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Society Snapshot: The first president

The Wisconsin Medical Society carries with it a rich history, and throughout 2016—our 175th anniversary—we’re exploring the past as we look to the future. Each week in Medigram, “Society Snapshot” will highlight the physicians and events that shaped the history of both the organization and the profession of medicine in Wisconsin over the past 175 years.

Our first president
For almost 150 years, Mason Darling, MD, of Fond du Lac, was thought to be the first Society president. Buried in time, however, was the real truth: that there were actually two presidents before Dr. Darling.

According to a January 1992 WMJ article by retired Society Secretary-General Manager Earl Thayer and doctoral student Thomas J. Wolfe, it was Bushnell B. Cary, MD, of Racine—not Dr. Darling—who was elected president of the newly formed Society at its first meeting on Feb. 3, 1842.

Regarded as “Cary the physician” by the people of Racine, Dr. Cary was the only physician for that area of the territory and would travel as far as 40 miles—on horseback—to see patients.

Doctor Cary stepped down as president in 1845 and was named to its first Board of Censors. He was succeeded by Jesse Moore, MD, of Beloit. Mr. Thayer couldn’t find much about Dr. Moore, but he did unearth one interesting fact. Doctor Moore became a member and was elected president during the same meeting.

Test your knowledge
There were no correct answers to last week’s trivia question: “Who was the Society’s first president?” The answer: Bushnell B. Cary, MD, of Racine.

This week’s question: Who was the first woman to serve as Society president?

E-mail your answer to Jennifer Wieman by next Wednesday at noon for a chance to win. The answer and winner will be in next week’s “Society Snapshot.”

Good luck!

Back to January 21, 2016 Medigram