William Edward Best was born to Conrad and Catherine (Louks) Best in Dereham Township, Oxford, Ontario, Canada. Conrad and Catherine (Louks) Best had eight children; Sarah Ann (1824), Miriam,(1826) John Landon,( 1827) Hiram (1830), Thomas(1834), Catherine (1836), William Edward (1839), Caroline (1842). In the Canadian 1851 Census, Wm Edward is listed with his parents and siblings. He is 13 years old.
The following is an edited transcription of text from “Portrait and Biographical Record of Genesee, Lapeer and Tuscola Counties, Michigan” available free on Google Books. Some of the dates here conflict with dates from other sources.
“William E. BEST, M. D., of North Branch Township, Lapeer County, was born in Oxford County, Dereham Township, Canada, January 20, 1840, and is a the son of Conrad and Catherine (Louks) Best. The father was born and reared in Germany, and the mother was native of the Green Mountain State (Vermont). Conrad Best came to this country when only a lad and here undertook farming and it was upon his father’s farm that our subject had his early training and education, attending first the common-schools and when twelve years of age entering Victoria college at Coburg, of which institution his father was one of the founders.”
Note added by a George Best, a Best Family Historian: His father was a farmer in Dereham Township, Oxford County, Ontario (he did not live in Michigan as the Biographical account implies) and we have no knowledge of his being the founder of a college but perhaps he was a contributor.
“A year later he entered the University of Toronto, where he went to prepare himself for the ministry, but after two years in that institution he came to the decision that he was not a fit subject to undertake the sacred duties of the profession and change his object in life.”
“The young man now took a course of study at Rolph’s Medical School in Toronto after which he entered the University of Philadelphia whence he graduated in 1860, being then less than twenty-one years of age. Having now received his degree of doctor of Medicine, he returned to Canada, and as his father had died during the year he devoted himself for some time to settling up the estate and remained there for two years. In 1863 he returned to the States and took a position as Assistant surgeon at St. John’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was retained for six months, but as he was dissatisfied here he sought and obtained another position as Assistant Surgeon in the United States Navy which he filled until the close of the war.”
“In the fall of 1865 the young doctor came to North Branch and began the general practice of medicine which he has since continued here without change of residence. He was married February 22, 1868 to Elisabeth Dunham of North Branch, a daughter of Nathan Dunham of this place. To her was born one child–Elizabeth B, but when this unfortunate little one was but three days old it was bereaved of a mother’s love and care as Mrs. Best died April 3, 1870.”
Note added by George Best: I have since learned that her date of death was 6 Apr 1868.
“Dr. Best’s second marriage took place December 25, 1871, and she who became his wife was Rachel Jane Lamiman of North Branch. She is now the mother of one child–Alena Maud, who was born March 14, 1873. They have lost three children, all dying in infancy.”
(This excerpt was shared on Ancestry by George Best and we have been in contact and compared notes several times…
The following Bio was found on Findagrave:
“He was a Physician and Surgeon. He immigrated to the United States in 1863, he served in the US Navy from 1863-1864 during the Civil War. He married Elizabeth Dunham on the 22nd of February 1867 in North Branch, Lapeer, Michigan and they had one daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Best. Elizabeth died on the 06 of April 1868. He then married Rachel J. Lammiman in December of 1869. They had one daughter Alena M. Best and several children that died in infancy. On the 15th of February 1894 he married Emma Nichols in Essex, Essex, Ontario, Canada. There were no children to this marriage.”
William Edward later left Michigan for Oregon where he settled in Cottage Grove. He continued to practice Medicine but it appears that he never obtained a license to do so with the state of Oregon. There are a number of newspaper article about trials in Oregon which seem to refer to these event. He was always acquitted..This maybe a good blog for a different time.
One hundred and twelve years ago, Dr William Edward Best, died in his office in Cottage Grove, Oregon.
Dr. William E. Best is buried in the Maple Grove Cemetery in North Branch, Michigan in the Best Plot.
Rest in peace, William Edward Best!
William Edward Best was my fourth Great Grand Uncle.
Special Thanks to George Best for sharing so much of this data on Ancestry so that Best Descendants like myself can find information about our family members.