Augustus Louis Breysacher was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
Augustus Breysacher was born in Canton, Ohio, on February 2, 1831, to German immigrants George Breysacher and Elizabeth Keller Breysacher. Breysacher had three sisters. The family moved from Ohio to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1832.
Breysacher received his general education in St. Louis, with additional courses in literature and the classics at St. Xavier College in Cincinnati, Ohio. He graduated from Missouri Medical College in St. Louis in 1859 and was certified as a chemist and pharmacist.
Immediately after graduation, Breysacher received an appointment as acting assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to Camp Alert, Kansas, on the western frontier. Upon completion of his one year of service, Breysacher returned to St. Louis and began his medical practice. With the Civil War brewing, Breysacher was offered a commission in the U.S. Army. His sympathies were with the Confederacy, however, and he enlisted in a Tennessee unit that was a part of Lieutenant General William J. Hardee’s army as staff surgeon. The end of the war found him in Greenville, North Carolina. Goodspeed describes Dr. Breysacher’s service thus: “During his service of nearly four years, he was not an hour absent from duty, which was always on the field, as surgeon successively of battery, staff, brigade and corps, with Hardee.”
While stationed in Huntsville, Alabama, Breysacher met and, in January 1867, married Caroline Drucilla Pynchon. The couple soon relocated to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where Breysacher’s practice rapidly developed. He had a serious interest in obstetrics and gynecology and soon became recognized for his proficiency in the treatment of women’s disorders.
After six years of practice in Pine Bluff, Breysacher moved his family, now including three children, a son and two daughters, to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and opened a practice on the northeast corner of Markham and Main streets. Breysacher’s reassuring manner and proficiency in German soon made him popular with the German-speaking residents of east Little Rock.
Breysacher had strong concerns about the deficiency of medical knowledge among the state’s practitioners and, in 1879, along with Philo Hooper and six other colleagues, formed a private Medical Department under the charter of the Arkansas Industrial University (now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville). Breysacher was made Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a position he held for the rest of his life. As all the founders did, Breysacher maintained a thriving practice in the city while training medical students at the school he helped to found.
A notable point of Breysacher’s career was his delivery of future general Douglas MacArthur on January 26, 1880. MacArthur’s family was stationed at the Little Rock Arsenal, and the future general was born in the Little Rock Barracks (Tower) building of that facility. Dr. Edwin Bentley, the post surgeon, provided pre-natal care but was out of town at the time of delivery. Breysacher performed a perfect delivery.
Breysacher died in his office on March 31, 1897, of heart failure. He was buried in Mount Holly Cemetery beside his wife, who had died in 1893.
For additional information:
Baird, W. David. Medical Education in Arkansas, 1879–1978. Memphis State University Press, Memphis, 1979.
Henker, Fred O. “Augustus Louis Breysacher.” Pulaski County Historical Review 48 (Summer 2000): 38–41.
Max L. Baker and Fred O. Henker
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences