Brinton, William B., 4th Pennsylvania Reserves

Report of the Chester County Medical Society

     During the past year three have died who had formerly been active and earnest workers in our Society; but who in later years had entirely severed their connection with it. These were Dr. Samuel H. Harry, of Ercildown; Dr. Alexander R. Gaston, of West Brandywine, who had been President of the Society in 1857; and Dr. Reuben H. Smith, who practiced several years in Media, Delaware County, and as surgeon in the army; but who spent the later years of his life and died in West Chester. We have also to record the death of one of our prominent active members.

Brinton began his wartime service as Assistant Surgeon in the 4th Pennsylvania Reserves. He was discharged for promotion to Surgeon of the 184th Pennsylvania later in the war.


     Death has again invaded the ranks of the Chester County Medical Society. But little more than a year ago, Dr. John B. Brinton, one of the founders of the Society, and a constant and active member, was taken from us, after having spent a long and useful life in the profession. And now we deplore the death of his son, Dr. William B. Brinton, one of our most efficient members, who has been called away in the very prime of manhood, falling by the wayside with the bloom of health still resting upon his cheek, and who, with his usual energy and activity had, up to within a few days of his death, been attending to the duties of a large practice. He was suddenly seized with acute Bright”s disease on Saturday, March 2, 1883, and on Wednesday morning, March 7th, died from uremic poisoning.

Source: The Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps Historical Society Collection

     Dr. William Bowen Brinton, eldest son of Dr. John Bowen and Elanore Maclay Brinton, was born in West Chester, Chester County, Pa., on November 30, 1842, and was, therefore, at the time of his death, in the forty-first year of his age. He was liberally educated at the West Chester Academy, at the time under the charge of that well-known educator, William F. Wyers; studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1863. On the 14th day of March of the same year he entered the army as an assistant surgeon in the 33rd Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves. On May 3, 1864, he was promoted to the rank of surgeon in the 184th Regiment Infantry, Pennsylvania Volunteers. November 23rd of the same year Major-General Hancock appointed him surgeon-in-charge of the field hospital of the 2nd Division, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac. This position he held until the close of the war, and was mustered out with his division on the 15th of July, 1865. During his military service he was confined principally to the Army of the Potomac, although for a short time he was on hospital duty in Philadelphia and Washington. After he retired from service in the army he returned to West Chester, and engaged in the practice of his profession. By his skill, energy, and perseverance, and his courteous and gentlemanly bearing, he soon won the confidence of the people, and built up a large practice.

     He was universally respected by the members of his profession, who appreciated his skill and knowledge as a physician, and his integrity and character as a man. He was a student and a thinker, and loved his profession; and, by his untiring earnestness in its pursuits, had climbed high in his attainments therein, being thorough in all its departments. But his favorite branch was surgery, in which he had won an enviable reputation. He took a deep interest in the Medical Society of Chester County, and was always present at its meetings, unless circumstances rendered his absence unavoidable. He was independent in thought and decided in character; and, in debate, was clear and forcible. Although liberal in his views, he never allowed himself to be carried away by plausible theories.

     Dr. Brinton married Ida P.., eldest daughter of Hon. J. Smith Futhey, President Judge of the Courts of Chester County, on February 1, 1871, who, with two interesting boys, mourn the loss of a kind, affectionate, and devoted husband and father.

     The doctor took a lively interest in all that pertained tot he welfare of the community. For several years he was a member of the Board of Trustees of the State Normal School at West Chester, was President of the Chester County Medical Society, physician to the County Prison, and resident physician of the Pennsylvania Railroad County; was elected a member of the Borough Council at the last election. He was a vestryman in the Episcopal Church at West Chester, and was one of the active members of that church.

     His warm-hearted nature drew to him a large circle of friends, with whom he took great pleasure in associating in his hours of relaxation; and in all the walks of life a hearty respect was manifested for him, because he was a true man, worthy of the confidence of those who knew him.

     In behalf of the poor he was ever watchful that none should lack medical care; and to such patients he gave his professional services with that pleasure and zeal peculiar to his nature. How little we can write of the life of a true physician, for after all his greatest work and most noble deeds are performed in the silent hours of the night, and are frequently known only to himself and those dependent upon him.

     Dr. Brinton was interred in the Oaklands Cemetery, near West Chester, where his grave will be looked upon as the last resting place of one sincerely loved while living, and whose memory will be cherished by a whole community.1

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Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.

  1. ROBERT P. CAREY, Chairman. Report of the Chester County Medical Society, pp. 341-342. Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania at its Thirty-Fourth Annual Session. Held at Norristown, May 9, 10, 11, 1883. Volume XV., Published by the Society.