Medical Profession in North Central Ohio
North Central Ohio Biographies





CHAPTER XXIV.

MEDICAL PROFESSION

In their devotion to duty, regardless of the number of hours of continuous service spent in relieving suffering humanity, the hardships involved in responding promptly to calls in all sorts of weather and often to homes of suffering remote from beaten lines of travel, self sacrificing physicians of today carry out the traditions of their profession. Like the pioneer preachers, the early day physicians of North Central Ohio braved every danger in the newly settled country in responding to calls in emergencies. At any hour of the day or night, no matter how greatly they were in need of rest and sleep, they quickly responded to every call of human need, traveling on horseback over winter roads impassable for any vehicle. They were resourceful, self sacrificing and early day annals are bright with examples of their abundant service. The example they set has not been forgotten by those who came after them. The swamps that abounded in the lowlands in the days of the early settlements in this section of Ohio, were prolific sources of fever ague. In ordinary cases, home remedies were used by the settlers, one of them being butternut bark pills, mixtures of wild cherry bark, boneset, black alder and dogwood bark. In those early days blood letting was considered essential in the treatment of many ills.

One Northern Ohio writer of the long ago mentioned that the settlers considered it very important in peeling bark from the trees to have it stripped downward or it wouldn't physic. The leaves of the boneset must be stripped off upward or they would not be effective as an emetic. Butternut pills were made by boiling the butternut bark to a thick syrup which was thickened with meal or flour and rolled into pills. In the early days every well to do family was careful to keep a supply on hand. Ordinary ills were treated with home remedies the virtue of which had been handed down for generations, but when these failed, or the emergency was such that it could not be met by home remedies, the family doctor was called in haste and quite frequently it meant for him miles of wearisome journey.

PIONEER PHYSICIANS OF KNOX COUNTY
Dr. Richard Hilliar, a native of England, who settled in 1806 in the southwestern part of Knox County, coming there from Zanesville, is said to have been the first physician to practice in the county. He owned 4,000 acres of land in the township which was named after him and was the first in Hilliar Township to die. Dr. Henderson, a young physician, began to practice in Mt. Vernon settlement about 1808 and it is said that he was so aggressive in urging vaccination that he aroused the anger of Landlord Butler, who ordered him off of the Tavern premises in such a menacing way that the doctor departed and never came back.

About 1812 Dr. Timothy Burr located at Clinton, north of Mt. Vernon, and during the War of 1812 was a surgeon in the service. Dr. Byers was an early settler at Fredericktown and in 1814 Dr. G. B. Maxfield also settled there. In that same year Dr. Burge located at Clinton, leaving there after a year. Among the other early physicians at Mt. Vernon are mentioned Drs. Brook, T. E. Clark, T. R. Potter and W. F. McClellan. The county annals give the names of a goodly number of the early day physicians in communities of Knox County. One of the most prominent of the early day physicians who practiced in Huron County was Dr. George Anderson, who located in Venice, then in Huron County, in 1817 and in Sandusky the following year. His practice covered a large part of what are now Erie and Ottawa counties. He was a very active politician and one of the first directors of the Mad River R. R. He died during Sandusky's first cholera epidemic.

Dr. G. W. Hill, in his history of Ashland County, says that for the first six or eight years after the pioneers began to locate along the rich valleys of this county, they were compelled in critical cases to go to Wooster, Mt. Vernon or Mansfield for a physician.

Ashland's first physician, Dr. Joel Luther, arrived in what was then Uniontown, five year old hamlet, one evening in the early autumn of 1820. He was in a one horse wagon and seeking a location. Stopping at Joseph Sheets' tavern on the site of the present Home Savings & Loan Company's place of business, he learned that there was no doctor nearer than Dr. Miller at Mansfield. During the night he responded to an emergency call at a settler's cabin several miles from Uniontown. That was the beginning of a succesful practice. He was afterwards in the dry goods business and died in 1834.

An early day physician in Wooster was Dr. Daniel McPhail, whose practice extended into what are now Clearcreek, Montgomery, Mohican and Vermillion townships, Ashland County. Dr. Joseph E. Cliff, during 1821-22 studied medicine with him, located in Savannah in 1821 and afterwards practiced at Hayesville, Jeromesville and Loudonville. He married a daughter of Dr. McPhail and afterwards went to the gold mines of Brazil, where he had some thrilling experiences, for he arrived in the midst of a revolution. He remained at the mines for several years, obtained considerable wealth and returned home only to learn that his wife, supposing him dead, had married Robert W. Smith of Mohican Township, then in Wayne County. He provided liberally for his son and returned to England where he spent the rest of his life. The son, Dr. D. B. Cliff, became a very successful physician.

Dr. Joseph Hildreth, who studied medicine with Ashland's first physician, Dr. Joel Luther, practiced a few years in Ashland and later practiced at Beilville, Richland County. Subsequently he studied law and located in Mansfield.

Dr. Bela B. Clark, who located in Medina in 1818, practiced medicine there for nearly a quarter of a century. For several years he practiced at Columbus and in 1846, after Ashland County was formed, located in Ashland where he practiced his profession until his death Aug. 20, 1859. He was one of the associated judges of the Ashland common pleas court, serving until the adoption of the new constitution of 1851. He was interested in the building of the Atlantic and Great Western R. R and was one of the first directors. His daughter, Elizabeth, became the wife of Dr. Philo Henry Clark, a native of Wakeman, the third white child born in that vicinity His father, during the War of 1812, was a surgeon on the battleship Prometheus, afterwards locating in Wakeman where he practiced medicine for many years.

Dr. Philo H. Clark, who located in Ashland in 1850, practiced his profession there for forty six years, except for the time during the Civil War when he was an assistant surgeon in the army. He was a member of the Ashland County Medical Society and in 1907 was made an honorary member of the Ohio State Medical Society. For a decade or more prior to his death in December, 1911, at the advanced age of ninety two years, three months and twenty five days, he led a retired life.

Among the other physicians who located in Ashland during the first half of the nineteenth century, were Drs. William N. Denning, A. L. Davidson, George W. Cochrane, Gustavus Oesterlin, Burr Kellogg, Willard Slocum, N. S. Sampsell, J. B. F. Sampsell, W. R. S. Clark, Jacob W. Kinnaman and Benjamin F. Whitney. Dr. David S. Sampsell, who located in Ashland in 1851, served three terms as mayor of Ashland. He was the father of Dr. D. S. Sampsell, Jr., and Dr. William H. Sampsell, both of whom practiced here for many years. Dr. J. B. F. Sampsell served one term as Ashland's mayor and another physician, Dr. Benjamin Myers, was mayor of Ashland from 1884 to 1886, also served in the General Assembly and two terms as probate judge of Ashland County. During the Civil War he served in the 120th O. V. I. Dr. Jacob P. Cowan, who first practiced medicine in Jeromesville and removed to Ashland in 1859, represented the county in the General Assembly and served in the Forty fourth Congress, representing the old fourteenth congressional district at that time composed of Ashland, Crawford, Holmes and Richland counties.

Dr. John Cowan, who practiced for years in Jeromesville and Ashland, and for a few years at Lodi, served as state Senator, 1869-70, from the Ashland, Richland, Lorain and Medina district. Dr. I. L. Crane, who served as assistant surgeon in the Civil War, died in 1867. Among the later physicians now deceased were Drs. J. M. Diller, Samuel Riddle, G. W. Hill, T. S. Hunter, Samuel Glass, R. C. Kinnaman, J. C. Campbell, Joseph Sheets, Frank Cowan, J. H. Stoll, A. L. Sherick, L. B. Ash, F. V. Dotterweich, Jacob Fridline, W. M. McClellan and W. H. Roasberry.

Dr. Royal V. Powers, who located in Mansfield seven years after the town was founded, tore down the first cabin on the site of the present Sturges block, Main and North Park streets, erected a one story frame building in which he kept the pioneer drug store and practiced his profession. He was a brother in law of President Millard Fillmore. Dr. Powers afterwards located in Huron County and helped his brother, David, to lay out the town of New Haven. Dr. Bradley, the Drs. Miller and Sweney are mentioned as other physicians in Mansfield.

Dr. William Bushnell, who began the practice of medicine in Mansfield in 1828 and passed away in that city Dec. 13, 1893, in his ninety fourth year, used to recall his experiences as a lad of twelve years when his father, Sterling G. Bushnell, was adjutant of the First Regiment, Third Brigade, Fourth Division, Ohio Militia, during the War of 1812. On its way to the frontier after Hull's surrender, this regiment halted at his father's farm in Trumbull County, where after the noonday meal, resumed its march His father permitted him to go along with the troops, but near Cleveland, when a battle with the Indians was imminent, his father sent him back home. He wanted to have a part in the fighting but, obeying his father, he followed the trail through the dense wilderness back to Trumbull County. In 1820 the family moved to the present Ashland County, his father purchasing for 50 cents an acre an eighty acre farm, half a mile east of the site of Hayesville. The future physician had helped survey parts of the counties of Ashtabula, Medina and Lorain. After having taught school and studied medicine, he practiced for one year at Point Coupee, near New Orleans, before locating in Mansfield. He served several terms in the General Assembly, was a censor of the Cleveland Medical College for fifteen years, was a member of the American Medical Association as well as of the Ohio Medical Association, aided in the construction of the Atlantic & Great Western Railway, and was one of the directors of the line. By appointment of Governor Bishop, Dr. Bushnell was Ohio delegate to the International Congress on Prison Reform at Stockholm, Sweden. He was an enthusiast on local history. He was the grandfather of the present Dr. William Bushnell of Mansfield.

Dr. John G. Bowesmith, who died at Mansfield Feb. 23, 1878, after residing there for eight years, is said by Historian A. J. Baughman to have been one of the "Immortal Six Hundred," commemorated by Tennyson in his "Charge of the Light Brigade," at Balaklava, Oct. 25, 1854. He was a sergeant in Lord Cardigan's Light Brigade and at Balakiava received two sabre wounds. He is buried in the Mansfield Cemetery.

One of the early practitioners in Medina County was Dr. Amos Warner, who came there in 1815. Dr. Elijah DeWitt, born in Vermont in 1800, began the practice of medicine in Lodi in 1821, locating in 1835 in Elyria. An account of the organization of the Medina County Medical Lyceum, Oct. 9, 1833, gives Dr. Bela B. Clark as president; Dr. George K. Pardee, vice president; Dr. Elijah DeWitt, corresponding secretary; Dr. O. S. St. John, recording secretary; Dr. Jesse C. Mills, treasurer; Drs. DeWitt, Pardee and St. John, censors. In 1835, Drs. Clark and DeWitt were appointed delegates to the Western Reserve Medical Convention in May of that year, to consider the proposition of establishing a medical college on the Reserve. The Lyceum at its organization consisted of eleven members, the officers above mentioned together with Drs. Clark T. Rowe, G. W. Howe, S. Rawson, J. S. Ross, Lorenzo Warner and William S. H. Welton. Another early physician at Medina was Dr. Ormsby. Dr. St. John afterwards located in Lincoln, Neb.

Dr. Samuel Day, who located in Huron County in 1819, two years after his sons, John and Josiah, came prospecting to the county, and a year after they and two other sons settled on the section of land northeast of New London, was the first physician in New London Township. He was described as a Botanic, using indigenous herbs and plants in most of his practice. Dr. Edward Thomson practiced medicine in Norwalk before he became head of the famous Norwalk Academy.

Mrs. Caroline Boalt Strutton in reminiscences of old families of Norwalk, in the Centennial Edition of the Reflector-Herald, speaks of Dr. George Griswold Baker, one of the incorporators of the Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland R. R., now part of the New York Central, as an eminent early day resident of Norwalk. He served as U. S. counsel at Geneva and Athens, returning from Greece to enter the Union Army as a surgeon. Mrs. Strutton relates that while Dr. Baker was in Athens, he saved the life of an American visitor who had incurred the wrath of the populace. Pursued by enraged Greeks, the object of their wrath dashed up the steps of the American consulate to where Dr. Baker was standing. Seizing the flag hanging over the doorway, Dr. Baker spread Old Glory over the threshold and dared the mob to cross it. This impressed the mob, which quickly dispersed.

The president of the first Medical Society in the Firelands, organized in 1822, was Dr. Moses C. Sanders of Peru. Officers of the Fourteenth District Medical Society, formed the previous years, were: Dr. D. Tilden of Norwalk, president; Dr. Anderson, Sandusky, vice, president; Dr. Mantor, Elyria, secretary; Dr. Fay, Milan, treasurer; Drs. Lucas of Uniontown, G. C. Miller of Mansfield, Dr. Baker of Florence, Dr. Sanders of Peru and Dr. Strong of Bloomingville, censors. It is recorded that at a meeting of the Fourteenth District Medical Society in 1830 a resolution was adopted approving efforts for the suppression of intemperance.

When in 1817 Bordin Beeby of Ridgeville was injured by a fall from the upper floor of a frame house that was being erected for Heman Ely at Elyria, there was no physician nearer than Cleveland. Dr. Mack of that settlement was summoned and Ely paid the bill of $30 after Beeby recovered. One of the early teachers at the Yellow Schoolhouse in Elyria was Dr. Griswold, who became a prominent physician in Elyria and during the Civil War was a surgeon in the Union Army.

Ashland County had a Medical Society about 1850 but disbanded in less than two years. A second one was formed in 1864, the officers of which in 1878 were: President, Dr. J. P. Cowan; vice president, Dr. William S. Allen; secretary, Dr. R. C. Kinnaman; treasurer, Dr. Gustavus Oesterlin; censors, Drs. I. S. Cole, G. W. Hill and F. Cowan.

The present officers of the Ashland County Medical Society are: President, Dr. D. L. Mohn, Ashland; vice president, Dr. G. B. Fuller, Loudonville; secretary treasurer, Dr. Herman Gunn, Ashland.

Dr. Abner E. Foltz, a native of Wayne County, who at the time of his death in August, 1917, at Akron, was dean of Summit County physicians, began his practice in medicine in Ashland, where he was associated with his brother, W. K. Foltz, and J. H. Barron in the drug business, before locating in Akron. In his reminiscences a few years before his death, he told how he earned his first dollar, carrying water to harvest hands on his father's farm in Wayne County in the early '50s. He was paid at the rate of 12 1/2 cents a day and it was real work, he said, for the buckets were fully as big as an ordinary barrel and the sun was amazing hot. He obtained his literary education at Sharon Center, Medina County. At the outbreak of the Civil War he and his four brothers served in the same company until the end of the conflict. While he was a soldier he determined to become a physician and after the war he entered college, was graduated and had a long career in his profession. He served three terms as president of the Summit County Medical Society and during a service of twenty years on the pension board at Akron, never missed a meeting.

The first physician in Wellington was Dr. Daniel J. Johns, who arrived there with other settlers from Massachusetts early in July, 1818. It required four weeks for this company to make the journey from Massachusetts to their new homes in the forests of what is now Lorain County. Dr. Johns was twenty one years old when he came to Wellington and for a great many years was the only physician in a circuit of fifteen miles. He had a part in organizing the township and county, was chosen to various township offices and from 1838 to 1845 was an associate judge of the Lorain County common pleas court. It is said of him that he spent his life in furthering the interests of Wellington Township.

A former Huron County physician whose physiognomy on chewing gum wrappers is familiar to millions of people, was the late Dr. Edwin E. Beeman, who for years practiced his profession in Wakeman before locating in Cleveland. Dr. Beeman graduated in medicine when the medical college of Western Reserve University was at the corner of Erie and St. Clair streets, Cleveland. After practicing a while in Michigan he located in Birmingham, Erie County, where he was quite successful. He married a daughter of Ahirah Cobb, later a manufacturer in Cleveland. In the late '70s he removed to Wakeman, where in addition to practicing medicine he was connected with a weekly newspaper. The late W. R. Rose narrated an incident of Dr. Beeman's Wakeman days. A young darkly brought home from Norwalk a bottle of whisky and fearing to leave it where he was working, slipped into the doctor's back room and left his treasure there. It happened that in the back room Dr. Beeman had a large rattlesnake stuffed and lying on a board ready for display in a case. When the darky came out into the front office his eyes were bulging out. "Did you see the b-b-big snake in there?" he stuttered. "What's that ?" replied Dr. Beeman, "there's no snake in there. Come, come, boy, you've been drinking. You'll have to quit it or it will get you sure." The colored boy was so convinced that he was on the verge of delirium tremens that he swore off on liquor all together.

While living in Wakeman, Dr. Beeman, who had great faith in pepsin in cases of indigestion, began to make it for his own use. He found quite a market for it among other doctors and finally moved to Cleveland, where he devoted himself to the manufacture of pepsin and pancreatin. His office was on the east side of the Square between Superior and Euclid. Employed in his office was a young woman who was an inveterate gum chewer. He warned her that she would injure her stomach but she replied that it wouldn't hurt her if he would put some of his pepsin in it. That gave him an idea upon which he acted promptly and with great financial success, for this chance remark led to the manufacture of his pepsin gum.

Huron County's oldest physician, Dr. Samuel Holtz of Plymouth, who though in his eighty first year is still as active and vigorous as a man one half his years, has been spoken of as "St. Luke of Marshlands." In ministering to the suffering in the marsh district of southern Huron County, Dr. Holtz has undergone hardships with little thought of any financial return, in fact it is said it is his practice to bring food and other aid to those of his patients who are in dire need. During the past winter, organizations in that region have been aiding families in the onion fields.

Dr. Joseph H. Todd, Wooster's oldest physician, now in his ninety fifth year, is in remarkable physical condition, a youthful nonagenarian. Last December, at the time of his birthday anniversary, the Wayne County Medical Society gave a banquet at Hotel Ohio in his honor.

More regarding North Central Ohio physicians is given in the chapters of the various counties.

From:
History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931


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