Biography of Dr. Alexander Dunlap
Springfield, Clark County, OH Biographies





ALEXANDER DUNLAP, A M., M. D., physician and surgeon, Springfield; is a native of Ohio; a son of William and Mary (Shepherd) Dunlap, both of whom were natives of Virginia. His father was a farmer and one of the pioneers, having removed to Kentucky about 1782, and thence to the Northwest Territory in 1796. His mother's family came from Shepherdstown, Vac., of which place they were the founders, and also became pioneers of Kentucky, and, subsequently, of what is now Ohio. The subject of this sketch was born in Brown Co., Ohio, Jan. 12, 1815; he passed the Freshman and Sophoiore years of his college life at the university at Athens, and his Junior and Senior years at the Miami University, and graduated in 1836; he began the study of medicine under the direction of his brother at Greenfield, Highland Co., and attended lectures at the old Cincinnati Medical College, where he graduated in 1839; he practiced with his brother in Greenfield until 1846, then removed to Ripley, Brown Co., from whence he removed to Springfield in 1856, and has continued here ever since, having established a merited and extensive reputation and practice. In 1843, he came in collision with the fraternity by venturing to remove an ovarian tumor. Although this operation had been performed, in a few cases, as early as 1809 with some success by Ephriam McDowell, of Kentucky, it had been denounced by the profession and characterized as "unjustifiable butchery," and for more than thirty years had been abandoned as an element of medical and surgical art. Clay, of England, had performed the operation in 1842, and Atlee, of Philadelphia, in the summer of 1843. Two months after Itlee's operating, he not then having any knowledge of these two cases. and following only the traditional report of McDowell's case, ventured, at the earnest and repeated request of the patient, who was apprised of the risk, to undertake the operation. Surrounded by a few country physicians, he successfully removed a tumor weighing forty five pounds. A few weeks later the patient died, and the operation was denounced as altogether unwarrantable on the part of a "country surgeon," while the medical journals refused to report the case. The woman's death had, however, not been the direct result of the operation, and, though frowned upon in many quarters, he persevered in his studies and practice until brilliant success dispelled the clouds of prejudice. Today his reputation as an ovariotomist is coextensive with the circulation of medical literature, while his practice extends throughout the central and western portions of the United States. Down to the present time, he has performed 152 operations, 80 per cent of which were a complete success a higher estimate than may be awarded to any other man, either in Europe or America, with the one exception of Prof. Keith, of Edinburgh, Scotland. He outlived the denunciation, and, in 1868, received from the Faculty of the State of Ohio the compliment of an election to the Presidency of the Ohio Medical Society. He was twice elected one of the Judicial Council of the American Medical Association, which position he resigned in 1877 to accept the Vice Presidency. He was elected a Fellow of the American Gyneocological Society, of which there can be no more than sixty members, at one time, in the United States. He was, in 1875, appointed to the Professorship of "Surgical Diseases in Women," in the Starling Medical College of Columbus. In Gross' "System of Surgery," Vol. II., he is reported under the heading "Lithotomy," as "having successfully removed a stone weighing twenty ounces," the largest ever removed from a living person. In the volume of Transactions of the International Medical Congress of 1876, of which Congress he was a member, he is quoted on the subject of "Fibroid Tumors of the Uterus." In the volumes of the Transactions of the American Medical Association of 1876, he is quoted on the subject of "Ovariotomy." Among exceptional cases, he has three times removed the under jaw, once ligated the common carotid artery, once removed the clavicle, and stands second in the United States in the number of operations in Ovariotomy performed by a living surgeon, and is quoted as authority on this topic by all modern medical works. He married, March 27, 1839, Miss Maria E. Bell, of Highland County. From this union are two surviving children - Charles W., now associated with his father in practice; and Mary E., now Mrs. William H. Hamilton.

From:
History of Clark County, Ohio
W. H. Beers & Co.
Chicago 1881


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