Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/584

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Wolcott, Erastus Bradley (1S04-1S80).

Erastus Bradley Wolcott was born in Benton, Yates County, New York, Octo- ber 18, 1804. His father, Elisha Wolcott, having removed to that section from Salisbury, Connecticut, in 1795. The first of the family in this country was Henry, second son of John Wolcott, of Galdon Manor, Tolland, Somersetshire, England, who came to Massachusetts in 1630 and to Connecticut in 1638 where his de- scendants made the name historic, it having been borne by officers of the colonial army; by deputies, senators, by several governors of the State, by the sec- retary of the treasury under Washington, and by a signer of the Declaration of In- dependence.

The ancestry of Jane Allyn, wife of Lieut. Henry Wolcott, a direct ancestor of Dr. Wolcott, has been verified in twenty lines.

High ideals, industry, wholesome liv- ing and adaptabiUty to the conditions of life in a new country were manifest in the colonists from Connecticut who settled in western New York. A Godfearing folk, their first care was to provide schools for their children, who were well trained in gentle, courteous manners and not only in the ordinary branches, but in physical exercises, in music and in study of the English classics, with which Dr. Wolcott had an unusual acquaintance. He and his brothers and cousins became so pro- ficient upon various musical instruments that they were asked to play at a reception to La Fayette in Rochester in 1826. Erastus Wolcott began his medical train- ing under Dr. Joshua Lee, practitioner of the time.

After three years of study and practical experience with Dr. Lee, Ontario, the Medical Society of Yates County licensed him as a practising physician in 1825.

To obtain means for further study he accepted a position as surgeon with a mining company in North Carohna, practising there and in Charleston, South Carohna, until 1830. Returning to New York, he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Fairfield and completing

the course with distinction, especially in anatomy, received his M. D. and was urged by professors to settle in New York City; however, wishing to see the Western country he entered the United States Army as surgeon in 1836, and after accompanying the command removing the Cherokees west of the Mississippi, he was ordered to Fort Mackinac, where he met and married Elizabeth J. Dousman. Resigning in 1839 he settled in Milwaukee where his practice became so exacting as to leave him no time for writing nor even for reporting his own cases. The illiberal rules of the medical societies of that day excluded Dr. Wolcott from membership because he would extend his surgical and consultative aid to homoepathic physicians.

From 1860 until his death he was surgeon-general of Wisconsin, organizing medical service for the state, selecting and nominating all the surgeons. With a staff of assistants he was sent to the field whenever any number of Wisconsin regiments became engaged. In 1850 he was appointed regent of the State Univer- sity.

His boyhood in country life made him an athlete of unusual proficiency, and developed vmfailing physical stamina. His father possessed the bow of Red Jacket "made of hickory backed with deer sinews, only a very vigorous man could draw it to its maximum power. With it Erastus Wolcott sent a blunted arrow through the siding of an abandoned house from a distance of several rods." (Cleveland History, Yates Co.).

Dr. Wolcott was also an expert shot with rifle and gun, and could use a sling with the accuracy of aim of a David. His hands were models of nervous energy and accuracy of touch, the left hand being almost equal in dexterity to the right. Clark Mills, the sculptor, took a cast of the head of Dr. Wolcott in Wash- ington and stated that it was the only one in his collection of five hundred that measured mathematically the same on both sides.

He was tall and straight as an arrow