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Stanford University School of Medicine and the Predecessor Schools: An Historical Perspective
Part IV: Cooper Medical college 1883-1912

Chapter 28. Fateful Year 1902 - Last Days of Dr. Lane

Although Dr. Lane was a tireless worker and exceedingly productive, his health was not robust. Dr. Rixford, his surgical associate, noticed that he would from time to time leave the operating room in the midst of an operation and be gone for ten or fifteen minutes. Meanwhile the operating team would ligate small blood vessels and carry on minor parts of the procedure until Dr. Lane would return to complete the work. Dr. Rixford assumed that he had a chronic digestive disorder of some kind. Dr. Lane also suffered greatly from sciatica although few were aware of it. There is nothing more specific than the above in Dr. Lane's past medical history.[1]

In the winter of 1901-1902, Dr. Lane's strength began noticeably to fail. Long procedures left him exhausted. It was at this time that Rixford assisted him on his last operation - the removal of a cancerous breast. Dr. Lane grew so weak during the operation that he was finding it difficult to complete the dissection. At one stage he said, "Give me more light, I can't see in the depth." Among the surgical instruments on the tray there was an old pair of scissors he had used for many years. Rixford handed them to him saying, "Use these, Doctor Lane; they have been there so often they would scarcely need light." He smiled, and after the operation held up the scissors and said, "Never cut adhesive plaster with these scissors. That's what Doctor Cooper said to me when he gave them to me forty years ago." With this casual gesture Dr. Lane passed the baton of surgery to the capable Emmet Rixford who more than anyone else has by his reminiscences preserved the memory of Cooper, Lane and their school.[2]

The Pledge Revoked

We recall that when Dr. Lane established Cooper Medical College in 1882 he deeded all its land and buildings to the Corporation of Cooper Medical College. In 1893, fearing extinction of his school through annexation by another institution (he certainly had the University of California in mind as the predator), he exacted a pledge from the Board of Cooper Medical College and the Faculty that:

This College shall never be affiliated with, or become the department of any other educational institution, but shall remain an independent school in which Medicine and its Kindred Sciences shall be taught.

In January 1902, during the last weeks of a terminal illness characterized chiefly by progressive exhaustion and anxiety, Dr. Lane decided to revoke the pledge. By this time he had accepted the view that medical schools in the United States were destined, as in Europe, to be integral parts of universities. He saw that the expenses of his College would increase enormously with the appointment of more salaried professors, and it was clear that the tuition of students could not cover the cost of medical education in a modern school. Faced with these realities, Dr. Lane reasoned that Cooper Medical College, in uniting with Stanford, would be making an orderly and inevitable transition to university status, and would henceforth be remembered and respected as the firm foundation upon which the University's medical school was established. He would be immensely gratified by the extent to which his expectations were fulfilled.[3][4]

On at least one occasion, and possibly more, Dr. Lane discussed with President Jordan the feasibility of a merger with Stanford, but no agreement on the subject was reached. Although Stanford's financial condition had begun to improve, President Jordan was cautious in his assessment of the University's ability to fund a medical school. On 30 October 1901 he wrote:

As to the possibilities of organic union, should this be considered desirable by the Cooper Medical College, I may say that we would strongly favor it if it were practicable. Our main difficulty is this: We are not now ready to incur the expense of a salaried faculty; we do not think it wise to begin without one.[5][6]

In view of the manifest advantages to Cooper College in a union with Stanford University, as now foreseen by Dr. Lane, he decided to rescind the prohibition of such a merger which he had placed in 1893 on the deed to the College property. In order to remove the restriction. it was necessary for him to regain possession of the property and then reconvey it to the Corporation devoid of the encumbrance. To this end Dr. Lane, who was seriously ill and failing at the time, called a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the College at his home on the evening of Wednesday, 15 January 1902.

All of the Directors were present: Dr. Lane, President, Mrs. L. C. Lane, Drs. C. N. Ellinwood, Edward R. Taylor (Vice President), Henry Gibbons, Jr. (Treasurer), and Emmet Rixford (Secretary). At the request of Dr. Lane, Dr. Taylor chaired the meeting. Dr. Ellinwood then proposed a resolution to the effect that the Corporation transfer all the property of the School and Hospital back to Dr. and Mrs. Lane. The resolution was unanimously adopted. Pursuant to it, Drs. Taylor and Rixford delivered to Dr. and Mrs. Lane on 16 January 1902 a duly executed deed of conveyance back to them of all the property belonging to the Corporation.

On the following day, 17 January 1902, Dr. and Mrs. Lane made in the presence of Dr. Taylor a deed of conveyance to the Corporation of the aforesaid property, free and clear of all conditions, and delivered it to Dr. Henry Gibbons, Jr., who accepted it on behalf of the Corporation. In consequence, from this date forward, the Directors of the Corporation were at liberty to negotiate with Stanford (or any other entity) regarding a relationship that might even include organic union. Dr. Lane's crucial decision, at the eleventh hour of his life, to remove all barriers to such negotiation, is further evidence of his vision and stature as the preeminent benefactor of medical education in the West.[7]

Building Named for Dr. Lane

Mindful of the possibility that future generations of faculty and students might be unaware of the unprecedented generosity of Dr. Lane in constructing the buildings of Cooper Medical College, Vice President Taylor called a meeting of the Directors of the College for the purpose of honoring Dr. Lane by naming a building for him. The meeting was convened on the evening of 29 January 1902. Those present were Drs. Taylor, Ellinwood, Gibbons and Rixford.[8]

It was unanimously decided that the words "Lane Hall of Cooper Medical College" be suitably inscribed upon a bronze or granite tablet and that the tablet when so inscribed be permanently affixed to the front on the wall of the second of the two College buildings erected by "that noble man whose love for medicine prompted and whose moneys alone were devoted to their construction."

It was further decided that an engrossed copy of the preamble and resolution authorizing this action be framed and given a permanent place upon one of the walls of the Faculty Room of the Corporation.

The Lane residence was the site of the meeting. Upon its adjournment we can be sure that the purpose and results of the meeting were imparted with grace and feeling to Dr. and Mrs. Lane to the great satisfaction of all.

This was the last meeting of the Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College during the lifetime of Dr. Lane. The press took the following notice of his worsening condition:[9]

San Francisco Examiner
Saturday, 15 February 1902

Dr. Levi C. Lane Calmly Awaits the End
One of the World's Eminent Surgeons and Founder of Cooper Medical College
Now at the Portals of Death

Dr. Levi Cooper Lane, the eminent surgeon and physician, is critically ill at his residence at Clay and Buchanan streets. Owing to his aged and feeble condition it is not thought he will ever arise from his sickbed.

Last night at 10 o'clock he showed some improvement. But the physicians in attendance have no hope this improved condition will continue. They are of the opinion that he may pass quietly away at any hour. Dr. Lane realizes his own condition and while making a fight for his life is ready for the end when it comes.

Drs. Ellinwood, Hirschfelder, Stillman, Rixford and Gibbons are giving the distinguished patient every attention by day and by night. At 8 o'clock last night Dr. Ellinwood in speaking of Dr. Lane's condition said:

"While Dr. Lane is not in imminent danger of death he is a very feeble and very sick man."

The annual course of lectures at the Cooper Medical College by leading medical men from all parts of the world have become a matter of favorable comment in the older seats of scientific learning both at home and abroad. As a means of keeping professional men on this Coast in touch with the most advanced thought and practice of their profession, they have been of incalculable benefit.

Many of the practicing physicians and surgeons on this Coast and in other parts of the country have had the benefits of an education and training at the Cooper College and the Lane Hospital. Hundreds of them have also received from the lips of the founder memorable advice and precious encouragement. These men will grieve to hear of Dr. Lane's condition. And the public in general, which has long delighted to honor him, will also hear with sorrow of the serious illness of the old white-haired physician.

Death of Dr. Lane

The long vigil at the Lane residence on Clay street finally ended at a quarter to eleven o'clock on Tuesday evening, the eighteenth of February 1902. The nurse in attendance called urgently for Drs. Rixford and Stillman who were standing by in a nearby room. She told them that Dr. Lane awoke suddenly from a drowse, partially sat up and said, "Oh, it is death, it is death," and expired. He was seventy-one years of age.[10]

The Death Certificate was filed at the San Francisco Department of Public Health by the physician of the deceased, Dr. C. N. Ellinwood. The Certificate states that the chief and determining cause of Dr. Lane's death was "Bronchitis" with "Emphysema" as a contributing cause. The place of burial was listed as the Crematory of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

On 19 February, the day following the death of Dr. Lane, Dr. Ellinwood called a meeting of the Faculty to announce the death of the President of the Faculty. He informed the professors that a private funeral would be held (on 21 February) and that public memorial exercises would be scheduled (for 9 March in Lane Hall). Professors Gibbons, Stillman and Rixford were appointed to plan the memorial service.

On the next day, 20 February, Dr. Ellinwood, who was now acting as President of the Faculty, gave press releases to the San Francisco Examiner and the Evening Bulletin which included the following information:[11][12]

Mrs. Lane desires a private funeral and cremation at Odd Fellows' Cemetery on tomorrow, 21 February. There will be no pallbearers. Only a few people will be asked to attend these services. Mrs. Lane is not unmindful of the fact that her distinguished husband had a wide circle of friends. Still, she asks for no intrusion at the private funeral. The urn containing the ashes is to be placed in the Cooper Medical College.

Private Funeral of Dr. Lane

The private funeral desired by Mrs. Lane was held on 21 February and described in the San Francisco Chronicle.[13]

After a simple private ceremony attended by the family and a few close friends and representatives from the Cooper Medical College, the remains of the late Dr. Levi Cooper Lane were taken yesterday to Odd Fellows Cemetery and cremated. Rev. Joseph Worcester of the Second New Jerusalem Church officiated.

Before 2 o'clock, the hour for the funeral, the students of Cooper Medical College, founded and endowed by the deceased, walked to the Lane residence, at 2302 Clay street, to take a last look at the man so well beloved by all. They returned to the College, and as the funeral cortege passed stood with uncovered heads.

Dr. Ellinwood Elected President of Cooper Medical College and of the Faculty

Upon his death, Dr. Lane had served for the previous twenty years as the first and only President of Cooper Medical College and President of the College Faculty. It was essential to the efficient operation of the school that he be replaced in these two important offices as soon as possible. We have already intimated that Dr. Ellinwood had over the years grown in the favor of Dr. and Mrs. Lane and, as we noted above, he was also Dr. Lane's personal physician. Therefore, it is not surprising that he came to be considered the logical successor to Dr. Lane.

The Directors of the College met at the Lane residence on the evening of 25 February, a week after Dr. Lane's death, for the purpose of filling the vacant office of President of the College. Vice President Taylor chaired the meeting which was also attended by Drs. Ellinwood, Gibbons and Rixford. Dr. Ellinwood was elected President of Cooper Medical College. Mrs. Lane was elected as a Director of the Corporation.

On 17 March the Faculty convened and Dr. Ellinwood, being the only nominee for the post, was elected President of the Faculty to succeed Dr. Lane.

Dr. Ellinwood was thus promptly installed, essentially by acclamation, as chief executive officer of the institution.[14]

Charles Norman Ellinwood (1838-1917)

see larger image »

A photo of Charles Norman Ellinwood (1838-1917)

As we previously noted, Dr. Ellinwood joined the Faculty of the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific as Professor of Physiology in 1870. Upon the death of Dr. Lane, Ellinwood was exceeded only by Dean Henry Gibbons, Jr., in duration of service to the school. As to Ellinwood's background prior to arrival in San Francisco, he was born in 1838, raised in Baltimore, and graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago in 1858 at the age of twenty. He is said to have served as a surgeon in the Civil War; and to have helped - in what manner we do not know - to organize the United States Public Health Service. We have no information regarding his having had training or experience that would prepare him for the chair of Physiology which he held throughout his tenure in Cooper Medical College and the predecessor schools. Nor does it appear that he was a very good teacher. One student claimed that all he learned from Dr. Ellinwood's physiology course was the word "metabolism," and that he never fully understood what it meant. We shall later learn that during his last four or five years at Cooper College he did not teach at all. His extracurricular activities included surgical services at various hospitals and appointment as a Regent of the University of California. In any event his income was sufficient to support a palatial home and exquisite furnishings.[15]

Memorial Service

Public exercises honoring the memory of Dr. Lane were held in Lane Hall of the College at two o'clock on Sunday afternoon the ninth of March 1902. A large audience assembled in the Hall which was profusely decorated with greenery and flowers appropriate to the occasion.

Dr. Lane's scholarly attainments and humanitarian contributions were eulogized by a succession of faculty associates and a medical student, with appropriate musical renditions of Mozart, Mendelssohn and Schubert interspersed between the addresses.[16]

Dean Henry Gibbons told of being present as a student at Lane's first lecture in the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific forty years ago.

Dr. Lane had recently resigned from the Navy, and had spent some time in Europe in study preparatory to accepting the chair of physiology in the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific, of which his uncle, Dr. E. S. Cooper, for whom the present college is named, was the leading spirit. My recollection is almost as clear as though it were yesterday - a slender man, dressed in the conventional suit of black, much the same as he dressed in all the succeeding years - concise in speech, clear and accurate in statement, master of his subject, as he was of everything he undertook. During all the following years I have been proud to call him "guide, philosopher and friend," and surely no man had a better. . .

Thus my years of close association with Dr. Lane have shown him to be a man of vigorous and untiring intellect; of sturdy, upright character, rigid in his ideas of right, noble in his aspirations, wise in counsel, clear in prevision, prompt and decisive in judgment, steadfast in purpose, firm and unyielding in action, and withal modest and unostentatious, as becomes a wise man. These are attributes of greatness, and like Hamlet I say, with all my heart,

"He was a man; take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again' "

At the conclusion of Dr. Gibbons' opening remarks, Mr. William Ford Blake of the class of 1902 spoke on behalf of the current medical students. Dr. Chester Rowell, graduate of Medical Department of the University of the Pacific in 1861, unavoidably detained at his home in Fresno, sent an expression of appreciation on behalf of the alumni to be included in the published proceedings of the memorial service.

Following Mr. Blake's presentation Dr. C. N. Ellinwood, now President of the College, delivered on behalf of the Faculty a biographical summation in which he traced Dr. Lane's life from his birth in Ohio to the fruition of his career as founder of Cooper Medical College.

Then, following Schubert's "Great is Jehovah" sung by a double quartet of mixed voices, Dr. Edward R. Taylor, Vice President of the College, pronounced an eloquent benediction upon "Dr. Lane as Surgeon and Man:"

We are most worthily gathered together, for we are here to commemorate, as far as an occasion of this kind may serve to do so, the life and services of a man who won our admiration and love; a man who was one of the pioneers of medical teaching in this State, and who so devoted his great abilities to surgery and medicine that, at the time of his death, his was the most luminous name in California medicine; a man who published a great work on surgery; a man who founded a medical college and hospital, and who, from the resources accumulated from his practice, caused to be constructed for them imposing buildings of architectural suitableness and beauty.

Dr. Lane was a man of character. Character is beyond all definition, but when one possesses it, it shines in that one so distinctly that there is no mistaking it. The Star of Duty ever lighted his way, and on that star he kept his eye at every step of his life. No circuities, no deviations were his, no idling in the by-paths of pleasure. Straight on he walked, no matter what hap might be, discharging to the utmost the task that lay at hand, and leaving it not till accomplishment was complete. No siren voice could lure him as on he voyaged. And if genius be as Turner said it was, the capacity for hard work, or as another has said, the capacity for taking infinite pains, then indeed was our friend a genius.

Dr. Lane had no children but his works. Fortunately for him he united himself more than thirty years ago with a lady of rare accomplishments, who so fitted into his life that the two became spiritually one. The thought of the one was the thought of the other; together they planned everything connected with the college and hospital buildings; together they explored literatures; together they trod the shards as well as walked the flowery meads; and when the husband was doing work in which by reason of its nature the wife could give no assistance, he felt himself taking in at every breath the refreshment of her love and sympathy.

Fortunate, thrice fortunate man! What fullness, what roundness of completion, what achievement following on concentration of faculty and effort, what heritage as result of all, rises before us here in the very sublimity of harmonious proportion! Why then should we grieve for him, our brother? Why should we not rather send up our paeans of praise, that he was given to us for our enrichment and the enrichment of those who will come after us? We crown him with laurel that can never fade, and with that laurel round his noble brow we take earthly leave of his personal presence, and hail with jubilation his entrance into the company of the immortals.

Professor Jacob Cooper and Mrs. Lane's Will

We have already told how Dr. and Mrs. Lane called Dr. Rixford in 1898 to witness their wills in which Dr. Lane devised his entire estate to Mrs. Lane and she in turn consigned the estate to Cooper Medical College. During the last decade of Dr. Lane's life, he and Mrs. Lane decided to endow the Lane Medical Lectures (1895) and the Lane Medical Library (1898) in order to assure survival in perpetuity of these two projects of special significance to them. To this end, Dr. Lane named Mrs. Lane in his will as the sole beneficiary of his entire estate of $500,000. In accordance with their plan, Mrs. Lane in turn sought in her will to leave the whole Lane estate to Cooper Medical College with the understanding that it would be devoted to the support of the chosen projects.

There was, however, a legal obstacle to their plan for her to leave the entire estate to Cooper Medical College. Section 1313 of the California Civil Code prohibited leaving more than one-third of an estate to "any charitable or benevolent society, or corporation for charitable purposes."[17]

During the last month of Dr. Lane's illness, Mrs. Lane corresponded with Doctor Jacob Cooper, Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Dr. Lane's childhood companion and affectionate uncle to whom we have previously referred. After Dr. Lane's death, she pled with Professor Cooper, who was the same age as Dr. Lane, to come to California and consult with her in regard to the disposition of the Lane estate.

The following account of Professor Cooper's visit to California is adapted from his remarkable Diary, in which he made almost daily entries.[18]

It was clear to Professor Cooper that Mrs. Lane was much in need of his advice and emotional support. He therefore felt duty-bound to undertake the long railroad journey to California in response to her request. He left Rutgers on 7 June 1902 and arrived one week later in San Francisco. He took the trolley to the Lane residence at 2302 Clay street where Mrs. Lane met him at the door. That evening Professor Cooper confided these first impressions of her to his Diary:

Pauline looks exhausted. All the sweetness is gone out of her life. She feels this keenly and I do not think she will survive Dr. Lane by many months

During the next few days Professor Cooper spent much time with Mrs. Lane, talking of the dear one she had lost, and trying to comfort and reassure the poor crushed and lonely woman. He summarized their discussion in his Diary:

I conferred with Pauline about the disposal of Dr. Lane's residuary estate. This was the main object for which she summoned me. I learned that she had already made her Will. In it she left one third of the estate to Cooper Medical College for the founding of a Medical Library. She wished to dispose of the other two-thirds in a similar manner, but this was contrary to California law which permitted only one third of an estate to be alienated from the lawful heirs. She therefore made a Will giving the two thirds to my son William, outright and with no conditions, trusting to his family loyalty to dispose of it for the purpose in view.

The residuary estate is about $ 500,000 and so my son would become heir to about $ 375,000. The Will shows a wonderful confidence in his integrity as he is made heir without any condition or stipulation except that expressed in profound secrecy - as the divulging of the ulterior purpose of the Will would invalidate it.

Dr. and Mrs. Lane had taken a fancy to my son William in his childhood when they visited us in the East in 1874 and 1876. While he was Professor in Tulane University, New Orleans, William visited San Francisco and was their guest for a while when the favorable impressions which he had made in childhood were greatly deepened and strengthened. It was strange that Mrs. Lane made him her sole heir. But such was the fact and this action was taken in the belief that he would donate the great estate to works of benevolence and charity in the line of Dr. Lane's previous action. Yet no condition was imposed on him. He was made heir de facto and de jure of the whole estate.

William, however, did not wish this fortune. He is too independent to seek help or to accept it when offered. Neither he nor any of his family desired this wealth. He said that he is able to care for himself; that he can make all he needs (in his position with the Pennsylvania Railroad); and that the care of this fortune would divert him from his life profession, his chosen work.

I had most clear and confidential conferences with Mrs. Lane and communicated to William. The result of my coming was that Mrs. Lane made another Will dated June 28th 1902 - her previous will was made in March 1902 - in which she gave one third of the estate to found a library for the Cooper Medical College and Lane Hospital and two-thirds to Dr. C. N. Ellinwood, President and successor of Dr. L. C. Lane - with the tacit understanding that he would appropriate it all for the founding of a great library and endowment of the Lane Medical Lectures.

Dr. Ellinwood is the man of my choice above all others. He has the integrity, the ability and the spirit for such trust. I am profoundly thankful that I went to San Francisco and by my going, was indirectly - possibly directly - the cause of this change of Will by Mrs.. Lane through which my son is relieved from the care and responsibility of a fortune which he had not earned by his own genius and labor. This is one of the many clearly Providential dispositions of my life.

Indeed, Professor Cooper thought so highly of President Ellinwood that he arranged for him to receive an LL. D. degree from Rutgers University in 1903.

Professor Cooper wrote the above summary of the final conveyance of the Lane estate on 26 July 1902, the day of his departure from San Francisco. He had spent the previous six weeks from 14 June to 26 July as Mrs. Lane's guest at 2302 Clay street. He was also most cordially received by the Cooper Faculty and entertained royally by individual members on numerous occasions. Dr. Ellinwood and his family were particularly attentive. He wrote of dining with the Ellinwoods on 3 July - "a grand affair. The young Master Ellinwood treated me with great affection. The house is a Palace both for size and location, and the furnishings are exquisite."

In some ways Professor Cooper, also a strait-laced minister of the gospel, did not feel quite at home in the liberal San Francisco environment. On Sunday evening, July 6, after a busy day of receiving guests he made the following entry in his Diary: "The usages at the Lane Mansion are not favorable to the sanctity of the Sabbath nor does society generally in the city observe the day at all in a religious way. I scarcely feel comfortable in such a condition of social life."

During his stay in San Francisco Professor Cooper made many tearful visits to Cooper College to view the receptacle containing the Brain and Heart of his brother Elias - and to the monument marking the burial site of Elias' ashes. The granite obelisk on Lone Mountain was visible in the far distance from his room at the Lane residence.

Of his departure from the grief-stricken Mrs. Lane - now emotionally spent - Professor Cooper wrote:

Took leave today of my niece Pauline who looked very badly but said little. She seems in better health and spirits than when I came six weeks ago, but I do not think she will ever recuperate or that she will long survive her great loss. She has no well grounded religious life. She lives largely if not exclusively for this world. She is aristocratic in her feelings and affects grand society and the death of her noble and distinguished husband leaves her almost cut off, stranded on the shores of life with little to live for and absolutely nothing to hope for.

Dr. Rixford's Version of Mrs. Lane's Will

In the unpublished draft of an article intended for publication in the JAMA, Dr. Rixford gave the following account of the Wills of Dr. and Mrs. Lane:[19]

Dr. Lane projected the founding and endowing of a great medical Library in connection with Cooper Medical College, and several times talked of the same with individual Directors of Cooper College. It was common knowledge that he designed his whole remaining fortune to be devoted to the endowing of the Lane Course of Medical Lectures, the perpetuation of Lane Hospital, and the founding and endowing of a Medical Library. To this end he made a will in which his whole estate was left to Cooper Medical College and, lest his will be attacked, paid to each of his living relatives a sum of money in consideration of which they were enjoined from making any claims against his estate.

On it being shown to Dr. Lane that the law of the State of California did not permit a person to bequeath by will more than one-third of his estate for charitable purposes or to a corporation, Dr. and Mrs. Lane made wills each bequeathing his entire estate to the other, it being understood that the survivor should carry out the plans for the endowment of the Lane Medical Lectures and the founding and endowment of a medical library.

Dr. Lane died on 18 February 1902 and his estate was distributed by decree of court in accordance with this will last mentioned.

mmediately after the death of Dr. Lane, Mrs. Lane was urged by Dr. E. R. Taylor, who drew all the wills mentioned above and was thoroughly conversant with the plans of Dr. and Mrs. Lane, to make a will at once by which alone could be assured the consummation of the aforesaid plans, in default of which action on her part the whole estate of herself and Dr. Lane would by law revert to her heirs and the aforesaid plans be defeated. In accordance with this advice Mrs. Lane executed a will prepared by Dr. Taylor in accordance with which one third of her estate would be distributed to Cooper Medical College and two-thirds to Mr. William Cooper, son of Dr. Jacob Cooper of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and cousin of Dr. Lane.

To the end that she might insure the devoting of this two-thirds of her estate to the carrying out of the aforesaid plans she entered into correspondence with the family of Mr. Cooper, offering to pay the expenses of a visit from them to San Francisco where she could more fully explain to Mr. Cooper her desires. The father, Dr. Jacob Cooper, responded and came to San Francisco and gave Mrs. Lane the reluctant acceptance of his son of this great trust. Subsequently, because of personal antagonisms which developed during Dr. Cooper's visit in San Francisco, Mrs. Lane made another will in which she bequeathed one third of her entire estate to Cooper Medical College and the remaining two-thirds to Dr. Charles N. Ellinwood, President of Cooper Medical College. In accordance with this will the estate of Mrs. Lane, including that of Dr. Lane, was distributed by decree of the court in September 1903, one third to Cooper Medical College and two thirds to Dr. Charles N. Ellinwood.

Professor Cooper died on 31 January 1904, a year and a half after his return to the East from San Francisco. It was not until after this date that Dr. Ellinwood's stewardship of two-thirds of the Lane estate came into question. Professor Cooper was thus spared the painful knowledge of Ellinwood's betrayal of the trust which had been placed in him by Mrs. Lane.

Death of Mrs. Lane

Professor Cooper's somber prognosis of Mrs. Lane's condition was soon borne out. Priscilla C. Lane, aged 65, died in the Lane residence at 2302 Clay street on 9 August 1902 - six months following the death of Dr. Lane, and just two weeks after Professor Cooper's departure from San Francisco. The death certificate, filed at the San Francisco Department of Public Health by Dr. C. N. Ellinwood, her personal physician, assigned the chief cause of death to "Fatty Degeneration of the Heart," with "Dilatation of the Right Ventricle" as the contributing cause. It would have been simpler and perhaps more plausible to attribute the death of this accomplished and dutiful woman to a broken heart.

Annual Meeting of Cooper Medical College

This Twentieth Annual Meeting, held on 11 and 20 August 1902 , immediately after the death of Mrs. Lane, was the occasion for making funeral arrangements for the deceased and administrative adjustments in the governance of the College.[20]

It was announced that Mrs. Lane wished her body to be cremated after death and her remains to find a last resting place with those of her husband in a suitable receptacle in the College building.

Two new Members of Cooper Medical College Corporation were chosen by the surviving Members to replace Dr. and Mrs. Lane. Fortunately for the future welfare of the College, two strong men were unanimously elected to these positions - Drs. Adolph Barkan and Stanley Stillman. As a result of these and previous elections, the following were now the statutory six permanent Members of the Corporation; and the five Directors elected annually by the Members:

Members Board of Directors

  • Dr. C. N. Ellinwood, President
  • Dr. E. R. Taylor, Vice President
  • Dr. Henry Gibbons, Jr., Treasurer
  • Dr. Adolph Barkan
  • Dr. Stanley Stillman
  • Dr. Emmet Rixford (Secretary -not a Director)

In view of the unprecedented administrative problems soon to be encountered by the Members and Directors of Cooper Medical College , the composition of these important bodies (as of 11 August 1902) is outlined above for future reference.

Memorial Statement in Honor of Mrs. Lane

At a Regular Meeting of the Faculty on 17 November 1902 Professor Ellinwood read the following memorial statement to express the sorrow of the Faculty at the death of Mrs. Lane:[21]

We, the Faculty of Cooper Medical College, recognize in the death of Pauline C. Lane the loss of one whose life and ambition were in perfect unison with that of her husband, Dr. Levi Cooper Lane, in the founding, development and fostering care of Cooper Medical College and Lane Hospital.

We record to her all honor for her noble participation in the high aspirations and great achievements of Doctor Lane for the advancement of medical education; for her beneficent and intelligent interest in the Medical Profession and in humanity; and also for the crowning act of her long life of devotion to the diffusion of knowledge, for the welfare of mankind in the endowment of Cooper Medical College with one third of her entire estate, for the founding of the Levi Cooper Lane Library of Medicine and Surgery.

Well done noble woman; thy work lives, fitly entwined with the great deeds accomplished by thy love and loving husband.

May we, and those who come after us in maintaining the perpetuity and influence of this Institution be ever inspired with such laudable and self-sacrificing devotion to the love of truth and the advancement of knowledge for humanity's sake as was manifested in the life of Pauline C. Lane.

Purchase of Lots for Lane Medical Library

Anticipating the later availability of funds from the Will of Mrs. Lane, the Directors of Cooper Medical College on 18 September 1902 authorized President Ellinwood to purchase two lots with funds borrowed from the College as a future site for Lane Medical Library. The lots were ideally situated across from the College Building on the southeast corner of Sacramento and Webster streets. The asking price for the lots was $ 16,000. At the Director's meeting on 21 November 1902, President Ellinwood was pleased to report that he had purchased the two lots for $ 15,812.[22][23]

A year later, after establishment of the Lane Medical Library Fund, the money borrowed from the College to buy the lots was repaid to the College by the Library Fund.

Interment of the Ashes of Dr. and Mrs. Lane in Lane Hall

A meeting of the Directors of Cooper Medical College was convened in Lane Hall of the College Building on Saturday 17 January 1903 for the purpose of witnessing the interment of the ashes of Dr. and Mrs. Lane. Those present were President Ellinwood, and Drs. Taylor, Gibbons, Rixford and Stillman. The minutes of this meeting read as follows:[24]

At noon on 17 January 1903, President Ellinwood caused the ashes of Dr. L. C. Lane and Mrs. Pauline Lane to be interred in the central niche in Lane Hall, beneath the bust of Dr. L. C. Lane.

The ashes of Dr. Lane and of Mrs. Lane are in separate copper urns with the coffin plates of each officially sealed by the Odd Fellow Cemetery Association;

The case or casket in which the urns are contained also includes a copy of the record of the Exercises held in memory of Dr. L. C. Lane on 9 March 1902; and a copy of the resolutions passed on 17 November 1902 by the Faculty of the College on the death of Pauline C. Lane.

The casket was placed in the north brick wall beneath the marble slab on which the pedestal of the bust of Dr. L. C. Lane rests and was sealed therein in the presence of Drs. Ellinwood, Taylor, Gibbons, Rixford and Stillman, Members of Cooper Medical College.

The marble slab which covers the remains and supports the pedestal bearing the bust of Dr. Lane is inscribed with this record: "Here rest the remains of Dr. Levi Cooper Lane and his wife Pauline C. Lane, incinerated by their request, 1902."[25]

In 1959, Stanford Medical School, formerly Cooper Medical College, moved from San Francisco to the Stanford campus and the Cooper College buildings and Lane Hospital in San Francisco were incorporated into the Presbyterian Hospital and Medical Center. By 1974, both the Cooper College buildings and the Lane Hospital were hopelessly outmoded and unable to meet San Francisco earthquake standards. For that reason they were completely demolished in 1973 and '74 to make way for construction of the Pacific Medical Center.

Since the demolition of the Cooper College buildings which included Lane Hall, no trace has been found of the burial urns and casket containing the ashes of Dr. and Mrs. Lane, or of the marble slab covering them. There is no record of reburial of their remains in any of the many local cemeteries and burial parks that have been contacted. We continue to hope that the interment site of Dr. and Mrs. Lane in the wall of Lane Hall was identified before the demolition, and that their copper burial urns were removed and stored safely elsewhere, to be someday discovered and brought to the attention of the Archivist of Lane Medical Library.[26][27]

Will of Pauline C. Lane Contested

Messrs. Bergin and Lloyd, Executors of Mrs. Lane's Will, submitted the Will to probate in the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco on 15 September 1902. Immediately thereafter, as required by law, they published a notice of the probate to creditors and all others claiming to have an interest in the estate.

In the following letter to the Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College and C. N. Ellinwood dated 8 July 1903, the Executors notified them that a claimant had come forward:[28]

We are informed and believe that Mrs. Pauline C. Lane, deceased, left her surviving Mrs. S. F. Yager, a sister, who has a son, J. Frank Yager, and a daughter, Rose N. Yager, all residents of the City and State of New York. Mr. William M. Pierson, of this City, has already entered an appearance on behalf of Mrs. Yager. He has expressed the determination to contest the will of Pauline C. Lane, deceased, upon the grounds following, to wit:

(1) Mental incapacity; (2) That Mrs. Lane did not make a will; (3) That the will she left was made under undue influence; (4) That she made her will within thirty days of the date of her death; (5) That the will she made is in contravention of the provisions of Section 1313 of the Civil Code reading:

"No estate, real or personal, shall be bequeathed for charitable purposes in excess of one third of such estate. . . ."

The position upon this point taken is that in truth Mrs. Lane, in and by her will, devised all her estate to charitable purposes; that the devise to C. N. Ellinwood (of two-thirds of the estate) was a mere cover to evade the provision of the statute, as in reality the devise to Dr. Ellinwood was intended for the uses and benefit of the College.

Mrs. Yager is advanced in years and in destitute circumstances. Her son J. Frank Yager is himself an attorney at law who, we are informed, has not been generous or liberal in his contributions to the support of his mother -- in fact, we learn that he has treated her with rather cold neglect. Her daughter Rose N. Yager is a young woman, destitute of means, but who is endeavoring to prepare herself as a student in Cornell University for the vocation of school teacher. She, we understand, has been attentive and considerate in the care of her aged mother.

Mr. Pierson, attorney for the Yagers, let it be known that his clients would consider an amicable settlement out of court for the sum of $ 125,000. The Executors of the Will advised that a counter offer be made.

President Ellinwood convened a meeting of the Directors of Cooper Medical College on 15 July 1903 to consider the question of making a counter offer. Dr. Gibbons then made the following motion which was adopted:[29]

That whereas there is no truth in any or all of the above mentioned grounds of contest of the Will of Pauline C. Lane, still in order to avoid expensive litigation and long delay in the settlement of the Estate, the Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College authorize the Executors to make a counter proposition looking to an amicable settlement of the claims of Mrs. Yager and her son and daughter, and to submit to this Board for final action a statement of the best terms at which they can arrive with the attorney for the contestants.

"Whereas there is no truth in any or all of the above mentioned grounds of contest of the Will. . ." Although this statement was hypocritical at the time, Ellinwood's later actions made it, instead, prophetic.

At a meeting of the Directors of Cooper Medical College on 22 August 1903, the Executors reported that they were successful in their negotiations with the litigants who agreed to withdraw their contest of the validity of Mrs. Lane's will upon the payment to them of $ 65,000. The Directors paid one third of this amount to the Yagers, Dr. Ellinwood paid the remaining two thirds, and the claim was dropped.[30]

Upon settlement of the claim, the estate of Mrs. Lane was awarded to the designated beneficiaries. At a meeting of the Directors on 25 September 1903 President Ellinwood announced that the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco had on 16 September 1903 distributed the estate of Mrs. Lane, (total value: $ 500,000) according to the provisions of her will - one third ($166,667) to Cooper Medical College and two thirds ($ 333,333) to C. N. Ellinwood.[31]

The Lane Medical Library Fund

It was now, in September 1903, just over a year and a half since the death of Dr. Lane and a year since the passing of Mrs. Lane, a period during which the Directors of Cooper College were adjusting themselves to the loss of Dr. Lane's leadership, and to the responsibility for managing one third of his estate. They were convinced, a conviction which they assumed was shared by Dr. Ellinwood, that it was Mrs. Lane's expectation in leaving one third of the estate to the College and two thirds to Ellinwood that he would also devote his share of the legacy to the support of Dr. Lane's chosen projects - the Levi Cooper Lane Library of Medicine and Surgery, and the Lane Medical Lectures.

With a view to proceeding with construction of the Lane Medical Library as soon as possible all six Members of the College Corporation met on 29 September 1903 for the sole purpose of amending the Bylaws of the College to create a special fund, the "Lane Medical Library Fund." The terms of the Amendment were as follows:[32]

Into said fund shall be paid all the proceeds arising from the sale of the properties bequeathed to the College by Pauline C. Lane, and all moneys and all the proceeds from the sale of all properties which may be devised, bequeathed or given to this College for said library by any person now or hereafter; together with the rents, issues, interests and profits of all and singular of the aforesaid properties and moneys.

Out of said fund shall be paid all moneys necessary for the purchase of a site for a library building; for the construction of a library building on said site; for the fitting up, furnishing and appointment of said building; and such moneys for the maintenance of said library as the Board of Directors of this College shall deem necessary and all expenses including taxes necessary to be paid in connection with said lot, building and library.

The Members, who also constituted the Board of Directors, voted unanimously to adopt the Amendment. The wording of the Amendment, and the full participation of President Ellinwood in its enactment, clearly implied to the other Members that Ellinwood would contribute to the Lane Medical Library Fund from the assets he received from the Lane estate. In fact Dr. Rixford recalled that Dr. Ellinwood had promised the Board that the two-thirds of the Lane estate in his possession should be available whenever "you gentlemen (meaning the Board of Directors) get ready to build the library building."


  1. Emmet Rixford , "The Lure of Medical History: Levi Cooper Lane, M. D. - The Lane Popular Lectures," California and Western Medicine 38, no. 1 (Jan 1933): 38. Lane Library Catalog Record
  2. Emmet Rixford , "The Lure of Medical History: Levi Cooper Lane, M. D. - The Lane Popular Lectures," California and Western Medicine 38, no. 1 (Jan 1933): 39. Lane Library Catalog Record
  3. Edgar E. Robinson and Paul C. Edwards , The Memoirs of Ray Lyman Wilbur (1875-1989) (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1960), p. 158. Lane Library Catalog Record
  4. Emmet Rixford , "A Brief Account of the History of the Lane Medical Library and of Cooper Medical College," in Dedication of the Lane Medical Library, Leland Stanford Jr. University, San Francisco, November 3, 1912, Leland Stanford Junior University Publications 1912, Trustees' Series, No. 22, pp.16-17. Lane Library Catalog Record
  5. David S. Jordan , The Days of a Man (Yonkers-on-Hudson, NY: World Book Co., 1922), 2:282. Lane Library Catalog Record
  6. Orrin L. Elliott , Stanford University: The first Twenty-Five Years (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1937), p. 536. Lane Library Catalog Record
  7. Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College for 15 through 18 January 1902, pp. 38-48, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  8. Minutes of Meeting of Directors of Cooper Medical College on 29 January 1902, pp. 50-52, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  9. "Dr. Levi C. Lane Calmly Awaits the End," San Francisco Examiner, February 15, 1902.
  10. Emmet Rixford , "The Lure of Medical History: Levi Cooper Lane, M. D. - The Lane Popular Lectures," California and Western Medicine 39, no. 1 (Jan 1933): 39. Lane Library Catalog Record
  11. "Private Funeral for Dr. L. C. Lane," San Francisco Examiner, February 20, 1902.
  12. "Funeral of Dr. Lane," San Francisco Evening Bulletin, February 20, 1902.
  13. "Dr. Levi C. Lane's Funeral," San Francisco Chronicle, February 22, 1902. Lane Library Catalog Record
  14. Faculty of the Cooper Medical College, Successor to the Medical College of the Pacific, San Francisco. 1882-1912 Part 1 (Stanford University: published by School of Medicine, May 1869), p. 31. Lane Medical Library. Lane Medical Archives.
  15. Bloomer, George , "Random Recollections of Cooper Medical College," in Recollections of Cooper Medical College, 1833-1905 (Stanford Medical School, May 1964).
  16. Exercises in Memory of Levi Cooper Lane Held at Lane Hall of Cooper Medical College on Sunday Afternoon the Ninth Day of March in the Year Nineteen Hundred and Two (San Francisco: Printed for the Faculty of Cooper Medical College by Stanley-Taylor Company, 1902), 49 p. Lane Library Catalog Record
  17. "Memorandum to President and Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College from Executors of the Last Will of Pauline C. Lane, dated 8 July 1903." Historical Items from Dr. Hans Barkan to Miss Clara Manson, Director of Lane Library. Item No. 5. Lane Medical Library. Lane Medical Archives. MSS H747.6H C73.
  18. Jacob Cooper's Diary, Vol. 7, pp. 56-113, in the personal collection of John McDonnell.
  19. Emmet Rixford, Unpublished draft of an article for the JAMA - Box 5, Folder 5.1, Rixford Papers - MSS 8, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  20. Minutes of Twentieth Annual Meeting, 11 and 20 August 1902, Minutes of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2, p. 57, 66, 78, and 79, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  21. Minutes of 17 November 1902, Minutes of Faculty of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 3, p. 5-6 - Box 6.3, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  22. Regular Meeting of Members of Cooper Medical College, 18 September 1902, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2, pp. 81-82 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  23. Regular Meeting of Members of Cooper Medical College, 21 November 1902, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2, p. 86 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  24. Minutes of 17 January 1903, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2, p. 93 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  25. Twenty-first Annual Meeting of Cooper Medical College, 10 August 1903, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Volume 2, pp. 101-102 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  26. Blueprints of Cooper College Building, Lane Medical Archives, Mapcase Drawer No. 5. Lane Hall shown with niche on north wall. No photographs of the niche yet found.
  27. Ronald Shuman, Portraits: The Cooper Medical Building, The Lane Hospital Building (San Francisco: Pacific Medical Center, Inc., 1974). Lane Library Catalog Record Front Cover shows demolished Cooper College building.
  28. Letter Bergin and Lloyd to Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College and C. N. Ellinwood dated 8 July 1903, Historical Items from Dr. Hans Barkan to Clara Manson, Lane Medical Library, Lane Medical Archives, MSS H747.6H C73, Item No. 5.
  29. Special Meeting of Directors of Cooper Medical College, 15 July 1903, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2, pp. 95-96 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  30. Regular Meeting of Directors of Cooper Medical College, 22 August 1903, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2, pp. 113-118 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  31. Regular Meeting of Directors of Cooper Medical College, 25 September 1903, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2, pp. 122-124 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record
  32. Regular Meeting of Members of Cooper Medical College, 29 September 1903, Minutes of Directors of Cooper Medical College, Vol. 2, p. 125 - Box 5.2, Cooper Medical College Collection of publications, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford. Lane Library Catalog Record