April 24, 1854
Graefenberg Medical Institute in Dadeville graduated its first student, James L. Gilder. The state’s first medical school, Graefenberg opened in 1852 after the legislature granted a charter to the school’s owner and professor, Philip M. Shepard. The institute charged $140 for a regular session and offered instruction in surgery, obstetrics, physiology, and pharmacology. In all, approximately fifty students graduated from the school, including four of Shepard’s sons and his daughter Louisa Maria Shepard, who is likely the first woman to graduate from a medical school in the south. Graefenberg closed in 1861 following Shepard’s untimely death and a fire destroyed the school and its records in 1873.