Dr. Thomas Blackwood Family Papers,   1826-1971, and undated
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History

Biography:

Dr. Thomas Blackwood (circa 1800- ) was a physician in Ann Arbor and later, Ypsilanti, Michigan. Until 1845 he practiced traditional medicine. In 1845 he began practicing homeopathic medicine. Blackwood was quite successful at it and in 1847 added a partner, Dr. Isaac N. Eldridge.

In 1849 Blackwood was hit with Gold Fever. He purchased passage on the Loo Choo, a sailing vessel, and left New York City on March 8, 1849. After an arduous voyage, he arrived in San Francisco on September 15, 1849. Blackwood began prospecting on the Tulumne River. With others, he worked on building an expensive dam by which they hoped to find a lot of gold. However, the rainy season came early and destroyed the dam in December, ruining his chances for success and his finances. He then left for San Francisco where he met friends from the Loo Choo. With loans from these friends, Blackwood returned to the Tulumne River. There he apparently was unsuccessful because he returned to Ann Arbor and his practice by the autumn of 1850. At some time afterwards, Blackwood left for California via the overland route with his wife, Jane Osburn Blackwood, two sons, and two daughters. He then set up practice in Sacramento, dying shortly afterwards of malignant fever. His family then returned home to Ann Arbor.

Some of Blackwood’s letters to his wife about his travels to and experiences in California were published in the Washtenaw Whig in 1849 and 1850, as was part of his journal from his voyage on the Loo Choo.

(This information from Letters home: the story of Ann Arbor’s Forty-niners by Russell F. Bidlack in the Clarke Historical Library. Photocopies of relevant information in this book have been added to the Family History folder in the collection.)