Sunday, August 15, 2010

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.

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