Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gates Bezaleel Bullard (1829-1901)

Portrait courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society.

   Dartmouth graduate Gates Bezaleel Bullard is another oddly named Vermont Civil War veteran who went on to a career in public office, in his case being elected to both houses of the Vermont legislature. Following his legislative service Bullard would gain further distinction when he was named as state surgeon general, and later held the post of state commissioner for the insane for two years.
  Born in Plainfield, New Hampshire on February 1, 1829, Gates Bezaleel Bullard was the son of Jonathan and Rebecca Gates Bullard. His early education occurred in Plainfield and he would also be a student in several academies located in Vermont. Bullard decided upon a career in medicine and in 1851 began study in Newbury, Vermont. His education continued in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Woodstock Medical College, and in 1855 graduated with his degree from the medical department of Dartmouth College
   Gates B. Bullard operated his first medical practice in Canaan, Vermont, residing in that town for three years.  He later removed to East St. Johnsbury and in 1860 married to Lefie Permelia Wheeler (1839-1879), with whom he had four childrenCarlisle (1862-1864), Harry Gates (1866-1915), Rebecca (1869-1937) and Agnes Marion (1872-1958).
   At the dawn of the Civil War in 1861, Bullard was selected to be an assistant surgeon for the 15th Reg., Vermont Volunteers, serving under the command of future Vermont Governor and U.S. Senator Redfield Proctor. Two years after taking the above position Bullard was promoted to surgeon of that unit, due to the resignation of Carleton Frost. 1863 proved to be an important year for Bullard, as he began a term in the Vermont House of Representatives, having been elected the previous November. During the 1863-65 session, he sat on the committee on Roads and later returned to his medical practice in St. Johnsbury.
   Bullard continued his ascent in Vermont politics in 1866 when he won election to the state senate from Caledonia County. Bullard's one term in that body (1867-68) saw him sit on the committees on Education and Rules, and in the year following the conclusion of his term was named as Vermont state surgeon general. Holding that post from 1869-70, Bullard would advance to the post of state commissioner of the insane, serving in that capacity from 1871-72. Sources also note that for Bullard was a delegate to county and state Republican conventions on a number of occasions.
  In addition to politics Bullard also left a lasting mark in New England medical circles, being a member of the Vermont Medical Society, and held the presidency of both that group and the White Mountain Medical Society of New Hampshire. Widowed in 1879, Bullard himself died on September 4, 1901, at his home in St. Johnsbury, and was subsequently remembered as having been 
"Long ranked among the most influential in state affairs as well as the political life of his own town and county. For more than 20 years he was a leader in everything the pertained to the social and political life of St. Johnsbury."
  Shortly after his death, Bullard was interred alongside his wife Lefie at the Grove Cemetery in St. Johnsbury, with their three children also being buried here through the succeeding years. 

From the St. Johnsbury Caledonian.

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