Biography of Ossian J. West, M. D.

It is noteworthy that but few of the more influential men of Idaho were born in the new west and fewer still within the limits of the state. There are some, however, who are identified with this part of our country by birth, by education and by lifelong residence. Dr. Ossian J. West, government physician and surgeon at the Nez Perces Indian Agency at Spaulding, is a son of the Rev. W. F. and Jane (Whipple) West, and was born in Oregon, August 24, 1866. His father, born in England, received a theological education in his native country and was ordained a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He became a preacher of persuasive eloquence and a writer of forceful ability, devoting his whole life to the work of the church and to work for his fellow men. He lived to be seventy-eight years old and died at Santa Barbara, California, in 1898, having preached and written and labored without ceasing almost to the day of his death. He was married, in Pennsylvania, to Miss Jane Whipple, a native of that state. They crossed the plains to Oregon in 185 1, and while they were making this arduous and dangerous journey their first child was born, at Fort Boise, then a trading point near the mouth of the Boise river. They located a little above Salem, Oregon, on a donation claim of six hundred and forty acres. There they lived through the pioneer period of that part of the country and improved their land and added to it until it included a thousand acres, the tract being yet owned in their family. Mr. and Mrs. West were widely noted for their hospitality, and it would appear that this family of West is well grounded in the opinion that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” Their generosity is one of their most conspicuous traits. Mr. and Mrs. West entertained all who came, strangers and friends alike, and sent all away satisfied and, if need be, helped. Mrs. West died in 1878. Of their six children all but Dr. West are well-to-do Oregon farmers.

Dr. Ossian J. West was educated at the Willamette University and was graduated from the medical department of that institution in 1889, with honors. For a year thereafter he practiced his profession in the Portland Hospital. Then he passed two years more in private practice at St. Helens, and was appointed government physician and surgeon at the Fort Lapwai Industrial School by President Harrison. By President Cleveland he was reappointed, to succeed himself, and again by President McKinley His service at the agency extended through eight years. During the greater part of this time he was associated with General McConville, and a warm friendship grew up between the two men. When General McConville was called away to participate in the Spanish war, Dr. West had charge of the school until June 1899.

Dr. West has a wide reputation for professional ability and integrity. He is a member of the Idaho State Medical Association and has prepared papers of value on subjects of interest to the medical fraternity, some of which have been read before this and other associations of physicians and surgeons. He is a Republican who sticks to his political principles and a publicspirited man who is ever ready to assist the advancement of the interests of any community with which his lot may be cast.



Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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