William Brigham Parkinson, Sr., M. D.

From Noble Warrum, ed., Utah Since Statehood: Historical and Biographical, medical section ed. W. Brown Ewing (1919), 18788

Dr. William Brigham Parkinson, who since 1892 has been engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery in Logan and has throughout this entire period kept in touch with the trend of modern professional thought, research and investigation, was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, April 4, 1852, a son of John and Mary (Woffenden) Parkinson, both of whom were of English birth. The father was an architect and builder and, coming to the new world, started to cross the plains in 1862 but died on Malheur river, in Oregon, while crossing the plains. His wife died in St. Louis, Missouri, when Dr. Parkinson was but five years of age and he was a lad of but ten years when left an orphan.

The Doctor was tutored by John W. Chapman, of Helena, Montana, who became his foster father and with whom he remained until he reached the age of fifteen. In 1868 he took up his abode in Utah and entered the employ of the Union Pacific Railroad Company as agent at Morgan. After working for the railroad company and also in the mines, driving burros and doing other such tasks assigned him, he determined to prepare for the practice of medicine and devote his life to a professional career. He then went to Chicago, matriculating in Rush Medical College of that city, and later he became a student in the medical department of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, where he won his M. D. degree in 1892. Immediately afterward he opened an office in Logan, Utah, where he has since continuously practiced, and he has long occupied a foremost position in the ranks of the medical profession in his section of the state. Every year or two he does post-graduate work in the eastern cities of the United States and in 1914 he further studied in Berlin, Paris and Vienna. He was in Europe at the time of the outbreak of the great World war and made the trip home from Germany on the Mauretania, which was chased by submarines and was forced to change its course, compelling him to land in Canada. While Dr. Parkinson has continued in the general practice of medicine, he prefers the treatment of the eye, ear, nose, and throat and has specialized along that line, in which he has developed high efficiency. He is a member of the American Medical Association, also of the Utah State Medical Society and through the proceedings of these bodies he keeps informed concerning the last word in medical and surgical practice. He is well known as a writer on psychological subjects and upon medical themes and has been a frequent contributor to medical journals. He has likewise filled the office of city physician of Logan and he served on the draft board of Cache county. While the foregoing gives the main features in his life history, there have been various other things which have led to the shaping of his career. Left an orphan at the age of ten, he suffered abuse at the hands of a stepmother and ran away from home, after which he was bound out. In young manhood he took up the study of stenography, learning the Pitman system of shorthand, and in every possible way he utilized his chances for advancement and improvement. Before he found it possible to enter upon his college training he studied medicine under the direction of Dr. F. S. Kohler, of Logan, for five years. He thus had considerable knowledge of the science before he entered upon his training in the east. It has been said that it is under the pressure of adversity and the stimulus of opposition that the best and strongest in men is brought out and developed. The early hardships which Dr. Parkinson had to meet served to call forth his determination and to develop his ambition and as the years have passed he has made the best possible use of his time and talents.

In 1875 Dr. Parkinson was married to Miss Elizabeth Bull, a daughter of Daniel Bull, one of the prominent pioneer settlers of Utah. His family numbers eight sons and twelve daughters: William B., Jr., now a practicing physician of Lewiston, Utah; George Taggart, who is a physician and surgeon of Rexburg, Idaho; Mark T., who is engaged in the plumbing business in Salt Lake City; Fred Benson, an ophthalmologist and optician of Logan, Utah, mentioned elsewhere in this work; Lieutenant John B., a member of the United States army, now stationed at Fort Zachary Taylor in Kentucky; E. Benson, a well known baritone singer, who is now a second-year medical student in the University of Utah; Wallace B., who is attending the Agricultural College of Utah at Logan; and Don Benson, still in school at Logan.

Dr. Parkinson has long been a zealous member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and filled the office of bishop at Morgan, Utah, while in 1879 and 1880 he was on a mission for the church to England. He is a man of fine personal appearance, with snow white hair, and the kindly expression of his face at once inspires confidence in the sickroom. Extremely vigorous in mind and body, he has made continuous progress and his professional record constitutes an honor chapter in the annals of the medical profession in Utah.

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