American Medical Biographies/Wood, Thomas

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Wood, Thomas (1813–1880)

Thomas Wood was born in Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, August 22, 1813, the son of Nathan and Margaret Wood, and the youngest of five children.

The family for three generations were natives and inhabitants of West Chester, Pennsylvania, his great-grandparents having been born there in 1750. The family were Quakers. Dr. Wood's father was a farmer in very moderate circumstances, so that the boy's early education was an exceedingly limited one; he seems, however, to have obtained, through his own exertions, good schooling. In 1835 he began to study medicine with Dr. W. S. Bates, of Smithfield.

In June, 1838, he went to Philadelphia, preparatory to entering the University of Pennsylvania. His letters home show that in this he suffered many privations, and the answers indicate many doubts as to the wisdom of the undertaking, but the lad went steadily on his way. In April, 1839, he received his diploma, and immediately an appointment in the Friends' Asylum for the Insane, near Philadelphia. There he remained three years. In 1842, he returned to Smithfield, and began practice, but in 1844 went to Europe and on his return in 1845, went to Cincinnati, and began a career which certainly justified all his former privations and longings. The Ohio College of Dental Surgery was chartered January 21, 1845, but did not begin operations until November, 1846. Dr. Wood was professor of anatomy and physiology there, a position he held for a number of years.

Among his appointments he was demonstrator of anatomy in the Medical College of Ohio, 1853; professor of anatomy; professor of surgical anatomy; editor and owner of the Western Lancet, in connection with Dr. L. M. Lawson, from 1853 to 1857; on the staff of the Commercial (now Cincinnati) Hospital from August 15, 1861, to March 15, 1867; and again in 1870 and 1871, a member of the Academy of Medicine of Cincinnati.

Dr. Wood was a versatile genius; in 1839, before he graduated in medicine, he invented an instrument designed to facilitate the calculation of areas, which received the highest praise from a committee appointed by the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. It was called the "Arealite."

At the same time he presented to the same body a fountain pen, which was likewise highly commended.

Subsequently he invented an instrument for determining the length of lines, and to find the horizontal of a line when it ascends or descends a hill. This was called "The Lineal Mensurator." A patent was granted July 22, 1839.

In an old scrap-book of the doctor's is a drawing of a balloon which could be driven in any direction.

For many years the doctor kept a scrapbook, in which are found a great number of poems, some of considerable merit, none of which were ever published.

Dr. Wood married, March 14, 1843, Emily A. Miller, at Mount Pleasant, Jefferson County, Ohio, and had two children, Edwin Miller, born January 30, 1844, who became a doctor. A second son, Samuel S., died in infancy. In 1855 he again married, this time Elizabeth J. Reiff, of Philadelphia, and had six children. Charles Reiff Wood, born May 9, 1857, became a doctor, but died in 1891. Mrs. Wood died July 27, 1871, and Dr. Wood, undaunted, made a third venture with Carrie C. Fels, of Cincinnati, on July 27, 1876, but had no children.

Dr. Wood died November 21, 1880, in Cincinnati, from blood-poisoning acquired while treating some of the injured in a railroad collision, October 20, 1880.

Cincin. Lancet & Clinic, 1880, n. s., vol. v, p. 489.