Biography of Nathaniel Tolles, M.D.

Nathaniel Tolles, M.D., was for many years one of the most prominent physicians and surgeons of Claremont. A native of Weathersfield, Vt., he was born September 17, 1805, son of John Tolles. His father, an industrious farmer, moved from Weathersfield to Claremont about the year 1819. His grandfather, Henry Tolles, was a member of Captain William Upham’s company during the Revolutionary War.

Young Nathaniel Tolles availed himself of the advantages for obtaining an education offered by the Catholic Seminary in this town, then in charge of the Rev. Daniel Barber. Here he fitted for college, and was about to enter upon his classical course, when a severe illness, resulting from a too close application to study, prevented him from carrying out his purpose. Afterward, for a period, he assisted his father upon the farm in the summer and taught school in the winter. Beginning in 1827 he studied medicine under Dr. James Hall, of Windsor, Vt., for two years. Then for a short time he was under the instruction of Dr. Charles G. Adams, of Keene, N.H. Subsequently he attended lectures at Bowdoin and Dartmouth Universities; and he graduated from the last-named college in November, 1830. Immediately after leaving college, he was appointed resident physician at the South Boston Almshouse, where he remained six months. In September, 1831, he located for practice in Reading, Vt. Unable to consult more experienced colleagues of the profession owing to the remoteness of his location, he had to rely solely upon his own judgment during the first ten years of his practice. In the fall of 1841 he made a protracted visit to the public hospitals of New York City, where he gained the advantage of much observation. In March, 1842, he settled in Claremont; and 1864. Though not an aspirant for political honors, he accepted and ably filled various positions of trust and responsibility. In 1858 he served as Chairman of the first Board of Commissioners of Sullivan County, and he was one of the Presidential electors from this State to cast its vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He was one of the projectors of the Stevens High School building, a member of the committee appointed to erect it, a member of its Board of Management for four years, and one of the trustees of the Stevens Fund. He joined the Masonic fraternity when a young man, and he attended the Episcopal church.

Dr. Tolles was twice married. On the first occasion he was united to Frances J. Upham, of Weathersfield, Vt., who died February 26, 1833. His second marriage was contracted with Jane Weston, daughter of Ezekiel Weston, of Rockingham, Vt.; and she died April 29, 1893. His five children were Frances Jane, who is now residing at the homestead in this town; Ida Adelaide, who died December 25, 1839, aged two years, seven months, and seven days; Valentine Mott, who died March 7, 1844, aged seven months and nineteen days; Clarence W., born in Claremont, April 30, 1845; and Florence Cameron, who died October 7, 1861, aged twelve years, nine months, and twenty-seven days. The early education of Clarence W. Tolles, who is now a physician of Claremont, was of a nature calculated to fit him especially for a professional career. His medical studies were begun under the direction of his father; and he graduated from Bellevue Medical College, New York City, in 1868. After a year’s course at the University Medical College in London he entered into practice with his father. He has made surgery a specialty for the past fifteen years, and it is conceded that be is one of the ablest and best-read surgeons in the State. He has been a member of the local board of health for the last three years, was one of the committee to select the site for the Cottage Hospital, and is now the surgeon of that institution. He occupies a high social position, and he is a member of the Masonic fraternity.

Dr. Nathaniel Tolles died at his home in Claremont, June 24, 1879. The event was mourned by the townspeople as a great loss to the community. The esteem in which he was held is best shown by the following, taken from the resolutions adopted at a meeting of his brother physicians: “Resolved, That in the professional life, labors, and character of Dr. Tolles, which extended over a full half-century, we have a commendable example of industry, of zeal, of usefulness, and of professional honor, not often combined in a single life.”



Biographical Review Publishing Company. Biographical Review; containing life sketches of leading citizens of Merrimack and Sullivan counties, N. H. Boston. Biographical Review Publishing Company. 1897.

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