An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

15961 entries, 13944 authors and 1935 subjects. Updated: March 22, 2024

GRIFFIN, John Strother

1 entries
  • 12088

A doctor comes to California: The diary of John S. Griffin, Assistant Surgeon with Kearny's Dragoons, 1846-1847. Edited by George Walcott Ames, Jr.

San Francisco, CA: California Historical Society Quarterly, 21, 193-224, 333-357; 22, 41-66, 19421943.

"In 1840, Griffin was appointed assistant surgeon in the Army and served under General William J. Worth in Florida and, with the rank of captain, on the Southwest frontier at Fort Gibson, Griffin came to California for the first time with General Kearney on the trek from New Mexico in 1846. He was stationed in San Diego and in Los Angeles in charge of the military hospitals, visited the California Gold Country during the 1849 Gold Rush and was stationed in Benicia until 1852. In that period he was given duty in an expedition against the Yuma Indians on the Colorado River. He was assigned to Washington, D.C., in 1853 and resigned from the service in 1854.[3][4][7]

"Doctor Griffin's story concerns the hardships endured by General Kearney's small force as it crossed the unknown and trackless deserts, and it recounts what took place in the battles of San PascualSan GabrielLa Mesa and Los Angeles, and reveals his methods of treatment for wounds and diseases afflicting the soldiers in his charge. The narrative is most interesting.[8]

"Before joining the Army, Griffin practiced for three years in Louisville, Kentucky, and returned to Los Angeles after he left the service.[3][4] In Griffin's obituary, the Los Angeles Times noted that:

"Physicians were scarce in those days, and a man with a university education and seventeen years' experience as army surgeon and general pratictioner was instantly welcomed and called to minister to the ailments of all the best people around. Like a circuit rider he journeyed up and down Southern California to answer to the calls of American settlers and Spanish patrons.[3]

"Griffin is said to have been the "second pioneer educated physician to arrive in Los Angeles," the first being Richard Den, who came in 1843.[4]

"One of his staff was Bridget (Biddy) Mason, who worked for him as a midwife and nurse, becoming known for her herbal remedies. She earned $2.50 a day, considered a good wage for African-American women at that time. In 1856, Mason had been declared a person "free forever" in a successful suit she filed as a slave brought from slave-holding Texas into the free state of California in 1851. The judge rendering the decision was Benjamin Hayes, the brother of Griffin's wife.[10][11]"

(Wikipedia article on John Strother Griffin, accessed 4-2020)

Digital facsimile from at this link.