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Baxley, Henry Willis (1803–1876)

Henry Willis Baxley, a founder of the first dental college in the world, was born at Baltimore in June, 1803, and educated at St. Mary's College in the same city, afterwards attending medical lectures in the University of Maryland and receiving his M. D. from that institution in 1824. From 1826 to 1829 he was attending physician to the Baltimore General Dispensary and from 1831 to 1832 held the same post at the Maryland Penitentiary. He was appointed demonstrator of anatomy at the University of Maryland in 1834. In 1837 he became professor of anatomy and physiology in the University of Maryland (Trustees' School), succeeding Prof. Eli Geddings, who had resigned. In 1840 he held the same chair in the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, then founded. From 1842 to 1847 he was professor of surgery in the Washington University of Baltimore; from 1849 to 1850 he was physician to the Baltimore Almshouse; in the latter year he moved to Cincinnati, having accepted the chair of anatomy in the medical College of Ohio; in 1852 he was transferred to the chair of surgery in the same institution; in 1865 he was government inspector of hospitals, and the following year went to Europe where he remained until 1875 when he removed to Baltimore, and on March 13 of the following year he died there.

Dr. Baxley was a thorough anatomist, and an able teacher and surgeon. Among his operations was entire removal of the lower jaw for osteosarcoma (reported 1839). Among his more important writings were two works written while he was abroad: "What I saw on the West Coast of North and South America and at the Hawaiian Islands," New York, 1865, 632 pages, illustrated; "Spain, Art Remains, Art Realities, Painters, Priests and Princes, being Notes of Things seen and Opinions formed during nearly Three Years Residence and Travel in that Country," two volumes, London, 1875.

Dr. Baxley incurred the enmity of the medical faculty of the University of Maryland, who thought that he sided with the trustees in the differences that arose between the two bodies, and it was his election to the chair of anatomy in that institution by the latter in 1837 that led to the disruption of the school, to the two medical faculties, to the famous suit of Regents vs. Trustees, and to the restoration of the institution to the regents by the Court of Appeals of Maryland in 1839. Baxley left one son, Claude, who followed his father's profession.

Hist. Sketch Univ. Ind. Soc. of Med., E. F. Cordell, 1907. Portrait.