Milton’s Dr. John H. Twombly (1848-1927)

By Muriel Bristol | January 27, 2021

John Herbert Twombly was born in Dover, NH, October 17, 1848, son of John and Charlotte (Drew) Twombly.

JOHN HERBERT TWOMBLY. The son of John and Charlotte (Drew) Twombly, was born in Dover, N.H., October 17, 1848. He prepared for college at Gilmanton Academy. After graduation he studied medicine at Dover, N.H., and attended lectures at Harvard Medical School until February, 1872, at which time he received his degree. The next seven months he was assistant to Dr. Jasper H. York of Dover, N.H.; was in private practice in Brooklyn, N.Y., from October, 1872, to January, 1874, when he received an appointment at King’s County Lunatic Asylum, Flatbush, N.Y., for six months. In October, 1874, he was appointed assistant physician at Michigan Asylum for the Insane, Kalamazoo, Mich. (Dartmouth College, 1913).

No changes have occurred in the staff of resident officers. So much of the time and attention of the medical officers was occupied in conducting the largely increased correspondence of the Institution, in receiving the friends of patients, and in transcribing the clinical notes and daily records, that it became necessary to secure the services of a special assistant. Dr. John H. Twombly, previously connected with an eastern hospital, was accordingly appointed in the spring of 1875, and has rendered very acceptable service in the Male Department In April, 1876, Dr. Edward A. Adams was selected to act as assistant physician in the Female Department during the temporary absence of Dr. Emerson, and discharged his duties with great credit to himself and to our entire satisfaction. The corps of employés is complete, and many have acquired a valuable experience by a long term of service. We feel assured the attendants and assistants as a body are efficient, and are entitled to our commendation (Michigan Asylum, 1877).

Dr. John H. Twombly, who had served acceptably as assistant physician [at the Michigan Asylum] for three years, was compelled to leave the institution in July [1878] on account of ill health (Michigan State Legislature, 1879).

John H. Twombly married in Milton, July 11, 1878, Frances W. ‘Fanny” Plummer. He was aged twenty-nine years, and she was aged twenty-seven years. She was born in Milton, February 28, 1851, daughter of Enoch W. and Orinda (Ayer) Plummer.

He entered the drug business in Newmarket, N.H., in October, 1879, and continued until October, 1887 (Dartmouth College, 1913). 

John H. Twombly, a druggist, aged thirty-two years (b. NH), headed a Newmarket, NH, household at the time of the Tenth (1880) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Francis W. Twombly, keeping house, aged twenty-nine years (b. NH).

Alvah H. Place of Strafford, NH, “came to Newmarket in 1882 to learn the drug business with Dr. J.H. Twombly” (Portsmouth Herald, June 18, 1931). (Place would become later a local Judge).

Pulmonary weakness kept him on a farm [from October, 1887,] until the fall of 1890, when he purchased an interest in the same store (sold in 1887) and continued until April, 1895, when he returned to Milton, N.H., and remained on a farm for health reasons until December of that year (Dartmouth College, 1913).

HERE AND THERE. … Dr. Twombly, the Grand Marshal, is well known to people in this vicinity, having married Miss Fannie Plumer of Milton, and spent much time hereabout. He is an accomplished gentlemen whom one cannot see too often, and is high in Masonic, as in social and professional circles (Farmington News, April 15, 1892).

MILTON. Dr. Twombly, a druggist at Newmarket, spent Sunday with his wife at Plumer’s ridge (Farmington News, August 3, 1894).

At that time [December 1895] he went to East Concord, N.H., to care for a brother-in-law [Joseph E. Plummer] who was ill with pulmonary tuberculosis and who died in 1899. The same year the death of another brother-in-law [Samuel W. Wallingford] brought him to Milton, where he has assisted his sister [sister-in-law] in managing her farm (Dartmouth College, 1913).

New Hampshire passed a medical licensing law, March 1, 1897, which required medical practitioners to be tested, licensed and registered as of September 1, 1897. (Charles William Gross, William Emerson Pillsbury, and Frank Sherman Weeks, of Milton Mills, and Malcolm A.H. Hart, Charles Dana Jones, and John Herbert Twombly, of Milton, were all rated “A”- they were already in practice prior to the passage of the law – i.e., they were “grandfathered in” and did not have to pass the new examination) (NH State Board of Education, 1906).

Mary B. [(Plummer)] Wallingford, a farmer, aged fifty-five years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. Her household included her brother-in-law, John H. Twombly, a physician (retired), aged fifty-one years (b. NH), and her sister (his wife of twenty years), Frances W. [(Plummer)] Twombly, aged forty-nine years (b. NH). Mary B. Wallingford owned their farm, free-and-clear.

John H. Twombly, of Milton, published a medical case study, in January 1909, concerning the tuberculous enlargement of the cervical glands of his patient, who he identified as “F.W.T.,” i.e., the patient was his wife, Frances W. Twombly. He described the patient as being 5′ 6″ tall, and weighing 117 pounds. She had been married thirty years (Materia Medica, 1909).

Mary B. [(Plummer)] Wallingford, a farmer, aged sixty-five years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. Her household included her brother-in-law, John H. Twombly, a home farm helper, aged sixty-one years (b. NH), her sister (his wife of twenty years), Frances W. [(Plummer)] Twombly, aged fifty-nine years (b. NH), and her sister-in-law, Susan [(Pecker)] Plummer, a widow, aged seventy years (b. NH). Mary B. Wallingford owned their farm, free-and-clear.

Dr. John H. Twombly appeared in the Milton directory of 1912, as retired, with his house on Plummer’s Ridge, near the schoolhouse. (Mary B. Wallingford, widow of Samuel W., kept a summer boarding house on Plummer’s Ridge, near the schoolhouse).

His physical health is better now than for years. He has held no public positions, although several times offered. In fraternal societies, he is a Mason. He is now living an economical, quiet life, believing he still has a bright future, and still believes in Dartmouth and the class of ’68 (Dartmouth College, 1913). 

Mary B. [(Plummer)] Wallingford, a widow, aged seventy-five years (b. NH), headed a Milton household at the time of the Fourteenth (1920) Federal Census. Her household included her brother-in-law, John H. Twombly, a farmer, aged seventy-one years (b. NH), her sister, Frances W. [(Plummer)] Twombly, aged sixty-eight years (b. NH), and her sister-in-law, Susan E. [(Pecker)] Plummer, a widow, aged eighty years (b. NH). Mary B. Wallingford owned their farm on the Plummer’s Ridge Road, free-and-clear.

Susan E. (Pecker) Plummer died on Plummer’s Ridge in Milton, February 29, 1920, aged eight years, six months. She had lived there for twenty years, i.e., since the death of her husband, Joseph E. Plummer.

John H. Twombly, M.D., died in the Masonic Home, at 813 Beach Street, in Manchester, NH, March 2, 1927, aged seventy-eight years, four months, and thirteen days. (He had resided there for one year (The headline of the obituary that follows, although not its content, was in error regarding the place of his death)).

DR. JOHN H. TWOMBLY DIES AT DOVER, N.H. DOVER, N.H., March 3 –  Dr. John H. Twombly, who died at the Masonic Home in Manchester last evening, was a native of Dover, born Oct 17, 1848, the son of John and Charlotte (Drew) Twombly. He was a descendant of Ralph Twombly, who came from England and settled at Dover Neck about 1650. On the maternal side he was descendent from Lieut. John Drew of Dover, an officer of the Indian Wars. Dr. Twombly graduated from Dartmouth in 1868 and from the Harvard Medical School in 1872. He first practiced in Brooklyn and later was on the staff of the insane asylum at Kalamazoo, Mich., after which he followed his profession in New Market. He owned a drug store there. He was affiliated with New Market and Dover Masonic bodies, and was the oldest living eminent commander of St. Paul Commandery, K.T., of this city. The body will be brought here tomorrow and will later be interred in Pine Hill Cemetery with Knight Templar Rites (Boston Globe, March 4, 1927).

Mrs. Frances Twombly appeared in the Manchester, NH, directories of 1928, 1929, 1930, 1932, and 1933, as resident at 813 Beech street. (The Masonic Home appeared on Beech street, between Sagamore and Salmon streets. Her sister, Mary B. Wallingford, joined her there in or around 1932).

Frances Twombly, a widow, aged seventy-nine years (b. NH), boarded in the Masonic Home in Manchester, NH, at the time of the Fifteenth (1930) Federal Census. She was one of twenty-five boarders there, fourteen of whom were males and eleven were females. (Their average age was 79.5 years). The home had a resident head, Mary M. Ormiston, superintendent, aged sixty years (b. Scotland), and five servants, including a cook, assistant cook, waitress, maid, and laundress.

Frances W. (Plummer) Twombly died of heart disease in the Masonic Home, at 813 Beach Street, in Manchester, NH, March 22, 1933, aged eighty-two years, one month, and thirteen days. (She had resided there for six years). (Mary B. (Plummer) Wallingford died also in the Masonic Home in Manchester, NH, September 22, 1939).


Dartmouth College. (1913). Biographical Sketches of the Class of 1868, Dartmouth College: With Historical Notes of the College, 1864-1913. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2012, September 30). John Herbert Twombly. Retrieved from

Materia Medica. (1909). Clinical Excerpts. Retrieved from

Michigan Asylum for the Insane. (1877). Report of the Trustees. Retrieved from

Michigan State Legislature. (1879). Joint Documents of the State of Michigan. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

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