Dr. William Johnson Beattie

Dr. William Johnson Beattie

Dr. Beattie was the "prime backer" for the creation of Littleton Hospital. William Johnson Beattie, M.D., came to Littleton in 1889 from New York City with surgical skills. He was born in Ryegate, Vermont September 6, 1865, a graduate of St. Johnsbury Academy, and Bellevue Medical College in New York City.

A medical emergency at the Rocks Estate in Bethlehem convinced Dr. Beattie and the family that built the Rocks Estate that the Littleton area needed a hospital. John Jacob Glessner, a Chicago industrialist, built the Rocks Estate in the late 1800s as a summer home for his family. In the early years of the 20th century, Dr. Beattie performed an emergency appendectomy on a member of the family staff on the kitchen table at the family's West Farm residence. Mr. Glessner generously donated $10,000 to start the Littleton Hospital Association. In 1906 Dr. Beattie, as President of the Littleton Hospital Association, worked to get support of the general public for the establishment of a hospital. Dr. Beattie, realizing the positive effect of good nursing, established a school for nurses and provided nurses' training at the hospital. He was the Medical Director of the hospital and president of the Board of Trustees from the first establishment of the Littleton Hospital to his untimely death in 1913.

Before coming to Littleton, Dr. Beattie went to Oxford, England to visit Sir William Osler, frequently described as "The Father of Modern Medicine". Osler advised Dr. Beattie on a course of study which took him to Vienna and Berlin. In Berlin he studied under Dr. Piorkowski, who had a turtle serum that he claimed cured tuberculosis. Dr. Piorkowski trusted the ability of Dr. Beattie and taught him to make the serum. The United States welcomed Dr. Beattie with great respect upon his return to this country. Many tubercular patients from all over the country made appointments to get his help in Littleton and in NYC. "Almost every case which came under Doctors Beattie's own personal supervision has shown marked and wonderful improvement."

Dr. Beattie was actively involved in his community. He represented Littleton in the NH State Legislature from 1899-1900. He was a military aide to NH Governor Chester B. Jordan in 1901, and a general in the National Guard in 1907. Dr. Beattie sat on the board of directors of the Littleton National Bank for several years. He was a member of the Littleton Board of Trade.

Dr. Beattie also gave his time to the medical profession. He was a Grafton County coroner. He held memberships in the New Hampshire Medical Society, and the Association of Railroad Surgeons. He was also a member of the prestigious Doctor's Club of New York City, and the society connected with the famous Mayo Hospital in Minnesota.

In late September of 1913, Dr. Beattie was at the Crawford House making arrangements to move a patient. An automobile struck him, and he died instantly. Not only was he one of the best-known physician-surgeons in New Hampshire at the time, but he was a nationally recognized tuberculosis specialist. People fondly remember Dr. Beattie as a nice person who was very popular, winning friends easily and keeping them. Though he had little time for social life, his home was an open house to his friends.


Colby JE, 1984. Littleton: Crossroads of Northern New Hampshire

October 5, 1913 Courier

Granite Monthly Magazine of Literature, p. 343-347