WILLIAM FLETCHER McNUTT, M.D.


Dr. William Fletcher McNutt, phusician and surgeon of San Francisco and the author of valuable works and essays upon medical and surgical subjects, is accorded a position of distinction as a member of the medical fraternity of California, not only by the general public but also by his professional brethren. Strong purpose and laudable amibition underlie every successful career and they have been the foundation upon which Dr. McNutt has builded his fame and prosperity.

A native of Nova Scotia, William Fletcher McNutt was born on the 29th of March, 1839, a son of William and Mary (Johnson) McNutt. At a very early epoch in the colonization of the new world the McNutt family was established in America, and in 1743 the great-grandfather of Dr. McNutt removed from his home in Virginia and settled in Nova Scotia upon land granted by George II of England, obtained through his brother, Colonel Alexander McNutt, of the British army. Successive generations of the family have resided in Nova Scotia down to the present time.

Dr. McNutt pursued his primary education in the public schools of his native country and supplemented his early school privileges by a course of study in the Presbyterian Seminary of the Lower province, now the University of Dalhousie. With a broad literary knowledge to serve as an excellent foundation for professional learning he took up the study of medicine in 1859, under the direction of Dr. Samuel Muir, of Truro, Nova Scotia, and later he attended lectures at the medical school of Harvard University during the spring, summer and winter terms of 1861-2. He then matriculated in the medical department of the University of Vermont, where he remained through the regular school year, and was there graduated with the class of 1862. He did not regard his professional education as completed, however, and entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York, where he remained through the scholastic year of 1862-3. He was also in the Philadelphia Hospital for the annual term of 1863, and then entered the United States navy and was two years in the west; was at the siege of Vicksburg and was with Admiral Porter and General Grant. Then going abroad, he spent the year 1864-5 as a student in Paris. In the spring and summer of 1865 he continued his scientific investigation at Edinburg, the Royal College of Physicians, at Edinburg, in 1865. He profited by the instruction of many of the most renowned medical educators and specialists of the old world, and thus splendidly equipped for his chosen calling entered upon his professional duties upon his return to America.

Dr. McNutt served as a surgeon in the United States navy in 1863 and 1864. He afterward passed an examination for the British army when in London, in August, 1865. He engaged in the practice of medicine in 1866-7 in Nova Scotia, and came to California in 1868, remaining here continously since. He was not long in demonstrating his ability that had been won through comprehensive study at home and abroad, and a constantly growing practice has rewarded his efforts. He is a valued member of a number of societies of the profession, including the International Medical Congress, the American Medical Association, the Medical Society of the State of California, the San Francisco County Medical Society, and the San Francisco Gynecological Society.

His professional labors outside of the practice of medicine and surgery have been a varied and important character, he being well known as an educator and author. He has been professor of the principles and practice of medicine in the medical department of the University of California, occupying the position from 1879 until 1899, and was professor of disease of the heart and kidneys in the post-graduate department of the same university from 1894 until 1898. He was president of the board of trustees of the veterinary department of the University of California; was consulting physician and surgeon to St. Mary's Hospital, of San Francisco, and also to the Children's Hospital for several years; while for four years, from 1878 until 1882, he was a director of the state prison.

Dr. McNutt's contributions to medical literature are many and include a text-book on "Diseases of the Kidneys and Bladder," published by Lippincott, of Philadelphia, 1893. He is the author of a chapter on appendicitis, published in the American System of Medicine, A. L. Loomis, M. D., editor, in 1895; a paper on "cremation, the Only Sanitary Method of Disposing of the Dead," published by the California State Sanitary Association, in June, 1894; "Vaginal Hysterectomy for Cancer -- Twenty-three Cases," appearing in the Pacific Medical Journal of 1894; "Vaginal Hysterectomy for the Pregnant Cancerous Uterus," in April, 1893. He has also delivered a number of public addresses, including one on "Jute Culture," given on Candian day before the Mid-winter Fair at San Francisco in 1895; a report on the mineral and thermal springs of California, delivered before the Internal Medical Congress in 1887; a paper on Medical Education, read before the Medical Society of the State of California, in April, 1902; and many others. His writings, covering many topics and presenting a comprehensive view of the subjects treated, have won for him distinction and awakened deep thought among the members of the medical fraternity.

In 1871 Dr. McNutt was united in marriage to Miss Mary L. Coon, an only daughter of Hon. H. P. Coon, M.D., of San Francisco. They have two sons and two daughters: Mary Louise, now the wife of Lieutenant Potter of the United States army; Maxwell, an attorney-at-law of San Francisco; W. F., Jr., who is practicing medicine in connection with his father; and Ruth, at home.

Aside from his profession and its kindred duties and labors, Dr. McNutt has been active and influential in community affairs in San Francisco. He was a member of the board of freeholders for making the first charter for the city and county of San Francisco in 1882, and served as police commissioner in 1899-1900. He was one of the six organizers of the New United Republican League, an association whose object is to do away with all factional parties in Republican politics, and labor solely for the organization and its principles and not for the individual. Socially he is identified with St. Andrew's Society, the British Benevolent Society, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Masonic order, in which he has attained the Knight Templar degree. Honored and respected in every class of society, he has been an influential factor in fraternal, political and professional circles, and his labors have ever been actuated by fidelity to principles and promoted by an earnest desire for progress and improvement.


Return to Biographies Index

Return to California AHGP home page

Return to Sacramento County AHGP home page