Biography of William H. Saylor, M.D.

William H. Saylor, M. D., was born in Wapello County, Iowa, August 17, 1843. His parents were Conrad G. and Mary A. (Black) Saylor. In 1852 he was brought by his parents across the plains to Oregon, and in the fall of that year arrived in Portland. In the succeeding spring the family went to Olympia, Washington Territory, remaining there until the summer of 1854 when they removed to a farm which his father had purchased in Rock Prairie. Here our subject lived until the breaking out of the Indian war of 1855 when the family, removed for protection to Fort Henness, on Grand Mound Prairie, residing there until hostilities were practically at an end in the fall of 1.856, when they returned to Oregon, settling at McMinnville. During the first years of his life here he performed the duties of clerk in his father’s store, meanwhile attending school at the old college building, within whose walls so many of the prominent men of Oregon have obtained the greater portion of their education. During the summers of 1861-2-3 he was engaged in mining at Oro Fino, Salmon River and Boise mines, and the remaining portions of these years attended school at the Willamette University. Even at this time he had resolved to become a physician. The life he was leading and the prospects it held out to him by no means met the scheme of his ambition, and despite the disadvantages of his surroundings and opportunities his cherished plans made him courageous and equal to all emergencies But before he could put his resolve into execution a turn had come in the civil war which made the outlook for the success of the rebel cause seem imminent, gladdening the hearts of the rebel sympathizers in the north and making every lover of the Union tremble for the safety of the country. At this time a call was made upon the patriotic sons of Oregon to enlist and go forth for the protection of the frontiers against Indian depredations, they having been vacated by the regular troops by reason of their having been ordered to the South to defend and protect the old flag. The doctor, true to the needs of the country, was among the first to offer his services. He enlisted in Company B, First Oregon Infantry, in December 1864 and served until he was honorably discharged in 1865. He then returned to The Dalles and as a prelude to the study of medicine entered a drug store. After gaining a good knowledge of the practical part of medicine so far as such occupation would permit, in the mean-while studying his text book under the dirction of Dr. J. W. McAfee, he resigned the position and began a systematic course of study of medicine at the medical department of the Willamette University, graduating from that institution in 1869 with high honors.

He began the practice of his profession at Forest Grove and met with most flattering success. After several years practice, being satisfied that there was still much to be learned in his profession, he went to New York and entered the celebrated Bellevue Hospital Medical College, graduating in 1876. Soon thereafter he returned to Oregon and resumed practice in Portland where he has since remained.

Doctor Saylor assisted in the organization of the Oregon State Medical Society and in 1879 held the office of Corresponding Secretary; in 1883 was elected President, and in 1887 was chosen one of the Board of Censors for a term of five years. In its interest he has always been an active member, contributing at nearly every session a treatise on some important subject. Soon after locating in Portland he was appointed attending surgeon and physician at Good Samaritan Hospital and has ever since retained the position. In 1882-3 he was Professor of Anatomy in the Willamette University, and at the organization of the Medical Department of the State University of Oregon was elected Professor of Clinical Surgery and Diseases of the Genito-Urinary Organs which position he still retains. In recognition of his abilities he was appointed by Governor Moody Brigade Surgeon of the State Militia and served during Gov. Moody’s term of office. For two years he has been medical director of the Oregon Department of the G. A. R.; in 1887 was Grand Medical Director of the Ancient Order of United Workmen for the jurisdiction of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and at present is President of the Portland Medical Society.

Dr. Saylor was married, in 1873, to Miss Phoebe A. Wing, who at that time was a preceptress in the Pacific University at Forest Grove. She died in 1875, leaving to him the care of a daughter. He was again married, in 1883, to Miss Carrie Caples, eldest daughter of Hon. J. F. Caples, of Portland.

In his profession Dr. Saylor holds a position due to his talents and manly character. His services are eagerly sought after in consultation where wise counsel, a high degree of skill and unerring choice of means and expedients are required. He is a general practitioner, but it is in the department of surgery he particularly excels, having performed successfully some of the most difficult operations known to surgical science.

Politically the Doctor is an ardent republican, and although solicited at times to accept nomination for several important offices, he has persistently refused, preferring to confine his usefulness to his profession. In religions views he is liberal, rather leaning toward the belief of the denomination known as Christians, of which his parents were active and worthy members. Personally, the Doctor is a plain, unassuming man, of sensible and practical ideas. He is affable and pleasant in manner and has the same genial greeting for all, be they rich or poor, which has made him deservedly popular with all classes. In the prime of life, with a thorough knowledge of his profession and an experience of the most varied and valuable character, it is not too much to expert that in the years to come, Dr. Saylor will add new laurels to a reputation which even now place him in the front rank of Oregon’s most successful practitioners.


Biography, History,

Harvey Whitefield Scott. History of Portland, Oregon: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers. Portland, Oregon. D. Mason & Company, 1890.

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