John Maynard Woodworth

- our first US Surgeon General and a man in a hurry

 

John was born in Chemung County NY on 15 August 1837. John was the fourth of five children. His parents were Daniel and Mary (Woodward) Woodworth, and was from the Walter, Isaac, Daniel, William, William, Daniel line. His grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War and resettled in Albany County NY in 1793. Soon after his birth, his family resettled in Kane Co Illinois, where his youngest sister was born.
After high school, John enrolled in the University of Chicago and graduated as a pharmacist. During this time, at age 21, he became interested in natural history and helped organize the Chicago Academy of Science. Subsequently he was chosen as the museum's curator. As the curator he toured the Mississippi River and collected many specimens for the museum. As a result of this research, he was appointed as a naturalist for the University of Chicago. This appointment enabled him access to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, where he worked until he decided to reenter College to earn his medical degree. He graduated from the Chicago Medical College in 1862 at age 25.

 As soon as he graduated from Medical School, he was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the Union Army and was promoted to Surgeon. Eventually he became the Medical Director of the Army of the Tennessee. This Union army was headed by Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. John served under General Sherman and was in charge of the ambulance trail during "Sherman's March to the Sea". His duty was to transport the sick and wounded to Savannah. His performance was exemplary. He saved all the lives of the wounded soldiers he transported.

 After the Civil War, John spent a year in Europe receiving clinical training in both Berlin and Vienna and eventually returned to Chicago in 1866. Upon his return, John taught anatomy at the Chicago Medical College. He also was appointed as Surgeon of the Soldier's home of Chicago and Sanitary Inspector of the Chicago Board of Health. This was all accomplished by the age 30. On 29 Mar 1871, John was named as head of an organization that was charged with the centralization of the Hospital services in Washington DC during the Ulysses Grant's presidential administration. This was the precursor of the Surgeon General Office. On 10 Jun 1873, John married Maggie Celeste Winn Hannahs in Chicago Illinois. Maggie was born in Kenosha Wisconsin. They did not have any chirdren.

 Since John's service started off as a Marine Hospital Service under the auspices of the Military, he immediately started a series of reforms that included taking job appointments out of the patronage system and instituting examinations for applicants. He also insisted that career service physicians should be moved to areas where needed and by 1872 he was publishing annual reports of the Marine Hospital Service for public consumption. John also became interested in issues such as cholera and yellow fever, and laid the foundation for the passage of the National Quarantine Act of 1878. John died on 14 Mar 1879, at age 41. His foresight was responsible for the evolution of duties and responsibilities that are managed and controlled by the US Public Health Service. The title of his official duties was changed to United States Surgeon General

The information for this story was found mostly on Ancestry.com, Wikipedia and Jeanette Behan's Woodworth Family in America, vol. 1 and the unpublished 6th generation by Jeanette Behan.