Dentists I Have Not Known: Dr. Julian Gartrell, Brookeville, Maryland

Julian D. Gartrell was yet another dentist who graduated from the University of Maryland Dental Department in 1888, along with five others whose Baltimore cabinet card portraits I acquired earlier this year.

Born in Missouri on 1 April 1860, he grew up in the hamlet ofBrookevilleand the town of Olney, Montgomery County, Maryland, where his father, Rufus Worthington Gartrell (1824-1898), was a merchant and postmaster. Although not a distinguished family, their roots in Montgomery County went at least as far back as the American Revolution.

Rufus appears to have been the only one of five siblings who married and had children. Julian was one of three siblings, and all remained single.

In 1889 Gartrell joined the DC dental practice of C. E. Kennedy at 1426 New York Avenue, NW (Washington DC Evening Star, 23 May 1889).

Gartrell’s interest was oral prophylaxis, and he became a lecturer on this subject at the George Washington University School of Dentistry (GWU Bulletin March 1910).

His mother Caroline (Robinson) Gartrell, and his sisters Hallie May and Laura, kept house for him at 3025 15th St., NW.

Dr. Gartrell died 28 March 1943 in Washington, DC. His funeral was held at All Souls Episcopal Church, just a few blocks from his DC home.

He is buried, along with his parents and sisters Hallie and Laura, at Saint Johns Episcopal Church, Olney, Montgomery County, Md, the church his ancestor Caleb Gartrell helped to found in 1842.

John Philip Blessing (1835-1911) and son-in-law Henry Fenge were partners at 214 N. Charles Street in Baltimore from 1887 to 1904, a timeline that fits my tentative dating of this portrait to 1888 (Ross Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900).

As with many of the other portraits of Maryland doctors and dentists in my collection, the operator chose a vignetted bust for Gartrell’s portrait, in which the background is burned out to create a soft, floating effect.

I am grateful to descendant and family historian William Gartrell, who has posted a Gartrell family tree based on notes made by Hallie and Laura Gartrell and  The Gartrell/Gatrell Ancestry of Colonial Marylandby Randall A. Haines.

Dentists I Have Not Known: Dr. Leonidas Wilson Davis

Based on records where his name appears, he preferred to be known as L. Wilson Davis (1862-1947), but Leonidas was his full first name.

Thanks to the thorough work of family historian and cemetery researcher Glenn Wallace, I was able to find Dr. Leonidas Wilson Davis’ grave in Monocacy Cemetery, Beallsville, Montgomery County, Md., and from there, his family history unfolded.

Dr. Davis was the son of Frederick County, Maryland farmer Isaac Howard Davis (1818-1901) and Catherine (Miles) Davis (1822-1897).

L. Wilson Davis was a member of the University of Maryland Dental Department class of 1888, along with Frank Ryland Steel. He set up practice in Baltimore, and married Mary Harrison Griffith, daughter of merchant and Civil War veteran Francis Moore Griffith (1831-1908) and Elizabeth (Dickerson) Griffith of Beallsville, Montgomery County, Md.

Dr. Davis was interested in what became known as orthodontia, as well as the care of teeth as a public health concern. In 1900, he was part of a committee that authored a proposal for a pilot project for the examination of children’s teeth in Maryland schools, and for the education of children in dental hygiene.

Dr. Davis’ brother, Isaac Howard Davis Jr. (1859-1918), also became a dentist as well as an MD. Isaac Davis was part of the University of Maryland Department of Dentistry’s first graduating class in 1884, and was a professor of dentistry at the University of Maryland at the same time as Dr. John C. Uhler and Dr. James H. Harris, succeeding Dr. Harris as professor of Operative and Clinical Dentistry, a position he still held at the time of his death.

According to Ross Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900, Richard Walzl’s studios, where Dr. L. Wilson Harris had his portrait taken, were located at the addresses indicated on the bottom of the cabinet card ca. 1887-1893. This photograph of young Dr. Davis may well have been taken on the occasion of his graduation from dental school in 1888.