Arthur Henry Tufts, M.D.

1856 - 1931

“An eminent physician and surgeon and able educator in the field of his profession and a man of broad humanitarian principles, Dr. Arthur Henry Tufts has throughout the period of his residence in Sioux Falls occupied a central place on the stage of public activity. His professional interests indicate but one line of his broad usefulness, for aside from that his efforts have been a forceful and beneficial influence in promoting the intellectual and moral progress of Sioux Falls.

A native of Vermont, Dr. Tufts was born in Wardsboro on the 14th of January, 1856, a son of John and Desdemona Sophia (Barber) Tufts. The family comes from Scotch-Irish and English lineage and the ancestral record dates back to the eleventh century. The progenitor of the Tufts family on American soil was John Tufts, who came from County Down, Ireland, and arrived in the new world in the early part of the eighteenth century and settled at West Brookfield, Massachusetts, where the home which he erected in 1734 is still standing. During the early childhood of Arthur Henry Tufts his parents removed westward to Geneseo, Illinois, where he pursued a high school course and afterward continued his studies in Grinnell College at Grinnell, Iowa. Having determined upon the practice of medicine as a life work, he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Baltimore, Maryland and afterward matriculated in the medical department of the College of the city of New York, from which he was graduated with the class of 1883. In that year he located for practice in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he has since continuously remained, covering a period of more than three decades, enjoying well merited success as an active representative of his profession and winning high reputation as one of the most able and skilled physicians of the state. In 1887 he entered into partnership with Dr. S. A. Brown, of Sioux Falls, in a connection that has since been maintained uninterruptedly – a partnership wholly congenial and of mutual benefit. The firm is one of the most prominent in the state, their high standing being attested by the regard entertained for them by their professional brethren. Dr. Tufts has been chosen for both city health officer and county health officer, ably serving in the former position for eight years. An extensive practice has been accorded him and he is regarded as the most careful and conscientious physician, seldom, if ever, at fault in the diagnosis of his cases or anticipating the outcome of disease. Broad reading and investigation have kept him in touch with the most modern scientific ideas and methods and he manifests intense interest in anything that tends to bring to man the key to the complex mystery which we call life. His broad humanitarianism, too, is an element in his constantly growing success, for his interest in his fellowmen is deep and sincere and along various lines he is continuously reaching out a helping hand.

At Grafton, Vermont, Dr. Tufts was united in marriage to Miss Harriet Lemira Deane, a daughter of Benjamin F. Deane. Their children are: Marion D., a teacher in the public schools of Sioux Falls; and Helen A., a teacher in the All Saints school. Both are graduates of the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Tufts gives his political allegiance to the republican party and always keeps well informed on the significant problems and questions of the day, yet the only offices he has filled have been in the strict path of his profession. For twenty years he served as secretary of the board of pension examiners, being first appointed as the republican representative on the board by President Grover Cleveland. He continued in that position until the Wilson administration. when his connection with the board ceased. His work was most efficient and his services highly satisfactory. In Masonic circles, too, Dr. Tufts is a man of influence, his activities constituting a strong element in the upbuilding of the organization in his section of the state. He holds membership in Unity Lodge, No. 130, A. F. & A. M., of which he was the first secretary. This was the last created of the Masonic lodges in Sioux Falls, but is now the largest in point of membership in the state. His partner, Dr. Brown, was really the primary factor in organizing this lodge and both he and Dr. Tufts have been most active in advancing its interests. The latter was senior warden for one term, was master for one term and for one term was treasurer. With the exception of the period spent in those offices, he has continuously served as secretary since the lodge was created. He has attained the Knights Templar degree in the commandery, the thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite and has crossed the sands of the desert with the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. His social nature finds expression in his connection with the Country Club, of which he is a popular member. Among his chief activities should be mentioned his work for the advancement of the cause of temperance and the upbuilding of the church. He is a stalwart advocate of temperance both by precept and example, for he has never tasted liquor of any kind nor has he ever used tobacco. A member of the Congregational church, he has been a cooperant factor in every effort for moral progress and social uplift in his community. He has held all the offices in the church, including that of deacon, and was chairman of the board of trustees when the present house of worship was erected. In the Young Men’s Christian Association of Sioux Falls he has long been an earnest worker. The first meeting called to organize the association was held in his office and he was chosen its first president.

When the Sioux Falls College, A Baptist school, was organized in 1883 Dr. Tufts became professor of physiology and natural history of that institution and so continued until 1886, when his growing general practice forced him to withdraw from college work. His life has been indeed one of widespread usefulness. He has studied existing conditions and the signs of the times, has recognized the opportunities for progress and has employed most practical methods in working toward high ideals. Association with Dr. Tufts means expansion and elevation.”

Kingsbury George W. History of Dakota Territory. Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1915, IV. pp. 775 – 776.

Dr. Tufts died at the age of 75 and was buried in Block 15, Lot 14 of the Cemetery on August 11, 1931. His wife Harriet lived on until 1940 and rests next to him.

We wish to thank Unity Lodge No. 130 and the Grand Lodge of South Dakota for the photo of Dr. Tufts who was Grand Master in 1903.