Biography of Dr. Rodney Glisan

DR. RODNEY GLISAN. – Doctor Glisan is one of the few men of our state who have been original and productive in the literary field. His main works have been of a very substantial character, and upon recondite professional subjects, and have not, therefore, been brought to the notice of the general reader. But to those versed in the periodicals and literature of medicine he bears a name and reputation second to few in our national union. Essays, lectures and other emanations of his pen are to be met with in the leading medical journals. An extensive original treatise prepared by him upon a profound and difficult subject is a recognized manual in America, and is known even n the medical libraries of Europe. Without the avarice of fame possessed by many, and enjoying the confidence and opportunities of one high in the esteem of the members of his profession, Doctor Glisan passes the almost ideally happy life of the student and philanthropist, and has every honorable incentive to conduct the investigations in which is interest lies. His work gives permanent luster to our state.

We now give briefly the data of his life. He was born at Linganore, Maryland, in 1827, being the son of Samuel and Eliza Glisan. His ancestry were among the first English settlers of Maryland. He graduated from the medical department of the University of Maryland in 1849, and after passing a severe competitive examination before a medical board was appointed a medical officer of the Untied States army in May, 1850. Having served in this capacity for about eleven years on the plains and in Oregon during her Indian wars, he resigned his commission and settled in Portland, Oregon, where he has ever since been in the successful practice of his profession. Although he has traveled extensively in Central and British America, in the United States and in Europe, he has seen no country that he prefers as a home to Oregon.

In recognition of the Doctor’s services during the hostilities of the Indians from 1855 to 1860, he was in 1886 elected surgeon of the grand encampment of the Indian War Veterans of the North Pacific coast, and still holds this position. Unlike a certain class of army officers, the Doctor has never entertained any prejudices against volunteer soldiery. He is independent in politics, a member of the Protestant Episcopal church, and has been a warden of Trinity church, Portland, for over twenty years.

Owing chiefly to his temperate habits, he as always enjoyed good health, and has not, for more than half a century, refrained from duty, civil or military, for a single day on account of illness, although exposed by day and by night in all climates to the inclemency of the weather. The Doctor was a professor in the first medical institution ever formed in Oregon, – the Oregon Medical College, which subsequently assumed the name of the Medical Department of the Willamette University, in which he was for a long time a professor, and is still an emeritus professor. While an active member of this college, Doctor Glisan felt the need of American text books in his department of obstetrics, none having been written for many years, and regretted the general use by American schools of the books of Great Britain and continental Europe. Hence his effort to supply the deficiency by publishing in 1881, and again in 1887, his text book on midwifery. This was well received, both in the Untied States and in Great Britain. The Doctor had the pleasure of seeing a copy of it in the library of one of the most distinguished professors in Paris. He also saw his book in the libraries of several German professors at Vienna.

Doctor Glisan is the author of a journal of army life, and “Two Years in Europe.” He has also written many articles on professional subjects for the leading medical journals of the United States.

He was president of the Medical Society of the State of Oregon in 1875 and 1876, and has for many years been a member of the American Medical Association. He took an active part in the seventh International Medical Congress held in London, England, in 1881, and was a member of the council of the ninth International Medical Congress, which convened in Washington, District of Columbia, in 1887. His paper, read by invitation before the latter Congress, elicited favorable comments in all the principal medical journals of America and Europe.

He has performed many important surgical operations. Among his notable cases were the first amputations of the shoulder and thighs, and the second operation for strangulated inguinal hernia, ever performed on the North Pacific coast. Although relinquishing this branch of his profession, he is still a busy general practitioner.

He takes an active part in the advancement of his city and state, and is at present engaged in aiding the erection of the magnificent Portland Hotel.

The Doctor was married December 3, 1863. His wife, Elizabeth, is a native of Massachusetts, and is the youngest daughter of Captain John H. Couch, one of the founders of Portland, Oregon.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

Search Military Records - Fold3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top