The Mississippi River first brought the Mayos to Minnesota. After suffering malaria like fevers, Dr. William Worrall Mayo left his wife in Indiana to seek a healthier climate. As a patient hoping to regain his health, he set the example for millions of people in future generations who would come to the clinic that bears his name.
Dr. Mayo set sail by steamboat from Galena, Ill. to St. Paul, Minn. During hard times on the frontier, he worked part time as a river boatman. When his wife, Louise, later joined him, her millinery business helped stabilize the family finances. This security enabled Dr. Mayo to develop the medical practice that evolved under his sons into Mayo Clinic.
The Mississippi became important to the Mayo family in a different way starting in 1910 when brothers, Drs. William J. and Charles H. Mayo, purchased the first of three riverboats that became familiar sights on the river. Dr. Will was especially fond of the river and used the boats for relaxation and secluded study and writing. Both brothers shared their boats with colleagues, friends, visitors and patients. They welcomed aboard presidents of the United States and indigent families seeking medical care. In this respect, their boats were truly an extension of Mayo Clinic. Learn more about the Mayos' passion for the river.