Biography of William Ellery Briggs, M. D.

Dr. William Ellery Briggs is engaged in the practice of medicine at Sacramento, limiting his practice to the treatment of diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. The world instinctively pays deference to the man whose success has been worthily achieved, and because of his capability, close application, devoted attention to his profession and his strict regard for the ethics of the medical science Dr. Briggs receives this deference and respect from his fellow men.

He is a native of Ohio, his birth having occurred in Wadsworth, Medina county, on the 31st of March, 1853. His father, Abiel Briggs, was a native of New York, and in his childhood days accompanied his parents on their removal to Ohio, where he remained until 1876, when he came to California. Here he engaged in fruit raising, but his death occurred in Yolo county two years after his arrival on the Pacific coast. He belonged to an old American family of English descent, while his wife was a representative of one of the old families of Massachusetts that has been represented in that state through several generations. She bore the maiden name of Harriet C. Dinsmore, was born in Maine and died in Palo Alto in 1903.

Dr. Briggs spent the days of his childhood and youth in Wadsworth, Ohio, and his preliminary education acquired in the public schools was supplemented by study at Buchtel College at Akron, Ohio. When he had gained a good literary knowledge to serve as the foundation upon which to rear the superstructure of professional learning, he took up the study of medicine under the direction of his brother, Dr. Wallou A. Briggs, now of Sacramento and a member of the state board of health. William Ellery Briggs pursued his first course of lectures in the medical department in the State University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and later continued his studies at Wooster Medical College at Cleveland, Ohio, in which he was graduated. He also won a degree in the medical department of the Western Reserve Medical College of Cleveland, Ohio, and in 1877 he went to Europe, where he spent some time in study and research in the London Hospital and Moorefield’s Eye Hospital. he afterward remained for a time in a general hospital before resuming study along the line of his specialties. From London he made his way to Paris and thence to Vienna, pursuing a special course on the diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. He received instruction from some of the most renowned physicians of the old world, and after returning to America established himself for practice in Sacramento in 1879. His success here has been most gratifying to himself, and he has made continuous progress along the line of his profession, keeping in touch with the advanced thought of the day and utilizing every improved method that he believes will be of practical benefit in his chosen field of labor. He was the first on the Pacific coast to report successful cases operated upon by the electro-magnet for removal of steel from deeper parts of the eye.

At one time Dr. Briggs was associate editor of the occidental Medical Times, and he has been a contributor to various medical journals and prepared a number of papers which have been read before local, state and national medical societies. He is one of the distinguished specialists on the Pacific coast, and has a power as oculist and aurist that is widely acknowledged by the profession and the laity. He was the first appointee and for thelast fifteen years has been oculist for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. He is to-day a very prominent figure in medical circles, being an ex-president of the California Northern District Medical Society, also of the Sacramento Society for Medical Improvement, a member of the State Medical Scoeity and a member of the American Medical Association, and other special societies.

On the 31st of December, 1891, Dr. Briggs was married in San Francisco to Miss Grace Rideout, a native of Marysville, California, and a daughter of Dr. N. D. Rideout, a banker controlling important financial interests in San Francisco, Marysville and Chico, California. He was a representative of an old Maine family. A daughter and a son have been born to Dr. Briggs and his wife, Phoebe and Wallace, aged respectively eleven and nine years. The Briggs household is noted for its gracious and generous hospitality and the best homes of the city are open to the Doctor and his wife. His fraternal relations are with the Masons and he belongs to Sacramento Lodge, F. & A. M., and to No. 2 Sacramento Commandery, K. T. In his profession he has attained high rank because his equipment were unusually good, because his work has been prompted by a love of scientific investigation and broad humanitarian principles and because he has steadily advanced, keeping in direct touch with the most progressive thought of the medical world. His prominence is indicated by the large patronage which is accorded him and has made him one of the substantial residents of his city.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

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