New York, USA
|Death: ||Mar. 18, 1897|
Dr. Lewis Leach was Madera County's first physician and founder of its first hospital. He was an early area businessman, co-owner with Major James D. Savage of the Savage Trading Post on the Fresno River. He was a partner with Henry Clay Daulton in the Ne Plus Ultra Copper Mining Company near the town of Buchanan.
Dr. Leach's legacy to this area includes such diverse enterprises as medicine, merchandising, mining, and banking. It was only conflict with the Native Americans and a nasty arrow wound that kept him in this vicinity. He stayed with the wagons to amputate the arm of an arrow victim and decided not to strike out on his own.
Lewis Leach was born in Pennsylvania and moved to New York with his family when he was 13 years old. After migrating to Missouri from New York, he was graduated from the University of Missouri School of Medicine in 1848. After practicing medicine in St. Louis, Leach caught gold fever and proceeded to gather around him several men who had been bitten by the same bug.
When the Governor called for volunteers to fight the Natives in what was to become known as the Mariposa Indian War, Dr. Leach joined the Mariposa Battalion. It was in this context that he first met Major James D. Savage, who after the hostilities had ceased, convinced Leach to stay in California.
While he and Savage opened up their Fresno River trading store, Leach operated the first hospital in the central San Joaquin Valley. It was nothing but a crude little shelter covered with willow matting, but it served its purpose. The hospital had from 10 to 15 patients at a time, some of them arriving from as far away as Visalia.
When Major Savage was killed by Judge Harvey at a ferry on the Kings River, Dr. Leach paid for a large monument to his honor over his gravesite. The monument and grave have been moved several times and now sits at the Buckridge boat dock area at Hensley Lake in Madera County.
In 1862, Leach married Mrs. Mathilda Converse, the widow of Charles P. Converse, an early miner at Coarse Gold Gulch and the builder of the Millerton Courthouse. In time, Dr. Leach moved both his medical practice and his mercantile interests to that place. When the county seat was moved to the new town of Fresno in 1874, he set up a hospital there in rented rooms.
In 1882, Dr. Lewis Leach had erected over the grave of Thomas J. O'Neal, one of the finest monuments in the State, and did great credit to the Doctor for his taste in the
selection of the design. The monument is of Penryn granite and the best of Italian marble and still stands tall at Mountain View Cemetery. Total height, twenty-one feet, four inches.
On March 18, 1897, Dr. Lewis Leach died. More than 100 carriages joined his funeral procession. It was the largest funeral that Fresno had witnessed up to that time and speaks eloquently of the impact of the man on his community.
Melinda T Leach (____ - 1919)
Mountain View Cemetery
Plot: St James 2
Created by: Lester Letson
Record added: Sep 07, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 41696915