Dr. Daniel James Van Velsor was born on the 1st of May, 1833 in Southwold Township, Elgin County. His parents William Van Velsor and the former Eliza Bright, were farmers. He was the 3rd of 11 children. His siblings were; Calvin, Jerushia, John, William, Jacob, Rosanna, Rachel, Elijah, Ruth and Henry.
He was educated in the local township schools, before earning a teaching certificate when he was about 16 years old. He taught school and saved the necessary funds to pursue the study of medicine at the University of Michigan. In 1862 he graduated M.D. from Victoria College in Toronto. According to the 1882 Ontario Medical Register, Dr. Van Velsor joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons on the 13th of June, 1866. Also according to the 1882 Ontario Medical Register, Dr. Van Velsor resided in Rondeau (Kent County).
Dr. Van Velsor set up his medical practice in Blenheim. He served not only the Community of Blenheim, but he reached into the county wherever the need arose.
On December 31st, 1857 he married Mary Ellen Wallace of Louisville, Ontario. She was born on the 8th of November, 1838 the oldest of 7 children born to Joseph Wallace and the former Mary Reardon. Her siblings were; Sarah Ann, Robert William, Catherine Eliza, Joseph, Maurice and Daniel. Her brother Joseph became a doctor and practiced in Sparta (Elgin County). According to the 1851 census, her father was an innkeeper in Chatham Township, Kent County.
Dr. and Mrs. Van Velsor had 4 children, William Wallace, Edwin Raymond, Helena Maud and Daniel James. Their sons all became doctors.
According to the 1866-1867 Kent, Lambton and Essex County Directory and Gazetteer, Dr. Van Velsor served as a coroner for the Blenheim area.
Dr. Van Velsor was elected Deputy Reeve of Harwich Township in 1868 and he served in this capacity until 1871, when he was elected as the Reeve. He held the office of Reeve from 1871 until 1874. While serving as the Reeve rom 1873 – 1874 he also held the position of Warden of Kent County. During this period of time, Blenheim, was incorporated as a town. Dr. Van Velsor supported the Liberal Party and he was appointed as a Kent County Coroner. In the 1880 Kent County Directory, Dr. Van Velsor was listed in partnership with Dr. James Samson. Their office (and his residence) was located at the corner of Catherine Street and Marlborough Street.
In 1885 Bell Telephone service arrived in Blenheim. Dr. Van Velsor’s office and residence was two of the first locations that were hooked up to the new system.
Throughout his political life, Dr. Van Velsor continued to look after his patients and mentored many young doctors. He died on April 13th, 1889 and he was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Blenheim. Mrs. Mary Ellen Van Velsor died in Los Angeles, California on the 1st of January, 1914 and she was also buried at Blenheim.
*His eldest son, Dr. William Wallace Van Velsor, was born in 1860 in Blenheim. In the 1881 census William is listed as a medical student. He married Jessie A. Pearson on the 17th of July, 1882 in Galt, Ontario. She was the daughter of John Pearson and the former Jane Walton Pearson. Dr. William Wallace Van Velsor died on the 28th of June, 1897 and he was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Blenheim. His wife Jessie died on the 23rd of April, 1888 and she was also buried in Blenheim.
**Dr. Edwin Raymond Van Velsor was born in 1862. He died on the 4th of June, 1905 at the age of 42. At the time of his death he was married and residing at 76 Marlborough Street in Blenheim, Ontario.
***Dr. Daniel James Van Velsor Jr. was born in 1866 and he died in Pennsylvania in 1929. He was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Blenheim.
Note: To date it is unsubstantiated where Dr. Van Velsor’s son’s practiced medicine.
****Dr. James Samson also appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.