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