Friday, March 27, 2009

Dr. Francis Harrison (1842-1925)

Dr. Francis Harrison (1842-December 28, 1925)
m. Mary A. Creed on January 1, 1875 (? -1935)

They had the following children:

• James (Frank) Francis (1877-1914) - Attended the New York College of Pharmacy beginning in 1897. He graduated in 1899 and began working at Hocker and Solomon in Evanston as a pharmacist. He later went to work with his father. In 1904 he went to St. Louis to attend the World's Fair with his sister Mary. Frank died in 1914 of cancer in Salt Lake City where he was being treated.  At the time he was living in the Covey Apartments.



• Mary (1880-?) She attended St. Mary's Academy in South Bend, Indiana. I have a great photo of her class in 1899. She then became a teacher in Evanston. For the 1903 school year beginning in September she was teaching Grade 6. In 1904 she went with her brother Frank to visit the World's Fair in St. Louis. She was living unmarried in Evanston in 1935.


• Helena (1884 - 1949) m. Charles Branham. She attended St. Mary's Academy in South Bend, Indiana from 1899 to ? ,and then the University of Utah in Salt Lake City for about a year from the spring of 1906 until sometime in the 1907 without receiving a degree. She played both the piano and violin, performing in many private and public functions in Evanston. Charles was born in Litchfield, Minnesota on December 26, 1884, and was the son of Hiram Branham and Jessie Greenleaf.  They were married in Odgen, Utah on June 11, 1911.  Charles was a manager in the Publix Theatre chain and moved to St. Petersburg Florida in 1930 to be the new district supervisor of the theatres on the west coast of Florida.  In the probate documents for her mother's will from early 1936 her address is given as 1401 Beacon Street, Brookline, Massachusetts.  By 1942 Charles was retired and they were living in South Laguna, California.  Helana died there in 1949 and was buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park Cemetery.  Charles died there on December 22, 1975 and was buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park Cemetery.   


• Frederick (Ted) William (1889-1962) m. Ana Toelle (1889-1974) in 1922. They had one daughter Hellen. 1903 was an eventful year for him as a child. On July 4th a firework went off in his face causing severe injury. There was concern that he would loose the use of his eyes at one point but it came back, though the Wyoming Press indicated that "he will carry ugly scars as a result of the unfortunate affair". A few weeks later he had to have his appendix out. Ted seems to have also attended "college" in Salt Lake City. There is an article in the January 6, 1906 edition of the Wyoming Press that mentions him returning to school. I am not sure if this was the University of Utah or some other school. Ted was involved in cattle ranching near Daniel, Wyoming. The 1920 census finds him living in Lincoln County, Wyoming working as a farmer. He was single then. His mother is also listed and must have been visiting him at the time. In 1935 he was living in Evanston according to the probate records for his mother's will. Later he worked for the Union Pacific Railway. In the 1940 census he is living in his father's house on 9th Street, with his wife Ana and his daughter Helena.   Sometime later they made their way to Seattle, Washington where Fred worked for Westinghouse. He retired about 1953 and moved to Suquamish, North Kitsap. He died there on October 15, 1962. His obituary from the Bremerton Sun says that he was survived by his wife, daughter Hellen Wright and two grandsons. His wife Ana T. Toelle, lived to be 84, and died at Suquamish in April 1974 in Poulsbo. Ana was born in Wismer, Nebraska on July 30, 1889. She was a former nurse. Her obituary in the April 8,1974 edition of the Bremerton Sun says that she was survived by her daughter Mrs. Hellen Wright of Suquamish, two grandsons, brother Joseph Toelle of San Antonio,Tex, and a sister Miss Hedwig Toelle of New Haven,Conn (a former professor of Public Health Nursing at Yale University from 1937 until 1960). Both Fred and Ana are buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Kitsap. A search for their daughter Hellen came to the conclusion that she died on May 10, 2007 in Suquamish, Washington at the age of 88.


Dr. Francis Harrison's House in Evanston Wyoming on the corner of Centre and Ninth Street in 1990:
© Michael Harrison 2009



Here is an illustration of his drugstore in Evanston Wyoming in 1892





The son of William Harrison and Mary O'Connor, Dr. Harrison was the subject of a number of biographical entries during his lifetime.


The following entry was in the Progressive Men of the State of Wyoming, published in Chicago, Illinois by A.W. Bowen & Company in 1903:


The life of a country physician is full of toil and hardship, but it has compensation in the reflection that it is also full of benefaction to the community which he services and that no effort in behalf of suffering humanity is thrown away. Among the prominent and highly esteemed physicians of Evanston, Wyoming, Dr. Frank Harrison is in the front rank. He was born in 1842 in Toronto, Canada, the son of William and Mary (O’Connor) Harrison, the former a native of England and the latter of Ireland. Both were brought by parents to the New World in childhood, it being the desire to secure for them better opportunities than were afforded in their native land. The families settled at or near Toronto, where they prospered and reared their offspring. Doctor Harrison received his academic education at the public schools of his native country and began his medical training at the Toronto University. He continued it at St. Michael’s Medical College in Toronto, and fully completed it with another two-years’ course at Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York City, and from which he was duly graduated on March 1, 1866. On March 1, 1865, he had been appointed a medical cadet in the service of the U.S. government, a class of officials which the government had created and to which undergraduates were admitted as assistant surgeons. His first assignment was on board the transport S. R. Spaulding, which conveyed sick and wounded soldiers to New Haven, Conn., where a military hospital was located. He remained at the hospital until November and the experience he had there has been an invaluable service to him in his subsequent practice. After his graduation from Bellevue College he came to Denver, Colorado, at that time a city of not far from 4,000 inhabitants. He passed his first summer in the West in traveling and then came to Cheyenne, following the railroad in his professional work as far as Wasatch. He next went to Sweetwater mines, there he passed two years in the practice of his profession and then removed to Evanston, where he has been in an active medical practice for more than thirty years. At the first election held after this arrival the total poll of voters, men and women, numbered only 300. In politics Doctor Harrison is a Democrat and has been active in the interest of the party. He has been honoured with several places of responsibility in public life, discharging the duties of all with fidelity, intelligence and zeal. In 1871 and 1872 he represented Sweetwater county in the Territorial Legislature, and from 1876 to 1880 was one of its county commissioners. In Unita county he was a probate judge for six years and county treasurer from 1884-1890, being also mayor of Evanston for three years. He is also a valued member of the Grand Army of the Republic, being very much esteemed as a leader in all of its meetings. On January 1, 1875, he was united in holy marriage with Miss Mary A. Creed, a daughter of James Creed, a native of Illinois, and whose father died in 1896 in Clinton, Iowa, and the mother, whose maiden name is Egan, is still living, her residence being Dixon, Ill. Doctor and Mrs. Harrison have four children, James F., Mary, Helen and Fred W. Doctor Harrison ranks high in his profession as a physician and surgeon, as a close student and as an intelligent practitioner.
The following entry is in the History of Wyoming, edited by I.S. Bartlett and published in 1918:


Dr. F. H. Harrison is today the oldest physician in Wyoming in years of continuous connection with the medical profession. He practices at Evanston, where he has remained since 1872. He has not only been identified with the science of medicine and surgery, however, for as a pioneer he has been active in many of these movements which have led to the upbuilding and development of the state. He is familiar with all phases of Indian warfare and with all phases of frontier life and the history of Wyoming is to him an open book, for he has been a most active participant in events which figure most prominently in its annals.

He was born in Toronto, Canada, April 2, 1842, and is a son of William and Mary (O'Connor) Harrison. The father was a native of England and in his boyhood days made the voyage across the briny deep to Canada, settling near Toronto, where he engaged in farming, there maintaining his residence until his death, which occurred in 1849, when his son. Dr. Harrison, was a little lad of but seven years. The mother was born in Wexford, Ireland, and in childhood became a resident of Canada, where she was married and continued to reside until called to the home beyond in 1904. She had at that time reached the eighty-fourth milestone on life's journey. In the family were five children, of whom one daughter died at the age of sixteen years. The others are: Willam, who is living in Brampton, Canada ; John, also located at Brampton ; and Nicholas, who still lives in Canada. The other member of the family is Dr. F. H. Harrison, of this review, who in his youthful days was a pupil in the public schools of Canada and afterward took up the study of medicine in New York city, matriculating in the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, from which he was graduated with the class of 1866. His collegiate training was comprehensive and thorough, and thus well equipped for professional duties, he made his way westward to Colorado, crossing the plains with team and wagon. He took up his abode at Gilpin, where he remained for a year and a half, and in November, 1867 he removed to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he practiced for a short time. He was afterward with the Union Pacific grading camps in his professional capacity and continued with the road until the line was extended to Evanston. He then went to the South Pass mines, where he followed mining for two and a half years, but in 1872 returned to Evanston, where he has since been in constant practice. Entering upon professional duties in this state in 1867, he is today the oldest physician in Wyoming. Through the intervening period of a half century he has kept in touch with the trend of modem professional thought and progress, acquainting himself with those discoveries which scientific investigation has brought to light. He is a well informed physician and one thoroughly skilled in all departments of medical and surgical practice. In the early days he went through all the experiences that come to the frontier physician. He fought in many of the Indian wars and was with the posse in the Wind River campaign, in which Black Bear the chief of the Arapahoes, was killed. The summer's sun and winter's cold could not deter him from the faithful performance of his duties and at times he would ride for miles and miles over wind swept districts, facing the storms of winter, yet he never hesitated when his professional service was needed. He belongs to the Wyoming State Medical Society and the American Medical Association. Aside from his active connection with the profession he has also extended his efforts into other fields and is now president of the Evanston National Bank, president of the Evanston Drug Company, a director of the Evanston Electric Light Company and president of the Harrison Stock Growing Company of Uinta County. In business affairs he has displayed sound judgment and unfaltering enterprise and his cooperation with any project has constituted an element in its growing success.

On the 1st of January. 1875, Dr. Harrison was married to Miss Mary Creed, of Evanston, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Creed, formerly of Dixon, Illinois. They have become the parents of three children who are still living and lost one son, James Francis, who died in 1914 at the age of thirty-seven years, while acting as manager of the Evanston Drug Company. Those who survive are: Mary, who was born in Evanston in 1880 and is a graduate of the high school and of the Notre Dame Academy at South Bend, Indiana ; Helena, who was born in Evanston in 1884 and is a graduate of the high school of that city; and Frederick William, who was born in 1889 and is also a graduate of the Evanston high school. He is now in business with his father.

Dr. Harrison is connected through fraternal relations with the Independent Order of Odd Fellow- and with the Masons. In the latter organization he has taken the degrees of lodge, chapter and commandery. His political endorsement is given to the democratic party and he has several times been called upon to serve in positions of honor and trust. For four years he filled the office of county commissioner and for six years was county treasurer of Uinta county. For one term he served in the second territorial legislature and at all times his aid and influence have been given on the side of right, progress, reform and improvement. He is today one of the most valued and prominent citizens of Wyoming, standing very high in professional circles, and no story could contain more exciting or interesting chapters than could be found in the life record of Dr. Harrison if space would permit this to be written in detail. His memory goes back to the time when this entire region was but sparsely settled, when the Indians were more numerous than the white men, when the land had not been reclaimed for the purposes of civilization but remained in the primitive condition in which it came from the hand of nature. His life activities constitute a connecting link between the primitive past and the progressive present and no history of Wyoming would be complete without his record.



Upon his death in December 1925 there were a number of obituaries in local papers. The following – perhaps the most complete – was in the Evanston Press:


Early Evanston Pioneer Expires – Dr. F.H. Harrison
Hail to the pioneer – another stalwart has been summoned from the ranks to the Great Beyond – may he rest in peace.

The bugle sounded and one of our best citizens answered the call – having the honor and distinction of being one of the two surviving members of Post No. 53, G.A.R.

Dr. Frank H. Harrison passed away Monday morning, Dec. 28, 1925, at this home on Ninth and Center Streets, having been ill but fourty eight hours – pneumonia being the cause of this death, which came as a shock to the community, and very unexpected, as he appeared hale and cheery and enjoyed Christmas.

Dr. Harrison was born at Toronto, Canada, April 20, 1842. He attended medical college at the University of Toronto, and later entered Bellview (sic) Medical school of New York; also attended Yale, graduating with honours from each institution. During the Civil War he enlisted in the Medical Corps and served until the end of the conflict.

Later he moved to St. Louis, thence to Denver, and finally to Laramie, Wyo., where he established the first doctor’s office in May 1868. He was appointed contract surgeon for the U.P. Ry. Co., and followed the building of the railroad as far west as Wasatch. He left there for the South Pass country during the mining excitement, and finally came to Evanston. In 1872 he opened the first drug store here, which was located on Front street, in the Palace building.

For years Dr. Harrison was the dependable and beloved physician of our county and town.

He was a public benefactor and ever interested in the moral uplift of the community. He became a financial success and applied his influence, capital and endeavors for the advancement and upbuilding of a good town – Evanston – which he always avowed would be his home while in life – and he remained true to that promise. No citizen has ever been more loyal to our city; more generous spirited and dependable; or was more highly respected or esteemed; nor has none passed who will be more missed and mourned than this venerable pioneer.

Some of this public callings were as a member of the first State Legislature and he was at one time Probate Judge, City Mayor, County Commissioner and President of the Evanston National Bank; was also Wyoming’s first physician. He was affiliated with the Masonic and Odd Fellow societies, but had not been an active member for several years.

Surviving are his widow, two daughters, Miss Mary Harrison, who is ill in a hospital in San Francisco; Mrs. Helen Branham; and one son, Fred Harrison of Daniel Wyo.

Funeral services were held today noon at the Catholic Church conducted by Father O’Connor and were well attended, the floral offerings being profuse and beautiful.

The American Legion members attended the body.

Honorary Pallbearers – All physicians of the city. Hon. Mayor Thomas Painter, John W.R. Rennie, Judge Sam’l Dickey, Charles Myers and Donald McAllister.

Interment was in the Catholic cemetery, he being laid to rest beside his son J. Frank Harrison, who passed away several years ago.

Beeman & Cashin, directors.

The family have the sympathy of this community in the loss of one of Evanston’s best men – loyal citizens – true friend, husband and father.

Ever live his name – long may we cherish his memory.

The world is surely better that he lived; and praise be that he was spared to an advanced age to scatter sunshine and good deeds – which influences will continue to abide in the hearts of all who knew Dr. Harrison.

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