Ohio Biographies

William Bushnell

Many living now, even many whose years do not as yet carry them beyond childhood, know of Dr. William Bushnell, and yet the old men and women, those of sixty and seventy and eighty years of age, in the county and all the country round about, knew well the man who late in 1893 passed from earth. What a long life he had! How full of activity and full of usefulness. How much of growth he witnessed, born in A.D. 1800, and died in 1893. Born in New England, with his parents he came to Ohio. Sufficiently grown he became to go with his father who was an officer, part the way to Put-in-Bay, where and when Commodore Perry gained the victory over England's ships and guns. A teacher of youth, having acquired himself a fine education, he aided his father to remove his growing family from Trumbull county into the newly opened lands of Richland, with his own earnings paying for the farm on which that family found a home during the remainder of the life of his parents. Then taking up the study of medicine, and to enable him to defray the expense thereof, traveling southward, and there engaged in teaching the sons and daughters of the planters of Louisiana. Returning to Ohio, establishing himself in practice in Portage County, invited by Dr. Miller to Mansfield, and coming hither early in the twenties and here remaining, prosecuting his profession with assiduity, diligence, intelligence. For many years the associate of all the professors of the medical school at Cleveland, one of the censors at that distinguished medical college. Chosen again and again and still a third time to make the laws of Ohio. He was a member of the 49th., 50th. and 58th. General Assemblies. A close observer of nature, of the growth and progress of the country, of the movement westward of the star of empire, he became not only interested in the construction of railroads in Ohio, but put in peril his private fortune for the building of the N.Y.P.&O., now a constituent part of the Erie. In Iowa, he invested his savings and in that state, which has more arable land and less waste than any other state in the Union, he became a large land-holder. In his old age he made the journey across the sea, as a representative of Ohio to a congress called for the bettering of the condition of humanity the wide-world round. He visited Norway and Sweden and Russia, and was accorded an interview with crowned heads of Europe and the uncrowned kinds of the world of science, and returning home he was more and more satisfied with the civilization and progress of the land of his nativity. His life work was with the humble and lowly, nursing the sick, relieving the distressed, restoring to health the sons and daughters of men; and he was crowned with wonderful success, for his skill, knowledge and patience were marvelous. By many who only knew the outside of the man, he was not correctly measured. By some he was looked upon simply as a money maker, and that he was, but he was more. His contributions to the poor aggregated thousands, and his old book accounts show that he gave to others in time, skill and service, an aggregate sum equaling an ordinary fortune. His personal appearance and bearing are by the present generations well remembered. In stature an average man, his movements were easy, seemingly never rapid, but always constant, his eye was deep and clear and bright, and brim full of compassion; his countenance very attractive, even in his old age. When a young man, when in middle life, genteel and tasty in his dress; in his last years more unmindful of the outward adornments of dress, yet never forgetful of the requirements of the society in which he moved. All his life he mingled with his professional duties and engagements, much study of horticulture and the propagation of fruits. He delighted in luscious fruits, and lived much more on grains and fruits than meats. He was a student of men and things, and though staunch in his attachment to the political party of his choice, he was not a partisan to the extent that he regarded all the good to be found only in one party organization. Many years ago he was deprived by death of the wife of his youth. Never marrying again he cherished his only daughter, and buried her when hope was brightest. His latest years were in companionship of his only son and son's family, and his special gratification was in the fact that one of his grandsons and his namesake was to be his successor in the medical profession. In that he gloried and it was well, for his more than sixty successive years of successful practice, may be repeated in his posterity. This old man was my friend when I was a boy, and when I became a man, and in time I became his advisor, and his friendship I greatly prized.


From Richland Shield & Banner: March 16, 1895, Vol. LXXVII, No. 44