Biography of Theodore Gay
Franklin County, NY Biographies





Theodore Gay, the last survivor but one of the early physicians of Malone, was born in Bridport, Vt., April 1, 1812, the son of a physician, and the cost of his education, whieh included the course at Middlebury College, was the whole of his patrimony. After graduation at college, he taught school in Western New York and in Georgia to obtain means for pursuing his medical studies. Receiving his degree, he established himself in 1840 at Westville, and finding it a rather barren field moved after a short time to Fort Covington. But there the practice was practically monopolized by Dr. Roswell Bates, so that there was no business for a young doctor, and in 1842 he came to Malone. The physicians of that time filled a niche in the life of a community that can scarcely be comprehended today. They not only ministered to the physical ills, but were the intimate friends, the mentors and the monitors of their patients, and so interwove their lives with these that they contributed in a large measure to the moulding of character. Of all the doctors of that period in Malone, and as a class they made the place famous as a center of medical skill, Dr. Gay had the profoundest mind, and the least regard for matters outside of his profession. Gentle as a woman, refined in thought and expression, radiating sunshine in the sick room, he practiced as if it all were a labor of love, with no element of material recompense entering into it. Indeed, he was wont himself to say in entire sincerity that if he could afford it he would never make any charge at all for his services; and the charges that he. did make were grotesquely insignificant, a half a dollar per visit within the village limits, except that for a Sunday call the fee was a dollar; from one to two shillings for office advice and treatment; and for a trip into the country as far as ellmont, in storm of rain or sleet or in zero weather, from a dollar to a dollar and a half. And these fees included medicines, and, more often than not, were paid in orders on a merchant or in produce stockings at a dollar a pair, butter at ten cents a pound, veal at two and a half cents a pound, chickens at a shilling apiece, etc. In 1880 Dr. Gay virtually gave up his general practice in order to devote himself almost continuously to the care of Vice President Wheeler, receiving next to nothing for his services while Mr. Wheeler lived, and only a thousand dollars by the latter's will for six or seven years of attention. The doctor had at first no feeling of resentment, but only grief that he had been so hardly treated. As time passed, however, and friends syinpathized with him and. expressed indignation, he became as bitter as his kindly nature would permit, and filed a claim against the estate, which was eventually paid at ten thousand dollars. Dr. Gay loved books, both the text books of his profession and the best literature, and he had a wonderfully retentive memory. One afternoon he called at my office, and, picking up a book of quotations, read from it here and, there, from Byron, Shakespeare and others, a couplet or fragment of a stanza, continuing from memory to repeat verse after verse until they joined to the next printed quotation. Dr. Gay died January 20, 1899.

From:
Historical Sketches of Franklin County
and its several towns.
By: Frederick J. Seaver Malone, New York.
J. B. Lyon Company, Printers Albany, NY 1918.


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