Dr. Ralph Delivered My Mother!

My mother and her siblings were each born in different towns because Grandfather worked for the Western Union and he kept getting transferred.

Doris Priscilla Adams, my mom, was the only one born in Calais, Washington, Maine, where both of my grandparents were also born. I asked her once how she came to be born there.

It was early June 1923, June 7 to be exact, when my grandparents were up in Calais visiting family and friends. Grandmother went into labor and Dr. Ralph was called to deliver the baby.

Dr. Ralph was Grandfather’s first cousin. My great grandmother, Annie Maude Stuart who married Charles Edwin Adams, was the sister of Harry Weston Stuart. Ralph was the youngest of Harry’s children.

Henry (Harry) Weston Stuart was born 17 June 1858 in Meddybemps, Washington County, Maine. He married Nancy Gilman Aldrich on 6 August 1879. She was born in September 1859. They went on to have a big family. Nancy reported in 1900 that she had given birth to eight children, with six surviving.

  1. Mabel Elida, born 17 April 1880
  2. Wallace Newmarch, born 3 March 1882
  3. George Albert, born 17 November 1884
  4. Ina Mae, born 1 July 1889
  5. Bertha Ella, born 25 December 1891
  6. Arthur Walter, born 24 September 1894; died 1896
  7. Ralph Charles, born 14 April 1896

Birth Record – Ralph C. Stuart
Source: Ancestry

Ralph was the baby of the family. His father, Harry, died of stomach cancer in 1911. Ralph was just past his fifteenth birthday. I don’t know when Ralph decided he wanted to become a medical doctor, but after his father died, he apparently went to live with an aunt and uncle for his high school years.

AMA Biographical Record

According to his American Medical Association record, Ralph graduated from Classical High School in Providence, Rhode Island in 1914. His medical school training was at Georgetown College, today Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He graduated with a B.S. degree in 1917, just in time to register for the World War I draft.

Source: FamilySearch

Ralph entered the USNRF, United States Naval Reserve Force, on 14 December 1917 in Washington, DC and remained in the service until 2 September 1920, when he received an honorable discharge in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ralph was first granted a license to practice medicine in Washington, DC in 1921 when he graduated from medical school. Although he returned to Maine, he renewed his license in D.C. in 1937:

Source: WikiSource

Apparently, medical licenses issued in Washington, DC are approved by Congress!

Ralph soon returned to Meddybemps, Maine, where he set up his medical practice. He must have decided that the commute to patients, many of whom were probably living in Calais, was too long (about 14 miles), as on 24 February 1922, he moved his practice to Calais.

On 6 July 1922, he married Ruth Groves. Ruth was born 30 December 1900 in Calais, the daughter of Charles R. Groves and Maud Mahar. Ralph and Ruth had one daughter, Marilyn, born 30 August 1924 in Calais. Marilyn married, had a family and passed away in 2009. I have been in touch with one of her children, sharing family history information.

Calais life was waning by the 1920s and many were moving away. Dr. Ralph closed up his office and on 7 April1926, opened a new practice in Sangerville, Piscataquis County, Maine, about 140 miles from Calais. However, he didn’t move to a larger town, he downsized. Even today, Sangerville only has about 1300 residents.

Calais to Sangerville
Source: GoogleMaps

In 1940, the Stuart family was still living in Sangerville. Sometime between then and 1965, Dr. Ralph retired and moved to Guilford, which is also in Piscataquis County and is just the next town west of Sangerville. It is also a very small community.

Professionally, Ralph served as the president of both the Piscataquis Medical Society and the Maine Medical Association.

I don’t know if he ever retired from his medical practice, as he was only 69 years old when he died in Guilford on 18 September 1965 of scleroderma, a rare disease in which there is a chronic hardening and contraction of the skin and connective tissue,  and malignant hypertension, which is extremely high blood pressure which causes organ damage.

I don’t think I ever met Dr. Ralph, but I wish I had, as my grandmother spoke fondly of him.

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