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Books and Publications

Dr. William Beaumont: The Mackinac Years


Keith R Widder



Illustrations, 29 pages



This book details the life and medical advancements made by Dr. William Beaumont from his arrival at Mackinac in 1820 to his transfer to Fort Niagara in 1825. “Because of what happened at Mackinac, Beaumont’s life and, indeed, the history of medical science was forever changed.”

From the book : “Amidst the setting sun’s fiery beauty the Walk-in-the-Water approached Mackinac Island in the Straits of Mackinac. As the island’s silhouette loomed large to those on board, Dr. William Beaumont got his first glimpse of his new home. His thoughts excited him, for tomorrow, June 17, 1820, he would become the post surgeon at Fort Mackinac. . . .

[June 6, 1822] Suddenly, out of the crowd’s hubbub there resounded a blast. … all eyes gazed at Alexis St. Martin’s limp body lying on the floor … all could see a large bloody wound in his abdomen caused when a shotgun … had accidentally discharged. … Within 15 or 20 minutes the doctor [Beaumont] was at St. Martin’s side. In this condition, he believed ‘any attempt to save his life entirely useless.’ However professional duty required him to do all in his power to save his unfortunate patient.

[after several months] St Martin continued to recover, one problem refused to resolve itself – the hole in his stomach would not close. . . . One day, upon examining Alexis, inspiration struck the doctor. The hole or fistula in St. Martin’s abdomen could be used as a window to observe the stomach’s mysterious functions. If Alexis would agree, Beaumont would be able to watch the human digestive process.”

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