Of the six graduates of the University of Maryland Dental Department class of 1888 whose portraits I have written about, Fred Morton Wheeler is the only one who gave up dental practice.
Son of Nashua, New Hampshire job printer Harrison Rodney Wheeler (1841-1898) and Nettie (Mills) Wheeler, Fred was born in April 1866 in Nashua. In 1900 he was practicing dentistry in Milford, New Hampshire, but by 1910 he was working as a printer. In 1920, he had a position as a clerk in the Manchester, New Hampshire post office, where he stayed for the rest of his known career.
Their family’s ancestry is well documented, thanks to Albert Gallatin Wheeler’s 1914 work The genealogical and encyclopedic history of the Wheeler family in America.
Fred’s grandfather was Daniel Wheeler (1789-1867), an Amherst, New Hampshire farmer. According to family historian Paul Wheeler, the family’s roots go back to American Revolution: great-grandfather Timothy Wheeler (1750-1826) served in Col. Nichols Regiment, New Hampshire Militia, and may have seen action at Fort Ticonderoga.
Fred and his wife, Mary (Batten) Wheeler had one daughter. Mabel Florence (Wheeler) Lovering (1904-1996), taught school in Manchester before her marriage to Clarence E. Lovering (1905-2000).
Wheeler had his portrait taken at the studio of Russell & Company. Ross Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900 dates Russell’s location at 17 & 203 W. Lexington Street to 1888, which corresponds nicely with the date of Wheeler’s graduation from dental school.
For this vignetted bust portrait, the photographer chose to add a touch of rose to Wheeler’s cheeks, probably on the print, to highlight the sitter’s youth and health.
He was born 9 Mar 1862 in Westernport, Md. to William R. Cross (1831-1895), who became head of the carpentry department for the B & O Railroad operations in Piedmont, and milliner Penelope (Jameson) Cross (1838-1891).
Piedmont was a key B & O Railroad hub, and in its heyday was a prosperous town. The Cross family’s upper middle class status probably enabled Theodore to study for a profession in Baltimore.
Dr. Cross died on 4 Mar 1944, Burlington, Mineral, West Virginia.He and his parents are buried in Philos Cemetery, Westernport, Allegany Co., Md. He was a member of the Knights of Pythias, Piedmont Company No. 10, Uniform Rank, which held graveside services for him at his death.
Cross had his cabinet card portrait taken at the studio of William Ashman(1863-1902). Ashman learned photography from his uncle, stereoview photographer and publisher William M. Chase. The young photographer worked for David Bachrach, then in 1877 left to open his own studio.
As with many of the portraits of dentists I’ve written about, Cross’ photograph focuses on the bust and employs vignetting–careful overexposure of the background–to create a floating effect. The popularity of vignetting may point to a shift away from the gimmicky props and backdrops of earlier years.
The technique has, however, the unfortunate side-effect of destroying depth and flattening the sitter’s image. Compare this lack of depth with the much more attractive and dimensional effect created when a nuanced, textural backdrop returned to the studio in the 1890s, as in this moody later Ashman portrait.
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 treebased on notes made by Hallie and Laura Gartrell and The Gartrell/Gatrell Ancestry of Colonial Marylandby Randall A. Haines.
Some of the lots of cabinet card portraits of dentists I’ve recently obtained have included unidentified men. Working off the theory that these individuals may also have been dentists, I started looking through digitized histories of the University of Maryland Dental Department and the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.
Jackpot. I was able to match this unidentified gentleman to portraits of the founding Dean of the Dental Department of the University of Maryland, Dr. Ferdinand James Samuel Gorgas (1834-1914).
By its subject’s dress, my portrait appears to be of earlier date than the published and widely reprinted portrait of the venerated doctor.
Photographer James S. Cummins’ studio is known to have been located at 5 N. Charles Street ca. 1886-1887 (Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900). Given that a number of the portraits of dentists I’ve acquired relate to the University of Maryland Dental Department’s graduating class of 1888, it again seems plausible that Gorgas had his portrait taken around that time.
Dr. Gorgas’ biography and ancestry are well and widely known, so there is little need to belabor it here. He was born on 27 July 1835 in Winchester, Virginia to Mary Ann Smith and prosperous tinner and stove dealer John DeLancy Gorgas (b. abt. 1819, Md.); grew up in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and attended Dickinson College here; graduated from the pioneering Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1855; was appointed Demonstrator there in 1857 and became a full professor in 1860.
Gorgas earned an MD from the University of Maryland in 1863 and served the Union as an assistant surgeon during the Civil War. In 1865, he returned to the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery as Dean, departing in 1882 to become founding Dean of the University of Maryland Dental Department (now the School of Dentistry), a post he held until 1911.
He wrote extensively on dentistry, revising seminal works by pioneer dentist Dr. Chapin Harris many times, and was one of the editors of the American Journal of Dental Science, one of the first professional academic journals on dentistry.
He and his wife, Anna (Swormstedt) Gorgas (1835-1909), had four children, of whom I have identified three: Ellen, Dr. Lawrence D. Gorgas, MD (1861-1924) and Herbert F. Gorgas, DDS (1857-1958). Only their two sons survived to adulthood. Anna, who married Dr. Gorgas in Jefferson County, Indiana in 1855, was the daughter of Jefferson County, Indiana merchant Lorenzo Dow Swormstedt.
For many years the family lived on fashionable North Eutaw, and they may have attended Mt. Vernon Place Methodist Episcopal Church, Mount Vernon Place and Charles Street; the minister of that church presided over his funeral service. Ferdinand and Anna Gorgas are buried in Green Mount Cemetery; their two sons rest in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois.
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).
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’sDirectory 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.
This cabinet card portrait of Dr. James Howell Harris, MD, DDS, is dated 2 March 1888, the date of the 1888 commencement ceremony for the Dental Department of the University of Maryland, where Dr. Harris was a founding faculty member.
Harris was born on 31 October 1834 in Albemarle County, Virginia, to blacksmith Alanson Harris (1811-1866) andSophia Ann Harris(1815-1893). In 1861, James Harris earned the newly-emerging credential of Doctor of Dental Surgery from the prestigious Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. He obtained a medical degree from the Baltimore College of Physicians and Surgeons.
After the Civil War, he taught at his dental alma mater, then in 1882 left to help organize the newly-formed Dental Department at the University of Maryland.
There he held a professorship of Operative and Clinical Dentistry until his death in Baltimore on 12 December 1910. He was a colleague of Dr. John Uhler, about whom I wrote in a recent post.
Fellow Virginian Dr. Charles Lowndes Steel, Sr. (1860-1904; DDS Baltimore College of Dental Surgery 1881), brother of Dr. Frank Ryland Steel DDS (University of Maryland Dental Dept. Class of 1888) boarded in the Harris home on North Eutaw, and married Dr. Harris’ daughter Ella Harris (1868-1924).
His brother, Franklin Lewis Harris (1848-1911; DDS 1870, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery) and two of his sons, Charles C. Harris and James Edwin Harris (DDS, 1884, University of Maryland Dental Dept.), followed him into the dental profession.
Several obituaries mention that Dr. Harris served in the Confederate Medical Corps (Baltimore American 13 Dec 1910; Baltimore Sun 13 Dec 1910). I found a passing reference to his service in Company I of the 4th Virginia Cavalry (Marylanders in the Confederacy, Daniel Hartzler, 1986).
Harris is portrayed as a beloved and devoted teacher who avoided public life.
Dr. Harris was, according to his biographer, “of a genial disposition and strong domestic habits” and an “active, enthusiastic and beloved teacher of successive classes of dental graduates.”
One of his eulogists described him thus: “His students at the university were so deeply attached to him and he to them that they spent many of their evenings at his home” (Baltimore American 13 Dec 1910).
During his funeral, said the Sun, the senior class of the Dental Department gathered in front of his residence and marched “in a body” to Emmanuel Episcopal Church at Read and Cathedral streets “to pay their last respects” (Baltimore Sun 14 Dec 1910).
According to Ross Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers, the studio of James S. Cummins‘ (1841-1895) was located at 5 N. Charles Street ca. 1886-1887, which fits nicely with my speculation that Dr. Harris gave this portrait as a token of affection to an unknown dental graduate in March 1888.
Baltimore photographerWilliam Ashman(1863-1902) took this cabinet card portrait identified in period ink on the reverse as Frank Ryland Steel (b. abt. 1867, Virginia), DDS. Steel may have sat for this photograph upon the occasion of his graduation from the Dental Department of the University of Maryland in March 1888.
After completing his studies, Frank followed his father, George B. Steel (1835-1916), and his half-brother Charles Lowndes Steel (1860-1904) into the family dental practice in Richmond, Virginia. Charles had also studied in Baltimore–earning his DDS from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1881.
Frank got his middle name from his mother, Martha “Mattie” Ryland Fleet (1839-1871). His father married three times in all, so the Steel household was a large one. All told, there were 12 siblings and half-siblings.
Frank Ryland Steel married a much younger woman, Dora Robertson, in 1924; it appears they had no children, and by 1930 he was a widower, living alone in the small tidewater town of Urbanna, Virginia.
I have not been able to trace the Steels back beyond the census of 1860. Frank’s father George B. Steel was active in Richmond politics, and a 1911 campaign advertisement says only that George B. Steel’s father was “George Steel, a former merchant of this city” (Richmond Times Dispatch, 16 September 1911).
However ordinary his life appears, someone cared enough about Frank Ryland Steel to keep his portrait in their collection of dentists all these years.
This cabinet card photograph is one of a deliciously obscure collection of dentists’ and physicians’ portraits from Baltimore that recently began appearing on an internet auction site.
Son of German immigrant grocers Ann and George D. Hartwig, Charles William Hartwig (b. 18 December 1866, Md.) was a Baltimore physician who also studied the newly-emerging profession of dentistry. He received his DDS degree from the University of Maryland’s Department of Dental Surgery in March 1886–the date marked on the back of the photograph.
He obtained his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1889. Among his multiple appointments: Resident Physician at Bayview Hospital, Resident Physician and Assistant Surgeon at the Presbyterian Ear, Nose and Throat Charity Hospital, and demonstrator of anatomy, anesthestics, and dentistry at the University of Maryland. His private practice was at 111 W. Saratoga Street. (The Medical Annals of Maryland, E. F. Cordell, 1903, p. 432)
Hartwig seems to have been a progressive physician. In 1895, a Baltimore American article speaks of his successful treatment of a diphtheria case with an anti-toxin, a revolutionary treatment developed by Emil von Behring.
In 1896, Dr. Hartwig published an article on the surgical treatment of ear infections entitled “Aural Catarrh.” Drawing on experience from his practice at the Presbyterian Hospital, he urged that hearing loss could be avoided if aural swelling and pain were relieved immediately by opening, draining and cleaning the ear drum–apparently not a widespread practice at the time (Maryland Medical Journal, v. 33, pp. 367-368).
Passport applications and a mention in a medical journal indicate that Hartwig traveled to Europe at least once, in 1914, at the same time as another, much more prominent physician, the learned and charismatic medical professor Dr. Ridgley Brown Warfield (1864-1920), scion of an old Howard County family who had graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1884 and taught there.
Young Hartwig sat for his portrait at the studio of John Philip Blessing (1835-1911) and Franklin Kuhn, located ca. 1882-1886, Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographerstells us, at 46 N. Charles Street. Hartwig chose a vignetted bust style for his portrait, as had Dr. John C. Uhler. Hartwig likely encountered Uhler as a student at the University of Maryland, where Dr. Uhler was an instructor in the Dental Department.
Uhler, Hartwig, and the others must have met one another during their schooling in Baltimore and in the practice of their professions. Perhaps they exchanged portraits upon graduation. But who collected these Baltimore portraits of dentists and doctors of the 1880s and kept them so carefully all these years? Not that I’m complaining.