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LEACH, ROBERT BOYD

LEACH, ROBERT BOYD (1822-29 July 1863), the first black physician in Cleveland and one of the first AFRICAN AMERICANS in Cleveland to advocate full rights as citizens for blacks, was originally from Virginia, moving to southern Ohio, and then to Cleveland in 1844. As a young man, he worked as a nurse on the lake steamers during navigation season. His preliminary knowledge of medicine came entirely from books. He entered the Western Homeopathic College in 1856 and in 2 years received a degree in homeopathic medicine. In 1858, after obtaining his medical degree, Leach established a practice in Cleveland, its black population then less than 800. He was a spokesman for blacks, and his name was frequently mentioned in news items relating to the struggle of blacks in Cleveland and Ohio. As a doctor, Leach had both white and black patients. He is credited with a specific remedy for the treatment of cholera, successfully used throughout the Great Lakes region. During the CIVIL WAR, Leach helped recruit black soldiers for the Union Army but was refused service himself; the army would not accept doctors trained in homeopathic medicine. Leach then began to study allopathic medicine, but within several months died of a liver ailment in Philadelphia while en route to Washington, D.C. He was buried in the Columbian Harmony Cemetery in New York City.