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There have been several important people from Spencer County and one of them was Dr. Richard Burgess Gilbert.
Born in Taylorsville Oct. 24, 1842, Gilbert was the son of Samuel and Nancy (Gill) Gilbert. He studied locally, then attended the University of Louisville Medical School from which he was graduated cum laude in 1868.
Gilbert is credited with being the first doctor to save the life of a baby by using an incubator. Gilbert made his incubator out of a tin washtub. His invention, of course, was refined and the incubator continues to save the lives of premature newborns.
In the book, “William Beard of Nelson County,” Frank Cowles Jr. notes that Gilbert delivered hundreds of babies and many of them were named for him. I always wondered if my uncle, George Gilbert Watson, was named after the famous inventor-physician.
Gilbert married Josephine Beard and to them were born Henry Scott Gilbert, Ruth Gilbert and George B. Gilbert, who also was a local physician.
Henry Scott Gilbert married Sarah Halpin O’Reilly. Ruth Gilbert married Charles S. Potter of Louisville and Dr. George B. Gilbert was wed to Clara Beauchamp.
Dr. Richard Gilbert was an assistant surgeon with the U.S. Army for about a year following his graduation from medical school and he served the military in Mount Sterling and Owensboro. After resigning his commission in the Army, Dr. Richard Gilbert practiced medicine for a time in Owensboro before moving to Louisville in 1885.
He had a private practice in Louisville and also taught for many years at the University of Louisville Medical School. He was Demonstrator of Anatomy in 1884 and in 1900 became Professor of Diseases of Children.
Dr. Richard Gilbert also was a member of the Louisville Board of Aldermen, Louisville Board of Education and U.S. Board of Pension Examining Surgeons for Jefferson County. He was a Master Mason of the Masonic Order and leader of the Methodist Episcopal Church South in Louisville. He was the author of many articles for medical journals.