Biography of Frederick J. Bancroft, M. D. of Denver Colorado

Frederick J. Bancroft, M. D. The eminence attained by Dr. Bancroft in his profession, and his high character as a citizen, have won for him a place among the most influential of the physicians and surgeons residing in Denver. The fact that he has been called to many positions of trust, professional, military and educational, testifies to the recognition of his ability by others. During the long period of his residence in Denver he has aided in the carrying out of progressive enterprises for the benefit of the place; his most valuable service probably being his articles relating to the climate of Colorado written in the early days, by which, directly and indirectly, he added more to the permanent population of Colorado than any citizen of the state.

The descendant of early settlers of New England, Dr. Bancroft was born in Enfield, Conn., May 25, 1834. His literary education was received in the academy at Westfield, Mass., and the Charlotteville (N. Y.) Seminary, and upon leaving school he began the study of medicine. In February, 1861, he graduated from the medical department of the University of Buffalo, N. Y., and in April of the same year he opened an office in Blakely, Pa. About that time the war broke out, and after six months of private practice, in November he enlisted as a surgeon in the army, being detailed by the surgeon-general of the state to take charge of the Church hospital in Harrisburg. In the spring of 1862 he was ordered to the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Infantry, at Hilton Head, S. C., and in May became medical attendant of the troops on Pinckney Island, Seabrook’s and Elliott’s plantations, in South Carolina. His next appointment was to take charge of a small portion of the Fourth and Seventh New Hampshire Regiments, in transit from Hilton Head, S. C., New York quarantine, which troops were infected with yellow fever. Afterward ordered to Philadelphia, and assigned to the Third Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, he served as examining surgeon of recruits until the spring of 1863, when orders came for him to fit up a hospital for Confederate prisoners, at Fort Delaware. He attended to that matter, then rejoined his regiment, the Third Pennsylvania Artillery, at Camp Hamilton, Va., in May, 1863. In June he was appointed post surgeon at Fortress Monroe by General Dix and remained there until the close of the war. While there Jefferson Davis, the vanquished Confederate president, was brought to the fort, but Dr. Bancroft’s nativity as a New England man being objected to, another physician was summoned to attend Mr. Davis. With two other officers, Dr. Bancroft was detailed to investigate the past management of military hospitals near Fortress Monroe.

On resigning from the United States military service, at the close of the war, Dr. Bancroft returned to Pennsylvania, where he took a course of lectures in the University of Pennsylvania. In April, 1866, he came to Denver, where he has built up a large practice. For several years he was surgeon for the Wells Fargo stage lines, and later was surgeon for the Denver Pacific, Kansas Pacific and Rio Grande Railroads, being connected with the last named company as chief surgeon from 1871 to 1887. He is to-day chief surgeon of the Rio Grande Western, Union Pacific, Denver & Gulf, and the Denver, Leadville & Gunnison Railways. He was elected president of the Denver Medical Society in 1876; he became identified with the American Medical Association; was vice-president of the National Association of Railway Surgeons; served as examining surgeon for pensions from 1868 to 1885; held the office of city physician 1872-77, 1878-79; was the first president of the state board of health, holding the office for two years, and later was secretary for a year. He became identified with the medical department of the Denver University, having assisted in its organization and has been an active worker ever since. He was elected to the chair of fractures and dislocations and holds that position at the present time.

In 1875 he was made president of the Agricultural Ditch Company, which position he held until 1887, and was re-elected in 1897 and 1898. During his service as president of the board of education in East Denver, 1872-76, he was instrumental in advancing the interests of the public schools and promoting the standard of scholarship. An Episcopalian in religion, he was a member of the standing committee of that denomination in 1878-79, and for years he served on the board of trustees for Wolfe Hall, Jarvis Hall and St. Luke’s Hospital. When the Colorado State Historical and Natural History Society was organized January 10, 1879, he was made its president, an office that he held till 1897, when he resigned. The result of his work, with that of others, in this society is shown in the large collection of prehistoric relics now in the capitol. When the first Grand Army post was established here in 1868, largely through his efforts among the soldiers in enlisting their interest in the work, it was felt that he was the one to occupy the highest office in the post; and he was made the commander. Soon afterward Gen. John A. Logan appointed him provisional department commander of Colorado and Wyoming, he being the first to occupy that position. From 1866 to 1876 many articles concerning the climate of Colorado, and its effect upon certain types of disease, were written by him.

June 20, 1871, Dr. Bancroft married Miss Mary C. Jarvis, daughter of George A. Jarvis, of Brooklyn, N. Y., who endowed Jarvis Hall of Denver, Colo. This union was blessed with three children, viz.: Mary M., George J. and Frederick W.

Source: Portrait and biographical record of Denver and vicinity, Colorado : containing portraits and biographies of many well known citizens of the past and present : together with biographies and portraits of all the presidents of the United States.. Chicago: Chapman Pub. Co., 1898.

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