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Derry

July 2, 2009

The tale of the Plummer family of doctors

Today we are in the midst of a national debate on health care. Time magazine last week had a fine article on the cost of health care in different hospitals. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota was reported as being the best by providing excellent care at a lower cost than the other major hospitals. The secret to the Mayo Clinic's success is that its entire staff works closely together as a team to provide "integrated and coordinated care." In addition, the patient's medical records are instantly retrievable making treatment faster, cheaper and error-free. The road that led to the Mayo Clinic's success began right here in old Nutfield.

Abel Plummer moved to Londonderry from Rowley, Mass., in 1775 along with his wife, his elderly father and seven children. All three of his boys served in the local militia. His son, Nathan, enlisted in Patriot army in 1776 and was wounded while serving under Col. Matthew Thornton and Gen. John Stark.

After the war, Nathan returned home to Londonderry and married Mary Palmer. Their son Nathan, Jr., was born in 1787 and educated in the local one-room schools. In time, the boy decided he wanted to be a physician. Most doctors in those days didn't learn their profession in medical school; instead they apprenticed to an experienced doctor. For several years Nathan was student, servant and assistant to Dr. Robert Bartley who practiced in medicine in Londonderry from 1792-1820.

For a while Plummer practiced in Londonderry, but in 1818 he moved to Chester, the hometown of his wife Sarah Colby (1793-1836). After her death he married Mahitable Dinsmore (1802-1894). He continued to practice medicine in Chester-Auburn as a physician and surgeon until the infirmities of old age made him retire around 1860. He died in 1871. Of his nine children only Albert (1840-1912) followed him into the field of medicine. Albert learned the rudiments of his craft from his father and later graduated from Bowdoin College. During the Civil War he served with the 10th N.H. regiment - originally as a hospital orderly but later as an assistant surgeon.

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