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The history of physicians can be traced back to the pre-revolutionary era in Worcestor Country. Worcestor Country, not only known for national and global golf but has a long and storied past featuring names of the Shattuck family whose medical legacy dates back to the pre-industrial age.
The Shattuck’s are popularly remembered for the distinguished ancestry of the five generations of physicians starting from Benjamin Shattuck, George Cheyne Shattuck, Jr. George Cheyne Shattuck who had two sons George Brune Shattuck and Frederick Cheever Shattuck. Frederick Cheever Shattuck’s son George Cheever Shattuck represented the fifth generation of the Shattuck family who entered the medical profession.
Let us begin by remembering Dr Benjamin Shattuck, the son of a farmer, graduated from Harvard College in 1765 who then decided to study medicine. Since there were no medical institutions those days so he worked as an apprentice to Oliver Prescott who had a busy practice in Groton. Little did Dr Benjamin know that two hundred years later in 1962 his direct descendent Lamar Soutter would be a founder of the University of Massachusetts Medical School near the family’s original home in Worcestor Country, Massachusetts.
In 1770, Dr Benjamin Shattuck returned to Worcestor Country as a general practitioner. He spent long days travelling on horseback treating his patients living in rural areas. In 1794 he died at the age of 52. It’s said that Dr Benjamin’s death was due to tuberculosis contracted from patients while treating them.
The death of Dr Benjamin left his 10 years old son, George Cheyne Shattuck poor and fatherless. Initially, he did Bachelor of Arts in 1803. Overcoming the financial crises he too made up his mind to follow his father’s footsteps in medicine and achieved a bachelor of medicine in 1806 & later earned M.D. degree in 1807 from the newly established University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He became one of the most prominent physicians of Boston with an extremely large and lucrative practice. The desire to learn more didn’t stop here; he seized the chance and attained Doctorate of Law in 1853. He served as a president of the Massachusetts medical society for four consecutive years.
Dr George Cheyne Shattuck was a man with soft heart who often sent his poor patients to the tailor for a new pair of suit at his own expense. He was known for his generosity and left behind many charitable endowments after him.
The son of Dr George Cheyne Shattuck, Jr. George Cheyne Shattuck is known for his research in distinguishing typhus from typhoid fever. Dr George Cheyne Shattuck, the junior graduated from Harvard Medical School where he served as the dean later. Just like his father, Dr George Cheyne Shattuck, the junior too served as the president of the Massachusetts medical society from 1872 to 1874.
Two of the Shattuck’s son went to medicine. The older son George Brune Shattuck was a well-known physician in Boston who founded the Boston city hospital. He is best known for having served 31 years as the editor of the Boston Medical and surgical journal which flourished under his editorship and in 1928 it was renamed as “The new England journal of medicine”. He also served as the president of the Massachusetts Medical Society from 1910 to 1912.
George Brune Shattuck’s younger brother was Federick Cheever Shattuck who became the Clinical professor of medicine at the Harvard. He was the chief of the medical services at the Massachusetts General Hospital and was a highly expert clinician of his time.
Dr Federick Cheever Shattuck stressed the importance of preventive medicine and was the founder of Harvard School of Public Health. The street on which the Harvard School of medicine is located was named after him in his honour in 1931.
Dr Federick Cheever Shattuck’s son George Cheever Shattuck represented the fifth generation of the Shattuck to enter into the medical profession. Inspired by his father’s interest, George Cheever Shattuck entered the field of public health. Later, he became the professor of tropical medicine at the prestigious Harvard University.
George Cheever Shattuck was born October 12, 1879. After completing his medical degree at Harvard Medical School in 1905, Shattuck embarked on a world tour and ended up stopping for several months to work with Richard P. Strong (1872-1948) at the latter’s laboratory in the Philippines. After his time in the Philippines, Shattuck undertook additional clinical training in Vienna, Austria, and then returned in 1908 to Harvard Medical School. When the Department of Tropical Medicine was formed at the Medical School in 1913, Shattuck was recruited as a faculty member.
In 1916, the American Red Cross organized a medical commission to travel to Serbia to assist Serbian physicians in controlling an epidemic of typhus. Shattuck, Richard P. Strong, Hans Zinsser, and A. Watson Sellards were all members. Shattuck was responsible for the examination of post-mortem evidence and performed numerous autopsies, collating the data for the commission’s final report, published in 1920. From 1917 to 1919, Shattuck served with the Harvard Surgical Unit embedded with the British Expeditionary Force; after the armistice that ended World War I, he served in Switzerland as General Medical Secretary of the League of Red Cross Societies.
Shattuck returned to Boston in 1921 as assistant professor of tropical medicine at Harvard Medical School and worked to establish a service for tropical medicine at Boston City Hospital. In 1924-1925, Shattuck accompanied the Hamilton Rice expedition to the upper Amazon in Brazil. He co-led a medical survey expedition with Richard P. Strong to Liberia and the Belgian Congo in 1926-1927. Between 1929 and 1932, Shattuck led three expeditions funded by the Carnegie Institute to identify health problems in the Yucatan and Guatemala.
With the death of George Cheever Shattuck in 1972, the distinguished lineage of the five generation of physician with surname Shattuck came to an end. However several physicians who are the matrilinear descendants of the Shattuck’s still continue the family tradition in medicine.
One of the known matrilinear descendant of the Shattuck family is Lamar Soutter (Great grandson of Dr George Cheyne Shattuck, the junior) He was the son of Helen Elizabeth Whiteside and Robert Soutter, a noted Boston orthopaedic surgeon. He graduated from Harvard college in 1931. He served residencies in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Thoracics. He was awarded the Silver Star for actions at the battle of Bastogne in World War II.
Dr Lamar Soutter devised, instigated and became the founder of the reputed UMMS, University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1962, very close to their family’s original home where ones his great-great-great-grandfather started the practice 200 years ago!.