William H. Ross, M. D.
William H. Ross, M.D. – Few physicians of Grand Rapids have gained as wide a distinction in their profession as has Dr. William H. Ross, who for many years has occupied a conspicuous place among the successful medical men of western Michigan. He was born in the township of Norwhich, Oxford county, Ontario, Canada, on the 27th day of July 1845 and is the son of Hopkins and Mary (Mustard) Ross, both natives of the same county and province and of Scotch descent.
Hopkins Ross, by occupation a farmer and mechanic, reared a family of four sons and three daughters, the doctor being first in order of birth. The second is Alexander Nelson, a stationary engineer, and interested in the manufacture and sale of lumber near the city of Seattle, Washington; Sylvester is a well-to-do farmer living in the vicinity of Hersey, Michigan; the fourth son, Daniel, was hurt at the age of fourteen by falling upon the ice and never recovered from the injury; he lingered as an invalid seven years and dies at the age of twenty-one from necrosis of the bone. The three daughters are Mary, Sarah and Martha – the first two are twins. Mary married James Hogadone, a lumberman of the state of Washington; Sarah became the wife of James H. Hope, a farmer of Hersey, Michigan, and Martha resides at Kendallville, Indiana where her husband, E. W. Crewitz, owns and operates a large flouring mill. The mother of these children departed this live in her native country in 1858, and the father, after his second marriages, became a resident of Michigan, locating in Grand Rapids in the year 1863. Subsequently he removed to a farm near Hersey, where he served for some time as justice of the peace, and where his death occurred after having reached his seventy-second year.
Dr. Ross received his early education in the schools of his native county, and after the death of his mother, which occurred when he was but fourteen years of age, he entered upon an apprenticeship to the blacksmith’s trade. In 1863, he located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he for a period of about two years operated a shop and did a fairly remunerative business, at the same time studying medicine under Dr. Barnhart, of Schoolcraft, Michigan. When twenty years old he was married to Miss Mary A. Hope, of Kalamazoo, and two years later moved to the town of Everett (probably Evart), where he erected a building and engaged in general mercantile trade, a venture which proved financially profitable and to which he devoted his time and attention until disposing of his stock and locating in Hersey in the year 1873. At the latter place the doctor embarked in the hotel business as proprietor of the Hersey House, at the same time engaging in the drug trade, which he carried on successfully in connection with his duties as a caterer to the traveling public. He continued in Hersey three years, during part of which time he served as under-sheriff of the county, and also devoted the leisure hours at his command to a course of preliminary medical study and work in pharmacy and chemistry. Disposing of the hotel, the doctor turned his entire attention to the drug business, which he conducted until 1879, the meanwhile prosecuting his medical studies, with a vigor which overcame every obstacle and placed him, long before actively engage in the practice, among the widest read and best informed medical men of the town where he resided.
After closing out his stock of drugs at Hersey to Dr. R. J. Kirkland, Dr. Ross, in the spring of 1880, moved to Grand Rapids, began the practice of medicine in 1881, and opened another drug store on West Fulton Street, which he conducted in connection with the duties of his profession. He seemed from the start naturally adapted to the practice of medicine, as is shown by the success which almost immediately attended his efforts. His duties multiplied year after year until his practice became very extensive, especially in the treatment of rheumatic complications and inflammatory diseases, which soon gained for him much more than local distinction.
The better to fit himself for a wide and varied practice, the doctor in 1883 took a course in the Hahnemann Medical college, Chicago, and during the year 1884-5 pursued his studies in the Pulto Medical college, Cincinnati. Not content with the knowledge derived from those institutions, he took another course in 1885-6 in the Eclectic Medical college of Cincinnati, where he achieved high rank as a student, graduating at the head of his class and also serving as its president during his period of attendance.
While attending the colleges referred to, the doctor was not content to be a student merely; but continued the practice in Chicago and Cincinnati, in both of which cities he established an enviable reputation as a specialist in inflammatory and kindred diseases.
Further to add to his professional knowledge, Dr. Ross in 1892 took a post-graduates course in the Chicago Medical college, and some time prior to that date received instruction from Prof. Vilas, the eminent eye, ear and throat specialist, in the treatment of ailments peculiar to those parts of the human body. He also took a special course in obstetrics under Prof. Sheldon Leavitt, of Chicago, in the summer of 1884.
In the treatment of inflammatory and all constitutional diseases, he is without peer in Grand Rapids, and the success with which he has performed many skillful and delicate surgical operations, and the relief afforded numerous sufferers from complicated rheumatic difficultires, place him in the front rank of the state’s distinguished professional men. During his twenty years’ residence in this city his professional record has been without blemish, and the extensive practice he commands here and elsewhere is the legitimate result of a life consecrated to the noble service of alleviating human suffering.
Though endowed by nature with superior talents, Dr. Ross has attained his present enviable position by long and patient effort. From the beginning of his career as a physician he has closely devoted himself to his profession, permitting neither attractions of travel nor the enticements of political office to turn him from his high purpose. As a consequence of this devotion, liberal financial returns have been his, and he is now the possessor of a magnificent competence, including valuable real estate in Grand Rapids and in various parts of Michigan and other states. Situated on the St. John’s river, opposite the city of Palatka, Florida, is the doctor’s winter home, which he has fitted up for the accommodation of such patients as desire his professional services during his annual sojourns in the southland. The building stands on the east bank of the river, 100 feet back from the water, is commodiously constructed and supplied with the conveniences and appliances necessary to the successful treatment of patients; and the enterprise, the outgrowth of a philanthropic motive, has already proved a safe investment from a financial point of view.
Politically Dr. Ross has strong convictions as a member of the republican party, but, as already stated, he has consented to fill no official position, not have the time to spare from his profession. He is an active member of the American Medical association and for a period of twenty-five years has been identifies with the Masonic fraternity, in which he has taken many degrees, including among others that of Sir Knight; he is also a member of the I.O.O.F., and from his fourteenth year has belonged to the Baptist church. The doctor possesses musical talents of a high order, and at this time is leader and director of the choir of the English Lutheran church of Grand Rapids. He filled a position as first tenor in the St. Mark’s Episcopal church for several years, and also for several years filled a like position in the Second street M. E. church choir of this city.
The doctor’s marriage, to which allusion has already been made, has resulted in the birth of two children, the elder of whom Clarence H., died when one and a half years old; the second, a daughter, Alex May, is now the wife of Dr. Eugene Cohn. She was graduated from the Grand Rapids high school and is a lady of versatile talents. She is an accomplished musician and an elocutionist of high standing, in both of which she enjoyed the benefits of the ablest instructors in Chicago and elsewhere. Her husband is a practicing physician at St. Jacob’s Illinois.
The wife of Dr. Ross is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the only daughter of Edward and Mary (Stevens) Hope. Her father was an early settler and prominent citizen of that city. He was a government contractor during the war of the Rebellion, and gave two of his sons to battle for the national Union.
Dr. Ross is a man of scrupulous integrity, and no unworthy act has ever been charged to him professionally or otherwise. He is courteous in his general intercourse, and especially so with members of the medical profession, with whom under all circumstances he is scrupulous to observe the code of ethics. He is bold and daring, yet feeling and sensitive as a surgeon, and though eminently successful as such, is none the less distinguished as a physician and obstetrician. He is social with friends, and possesses a personality that attracts all classes to his acquaintance, and his conversation is characterized by good sense and solidity. As a professional man and citizen he is highly respected, and the good he has accomplished for suffering humanity will always be his most enduring monument.
Created: 28 April 2006