Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dr. William R. Wilmer

Dr. William Wilmer was the son of the Rev. Lemuel Wilmer of Port Tobacco. He also appears to have been a prominent citizen of the town. While he isn't famous, he did achieve a large amount during his lifetime.

Pouring through the census along with information gathered from the PT Times abstracts (Thank you Elsie) gives us a view of some of the things that happened to this particular citizen.

Starting with the 1860 census, he was a 30 year old physician in Port Tobacco and again in the 1870 census. According to the work Elsie has done, he moved to Baltimore between the 1870 and 1880 census with his brother.

Before he left though, he made his mark on the town and county as a physician as well as local politician. Here's a list of some of his achievements:

1860 - Treasurer Medical & Chirurgical Society
1866 - President, Charles County Board of School Commissioners
1867/68 - One of 2 white trustees for establishment of “colored” schools in Nanjemoy and Durham districts
1871 - elected to the House of Delegates
1874 - Dr. William R. Wilmer announces Republican candidacy for Congress

This is where some interesting things happened that kind of make me scratch my head and ask "what happened?"

Dec. 1874 - William R. Wilmer & Lemuel Wilmer and others "stricken from registration lists." (Were they removed from voter lists because they had moved to Baltimore sometime during the year?).

September 1877 - Republican convention: …Dr. Wilmer resigned

October 1877 - Dr. Wilmer has been transferred from the office of the Collector of Internal Revenue, 3rd Maryland District to Night Superintendent of Baltimore Post Office. [These were remunerative political appointments that would have gone to Republicans in the years after the Civil War and before implementation of civil service procedures and termination of the 'spoils system.']

1880 - William R. Wilmer (Wilmore) living with brother Lemuel & Lemuel’s family in Baltimore. William is listed as widowed and a P.O. clerk

1883 - Is Naval officer for Port of Baltimore – no mention of when appointed

Some interesting career changes over his life. He went from a physician, to politician, to Post Office Superintendent, to PO clerk, to a Naval officer. Why all the different changes in his life? What was his reason for leaving Port Tobacco? Political? His political career does not seemed to be very distinguished. These questions can't be answered easily but I'm sure there are answers out there. The small town of Port Tobacco sure has had its share of interesting residents throughout history, Dr. Wilmer included.

- Peter

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