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Finding Aid of the Dr. Washington Ayer Papers C057702
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The Dr. Washington Ayer papers include two handwritten letters, one from 1853, the other undated. The first discusses his daily life, in very flowery language, and then goes on to talk about his spiritual life. The second letter seems to be notes for a eulogy at a banquet. There is a typescript of the Society of California Pioneers' Record for Ayer, which gives biographical information on him, plus a handwritten Addendum to that typescript, by Ayer, adding information on his biography. There is also an undated, unidentified newspaper obituary of Ayer.
Dr. Washington Ayer was born in 1823 in Haverhill, MA. He studied medicine at Harvard, and he was about to embark on a trip to Europe when the Gold Rush hit. Dr. Ayer traveled to California on the ship "Leonore" in July 1849. After arriving in California, he tried prospecting and hotel-keeping, but then settled down in the medicine field. Dr. Ayer spent two years at Mokelumne Hill and Volcano in Amador County. During the summer of 1852, Ayer was the appointed surgeon during the so-called “French War” of California, a land claim dispute between French and American miners on French Hill. American miners succeeded in driving the French from the coveted claim and “robbing them of $15,000 in one hour.” During Dr. Ayer's residence in Volcano, he organized a vigilante committee, which caught the murderer of an elderly man. He also helped to organize and was elected Master of the Volcano Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, and he was its first representative at the Grand Lodge at Sacramento. In 1856, Dr. Ayer settled permanently in San Francisco. In 1863, he was voted a Member of the Board of Education, and served until 1868, when he refused a re-election. From 1883 to 1891, Dr. Ayer filled the chair of Professor of Hygiene in the Medical Department of the University of California. In 1890, Dr. Ayer was elected a Member of the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco and was made Chairman of the Hospital Committee. He made many reforms in the various institutions of public charity. He helped organize the Medico-Chirurgical Society and was its first president. He was the president of the Sloat Monument Association and presided at the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Monument at Monterey, July 7, 1896. Dr. Ayer was also the President of the Society of California Pioneers. Dr. Ayer, an accomplished writer, died in 1899 having published numerous essays in his field, as well as a small volume of poems and a romance entitled, "Might Have Been."
1.0 folder (1 obituary, 1 account, 1 letter, notes)
Property rights reside with the Society of California Pioneers. All requests for permission to reproduce or publish must be submitted in writing to the Librarian.
Collection open for research.