Tuesday, December 09, 2008

James Fulton Grove

James Fulton Grove was born December 11, 1828, in New York, the son of Martin (1797-1888) and Ruth (Fulton, 1807-1890).

Martin and Ruth were married sometime before James was born, probably in New York. In any case, by 1830 Martin was living in Seneca, Ontario County, New York. By 1850 James was working as a clerk and living with his family on a farm in Seneca, Ontario County, New York. James reportedly studied medicine at Geneva, Niagara County, New York, and in 1855 was graduated from Rush medical college in Chicago. His family eventually settled in western Michigan and James himself settled in Grand Rapids in 1856 where he practiced medicine.

He also took an interest in the growing local militia movement in western Michigan. He consequently became a member of the Ringgold Artillery, under the command of Captain John Fay, and in 1858 was reported as Surgeon of the company.

James married New York native Mary E. Gates (1830-1909) on December 23, 1855, in Rochester, New York, and according to James’ brother William, they had become engaged some two years before. William noted later that Mary “visited at my father’s house several times prior to their marriage [and that after the wedding] they both came to my father’s house near Geneva, N.Y. on their wedding trip and from there went to Illinois where they lived about a year and then came to Grand Rapids, Mich about 1856.”

By 1860 Dr. Grove was a physician living with his wife and younger brother William and working in Grand Rapids’ Second ward.

A man of “feminine appearance” James was a physician living in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward when he was commissioned Assistant Surgeon on August 15, 1862. (It is curious he was not appointed when the Third Michigan was initially formed in Grand Rapids in the spring of 1861; possibly as a consequence of the Bliss brothers being appointed Regimental Surgeon and Assistant Surgeon together.)

On August 18 he was in Detroit staying at the Exchange Hotel, probably awaiting to be mustered in, which took place four days later at Southfield, Oakland County. He was promoted to Regimental Surgeon on September 24, commissioned September 11, replacing Dr. Zenas Bliss, who had been promoted to the regular army, and was on detached service at the Division hospital from January of 1863 through March. According to Henry Patterson, who was a friend and had also served with Dr. Grove in the Third Michigan during the war, sometime around the Fall of 1863 “he was taken down and was for a long time unable to do duty; he had a sallow complexion” and, Patterson claimed, diagnosed himself as suffering from jaundice. “I well remember nursing him and waiting on him after the Battle of Gettysburg, and along through the winter of 1863 and 1864.”

Nevertheless, according to Dr. Grove he was assigned to the division hospital around the time of the battle of the Wilderness, in early May of 1864.

He was mustered out of service on June 24, 1864, at Detroit.

Dr. Grove returned to Grand Rapids. In 1863 his office was on Canal Street and he was still living with his wife in the Second ward in 1870 (and he was also holder of some $5000 worth of real estate and $2000 worth of personal estate in 1870 as well). James was still working as a physician and living with his wife in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward in 1880; his brother William was also still living with them as was a Mr. Young who was working as a clerk in a drugstore. (His office was probably at 79 Canal Street) As of April of 1885, Dr. Grove had his office at 56 Canal Street in Grand Rapids.

According to one source, James “was the leading physician and surgeon in the city and was on the highway to prominence in the profession and affluence. The constant strains and tension upon his physical energies induced indulgence in stimulants and a few years later he became a wreck of his former self. Through the influence of friends he fought the terrible monster of appetite for weeks at a time, but the tempter time and again scattered his good resolutions.”

James was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. According to John Shaw, formerly of Company K, DR. Grove was a hard drinker.

James died of apoplexy, “the result of liver disease” on the morning of July 7, 1885, in his rooms in the Ball Block in Grand Rapids. According to his brother William (an attorney in Grand Rapids), “the illness of which he died” began on June 30. That afternoon

He sent for me and when I arrived he complained of a severe headache & asked me to go to a drug store & have prepared a mustard plaster which I did, and by his direction placed on the back parts of his head and neck. I remained with him that evening until nearly midnight when he appeared considerably relieved. I then left him in the care of an attendant, telling him that I had to go on account of the illness of my wife. I returned to him early the next morning and found him apparently much better. He said he was better, talked rationally, asked about my wife’s health; he then said he would get up and did so and began dressing himself. But soon he felt worse again and asked me to send for Dr. Griswold which I did. Meantime he remained out of bed and in the talking to me seemed unable to call common things by their right names. For instance, when he wanted a towel, he asked for a button and was only able to make me understand him by indicating with his hands the use he wanted to make of it. When Dr. Griswold arrived we got my brother in bed. During that day he was rational and talked with me some, told me that he would probably not be able to attend my wife during her expected confinement and advised me to engage Dr. Griswold. After the following night he seemed to grow worse generally and to be able to talk but little – not any except to his wife, who seemed to understand him. He appeared conscious when aroused and recognized his wife as late as the fourth day of his illness – about which time paralysis in his left limbs began to be manifest, gradually extended to the whole left side thence to the right limbs and side. Dr. Griswold attended him during his entire illness making one or more visits daily. Dr. William wood also visited him during his illness, not professionally, however. During the month of May preceding his last illness [my brother] was attacked in a similar way, complaining of the same severe headache in the back part of his head and I visited him frequently. He then recovered and seemed to regain his usual health. When called to him on June 30th following I observed the similarity of his symptoms and of his complainings to those of his attack in May.

According to one local newspaper, “for the past ten months he has not drank a drop of liquor. He was a noble, whole-souled man in his better days, and there will be very few of his brethren who will not have a kind word to say of him.”

The funeral was held at William’s residence at 91 Hastings Street on Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m. James was buried in Oak Hill (south) cemetery: section H, lot 103.

In 1885 she received a pension (no. 309165), drawing $25 per month. By 1889 and 1890 his widow was residing at 91 Hastings Street in Grand Rapids; in 1889-90, his father’s widow Ruth was boarding at 49 Miller Street in Grand Rapids.

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