Nathaniel Burger Shaler

Nathaniel Burger and Ann Shaler



Information comes from the family files at the Campbell County Historical & Genealogical Society in Alexandria.

Nathaniel Burger Shaler was born July 21, 1805 in Massachusetts (Newport burial card as well as the 1850 census list him born in New York City) and went to school in Lancaster and then to Harvard College. His combative humor led him into trouble with his teachers. He then withdrew at the beginning of his last year and went to medical school. After graduating he went to Havana, where his uncle was consul with the intention of making his career there. He was successful, but in two years he started to search for some other spot.

Nathaniel arrived in Newport at the height of an Asiatic cholera epidemic and won the admiration of local people by successfully treating many of the afflicted. At that time Newport was a little village with no educated physician. On 1 October 1835 he married Ann Southgate, daughter of Richard Southgate and Ann Winston Hinde.

Children of Nathaniel Burger Shaler and Ann Hinde Southgate

1. Nathaniel Southgate Shaler-born February 20, 1841 in Newport; died 10 Apr 1906 at Cambridge Mass; m-Sophia Page
2. Richard Shaler-born 1844 in Newport; d-14 Mar 1882 and buried at Newport Cemetery in Southgate
3. Ann Shaler b-1846 in Newport; m-Albert Seaton Berry 1867
4. Mary Shaler-born 1849 in Newport
5, Minnie Shaler b-1852 in Newport

In his medical practice he was successful in difficult cases. He helped a man on the verge of collapse from cholera by reviling him as a coward until the fellow’s rage helped the reaction. At sixty years of age he removed an iron filing from a workman’s eye with the point of a common needle and this without glasses.

During a large part of his life, Nathan served as Army Surgeon at the Newport Barracks and was one of the first doctors in the country to abandon the use of bloodletting as a medical procedure. It was a convenient place to forward the sick soldiers of the Civil War, yet the recoveries were larger than in any other hospital at that time. His success was in great measure due to his distrust of remedies and in his confident use of tents, nutrition and cheerfulness.

He and his wife built a home in what is now Evergreen Cemetery, which stood until 1962, when it had to be torn down. In later life, he and his family moved into a Newport waterfront mansion.

The Shalers had a son named Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, who loved animals, and was said to have cared for as many as 1000, including a camel, an elephant and numerous fighting cocks. He would later become a brilliant Geology and Paleontology Professor at Harvard University.

Nathaniel Shaler died January 17, 1882 and was buried in the Newport Cemetery section 20 lot 4-B in Southgate.  The cemetery was later renamed Evergreen.


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