(Aug. 18, 1837-Apr. 25, 1907). Fletcher, the son of pioneer Indianapolis lawyer Calvin Fletcher, was born in the capital city. In 1859, he graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

Two years later, after returning to Indianapolis, he enlisted in the Union army. During his first year of service, he was captured, placed in solitary confinement, wounded during the second of two escape attempts, and ordered to be executed. General Robert E. Lee granted Fletcher a reprieve pending further investigation, but before the investigation could take place, the Confederates lost his paperwork. No longer aware that he was considered a special prisoner, they paroled him.

In 1862, he returned to Indianapolis and married. In 1866-1867, Fletcher studied at hospitals in Glasgow, London, and Paris, as did many other elite physicians in the late 19th century. Upon his return to Indianapolis, he became a professor at the Indiana Medical College and the Central College of Physicians and Surgeons (see Medical Schools). He established the Indianapolis City Dispensary in 1870 (see Dispensaries).

In 1882, the citizens of Marion County elected Fletcher, who by then belonged to the Democratic Party, as their state senator. The following year he became superintendent of the Indiana Hospital for the Insane (Central State Hospital). In addition to hiring the hospital’s first female physician, Fletcher abolished the use of mechanical restraints for patients, abandoned secret burials, and instituted dental care for patients. He lost his position in 1887 after calling attention to political abuses in the state hospital system.

In 1888, Fletcher opened a private sanatorium, Neuronhurst, for the treatment of mentally ill women. He immediately employed Mary A. Spink, M.D., who later became superintendent of the institution. Neuronhurst, also called Fletcher Sanatorium, offered patients exercise, daily therapeutic baths, and individual care.

Fletcher’s suffered from ill health following the death of his wife in 1904. He died of heart failure at his southern home in Orlando, Florida.

Revised February 2021

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