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Dentistry Ohio

Paul Revere, Dr. Joseph Warren, America's Revolution and Forensic Dentistry

  In recent months I came across a historic summary compiled by Dr. William J. Maloney and Dr. George Raymond, professors at the New York University College of Dentistry.  What delighted me is that their stories blended the topics of dentistry and early American history with a local Warren County twist.  Allow me to summarize the details.

Thanks to the poetic efforts of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, most of us know Paul Revere as the guy who made a valiant midnight ride to warn the local citizenry of the impending arrival of British troops on the march. 

And indeed, it is true that on April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was cued by his friend Dr. Joseph Warren, to set off on a hasty ride that allowed for Colonial militiamen to organize a resistance at both Lexington and Concord.  The events that followed further fueled the fires of America’s rebellion!

Dr. Warren, a Harvard educated physician, was appointed a second general in command of the Massachusetts militia.  However, when in June of 1775, the British landed at Charleston and marched on Breed’s Hill, Warren refused to assume a command role and instead took a place in the militia line with the regulars.  As the Redcoats mounted a third and final assault that day, Dr. Warren was struck by a gunshot between the eyes and died instantly.  Ultimately his body was tossed by the British into a mass grave. 

Paul Revere was initially introduced to Dr. Joseph Warren through their Freemason connections.  But Revere also knew Dr. Warren as one of his dental patients!  What’s that?  Yes, Paul Revere found that his metallurgy skills dovetailed beautifully into an acquired role he had assumed crafting custom-fitted partial dentures and bridges to replace missing teeth. 

When the family of Dr. Joseph Warren expressed interest in the recovery of the doctor’s body for proper burial, Paul Revere stepped forward remembering that he had fabricated for his friend a dental prosthesis retained by gold wires.  Revere himself led a search through the Breed’s Hill mass grave and ultimately, did indeed positively identify the remains of his friend by way of his own dental handiwork. 

And so it is my friends, Paul Revere’s list of accomplishments is longer than most of us knew.  Not only was he a skilled metallurgist and one of America’s Founding Fathers, but Paul Revere was also America’s first forensic dentist!  And through his creative forensic skills, his friend, and one of early America’s great heroes, Dr. Joseph Warren, was identified and given a dignified burial.  This Dr. Joseph Warren, by the way, is the very same hero whose legacy was remembered and honored back when names were being lifted for the counties of Ohio.  Yes indeed, our Warren County takes its name from the beneficiary of America’s very first case of identification through forensic dentistry! 

Thank you Paul Revere!  Thank you Dr. Warren!  And thank you Drs. Maloney and Raymond for elevating these juicy historic tid-bits for our appreciation still today!  

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