Frederick J. Bancroft, M.D. (1834-1903)

Part Four — 1879-1903

1879: Frederick J. Bancroft, MD, founded the State Historical and Natural History Society of Colorado, which later became the Colorado Historical Society and then simply "History Colorado." Dr. Bancroft was its president for seventeen years.

1879: John W. Graham, MD, was Denver city physician (1879-1881), succeeding Frederick J. Bancroft, MD, who had been city physician since 1872. Early in his tenure, Dr. Graham ordered the emergency construction of a sewer down Sixteenth Street.

Dr. Frederick Bancroft, Denver, Colorado 1880: Frederick J. Bancroft, MD, of Denver, was elected president of the Colorado State Medical Society during its meeting in Denver.

Dr. Bancroft had been the Arapahoe County physician (1866-1869), the Denver city physician (1872-1876 and 1877-1878), the president of the Territorial Board of Health (Feb-Aug 1876), the first president of the State Board of Health (1877), and he was about to become one of the founders of the University of Denver and Colorado Seminary Medical Department (1881).

Along with Augustus L. Justice, MD, Dr. Bancroft was also one of the first two staff physicians at St. Vincent's Hospital (1874), which in 1876 became St. Joseph's Hospital.

In September 1881, The Denver Medical Association, founded in 1871, admitted its first women members: Dr. Mary Barker Bates, Dr. Edith Root, and Dr. Alida Avery.

During that September meeting of the Denver Medical Association, held in Leadville this year, outgoing-president Frederick J. Bancroft, MD, recalled the early days in Denver:

"It was in Denver, in a rough log cabin, at the corner of Sixteenth and Larimer streets, that the first Colorado Medical Society saw the light. Its rise and fall were alike speedy. The civil strife into which our country was plunged in 1861 drew to itself most of its founders, among whom were Drs. O.D. Cass, Drake McDowell, J.F. Hamilton, Peck, Beale, and Saville.

"These were led, according to their convictions, into the Union army, or south to the Confederate service, and the embryo Society, left to itself, perished from inanition. Thus was Colorado bereft of its first-born, and no other society was established until 1868, which, owing to internal dissensions, was as short-lived as the first, and yet another was formed, but cohesiveness and durability were not among their attributes, no have we any records of these first fruits of medical union.

"But in 1871 a lasting association was finally established, its meetings have been regularly held, it has done much already to encourage better medical education and to raise the standard of the profession, and its records are being faithfully kept" (Medical Coloradoana, pp. 5-6. 1922).

In 1881, Colorado's first medical school — the University of Denver and Colorado Seminary Medical Department — was established in downtown Denver; the department was eventually renamed Denver Medical College. Its faculty, including Drs. Frederick Bancroft, Charles Denison, Henry King Steele, and Arnold Stedman, were from Denver's socially prominent families.

Dr. Steele was the first dean of the University of Denver medical department. The founding of the department had been strongly influenced by the University's founder, former governor John Evans, MD.

On January 16, 1903 Frederick J. Bancroft, MD, 69 — who had served in Denver for 37 years, one of Colorado's most accomplished and respected physicians — died of heart disease in San Diego, California. Dr. Bancroft was buried in Denver and survived by his children, Mary McLean Bancroft (1872-1949) and George Jarvis Bancroft (1873-1945).

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Bibliography

Henly W. Allen, MD: "Early Days in the Practice of Medicine in Colorado," Colorado Medicine Vol III, No. 2, pp. 32-40. February 1906. Dr. Allen and his family arrived in Colorado in November 1864 from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and he practiced in Boulder.

Caroline Bancroft: "Pioneer Doctor — F.J. Bancroft,"Colorado Magazine 39: 195-203. July 1962. Caroline Bancroft (1900-1985) was Dr. Frederick Bancroft's granddaughter.

Katherine Llewellyn Hill: A History of Public Health in Denver, 1859-1900. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Denver, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts. August 1970. A carefully researched resource for detailed information about public health in early Denver — an indispensable guide to the period she covers.

Medical Coloradoana: A Jubilee Volume in Celebration of the Semi-Centennial Anniversary of the Colorado State Medical Society 1871-1921. Containing the titles of the scientific and literary contributions to medical literature by the members of the medical profession residing in the state of Colorado. Published under the Auspices, and by Direction, of the Society. Published by the Colorado State Medical Society. 1922.

Edmund J.A. Rogers, MD: "Dr. F.J. Bancroft," Denver Medical Times XXIII: 24-30. July 1903.

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