The hunters, traders, and trappers had gone to the Mackinac trading post in Michigan that spring to sell their winter’s goods and replenish their stocks. Several gathered in the store, bartering, jostling, renewing friendships and trying to conduct a little business. Suddenly a shot rang out and a nineteen-year-old trapper, Alexis St. Martin, sank to the floor, wounded. A doctor, summoned immediately, dressed the wound but told the crowd, “This man cannot live thirty-six hours.” But he did live although his wound never completely healed. He became a pioneering experiment and the doctor who pronounced him mortally wounded became a pioneering physician. The doctor was William Beaumont, Connecticut-born, who packed all of his belongings – a barrel of cider, $100, and a sled – and rode to Champlain, New York, to teach school. A few years later he decided to go into medicine. Two years of study at St. Albans, Vermont, qualified him to join the army as an assistant surgeon. He resigned from the army to practice in Plattsburg, New York, but couldn’t make a living. So he returned to the army and became the post surgeon at Fort Mackinac.
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