Dr. Andrew F. Sheldon, one of the most renown surgeons of the Civil War, was born October 27, 1830, in the town of Huron. One of five children of Ralph and Minerva Flint Sheldon, Andrew received his early education in the local district school and Red Creek Academy. Andrew developed an interest in medicine, and after studying with Dr. Bottume, also of Huron, he entered the University of New York, from which he graduated from the medical department in 1852.
Dr. Sheldon returned to Wayne County to practice his profession and in 1855 he married Miss Lucetta Saulsbury of Clyde. Shortly after their marriage, the Sheldon’s moved to Williamson and then Junius until the outbreak of the Civil War.
In 1861, Dr. Sheldon was appointed Assistant Surgeon of the 7th N.Y. Cavalry, where he remained until they were mustered out in 1862. Dr. Sheldon was then appointed Assistant Surgeon in the 78th N.Y. Infantry and was assigned to Gen. Wadsworth’s staff in the Medical Directors Office in Washington.
From there, in 1863, Dr. Sheldon was commissioned Surgeon of U.S. Volunteers by President Abraham Lincoln, and was given charge of Campbell U.S. General Hospital in Washington. He served in this capacity until the close of the war.
During his service in the Civil War, Dr. Sheldon was credited with development of the first tent field hospitals. Because of much opposition to this revolutionary idea, Dr. Sheldon was unable to obtain the necessary funds to put his idea into practice. So sure was he that the tent field hospitals would save many lives, he financed them with his own money. After seeing how successful these hospitals became, Dr. Sheldon was reimbursed by the government. So successful were these field hospitals that the French government sent a commission to study this concept for use in its military.
Dr. Sheldon was a close friend of President Abraham Lincoln. In fact, the case of surgical instruments and sword belonging to Dr. Sheldon, now on display in the Wayne County Museum, were presented to him by President Lincoln shortly before the President left to attend a play at Ford’s Theater, April 14, 1865, the fateful night he was shot.
At the end of the Civil War, Dr. Sheldon returned to Wayne County where he resumed his practice in the hamlet of Pultneyville. He remained there for many years until he was elected Wayne County Treasurer in 1880. He then moved to Lyons where he served as Treasurer for 9 years and where he continued his practice until his death.
Dr. Andrew F. Sheldon truly was one of Wayne County’s most illustrious sons. In addition to the accomplishments listed above, Dr. Sheldon served as President of the Wayne County Soldiers and Sailors Association, was a member of the A.D. Adams Post GAR [Grand Army of the Republic], formed a Grange organization called Wayne County Fire Relief Association, was a member of the National, New York State and Wayne Co. Medical Societies and he served as Justice of the Peace up until the time of his death.
Dr. Sheldon died on January 4, 1914, at the age of 83, survived by his wife and two sons, Dr. Ralph Sheldon of Albany and Albert Sheldon of Michigan.