Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dr. Alpheus William Tucker

African American Acting Assistant Surgeon

By Reg Pitts

Alpheus William Tucker was born in Detroit sometime in 1844 or the next year; he grew up in Toledo, Ohio and attended Oberlin from 1861 to 1863 (with Charles Burleigh Purvis) before enrolling in the Iowa School of Medicine, from where he graduated, class of 1865.

After moving to Washington, D.C., he married Martha Ellen Wood on January 26, 1867; they had a daughter, Sarah Estella, born 1869 (graduated from Miner Normal School [now University of DC] class of 1889). According to the city directories, Dr Tucker practiced medicine in Washington until 1878 when he returned to Detroit; he died there of a "cold" in January of 1880, according to the U.S. Census Mortality Schedule for Wayne County, Michigan.

His widow and orphan returned to Washington where Martha moved in with her parents (George W. and Mary E. Ferguson Wood; he was a messenger for the US Dept. of the Interior), and taught school in the DC school system. Her daughter followed in her footsteps, and the resided in the LeDroit Park section of Washington. Martha Wood died on March 14, 1921, aged seventy-two (her death cert said sixty-two).

Sources: census records through; city directories through; his middle name and the names of his inlaws from the listing for Martha's death cert at


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