1892 5

Dr. Marilla D. Wilson (October 21, 1825 – April 17, 1902) was one of the first woman doctors (possibly the first*) in Oakland. She established and ran the Wilson Cancer Hospital.

Dr. Wilson was born Marilla D. Hemenway to Samuel Hemenway and Maria Wells (Hemenway) in Vermont. In the 1830s the family moved to Ohio, and in 1848 she married William Wilson (1820 – 1876) of Kirtland, Ohio. She also began her medical studies in Ohio, at the Homeopathic Medical College of Cleveland.

The Wilsons had four sons: Arthur L. Wilson (1849 – 1873), Alton S. Wilson (1851 – 1861), Ander W. Wilson (1854 - 1931), Arno Hemenway Wilson (1856 – May 26, 1926). 3,5

The Wilsons moved to Iowa where Marilla finished her medical studies. They came west to California in 1874, and William died in 1876 in Marysville. Dr. Wilson then settled in Oakland in 1877. 1,5

Ander was married to Sophia Wealy (Wilson) by Rev. J.K. McLean in 1887. Arno married Ethel Brodt (Wilson), daughter of artist Helen Tanner Brodt and educator A.W. Brodt, in 1888.

In 1886, Dr. Wilson established the Wilson Cancer Hospital; an 1888 ad says it was at 804 - 12th Street. Dr. Wilson attended Walter Blair in his last days in January 1888.

Later in 1888, she sued the Fourteenth Street Railroad after she fell as she tried to alight from a streetcar. The step was broken, and she fell and broke her hip and leg. The suit was for $50,000, and Thomas Smith was her lawyer. 6 She was awarded $10,500, but the company appealed, and Smith died. She eventually was awarded $13,000, but E.C. Robinson, Smith's former law partner, filed an attachment on $6,000 of it. But Smith and Robinson had ended their partnership while the case was still pending, and Melvin Chapman did the work on the appeal after Smith died. 7

On January 26, 1890, Dr. Wilson married Dr. Gabriel Henry Stockham (1815 – 1897). Judge Frank B. Ogden performed the ceremony. 2 The doctors ran the Wilson Cancer Hospital at 765 - 13th Street. 4

1890 ad 4

On August 21, 1894, Dr. Wilson was appointed postmaster of Atlas, a small town in Napa County. She had envisioned a mountainside retreat for patients to recover, and her son Arno and daughter-in-law Ethel purchased land on Atlas Peak and created the Wilson Inn. 8

Death and Burial

Dr. Stockham died in 1897 and is buried in Napa. Dr. Wilson died in 1902 and is buried in Plot 43, Lot 110, at Mountain View Cemetery.

* The bio on FindAGrave says she was the first woman doctor in Oakland. She seems to have arrived around the same time as Dr. Chloe Annette Buckel.

Links and References

  1. Dr. Marilla D Hemenway Wilson Stockham on FindAGrave
  2. Marriage Record Oakland Tribune February 8, 1890
  3. Died Oakland Enquirer April 8, 1802
  4. ad Oakland Tribune September 16, 1890
  5. The Bay of San Francisco Lewis Publishing Company, 1892
  6. A Doctor's Injury Oakland Tribune August 16, 1888
  7. E.C. Robinson Suing for a Fee in a Railroad Case San Francisco Call August 21, 1891
  8. The Women of Wilson's Inn Napa Valley Register March 25, 2019