William Mayo

William Worrall Mayo (1819 - 1911)

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Dr. William Worrall Mayo
Born in Salford, Lancashire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 9 Apr 1851 in Berrien, Michigan, United Statesmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Rochester, Olmsted, Minnesota, United Statesmap
Profile last modified 23 Aug 2019 | Created 1 Jun 2011 | Last significant change: 23 Aug 2019
17:57: Megan (Smith) Tremelling posted a message on the page for William Worrall Mayo (1819-1911). [Thank Megan for this | 1 thank-you received]
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Dr. William Mayo was a medical doctor and chemist, best known for establishing the private medical practice that later evolved into the Mayo Clinic.[1] He was a descendant of a famous English chemist, John Mayow.[2] His sons, William James Mayo and Charles Horace Mayo, established a joint medical practice in Rochester in the U.S. state of Minnesota in the 1880s.
William Mayo is Notable.

William Worall Mayo was born May 31, 1819 in Eccles, near Salford, Greater Manchester, England.[3][4][5][6][1] He was baptized October 24th, 1819.[7]His father, James Mayo, a ship's captain and a joiner, died when William was seven, leaving his mother, Ann (Bonsall) to raise him and his five siblings.[1][6][7] She worked hard to provide a good education for her children; William was tutored in Latin and Greek and began studies in medicine and science with John Dalton, who would later be known as "the father of modern physical science" for his groundbreaking work in developing the atomic theory of matter.[3]

William studied science and medicine in Manchester, Glasgow, and London before leaving for the U.S. in 1845.[3][8] His first work in his new country was as a pharmacist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, though he soon moved westward.

William spent a brief period of time in Buffalo, New York before settling in Lafayette, Indiana where he worked as a tailor (one of the vocations he had while in England).[8][9]He returned to medicine in 1849, assisting in a cholera outbreak and then attending courses at Indiana Medical College in La Porte, Indiana where he earned his medical degree.[9] Although the training there would probably be considered mediocre by modern standards, the school did have a microscope, an uncommon tool at the time. Knowledge of how to use this instrument proved to be useful in Mayo's future practice. He was mentored by Dr. Elizur Deming. He received his M.D. degree on February 14, 1850. (His obituary states his date of graduation was in 1854 from the University of Missouri.)[3]

April 9, 1851, William married Louise Abigail Wright in Berrien, Michigan, and two years later, they had their first child.[3][10] Around this time, William left for a winter to work as an assistant at the University of Missouri's medical department. He returned in 1854, but contracted malaria, also known as "fever and ague", and decided to leave the Lafayette area, saying, "I'm going to keep on driving until I get well or die."[3] He found his way to Minnesota, via Galena, Illinois, moving into a log cabin on an abandoned farm near LeSuer, Minnesota.[3][11][12][13] He and his brother soon built a 2-story Gothic-style home on the property, now known as the "W.W. Mayo House." It was later the home of Carson Cosgrove, of the vegetable company Green Giant.

There's a story in which William had left to look for copper in the northern part of the state. He got caught in a forest fire and lost all his companions except his dog. He was stuck, without food for five days, until he was forced to eat his favorite pet, in order to survive.[3] In 1860, he captained a steamboat on the Mississippi.[3] He later fought Indians and practiced surgery at a hospital in New Ulm.[3]

William was the first chairman of the board of county commissioners of St. Louis County, Minnesota, and was part of the group that chose Duluth as that county's seat.[3]

William later ended up in Rochester, Minnesota, moving there in 1862.[3][14][15][16][17][18] William was soon made the examining surgeon by the provost marshal's office, in charge of enforcing the draft law.[3] After he completed his time in the role, he started practicing medicine again.[3]

Around 1876, William organized the Olmsted County Medical Society.[3] He was president of the Minnesota State Medical Society in 1873.[3]

William's practice would later morph into the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.[3] August 15th, 1883, a devastating tornado hit the village of Rochester.[19] William converted the Mayo home into a makeshift hospital to treat the many injured and dying, with the aid of his sons.[3][19] He was convinced by The Revered Mother Alfred of the Sisters of St. Francis, who had been sending sisters to help nurse at the Mayo home, to assist in building and operating a hospital, first named St. Mary's.[3][19] William first argued he was too old, but his sons supported his work.[19] In 1889, the hospital opened, with Dr. Mayo as the head of the staff.[3] His sons William and Charles joined him, also doctors.[3] One of the remarkable things the Mayos did was to make treatment of the underprivileged free. No one would be turned away from their skilled surgical care for the inability to pay.[19] The Mayos themselves later left millions to the Mayo Foundation in order to continue their charitable care of patients.[19]

In 1892, William asked Augustus Stinchfield to join his practice as a full partner. Once Stinchfield accepted the offer, William promptly retired at age 73. He lived the rest of his years in the household of daughter, Gertrude, in Rochester.[20][21][22][23]

William considered himself liberal in his religious views.[3] Politically, he considered himself a Democrat.[3] He served as alderman and as mayor of Rochester.[3] He also served one term in the Minnesota state senate.[3] William also traveled after his retirement from medicine.[3] He visited Cuba, Mexico, Japan, and China.[3]

William Worrall Mayo died March 6th, 1911 at his daughter, Gertrude's home in Rochester, Minnesota of nephritis (neuritis according to one document) following a traumatic injury to his arm, which he'd been dealing with for nearly two and half years.[3][24][5][1][25][6] He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Rochester, Minnesota.[6][5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Minnesota, County Deaths, 1850-2001," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:7K7G-PWZM : 2 August 2019), William Worrell Mayo, Minnesota, United States; citing Death, multiple county courthouses, Minnesota.
  2. Wikipedia:John_Mayow
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 "Dr. W. W. Mayo Dies In Rochester", Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 7 Mar 1911. Page 10. Accessed via Newspapers.com 15 Aug 2019. See PDF in Images
  4. Ancestry.com. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Ancestry Record 9841 #83617053
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 15 August 2019), memorial page for Dr William Worrall “W.W.” Mayo (31 May 1819–6 Mar 1911), Find A Grave: Memorial #11846342, citing Oakwood Cemetery, Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by emmett salberg jr (contributor 46578689) .
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Minnesota, County Deaths, 1850-2001," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QPCS-7H5F : 1 February 2019), William Worrell Mayo, Rochester Township, Olmsted, Minnesota, United States; citing Death, multiple county courthouses, Minnesota.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ancestry.com. Lancashire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1911 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Image
  8. 8.0 8.1 "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVRQ-ZPRG : 11 March 2018), William Mayo, 1846; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm .
  9. 9.0 9.1 Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1850; Census Place: Lafayette Ward 1, Tippecanoe, Indiana; Roll: M432_175; Page: 60A; Image: 124 Ancestry Record 8054 #2376387
  10. Ancestry.com. Michigan, County Marriage Records, 1822-1940 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Ancestry Record 61374 #520083
  11. "Minnesota Territorial Census, 1857," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:3DMS-P6Z : 9 August 2017), William Mayo, ; citing line 14, NARA microfilm publication T1175 (Washington D.C.: Central Plains Region, National Archives, n.d.); FHL microfilm 944,287.
  12. "United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4LT-JD8 : 14 December 2017), William Mayo, 1860.
  13. Ancestry.com. U.S. General Land Office Records, 1776-2015 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; Washington D.C., USA; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes Ancestry Record 1246 #6538232
  14. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Image
  15. "Minnesota State Census, 1875," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MKNG-FHT : 30 July 2017), W W Mayo, Rochester City, Olmsted, Minnesota; citing p. 545, line 29, volume Olmsted County, State Library and Records Service, St.Paul; FHL microfilm 0565725.
  16. "Minnesota State Census, 1865 ," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SPS7-2CB : 10 February 2018), William Mayo in household of Doctor W Mayo, Rochester, Olmsted, Minnesota, United States; citing volume 7, line 74, State Library and Records Service, St.Paul; FHL microfilm 565,715.
  17. "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZ9J-QKP : 29 August 2017), William Mayo, 1880; citing enumeration district ED 215, sheet 458A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d), roll 0628; FHL microfilm 1,254,628.
  18. "United States Census, 1870", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDHH-BCM : 7 June 2019), William Mayo, 1870.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 'Dr. Will' Dies; Board to Rule Mayo's Clinic; Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York; 29 Jul 1939. Accessed via Newspapers.com 15 Aug 2019.
    'Dr. Will' Dead; Board to Rule Mayo's Clinic Clipping
  20. "Minnesota State Census, 1895," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MQ69-HHH : 3 April 2016), W W Mayo, Rochester city, Ward 01, Olmsted, Minnesota; citing p. 43, line 16, State Library and Records Service, St.Paul; FHL microfilm 565,792.
  21. "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M2GB-64W : accessed 15 August 2019), William W Mayo in household of David M Berkman, Rochester Ward 2, Olmsted, Minnesota, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 115, sheet 11B, family 213, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 713; FHL microfilm 1,374,726.
  22. "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M937-R2V : accessed 15 August 2019), William W Mayo in household of David M Berkman, Rochester city Ward 2, Olmsted, Minnesota, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 116, sheet 12B, family 261, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,779.
  23. Ancestry.com. Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Image
  24. Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929 [database on-line]. Ancestry Record 7833 #86035
  25. "Minnesota Deaths and Burials, 1835-1990," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FD9J-KVN : 8 August 2019), William Worrell Mayo, 06 Mar 1911; citing Olmsted, Minnesota, reference 8812; FHL microfilm 2,138,935.

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Images: 4
William Mayo
William Mayo

Mayo Clinic Graphic
Mayo Clinic Graphic

Dr. W.W. Mayo Dies in Rochester
Dr. W.W. Mayo Dies in Rochester

'Dr. Will' Dead; Board to Rule Mayo's Clinic
'Dr. Will' Dead; Board to Rule Mayo's Clinic


On 23 Aug 2019 at 17:57 GMT Megan (Smith) Tremelling wrote:

If anyone has information about the early Mayo nursing staff, please let me know! Family history tells that my great-great-aunt Elizabeth Shea McCormick (Shea-1726, 1875-1949) worked as a nurse "for the original Drs. Mayo," and I would love to know more. She was not one of the nursing sisters.

On 22 Jul 2019 at 18:48 GMT Abby (Brown) Glann wrote:

Hi there profile managers! We'll be featuring William's profile August 21st as our Example Profile of the Week as long as we can get him connected by then. Feel free to do some sprucing up between now and then. I'll stop by closer to the date to make sure everything's ready to go.

Thanks! Abby

Rejected matches › George W Moye (1817-aft.1880)

William is 22 degrees from Tanya Lowry, 16 degrees from Charles Tiffany and 19 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.