Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/551

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WELLS


491


WELLS


He died after a brief illness, October 23, 1879.

J. A. S.

Trans. Maine Med. Assoc.

Wells, Horace (1815-1848).

The credit of first using inhalation of an effective anesthetic for surgical pur- poses is generally assigned to Horace Wells, a dentist of Hartford, Connecticut. He had seen a person made insensible to pain at a lecture by Dr. G. O. Colton in December, 1844, and himself had a tooth extracted next day under the influence of the nitrous oxide gas. He at once began to use it in dentistry.

In January, 1845, he went to Boston, where Dr. Morton gave him an opportun- ity of experimenting. For some reason this experiment ended fatally and this had such a depressing effect on Wells that he withdrew from practice and finally ended his own life.

" Wells was the first to take the step to which the finger of Humphry Davy had pointed forty-five years before and the results and claims of Wells were famiUar to his friend and former partner, Morton." ("A Consideration of the Introduction of Surgical Anesthesia," W. H. Welch, Boston, 1906.)

A History of the Discovery of the Application of Nitrous Oxide Gas, Ether, and Other Vapors to Surgical Operations, J. G. Wells, Hartford, 1847.

Discovery by the Late Dr. Horace Wells, Hartford, 1850.

Dr. Wells, the Discoverer of Anesthesia, New York, 1860.

Richmond and Louisville Medical Journal, Louisville, 1877, vol xxiv. Galignani's Messenger, February 17, 1847. New York Tribune, August 2, 1858. An Examination of the Question of Anes- thesia, Truman Smith, New York, 1858. Trials of a Public Benefactor (T. G. Mor- ton) as Illustrated by the Discovery of Etherization, N. P. Rice, 1859.

Wells, John Doane (1799-1830).

He was born in Boston, March 6, 1799, and graduated in the academic depart- ment at Harvard, in 1817, afterwards entering on the study of medicine and serving an apprenticeship with Dr.


Shattuck, who offered special advantages for the study of anatomy. " It was the custom among the young men, with whom he associated, for each one, having dissected a part, to give a lecture thereon to his fellow students. In this useful exercise Wells took much pleasure, and he would often give an exposition, which for accuracy of knowledge, clearness of arrangement and facility of expression would not have been discreditable to an older and much more experienced lec- turer." Wells received his M. D. from Harvard in 1820, when his dissertation — on cancer — is said to have been a very good one.

In 1821 he went to Brunswick, Maine, as assistant dissector to Nathan Smith. He frequently took Smith's place in the lecture room, and in the following May was appointed professor of anatomy and surgery. He then went to Europe, and visited France, England and Scotland to prepare for his work. He returned in 1822, and commenced work in 1823 at Brunswick, where his great success as a lecturer served to establish a high reputation for the school. He spent much time in building up a library and a museum. The yearly course of lectures in medical schools in his day was short. After completing his course of lectures, he returned to Boston to establish & practice and in 1823 was appointed physician to the Boston Dispensary, but continued his work each year at Brunswick, and became the most popu- lar lecturer on anatomy in New England. In 1826 he was elected professor of an- atomy and surgery in Berkshire Med- ical Institute at Pittsfield in which the course of lectures was held at a different time of the year from that at Bruns- wick. In 1829 he received a call to the University of Maryland, at Baltimore. Overwork in connection with the two New England schools, as well as in Baltimore, is said to have sapped his strength so that tuberculosis gained a rapid hold on him, and he died in Boston, the twenty-fifth of August of the follow- ing year. Wells,while not gifted with