Sue Young Histories

Erastus Bradley Wolcott 1804 - 1880

January 14, 2008

National Home for Disabled Volunteer
SoldiersErastus Bradley Wolcott 1804 - 1880 surgeon-general of Wisconsin who became involved in a dispute with the established physicians for giving surgical and consultation aid to homeopathic physicians. He made surgical history in 1861 as the first physi­cian to remove a diseased kidney.

physician, businessman, surgeon-general of Wisconsin, b. Yates County, N.Y. He served a medical apprenticeship and was licensed to practice in Yates County in 1825.

He served as a mining company surgeon in North Carolina and practiced in Charleston, S.C., until 1830. Returning to medical school, he graduated (M.D., 1833) from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Western N.Y.

In 1836 he was commissioned as surgeon in the U.S. Army, and participated in the removal of the Cherokee west of the Mississippi. In 1839 he resigned his commission, settled in Milwaukee, and began his practice there, becoming involved in a dispute with the established physicians for giving surgical and consultation aid to homeopathic physicians.

In 1842 he was instrumental in organizing the territorial medical society, served as vice-president of the Medical Association of Milwaukee (1846), and was one of the founders of the Milwaukee County Medical Society. In 1850 he was one of the founders of an abortive medical college in Milwaukee.

During the Civil War he served as surgeon-general of the state, passing upon qualifications for medical appointments with Wisconsin troops. He pioneered the use of several surgical techniques, receiving international acclaim. He was trustee of the state hospital for the insane after 1860, manager of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers after 1866, was Wisconsin delegate to the Universal Exposition at Paris in 1866, regent of the Univ. of Wisconsin after 1850, and vice-president of the State Historical Society (1861).

In addition to his medical practice, he was active in business and politics. In 1844 with John Anderson, he established a flour mill in Humboldt. In 1849 he became active in the Milwaukee and Mississippi R.R. Co., becoming a director.

In 1858 he became a director of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., and served as vice-president (1858-1863). In 1848 he was an unsuccessful candidate for sheriff of Milwaukee County on the Free Soil ticket. After his marriage in 1869 to Dr. Laura Ross (Laura Ross Wolcott), a pioneer woman physician, he spent considerable time championing her acceptance with equal rights in the medical profession. He died in Milwaukee.

Wolcott was honored with a Historic Marker Erected in 1972


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