1851: Marriage to Louise Mayo #ThrowbackThursday

Handwritten record of W. W. Mayo’s marriage to Louise Wright in 1851.

On February 2, 1851, Dr. William Worrall Mayo married Louise Abigail Wright. Unlike her immigrant spouse, she was of old pioneer American stock, having grown up in Jordan, New York, near Syracuse.

At age 18, Louise traveled more than 500 miles via the Erie Canal and covered wagons to modern-day Michigan and Indiana. (Photo courtesy of Granger Collection, NY.)

At the age of 18, Louise left home and traveled more than 530 miles via canal boats and covered wagons to southwest Michigan, where she joined relatives in Galien Woods. She later moved with them to La Porte, Indiana, where she met her future husband.

Like many children, particularly girls at this time, Louise did not attend school but rather was taught at home. Nevertheless, she loved reading and could converse on a wide range of subjects. She enjoyed botany—the source of many 19th century medications—and astronomy. She enjoyed the company of other people and brought energy, good cheer, and common sense to help those in need.

Throughout their 60-year marriage, Louise and William made a strong team. In this timeline, we will see how Dr. and Mrs. Mayo supported each other and inspired their sons Drs. Will and Charlie. The Mayo brothers, in turn, embedded their parents’ values into Mayo Clinic that bears their family name. As Dr. Charlie said, "The biggest thing Will and I ever did was to pick the father and mother we had."

Alyssa Frank

Alyssa Frank is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She leads marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Alyssa has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2015.