The History of MCMS

Very little is known about the early days of the Manatee County Medical Society except it was started in 1906 and its President was Dr. JB Leffingwell. More is known about Dr. Leffingwell and his incredible life in “Bradentown”.

Dr. Leffingwell was born in Louis County, Missouri. His father, General Hiram Wheller Leffingwell, had been a Union General and served in President Grant’s administration. General Leffingwell purchased 200 acres of the old Gamble Plantation and married Ellen Patten (his third wife), and named his newly subdivided land “Ellenton.”

Dr. Leffingwell obtained his undergraduate education at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and Columbia College (State University), Columbia, Missouri. He began his study of medicine in 1877 and graduated from St. Louis Medical College in 1880.

He practiced at the St. Louis Female Hospital for a year before coming to Bradentown in 1881. He was Bradentown’s first physician, but he was not readily accepted because he was a Yankee, a Republican, and a Catholic. It was said for over twenty years that Dr. Leffingwell was the most handsome man in Manatee County.

Local folklore believed when President Grant left the White House, he gave Dr. Leffingwell a hand carved, ten foot high bed with an American Eagle displayed at the top that President Grant used during his Presidency at the White House. It is believed this bed is an exact replica of a bed that President Lincoln used during his Presidency. Dr. Leffingwell’s bed is currently at the South Florida Museum.

In 1893, Dr. Leffingwell’s son, Jack, helped him hook up his drug store to his home by telephone. By 1895, he had a small switchboard in the local general store and had a telephone exchange with a line to Sarasota. By 1900, he was in great demand all the way down to the Sarasota Hotel. Dr. Leffingwell was one of the original city council members when Bradentown incorporated in 1903 and was the towns Postmaster.