could proceed to the docks of Boston. His vigilance in seeking out germs of all kinds – whether carried by passengers, packages or mail or sailors - was the critical to the public health of the entire City and even the hinterlands.

Woodbury’s work was grueling and encumbered with a wide range of bureaucratic responsibilities associated with tracking the health of immigrants and passenger vessels. The commander of each vessel he boarded was required to provide answers to the following eight questions: 1) class and name of vessel; 2) masters name and where from; 3) number of days of passage; 4) number of passengers; 5) number of crew; 6) state of health on board; 7) description of cargo and 8) name of consignees.

He examined the crew and took their bills of health from their master. When contagious sickness was on board, he quarantined the vessel and transferred its sick to Gallop’s Island and then fumigated the cargo and vessel. He had the discretion to order all on board passengers to Gallop’s island, or only those suspected of carrying epidemic generating diseases. It was his call and this power made him one of the most powerful men in Boston. If he sent you into quarantine you might be isolated for several weeks – assuming you recovered from your disease. Vessel placed in quarantine were required to raise the yellow flag is set at the fore and not communicate with anyone without Woodbury’s permission. The Port Physician or his assistant had no sinecures when they received their appointments. It was responsible and arduous work that put each physician in peril for their lives on a daily basis. Their untold stories of medical heroism are one of the great examples of selfless service to the public health.

Woodbury was born in Acworth New Hampshire on November 1, 1845. His father sent him to Kimball Union Academy some 50 miles north of his home town where he matriculated from 1863 to 1866. After graduating from the Academy, Dartmouth College in Hanover New Hampshire accepted him into the class of 1870. Dartmouth was only 16 miles north of the Academy so he probably had already visited the campus before he arrived there in the fall of 1866. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1870, he then completed his medical training at the University of New York, graduating in 1873. He took his first job in 1873 at the age of 28 as the assistant Physician at the New Hampshire Hospital for the Insane in Concord. Based on this brief work experience, he then had the medical credentials to work for the McLean Hospital in Waverly Massachusetts where he served from 1874 to 1878. After McLean he took a year to study in Europe and when he returned landed a job as Assistant Port Physician for the city of Boston. Like virtually all other single Port Physicians, he soon married. On October 13, 1880 he tied the knot with Ella Diana Ordway, at Chelsea, Vermont.

He continued his medical career after working for the Boston Board of Health by taking a job with the Bloomingdale Asylum in New York (1881-1882); the Rhode Island State Hospital (1891-1899); the Massachusetts State Hospital in Foxboro (1899-1908). He then retired to his home town of Acworth, New Hampshire where passed most of his remaining days in public service to his community and devotion to his spiritual, medical and humanitarian causes.

Of his three children two were married and resided in Greater Boston, while his daughter Ruth was musical instructor in the New Mexico State Institute for the Blind. Dr. Woodbury was himself a fine musician, directed the church choir and always had charge of the music on "Old Home Day," in the observance of which he was always a leading spirit. He died on October 31, 1936.

1. Quarantine, Boston Daily Globe, July 27, 1879, p. 6

2. The Granite monthly: a New Hampshire magazine devoted to history, biography, literature and state progress, Volume 45, Concord, NH, 1913, p. 293
3. General Catalogue of Dartmouth College and the Associated Schools 1769-1900, prepared by Marvin Davis Bisbee, Hanover, NH, 1900, p. 253.
4. Proceedings of the American Medico-Psychological Association, 1911-1912, at the sixty eighth annual meeting held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, May 28, to 31, 1912, Published by the American Medico-Psychological Association, Baltimore, MD, p. 51.
5.Recent Deaths, New England Journal of Medicine, November 12, 1835, p. 947.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

John Baker Swift

Years Served: 1879 to 1880

Mayor Frederick Octavius Prince appointed John Baker Swift the City’s eighth physician on April 16, 1879 succeeding Dr. Alonso Wallace who had held that post for the previous four years. At his appointment Swift was only twenty six years old, one of the youngest physicians to ever take on the challenge of protecting Boston from all sorts of biological threats coming from abroad. Like most of his predecessors, he graduated from Harvard Medical School and undoubtedly came into contact with Samuel Durgin, the Chairman of the Boston Board of Health and part time instructor at Harvard. Durgin sought out some of the best and brightest medical minds of the 19th century and offered them the biggest medical challenge any physician could ever imagine. The job of the port physician called for inspecting thousands of ill clad, undernourished souls arriving by steerage class, a slice of humanity that was invariably highly susceptible to a wide range of communicable diseases Although Swift only served as port physician for less than 8 months, resigning on January 3, 1880, he fulfilled his duties with a sense of duty and professional discipline that attracted other physicians to respect and remain closely affiliated with him for years to come.

During his year of service, the quarantine station was without a storage location for infection cargoes. He managed to keep the quarantine station operational even with less than adequate sanitation equipment and a surging volume of passenger vessels. Hoards of immigrants were coming to Boston in the 1870s and the city was not fully equipped to handle them all. In 1879, 498 vessels entered Boston harboring. Daily inspections kept Swift busy day and night and the wear and time of the work eventually convinced him that a private practice would be a lot easier way to make a living.

The potential of dying from a communicable disease certainly had to have crossed Swift’s mind while working on Gallop’s Island. However, he might not have imagined a much more violent threat posed by dependence on overtaxed machinery and vessels chained to the service of the quarantine station. In the spring of 1879, the constant wear and tear on the quarantine vessel led to an unfortunate accident resulting in the breakage of the engine’s piston rod. The explosion that ensued completely demolished the engine cylinder and cast large metal fragments weighing from 1 to 20 pounds against the vessel walls and the engine room. The engineer, William H. Preston who normally carried Dr. Swift to arriving vessels, received a severe cut to his forehead but otherwise survived the ordeal to live another day. Swift missed a bullet by not being on the Samuel Little steamer when this accident occurred. The pressure of the work, the lack of contact with his family and friends and the appeal of starting his own private practice eventually convinced Swift that life on the quarantine island could only satisfy him for so long.

1. Obituary, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 169, No. 9, August 28, 1913, p. 333

2. Thayer, William Roscoe, The Harvard Graduates' Magazine, 1913-1914, Volume 22, Harvard Graduates Association, Boston, MA, p. 186

3. Sixth Decennial Catalogue, of the Chi Psi Fraternity, 1902, published by the Order of the 58th Annual Convention, Auburn, NY 1902, p. 412.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alonzo Wallace

Years Served: 1875 to 1879

Alonzo was born in Bristol, Maine on February 17, 1847. He was the only son of David and Margaret F. Wallace. His grandfather, David Wallace, was one of the early settlers of New Hampshire. Wallace went to college in the public schools of his native town, Lincoln Academy, New Castle, Maine, and the Eastport conference Seminary, Bucksport, Maine. He also attended the medical schools at Bowdoin College and in Portland, Maine and then graduated from the Dartmouth Medical School in 1874.

At the age of thirteen he began to follow the sea during the summer season, and at seventeen became a second mate of a bark. Yet despite interests in the sea, he was intent on preparing himself for educational pursuits so he could earn sufficient money through teaching to defray his college expenses. A hard working lad, he devoted his winters to study, and so earnest was he in his endeavors to obtain rapid advancement, that at one time it was his custom to travel on foot ten miles to school on each Monday morning and return in the same manner each Friday evening.

At the age of eighteen he began to teach in his home town, teaching two terms a year, from early fall to late spring, for a period of about three years. At the age of twenty-one he was elected superintendent of Bristol schools and was principal of Bucksport, Maine High School. After graduating from Dartmouth Medical School, in 1869 he accepted the position of assistance teacher in the Boston Reformatory School on Deer Island and, in a short time, was promoted to the principal of the school. His work at the reformatory attracted the attention of Dr. Durgin, then port physician of the Boston Board of Health, who advised him to enter the medical profession.

In 1872 he was a medical student at Bowdoin College. However, by an urgent request of the reformatory management, he was induced to return to Deer Island. He was hired in June 1873 as the second assistant physician in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital located in Northampton, Massachusetts where he was responsible for the health of over 600 lunatics. During his last year of service in that institution, and after holding this position for several years he acquired an enviable reputation for his excellent management. Shortly afterward he resigned in order to resume his studies and, entering Dartmouth College, he graduated in 1874.

After finishing his studies he accepted the position of first assistant port physician of the city of Boston on October 21, 1874 when Dr. William S. Crosby, assistant port physician resigned resigned. When Wallace assumed his new duties the City had established smallpox, yellow fever and ship fever (i.e., typhus) as the only diseases that required quarantine. When Chester Irving Fisher resigned his position as port physician on September 15, 1875, Wallace succeeded him. This post required the approval of the City’s very popular Mayor, Samuel Crocker Cobb, who endorsed Wallace as the City’s seventh Port Physician. In turn Wallace recommended Dr. Thomas Kittredge to become the Assistant Port Physician who was approved by the Board of Health on September 15, 1875. About a year after becoming Port Physician he married Mary F. Maynard on November 2, 1876. Like other Port Physicians, Wallace realized that island quarantine work and marriage were incompatible.

Four years later, on April 6, 1879 Wallace resigned as port physician and moved from Boston to Brookline, New Hampshire where he established himself as a physician in general practice. During his residence in Brookline, he enjoyed a large, lucrative and constantly increasing practice, embracing not only this town, but also all of the towns in its vicinity. His reputation as a physician learned and skilled in his profession being second to none in Hillsborough County.

By 1888 his business had increased to such an extent that it occupied nearly all of his time both by night and by day. His professional calls were urgent and frequent, and they kept him constantly on the move. Exposure to all sorts of weather conditions during his long professional rides and the constant strain on his mental and physical faculties began to have a perceptible effect upon his health. After careful deliberation, he decided that a change from Brookline to some location where he could practice his profession under more favorable environments be both prudent and reasonable. Having decided upon his course of action, he governed himself accordingly, and in 1888 removed from Brookline to Rochester, New Hampshire.

Wallace’s departure from Brookline was sincerely and universally regretted by its citizens who held him in the highest respect and esteem both as a physician and a citizen. He remained in Rochester but a comparatively short time, and finally settled in Nashua, where he developed an extensive practice, covering the towns and cities in a large area of the surrounding country. His reputation as a physician grew over the years, and was ranked with the leading physicians in New Hampshire. He had a wide range of community interests including membership in the Congregational Church, the Order of Odd Fellows, the United Order of the Golden Cross and the New Hampshire Medical Society. He served as Vice President of the Alumni Association of Dartmouth Medical College and as President of the New Hampshire Medical Society.

He died in 1930 at the age of 83. He four children; His oldest son, Arthur Lowell Wallace born in Lowell, MA on October 12, 1877 during the time when his father was still serving as Port Physician in Boston. He is buried in the Edgewood Cemetery in Nashua, New Hampshire.


Boston City Document No. 85, Third Annual Report of the Board of Health of the City of Boston, 1875, p. 110. Also see, Public Document No. 21, Twentieth Annual Report of the Trustees of the State Lunatic Hospital at Northampton, for October 1875, Boston, Wright Potter State Printers, 1876, p. 9. For information on his hiring at the Lunatic Hospital, see Public Document No. 21, Nineteenth Annual Report of the Trustees of the State Lunatic Hospital at Northampton, for October 1874, Boston, Wright Potter State Printers, 1875, p. 8.
Boston City Document No. 85, Third Annual Report of the Board of Health of the City of Boston, 1875, p. 33
Medical Notes, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. 93, No. 10, September 2, 1875, p. 286. Accessed online:,+died&source=bl&ots=It7e5YeICw&sig=FCFlHZ8MZDshCwSf9h1NNji6xdc&hl=en&ei=BKw4TO-FMIGdlgfB5OzUBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CDAQ6AEwCA
Boston City Document No. 53, Fourth Annual Report of the Board of Health of the City of Boston, 1876, p. 45.
Societies, JAMA, Vol. 36, No. 22, June 1, 1901, p. 1576.
Accessed online:
[7] McDufee, Franklin; Hayward, Silvanus, History of the Town of Rochester, New Hampshire from 1722 to 1890, p. 448. accessed online:,+physician+died+in+Nashua&source=bl&ots=-kL5x9HGee&sig=UTBQVFMgmuP7gysxyfqVIZhao2g&hl=en&ei=TLI4TOuqMsaqlAeAoIHWBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CDAQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=alonzo%20Wallace%2C%20physician%20died%20in%20Nashua&f=false

Chester Irving Fisher

Years Served: 1873 to 1875
Chester Irving Fisher was born in Canton, Massachusetts on April 25, 1847. He was the third child of Cyrus Fisher and Caroline Guild. His father was an inventor and builder living in Canton for over 40 years. He became a student at the State Normal school in Bridgewater in 1865; taught school for two years; afterward studied medicine and graduated M.D. from Harvard College June, 1870. He was appointed the tenth port physician of Boston holding that office from February 1873 until September 15,1875 when he resigned to get married and go into private practice.

Like virtually all Port Physicians before him, Fisher realized that married life would be incompatible with the demands of inspecting vessels, contacting a wide range of contagious diseases and living a world away from civilization. Few women dreamed of living in Boston harbor and even fewer had a desire to do so on an island that housed immigrants with the most contagious diseases known throughout the world.

He was twenty eight when he married Clara F. Leonard on September 28, 1875 in Bridgewater, Massachusetts less than two week after resigning his position as Port Physician. His experience as Port Physician certainly increased his range of medical skills and experience and probably facilitated his later success as a physician working in public practice.

In June l883, during the investigation of the State almshouse at Tewksbury, he was asked to take charge of that institution and manage it on a hospital basis. He accepted the call and entered upon the duties August 1st, as superintendent and resident physician, and held that position until 1891. His work as port physician and resident physician at the almshouse prepared him to become one of the leading hospital administrators in New York City which eventually enabled him to influence national hospital design concepts.

The Presbyterian Hospital in New York City appointed him its superintendent in October 1891 and he remained there until retiring on July 1, 1914. Under his administration the hospital was expanded to 315 beds from 100, after a fire that partly destroyed it. Some of New York City’s most famous personalities including Cornelius Vanderbilt, John S. Kennedy and R.W. De Forest were among some of the hospital visitors.

The Presbyterian was one of the few hospitals in New York City under medical superintendence. For whatever unaccountable reason individuals without medical training managed most City hospitals. This arrangement was also true at the Presbyterian Hospital prior to Fisher’s appointment. His selection as Superintendent represented a shift to professonal management of American hospitals. He was also a strong advocate for modernized hospital facilities that took into consideration the special isolation requirements for communicable diseases. While he was a leader in developing hospital controls of nosocomial infections he held some unorthodox views of public health prioroties. For example, he ranked coffee and tea poisoning alongside typhoid, smallpox, malaria and venereal disease as important public health issues of the day.

Fisher was 67 years old when he resigned as superintendent of the Presbyterian Hospital, New York. After nearly a quarter of a century's service as the head of that institution he spent his last years with family and in service to his community. (A Suggestion; As to Heresies in the Practice of Religion. By C. Irving Fisher; Outlook, Apr. 25, 1923.) He died eleven years later at age 78 with services at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.

He was a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and an active member of the Congregationalist Church. He had two children: Irving Leonard, born in Brookline on Oct. 9, 1876 and Louise Marion, born in Holbrook on Oct. 10, 1878.

Hughes, Thomas P., D.D, LL.D, The Conduct of a Hospital, The Independent, Feb. 24, 1898
Marshall, Edward, Most of New York's Illness Is Preventable, New York Times, Mar. 23, 1913.
Western Medical Review, Nebraska Medical Association, Vol. 19, No. 9, 1914, p. 473.
New York Times, April 27, 1924.
Ocean Travelers, New York Times, Feb. 7, 1907