One of the pioneer representatives of the medical fraternity of California is Dr. Gustavus Lincoln Simmons, whose prominence in the profession is indicated by the fact that he was chosen by his members of the fraternity to fill the position of president of the State Medical Society. He was born in Hingham, Plymouth county, Massachusetts, March 13, 1832, and is a descendant of Moses Simmons, who was a member of an English colony of Pilgrims that sailed from Holland on the ship Fortune, the vessel which followed the Mayflower to the shores of the new world, reaching Plymouth in 1621. In the maternal line Dr. Simmons was a representative of the Lincoln family, whose founder was a resident of Hingham, Engand, and on coming to the new world established the town of Hingham in Massachusetts. His descendants have furnished to the country many examples of patriotism and of ability in various lines of life.

Gustavus L. Simmons acquired his preliminary education in the public schools of Hingham, Massachusets, and in Derby Academy of his native town, remaining there until seventeen years of age. He then left home and sailed from Boston, Massachusetts, in 1849, in the brig Curacoa, which rounded Cape Horn in order to join his brother-in-law, Dr. Henry B. May, in San Francisco. After a lengthy voyage of nearly nine months he reached California, which was still under territorial rule. He spent a few months in San Francisco and then made his way to Sacramento, where the cholera epidemic was still raging. This was also at a time when the excitement incident to the squatter riots was still intense. In Sacramento young Simmons joined his brother-in-law in the business of the old Boston drug store, which was then located on the north side of J street between First and Second streets. Owing to the lack of accommodation elsewhere in the town a large number of prominent physicians examined their office patients in the little cloth anterooms attached to this establishment, and as the location was quite near all of the large gambling houses and hotels it was no uncommon sight during the pioneer period to see here not only the victims of cholera and kindred diseases but also those who had been shot or stabbed and needed surgical treatment. It was in this kind of a school that Dr. Simmons gained his first knowledge of the practical work of the profession which awakened an interest in the calling which he later adoped as a life work. For several years he assisted materially in the care of sick and wounded in Sacramento, and then having determined to engage in medical practice he returned to the east and entered the Tremont Street Preparatory Medical School of Boston, which was then conducted by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, he noted scientist and author, and others. At a later datae Dr. Simmons became a student in the medical department of Harvard University and won his degree there, it being conferred upon him by that famous institution in 1856.

Not long after his graduation Dr. Simmons returned to Sacramento, where he has since been successfully engaged in the practice of his profession, except during the periods in which he has made extended trips to the east and to Europe, taken with a view of observing the methods of hospital practice in these places. Dr. Simmons is a member of the American Medical Association and served on the committee of arrangements at the great gathering of that body held in San Francisco in 1871. He is also a member of the California State Medical Society and served as its president in 1895. He also joined, after graduation, the Massachusetts State medical Society and was one of the charter members of the Sacramento Society for Medical Improvement. In his profession he has attained high rank, winning prominence which comes in recognition of suprior ability, close application and thorough and continuous preparation. Anything which tends to bring to man the key to that complex mystery which we call life elicits his attention and interest, and many extremely difficult medical problems have been successfully solved by him in the course of a long, varied and important practice. He was the first surgeon in California to report a case of ovariotomy (1858), followed by one of extirpation of the spleen. He is the author of many able articles upon medical and surgical subjects. Among his many monographs contributed to medical journals are a number which have attracted widespread attention and favorable comment in the profession. These have included "The Feigned Insanity of the Public Administrator and Murderer Troy Dye," "Phthisis in California," and a monograph on the use of silver wire in ruptured tendons, including the tendo Achillis.

For more than twenty years Dr. Simmons served as a commissioner in lunacy and as a member of the board of health in Sacramento. He was also for one term county hospital physician, has been United States pension surgeon, and aside from the duties of his profession has rendered valuable service to his community. He ws the first secretary of the city board of education that acted as school superintendent. He is now president of the board of trustees of the Marguerite Home for Old Ladies, founded through the munificent charity of Marguerite E. Crocker.

Dr. Simmons was married in 1862 to Miss Celia Crocker, a daughter of the Rev. Peter Crocker, formerly of Richmond, Indiana, and of Barnstable, Massachusetts. They have three living children, the eldest of whom is Dr. Gustavus Crocker Simmons, Dr. Samuel Ewer Simmons, the youngest son, was in the pioneer class in Stanford University that granted the degree of Master of Arts. Dr. Samuel was married in 1900 to Miss Evelyn Gladys Crow, of San Jose, and they have a son, Samuel Bradford Simmons. Both the sons graduated in medicine from Harvard University, and with their father are active practitioners in Sacramento. Cecil May, the only daughter, is the wife of Dwight H. Miller, of Sacramento.

Dr. Gustavus Crocker simmons was born in Sacramento February 24, 1863, attended the public schools of this city and afterward the University of California. He then, like his father, became a student of the medical department of Harvard University, and was graduated with the class of 1885, receiving the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He afterward pursued post-graduate courses of study in Europe as a student in the hospitals of Vienna and Berlin, and since that time has made five other trips to the old world, each adding greatly to his knowledge concerning the methods followed by the best practitioners of medicine and surgery. He is now practicing his profession in Sacramento, where his marked ability has gained him prestige. He was married April 11, 1895, in Sacramento to Miss Gertrude Miller, a native of this city and a daughter of Frank Miller, the president of the bank of D. O. Mills & Company, of Sacramento. Two daughters have been born to Dr. Gustavus Crocker Simmons and his wife, Ednah and Elinor, both at school.

Dr. G. C. simmons is a member of the American Medial Assocation, the State Medical Society, the California District Medical Society, the Sacramento society for Medical Improvement, and was treasurer of the state society in 1894, while of the Sacramento Society he was the president in 1895. He is now examiner for a number of insurance companies and has been an examining surgeon for the Native Sons of the Golden West since the organization of that society. The nane Simmons has come to be a synonym in Sacramento for skill in medicine and surgery, and father and sons have attained enviable positions in connection with the profession, which is accorded by many the highest rank among the callings to which man can devote his energies.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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