Biography of Dr. Aretus E. Biddinger
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

ARETUS EARL BIDDINGER, M. D. One of Cleveland's most accomplished surgeons is Dr. Aretus Earl Biddinger, whose work has been attracting favorable attention for a number of years. He is head of the surgical staff of Grace Hospital. He saw active duty ilearly two years as a member of the Naval Medical Corps during the World war.

Doctor Biddinger was born at Nankin, Ashland County, Ohio, July 12, 1881, and represents families that have been in this state since pioneer days. His grandfather, David Biddinger, was an early farmer of Ashland County. His maternal grandfather, Goliath Tedrow, was one of the most successful men of his time in Harrison County, and at his death left a large estate there. John Willard Biddinger, father of Doctor Biddinger, was born in Ashland County, and followed the example of his father as a farmer in that section. He died in May, 1919. He married Elizabeth Tedrow, a native of Harrison County.

Doctor Biddinger grew up on the old homestead in Ashland County. His early advantages were those of the country schools. Following that he attended the Savannah Academy, was a teacher a year, and in 1905 graduated from the Cleveland Homeopathic Medical College, later a department of the Ohio State University. During 1904-05 he was an interne in the Cleveland Maternity Hospital. He engaged in private practice in this city for a time, and then went to New York for further professional experience as an interne in the Metropolitan Hospital. In 1908 he resumed his practice at Cleveland, and with passing years his work has come to be confined almost entirely to surgery.

His distinguished military record should be given in some detail. January 6, 1906, he enlisted in Company I of the Fifth Regiment, Ohio National Guard. March 20, 1906. he was promoted to sergeant of Company I of the Fifth Regiment; November 26, 1907, was discharged to permit him to accept a commission as second lieutenant; July 28, 1908, he was assigned with that rank to Company I; May 24, 1909, was transferred to Second Battalion, Ohio Naval Militia, as an ensign and assistant surgeon; April 8, 1910, was commissioned lieutenant and assistant surgeon and assigned to duty on the U. S. S. Dorothea; April 18, 1912, by special order No. 75, paragraph 8, adjutant general's department. he was commissioned lieutenant and surgeon to rank from March 25, 1912.

April 6, 1917, by the President's proclamation, he was called back to duty, and with the Ohio Naval Division reported at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was assigned as senior medical officer to the Kron Prinz Wilhelm, one of the German raiders interned by the government, a ship that was fitted out as a cruiser transport at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and renamed the U. S. S. Von Steuben. It took six months to refit the Von Steuben. October 31, 1917, the vessel left for her first trip overseas, carrying marines and Base Hospital No. 5. It joined the convoy in New York Harbor, the other transports being the Agamemnon, the Mount Vernon and America, under convoy by the U. S. S. cruiser North Carolina and two destroyers. As senior medical officer on the Von Steuben, Doctor Biddinger made nine round trips to France during the war and one trip after the armistice. On the maiden trip, while about one thousand miles off the French coast, the Von Steuben and the Agamemnon came into collision, but without serious damage beyond injuring the rails and small boats. On the return trip the Von Steuben put into Halifax for coal, and was about thirteen miles out of the harbor when the tragic explosion of munitions occurred in that harbor, one of the British disasters of the war. The scene was witnessed by Doctor Biddinger The American Medical Corps on the vessels near the harbor were ordered ashore for relief work. Leaving there, the Von Steuben ran into a 120 mile gale which greatly retarded the completion of her voyage. Reaching Philadelphia, the Von Steuben was ordered to take on a marine regiment and supplies for Cuba, and while en route was ordered to proceed to Balboa for repairs. She passed through the Panama Canal, being the largest ship up to that time to negotiate that passage. After the repairs had been made the ship returned to Philadelphia, and . resumed transport duty. On the third return trip, at 4:30 P. M., March 5, 1918, while off the Azores the Von Steuben encountered a submarine, opening fire and swinging away. A five inch shell exploded on the American transport, killing a man on each side of Doctor Biddinger and another on the upper deck over his head. Twelve others were wounded. On October 28, 1919, Doctor Biddinger was transferred to a receiving ship in New York Harbor, and was released from active duty May 2, 1920. He still holds the rank of lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserves. At his release he was recommended for the distinguished service medal, but received instead a citation from the secretary of the navy for meritorious service. This was awarded November 11. 1920, and he was later commissioned lieutenant commander to date from September 1, 1918.

Doctor Biddinger has been head of the surgical staff of Grace Hospital since the close of his war service. In July, 1923, he was appointed visiting. surgeon to the Huron Road Hospital. He is a member of the State and, National Homeopathic associations. He was a member of the, War Transport Service Society, and is affiliated with Euclid Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Cleveland Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Forest City Commandery, Knights Templar; Lake Erie Consistory of the. Scottish Rite, Al Koran Temple of the Mystic Shrine, and belongs to the Masonic societies of the Grotto and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He is a member of the Lions Club and the Koran Club.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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