Elisha Bartlett, the son of Otis and Waite Buffum Bartlett, was born in Smithfield, Rhode Island, on October 6, 1804. He attended a Quaker school in New York, had several medical internships, received an M.D. from Brown University in 1826, and studied medicine in Paris from around 1826-1827. Upon his return, he moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he established a local practice and developed an interest in local politics. Bartlett became Lowell's first mayor in 1836 and served two terms in the Massachusetts state legislature in the 1840s. In addition to practicing medicine, he taught at the Berkshire Medical Institution, Transylvania University, Vermont Medical College, the University of Maryland, the University of Louisville, New York University, and Columbia College. He published extensively during his life. He and his wife, Elizabeth Slater, married in 1829 and had 2 children. Elisha Bartlett died on July 19, 1855.
Thomas Buffum, Waite Buffum Bartlett's brother and uncle of Elisha Bartlett, was born on June 2, 1776. He and his wife, Maria, lived in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and had five children: Horace, John, James, Thomas A., and David. Horace, John, and James all moved to Illinois around the 1830s, and to California by the late 1840s.