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Dr. Christopher Graham: Physician, Horticulturist, Farming Advocate, and Sports Enthusiast.
April 3, 1856 Christopher Graham was born in Cortland County, NY, the son of Jane Twenty man Graham and Joseph Graham. As an infant, he moved with his family to Olmsted County, Minn. (From Mayo Historical Suite, written by Mayo staff.) There were thirteen children in the Graham family. His parents, also born in England, had come from New York to pioneer in Minnesota in 1856. Mrs. Graham had long been one of the community’s favorite midwives and had brought two hundred and forty children into the world without losing one of them. (“The Doctor’s Mayo”, 1969)
1887 Christopher had yet to find a niche that fitted him. When he was twenty-six he decided de did not want to be a farmer and went to study at the state university, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. (“The Doctor’s Mayo”, 1969)
1892 Two years of academy teaching convinced him that he did not want to be a schoolmaster either, so he entered the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and received his degree. (“The Doctor’s Mayo”, 1969)
1892-1895 At the time of his sister’s marriage to Charles Mayo he was teaching veterinary science in the School of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota. But he was not happy, for the course in physiology at the University of Pennsylvania had made him sure that he wanted to be a Doctor of Human Medicine.The Mayo’s told “Kit” that if he would go back to Pennsylvania and take the additional year of work needed for the Medical degree, he could work with them when he was through. He jumped at the chance, spent the summer studying bacteriology in Dr. Hewitt’s laboratory at Red Wing, re-entered the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, and graduated the following June a full-fledged Doctor of Medicine.Dr. Christopher Graham joined the growing Mayo practice as Will and Charlie’s second partner.Most of the pregnancy cases fell to Dr. Graham, and he liked them; given his choice, he would have become a specialist in obstetrics, but developments turned him into a specialist in differential diagnosis instead. (“The Doctor’s Mayo”, 1969)
August 1895 Dr. Graham had learned some of the new laboratory techniques in his medical courses, and when he was taken formally into the Mayo partnership, he began at once to apply them – in a new laboratory that had been fitted up alongside his examining room on the second floor of the Mayo offices.Dr. Graham continued to work in gastric analysis, hoping that more precise determinations could be developed. Those were the meager beginnings of clinical pathology in the Mayo practice. (“The Doctor’s Mayo”, 1969)January 4, 1899Dr. Graham was married to Miss Elizabeth Blanche Brackenridge of Rochester, Minn. The Grahams had a son Malcolm B. Graham and a daughter Elizabeth who married G.M. Lowry. Elizabeth (Graham) Lowry had two daughters, Louise and Margaret. (From Mayo Historical Suite, written by Mayo staff.)
October 1919 Dr. Graham interest in farm affairs prompts great gift of fairgrounds to Olmsted County
June 20, 1952 Dr. Graham died unexpectedly at his home. He was 96 years old. (From Post-Bulletin front page headline/article.)
(Excerpts from interview with Louise Larsen)
Tell me a little bit about what you remember of your Grandfather, Dr. Christopher Graham.
"He loved flowers particularly Gladiolas, Peonies, and Dahlias. I remember he planted beautiful flower gardens!"
"He enjoyed farming and was an advocate for the development of agriculture and the related industries. He wanted to educate kids to appreciate farming."
What do you think people don't know about Dr. Graham?
"He was also a huge sports enthusiast and was on the very 1st University of Minnesota football team. He loved sports and coached football at a private school near Faribault, MN."
Why do you think that your Grandfather gifted this land to the Olmsted County Agricultural Association?
"He gifted the property now known as Graham Park because he wanted Rochester to have a place to come together as a community and learn about each other."
"His aim was education! He would want Graham Park to be an area where kids could learn about things."
Dr. Christopher Graham accomplished much in his lifetime. What do you think was his main focus?
"He was very focused on education. He made sure that all 12 of his brothers and sisters went to college. He taught at the County School, which now sits on the Olmsted County Historical Society site. My mother (Elizabeth) had it moved there after my grandfather died. He wanted all children to have the opportunity to learn."