In the 1770s Elijah Dix was an apothecary (meaning doctor) in Worcester, where he not only tended to patients but was part of the Patriot group. His medical and social connections extended to Boston as well as Worcester and included the Patriot leader Dr. Joseph Warren. Dix’s home, located at the site of the Methodist Church, served as a refuge in 1775 for Warren’s four children as well as for Mary Scollay (Warren’s fiancée). In that same year his home also served as a temporary residence for Isaiah Thomas who, with his printing press, was establishing a new home for his newspaper, The Massachusetts Spy.

In 1771 Dix achieved a degree of notoriety when it was discovered that he had the skeleton, with the purpose of studying anatomy, of William Linsey, who had been executed the year before in Worcester for burglary. A crowd gathered at his home demanding the skeleton and a near riot ensued. Dix was forced to take out an advertisement in the Boston Gazette and Country Journal defending his actions.

Dix left Worcester in 1795 to open an apothecary store in Boston’s Faneuil Hall. He eventually moved to Maine, where he founded two towns, Dixfield and Dixmont. Dix’s formulary book, containing recipes for medications he devised, is available online from the Countway Library of Harvard Medical School at https://colonialnorthamerica.library.harvard.edu/spotlight/cna/catalog/990061903080203941