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Obituary of Walter H. Bulloch

By Henry Tolman, in the American Monthly Microscopical Journal, 1892

The death of this eminent Chicago microscope maker is a severe loss, not only to the Illinois State Society, of which he was for nearly twenty years a prominent member, but to the cause of science at large. He was born in 1835 at Glasgow, Scotland, and lived there until he was seventeen years of age. About 1852 the family emigrated to New York, where Walter learned the trade of tailor with his father. But, his innate fondness for mechanical pursuits made him dissatisfied with his prospects, and he was apprenticed to Mssrs. Pike & Sons, then a leading firm of opticians and instrument makers on Broadway, New York City. After serving this time, he went into business until the war of the rebellion broke out, when he enlisted as a private in the 12th New York volunteers. His term of service, however, was very short, as he contracted a severe cold, which developed into rheumatism, and he was incapacitated from further work and was mustered out of service. Returning to New York, he formed a partnership with William Wales, the well-known maker of objectives, and continued in business there until 1866, when he moved to Chicago. He was very successful and had accumulated considerable means when his shop and tools were destroyed in the memorable Chicago fire of October 8 and 9, 1871, and Mr. Bulloch sustained a financial loss from which he never recovered. Immediately after this misfortune, he went to Boston, and was for a time connected with the late R.B. Tolles, but, again returned to establish himself in Chicago. In 1889, he accepted a position connected with the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey in the Bureau of Weights and measures at Washington, but he chafed under the restraints of an official situation, and after six months experience, returned to his home here. Before he left, his health had begun to fail, and after his return late in the fall of 1890, he suffered still more. He opened a place at No. 303 Dearborn Street, in a very advantageous business portion of the city, and began to work again. It was not for long. After struggling with disease for about six months, he was compelled to stop forever. He died Nov. 5, 1891, at Elgin, Illinois, where he had gone for treatment by Dr. P. Tyrrell. He leaves a wife, but no children.

Mr. Bulloch was a man of pronounced character and indomitable energy and perserverence. To those who did not know him well he appeared brusque and sometimes even overbearing, but his numerous friends soon learned to appreciate his straight forward manner of expressing his views, his pertinacious but just demands for a proper recognition of his rights, and his outspoken criticism of what he deemed erroneous in the theories or opinions of others. In his business he was concientious and painstaking to a fault. Often when making an instrument or piece of apparatus to order, if he saw where there was room for improvement he would spend hours or days in experiments, perhaps wasting the results of all his previous labor, refusing to slight his work at any cost. Whether it was the simplest accessory or the finest microscope stand, nothing was allowed to leave his shop until it was as perfect as his trained hands could make it. His reputation was more than money, and he lived to see it world wide. Besides being a member of the Illinois State Microscopical Society, he was a member of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, the American Society of Microscopists, and of the Royal Microscopical Society of London. His death leaves a gap in the rank of scientific workers which can not easily be filled.

Walter H. Bulloch other microscope makers

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