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The history of Arizona's physicians is rich in mystery, controversy, innovation and pride. Since the settlers first inhabited the territory, physicians have been a part of Arizona's legacy. They helped shape the culture of this Great State and set the standard for the quality of care delivered to its citizens. The Physicians of Interest page on this website highlights the historical work of Arizona's physicians and the roles they played while shaping the State's future. The biography of a new physician will be added each month and in time, the page will represent a patchwork of the names and faces that brought medicine in Arizona to life.


Dr. Bernard J. D. Irwin

Arizona’s early years are woven with tales of Apaches and forts, missions and battles – and it is in this setting that the first surgery was performed in the state of Arizona. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bernard J. D. Irwin in Southern Arizona in an area now know as Sonoita, almost 150 years ago. Dr. Irwin arrived at Fort Buchanan in 1857 and, when not leading his command, had come to be known as an excellent physician and surgeon.

Dr. Irwin found his place in military history when he voluntarily took command of 14 men and began a 100-mile journey by mule to rescue 2nd Lieutenant George Bascom and 60 of his men who were trapped by the Chiricahua Apaches under Cochise. The siege began when the Apache Indians raided the ranch of John Ward on Sonoita Creek, plundering his house and releasing his livestock and horses. Dr. Irwin and his small band of men defeated the Apaches, recovering the livestock and horses belonging to John Ward. For this heroic feat, Dr. Irwin was awarded the first U. S. Medal of Honor for distinguished service.

He continued his military career through New Mexico, Kansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and states in the north, before inventing the first tent hospital at Shiloh during the Civil War. He returned to Arizona where he served as the Medical Director at Fort Whipple in Prescott until he was relieved of duty in 1885. Though a brave and decorated warrior, he found delight in the more sedate art of bird collecting and his bird collection is still held at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Dr. Irwin was a physician and surgeon who soared far beyond his time.




Other Featured Physicians
January 2005 
Mark Forrest Gordon, M.D.
December 2004 
John Handy, M.D.
November 2004 
Bernard J. D. Irwin, M.D.
October 2004 
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross M.D.
September 2004 
Victoria M Stevens, M.D.
August 2004 
July 2004 
June 2004 
May 2004 
April 2004 
March 2004 
February 2004 
January 2004 
December 2003 
November 2003 
October 2003 
September 2003 
August 2003 
July 2003 
June 2003