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Erastus B. Wolcott

Erastus B. Wolcott (1804-1880) was a military officer and physician. In 1836, he was posted at Mackinac Island, where he met Solomon Juneau, who convinced him to move to Juneau's new settlement.

Being more of a gentleman than a pioneer, Wolcott became a dedicated and respected leader in the frontier community. During the cholera epidemic of 1849, when men and women fell in the streets, Wolcott served many of the sick and dying patients, some of whom had been abandoned by their families and friends. His reputation as a skilled surgeon was reinforced when he performed one of the earliest recorded successful removals of a diseased kidney.

In 1857, Dr. Laura J. Ross came to Milwaukee, the third woman to be licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. Shortly after her arrival, she became the first woman doctor in Milwaukee. Ross applied for membership in the Milwaukee Medical Society, which had been formed by Dr. Wolcott and other male physicians. Dr. Wolcott was impressed by the young woman and strongly advocated her acceptance in the society. the other male members, who had refused to accept her, finally accepted Dr. Ross in 1869. Thereafter, Laura Ross became the bride of Erastus Wolcott, who had been a widower. In addition to medicine, the two shared similar interests in the anti-slavery, humane, and woman's suffrage movements.

With the start of the Civil War, Erastus B. Wolcott was named Surgeon General of Wisconsin. He visited many of the battlefields, where he cared for the sick and wounded and sent messages of comfort to fathers and mothers. Back in Wisconsin, he exerted his influence in recruiting for the army and navy. At the war's close, he was instrumental in the opening of the National Home for Disabled American soldiers in Milwaukee.

When the Grand Army of the Republic post was reorganized in Milwaukee, in January 1880, Post #1 chose Wolcott as its namesake. Wolcott had died only weeks before.

At the time of Dr. Laura Wolcott's death in 1915, her will contained provision for an equestrian statue of her husband to be erected in either Juneau Park or lake Park. The two executrices of her estate visited many well-known sculptors around the country before selecting Francis H. Packer.



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