HORATIO B. BUCK, M. D. - Not by the boundaries of Illinois is the reputation of Dr. Horatio B. Buck, of Springfield, limited, for his prominence in his chosen profession, the breadth of his learning and his splendid success have gained him a name and fame known throughout the country, while his contributions to medical literature have been of value in promoting the efficiency of a calling, the value of which to mankind has never been overestimated. From the time when, as a representative of the government, he came to superintend army surgical work in Springfield, down to the present, Dr. Buck has been accounted one of the leading residents of the capital city of Illinois.
Far distant, in the little village of Acton, York county, Maine, he was born, his natal day being January 27, 1832. His father, Dr. Reuben Buck, was a native of Massachusetts and of Scotch lineage. He acquired an academic education, prepared for the practice of medicine in Boston, and then, when still a young man, removed to Acton, Maine, where he opened an office and engaged in practice for many years, advancing steadily to a prominent position in the ranks of the medical fraternity, and at the same time devoting his time and energies to the general welfare with a helpfulness and devotion that made him a valued citizen. He married Alice Jaquith, who was also a native of Massachusetts, but was of English descent.
Reared amid the refining influences of a good home and in an atmosphere of culture, Horatio Buck acknowledges his indebtedness to his early surroundings for many of his strong characteristics. When he had mastered the branches of learning taught in the common schools, he entered an academy and at the age of nineteen began the study of medicine under the direction of his father and brother, who were associated in practice and who directed his reading until he entered college. In the meantime, while pursuing his studies at home he engaged in teaching a district school in Lebanon and in instructing a private class in Acton. Then came his matriculation in the medical department of Bowdoin College, which he later left to enter the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, for that city was then considered the center of medical lore and the graduates of its institutions had a prestige hardly accorded to the alumni of other institutions. He began practice in Philadelphia and soon secured a large and growing
practice, but in 1862, when the need of surgeons in the army became urgent, he put aside all business and personal considerations, and going to Washington there offered his aid to the government.
Through the succeeding six months Dr. Buck was on duty in the Columbian College Hospital in Washington, after which he took the necessary examination for a surgeon's commission in the army, procured his commission in the United States volunteer rank, signed by President. Lincoln, making his position equivalent to the regular army rank, and went to the front with the Second Army Corps as surgeon in charge of its regular artillery. Subsequent to the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia the artillery of the corps was consolidated into a brigade of six batteries, of which he had full charge while on duty in the field. He was with the Army of the Potomac throughout its campaigns of 1863, and late in the following autumn, after going into winter quarters, applied for a transfer to a post which would admit of larger hospital experience. His request was granted, he being appointed surgeon-in-chief of the central rendezvous of the Illinois troops at Springfield. Arrived upon his new field of labor, he found a
condition which challenged the highest exertion of his professional and executive abilities. The sick and wounded soldiers were miserably housed in common barracks, receiving insufficient medical and surgical aid, but Dr. Buck soon changed all this. He prepared plans and specifications, calling for nine spacious and modern hospital buildings, secured the government's approval and supervised their speedy construction. The new buildings were planned with a view to the sanitary needs and mental well-being of the disabled soldiers, even to the details of tasteful decoration in the environing grounds; and the fact of their beneficence was emphasized by the immediate reduction of mortality by over fifty per cent. In connection with this work Dr. Buck also had charge of the sick at the officers' headquarters and at the Soldiers' Home at Springfield. He was later transferred from Springfield to Madison, Wisconsin, where, in connection with Dr. Culbertson, of Ohio, he was for six months engaged in closing up an
extensive general hospital.
But Dr. Buck had become strongly attached to Springfield, and as soon as his labors in behalf of the government were completed he returned to this city, where he has resided continuously since the fall of 1865. Opening an office, it was not long before he had an extensive private practice and was accorded a most prominent position as a representative of the medical fraternity, and the favorable judgment which the public passed upon him in the early days of his professional career here has never been set aside or in any degree modified, in fact has grown stronger with the passing years, as the Doctor has advanced in his chosen lifework as the result of broad reading, varied experience and thorough understanding of the great principles of the science of medicine. He keeps abreast with the best thinking men of the profession through his membership in the American Medical Association, with which he has long been identified, and at its assembly in Philadelphia, in 1876, he represented the Illinois State Medical
Society, of which he was the vice-president. He has also been the president of the Tri-State Medical Society, and with the exception of the period of President Cleveland's administrations he has been a member of the pension board since 1877, and for some years has been its chief executive officer. In 1891 he was appointed medical director of the Franklin Life Insurance Company of Springfield, in which capacity his duties are now making heavy demands upon his time, owing to the growth of the company's business.