Biography of William Henry Watkins, M.D.
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W.H. WATKINS, M.D. – William Henry Watkins was born in Yorkshire, Cattaraugus county, New York, on the 16th of April, 1827. He graduated as Doctor of Medicine from the Buffalo Medicine College in 1849; and after his graduation as doctor his thoughts turned to the Pacific coast and to Oregon as a field of his life-work, whither he removed in 1852. He settled first in Josephine county, but in 1861 removed with his family to Portland. In December of that year he tendered his services to the government in view of the impending crisis brought on by the Rebellion, and was appointed surgeon with the rank of major. His regiment was the First Oregon Cavalry. He was with them in all the burdens of war up to 1864, when the organization was dissolved and himself mustered out with the rest in December of that year.
Returning to Portland he engaged in the practice of his profession, and from that time until his death enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most careful, conscientious and successful of physicians. It will be impossible to trace the life of this man through all its multiplied forms and forces for good. It fell to the lot of but few to do so much and ins such various forms, or to do all so well as he. As a man, a citizen, he was intelligent and careful in his estimates of public duty, and faithful and consistent in the discharge of public obligations. Early in his life in Oregon, he was intrusted with one of the most important of public responsibilities by being made a member of the convention that framed the constitution of the state. There, as everywhere, he did his work well, and won the confidence and respect of all by his comprehension of the issues involved in the deliberations of the body, and the work it was called upon to perform. But his choice was not the arena of political ambition, but the more quiet field where he could work out his own ideal of personal character and public good. He was one of the noblest members of one of the noblest professions among men; and he honored that profession. To him it was more than a profession; it was a mission. In it he was conscientious, charitable and humane. Many of the homes of rich and poor that have sadly missed the presence of this able and learned physician, this earnest and sympathizing friend, and this sincere and devoted Christian.
He was earnest and active in the Church, and foremost in works of philanthropy. An excellent popular lecturer upon temperance and medicine, he became well known throughout the state, and was one of those large-brained men to whom the people look for substantial information, and who carry a weight of personal character in every community or line of endeavor in which they may operate. He was one of those physicians who would anywhere rise to the front rank in their profession, and, had he chosen Philadelphia, New York or London as the field of his practice, would not thereby have lessened his fame; for he had the qualities which would have given him a reputation equal to the field in which he worked. Although never giving personal attention to political contests, he was ever ready to assist the public in matters of political importance, and served as a member of the constitutional convention of Oregon in preparing it for admission as a state of our Union. He served at various times as member of the city council of Portland, and was also one of the presidential electors on the Lincoln ticket of 1864.
In April, 1858, he was married at Hempstead, Long Island, to Anna E. Bloomfield, who was born June 10, 1833, at Richfield Springs, Central New York. The children born in their home, some of whom are already well known in our society, are as follows: William Bloomfield, now a physician of Portland; Edward L., deceased; Frederick G.; Francis, deceased; Lorinda V.; Mary Elizabeth; Edna Louise; and Harry W.