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MEET HISTORIC FIGURES OF FRESNO COUNTY - Dr. Lewis Leach, Fresno's First Doctor


Fresno County had been established in 1856 and, when officials got around to starting a county hospital, Dr. Leach was the logical man to take charge because he was the only doctor in the county at that time. 

When the county seat was moved to Fresno in 1874 Dr. Leach came to Fresno and set up his hospital in rented rooms.  His Bible was placed in the cornerstone of the Fresno County Courthouse.

He became one of the leading residents of Fresno. As a medical man, he realized the need for good sanitation and he started the first waterworks and served as president of the company until it was sold in 1890. 

As a successful businessman, he served as president of three early banks in Fresno.  He aided also in the formation of the first gas, light and street railway companies and served as president of each at one time or another during those difficult early years.


He also was a leader in he movement which led to establishment of the Fresno County Fairgrounds. 


But his first love was the county hospital.  He saw the first hospital constructed on the block bounded by Mariposa, Tulare, P and Q streets and later the establishment of a hospital on Ventura Avenue. 

He had practiced medicine in St. Louis for two years before pushing west in 1850. He graduated from the University of Missouri School of Medicine 1848, after moving to Missouri from New York.  He was born in Pennsylvania and went to New York when he was 13 years old. 

Source: Fresno Bee, April 15. 1956 page 14-A



1823: Born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania

  • Had at least one sister (possibly younger) and one brother (likely older)

  • Attended Manington Academy


1836: Family moved to Binghamton, New York


1840: Moved to St. Louis, Missouri (alone)

  • Attended school


1848: Graduated as Medical Doctor

  • Practiced in St. Louis for 2 years before moving farther west


1850: Comes to California

  • Joined wagon train to Utah

  • Continued on southern route to CA

    • From Mojave, up Tejon Pass, to Visalia, to Millerton (where he settled)


1850-1855: Fresno River Store

  • Leach established this trading post with James Savage


1860: Operating County Hospital at Millerton

  • Also travels as physician since no other doctors were in the area at the time


1860s: Moves to Fresno

  • Serves as Doctor/head of hospital from this point until death


1870: Census

  • Living with or near Melinda Converse (soon to be Mrs. Leach) in Fresno


1873: Marries Melinda Converse October 24, 1873


1880: Census

  • Living with Melinda “Linda” Leach on K St


1897: Dies of “Inflammatory Bowel”

  • 74 y.o.

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