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.

No comments:

Post a Comment