The Montgomery County Medical Society
Part One


THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY:

ITS FOUNDERS AND EARLY MEMBERS.

by

W. J. Conklin, M.A., M.D.

Dayton, Ohio

 

In Commemoration of the Fifty-first Anniversary of the

Montgomery County Medical Society

 

Printed by Order of the Society

1901.

 

We meet to-night, gentlemen of the Montgomery County Medical Society, for the last time in the nineteenth century, which, from the standpoint of achievement, is the most wonderful century in history.

While this statement goes unchallenged in most, if not all departments of human endeavor, it finds, perhaps, its strongest illustration in the recent marvelous development of medicine.

Certainly in no other field has such rapid progress been made, and in none other has this progress been of such wide and lasting benefit to the race. Calling the roll of the great epoch-making discoveries in medicine, we disclose only two, that of Harvey in the seventeenth, and of Jenner in the eighteenth century, which can lank in importance with anesthesia, with cellular physiology and pathology, with antiseptic surgery, or with the germ theory of disease,—all gifts of the dying century.

In yielding to the reminiscent mood which belongs alike to the death of friend or century, it is not of the things which have made the century great of which I would speak to-night. My task is a humbler one. One year ago it was my privilege to read before you a brief sketch of Medicine in Early Dayton, and now I would add another chapter to that history, dealing chiefly with the Founders and Early Members of this Society.

In the fall of 1849, known to the older residents as the "cholera year," when Dayton numbered scarcely ten thou-sand people, the following notice appeared in the local newspapers:

"The medical gentlemen of Dayton will meet at the Council Chamber on Thursday evening for the purpose of forming a Medical Society."**

**This call for a preliminary meeting was signed by John Steele, Joshua Clements, J. B. Craighead, H. Van Tuyl, J. H. Langstedt, M. Garst, D. B. Van Tuyl, Edmund Smith, E. Garst, Edwin Smith.

The organization was completed on September 13, with fourteen members enrolled: Edwin Smith, John Johns (Vandalia), H. G. Carey, Henry K. Steele, Oliver Crook, H. Van Tuyl, William Egry, Edmund Smith, P. B. Hallanan, Michael Garst, John W. Shriver, Elias Garst, David B. Van Tuyl, Samuel Fahnestock.

The angel of peace did not rock the cradle of the Montgomery County Medical Society. Drs. John Steele, Craighead, Clements, and Langstedt, whose signatures were appended to the initial call, seem to have taken no further interest in the organization, and Doctor Geiger, though appointed to the committee on constitution, was refused membership.

The proceedings of the second regular meeting were enlivened by the arraignment of an erring brother on the charge of unprofessional conduct, and the crusade thus begun, did not end until four of the founders were expelled or forced to resign.

The courts were appealed to for redress from the slanderous tongues of envious rivals: Egry v. Langstedt, Common Pleas docket for 1849.

The early meetings of the society were almost wholly given over to the discussion of medical ethics and politics.

But out of a stormy infancy has come a peaceful adolescence. With the waning of the century our meetings have changed to veritable love-feasts. The Blessed Code of the fathers has fallen into "innocuous desuetude,'' and scarcely one is left to mourn the passing of this once mighty ruler of doctors.

As foretold of old: The homeopathic calf and the old lion and the osteopathic fatling lie down together in the medical fold and there is peace.

In briefly sketching the lives of our honored dead we shall adhere to the chronological plan followed in last year's address, and speak of them in the order in which they began to practice medicine in Dayton.

 

EDWIN SMITH, (1803-1876).

 

In 1806, a young lad, just turned of three years, came with his parents from the birthplace over the mountains to the little hamlet of Dayton. It is not recorded that any special portents announced his nativity nor even his arrival in Dayton, and yet that lad, Edwin Smith, grew to be the leading spirit in the organization of this society, was chairman of all preliminary meetings, and its first president. He sprang from good stock. His father. Gen. W. M. Smith, was for years principal of the famous Dayton Academy, which did so much for the intellectual life of our city, and afterwards became a prominent member of the early Dayton bar. Young Smith completed his preliminary studies at the Ohio University, (Athens), read medicine with Dr. John Steele, graduated M. D. from the Ohio Medical College in 1826, and immediately opened an office in Dayton.

From 1828 to 1833 he was associated in the practice of medicine and the selling of drugs, successively, with the elder Van Tuyl, and with Doctors Jones and Clements, each of which partnerships was of short duration. In those days the putting on and off of medical partnerships seems to have been attended with less ceremony than the swapping of horses, at both of which the pioneer doctor was an adept. Doctor Smith evidently inclined to commercial rather than to professional life, and in later years became more closely identified with the drug trade than with the practice of medicine.

I only recall seeing him once: a tall, rather portly, splendid-appearing old gentleman of stately mien, faultlessly dressed in shining tile, gold-headed cane, and a broad expanse of ruffled shirt, in the frills of which sparkled a diamond.

A genial disposition reinforced by a fund of humor and anecdote made him a charming companion and one much sought after on social occasions.

Doctor Smith was inordinately fond of the glamour of public life, was to the fore in all popular movements, a sort of stock secretary for town meetings, and, withal, a shrewd and successful politician.

He held many offices of trust among which may be enumerated two terms, (1838-39), in the legislature of the State. He was a member of the commission appointed by Governor Wood to superintend the building of the present State House at Columbus, which cost over one and one-quarter millions of dollars. In 1840 Doctor Smith withdrew from the profession to accept the appointment of clerk to the Court of Common Pleas, which he held for seven years, after which he resumed the drug business.

Next to medicine and the Locofoco party he held in esteem the Masonic fraternity, of which he was the local head for years,—and this at a time when the anti-Masonic feeling was so strong as to force one constantly to defend his membership.   He was a regular attendant on the Grand Lodge, and was regarded in Mystic circles as one of the strong men of the State.

He removed to Cleveland in 1872 to engage in the drug and surgical instrument business with his son.

He died in 1876 from injuries received in a fall from the door-step at his home in Cleveland, at the age of 73.

 

HIBBERD JEWETT, (1799-1870).

 

In the summer of 1837 there came to Dayton one whose ability and prominence both as a physician and citizen entitle him to mention to-night, though only by courtesy, since, for unknown reasons, he never affiliated with this or other medical organizations.

I refer to Dr. Hibberd Jewett. He was born in Putney, Vt., in the latter part of 1799, and graduated in medicine from Dartmouth College in 1820.

Soon after taking up his residence here a partnership was formed with Dr. John Steele, which in two years expired by limitation. From 1842 to 1859 lie was associated in practice with his brother, Adams.

When I received the appointment of assistant physician to the Insane Hospital in the spring of 1869, Doctor Jewett was president of the trustees, on which board lie served the State faithfully and intelligently for more than fifteen years. His long official connection with the institution was fitly commemorated by his heirs in the gift of his medical library, a valuable collection of seven hundred and fifty volumes, covering nil departments of medicine.

Doctor Jewett was of frail build, and had small features, but was full of energy and force. In mode of thought he was skeptical, almost cynical, and an agnostic in faith. He was an open and pronounced abolitionist in times when it took both moral and physical courage to champion anti-slavery principles. For years he was the recognized head of the local branch of the famous underground railway and saved many a runaway slave from the grasp of his pursuer.

In 1841 excitement over the slave issue ran high; even in little Dayton race riots were not infrequent in which negroes were driven away and their houses burned. In January of that year ex-Senator Thomas Morris was invited to make an address in the old court-house under the auspices of the local anti-slavery society. He was entertained by Doctor Jewett who, at the appointed hour, accompanied him to the place of meeting. The disorderly crowd which greeted the speaker, hissing and emphasizing their muttered threats, with an occasional rotten egg, broke up the meeting and the Senator, with a few friends returned to the Jewett residence.

The crowd followed, and "collecting," says the record, "at one of those Ohio hells called groceries, where wickedness, crime, and debauchery are sold by the measure and swallowed with greediness," continued their demonstrations. The driver of the Morris carriage was knocked off his seat and the horses stampeded. Doctor Jewett's house was elaborately, if not artistically, frescoed in egg tints. The outrage was brought to the notice of the grand jury in a strong charge by Judge Helfenstein but, as usual, no indictments were returned.**

**Since writing the above, Mrs. C. E. Conover has shown me a letter written by Dr. Jewett to James Steele, member of the legislature from this county, which throws a strong light on the temper of the times and the character of the man. It seems to have been no unusual experience for Dr. Jewett to have felt the iron hand of the pro-slaveryites. This letter, bearing date of February 16,1837, from which I make the following extract, is now in the Dayton Public Museum:-

"You probably have heard how Mr. Birney and those assembled, a few weeks since, to hear him were treated, and that I, for the sin of lodging him, had my house assailed, the windows broken, and my furniture and family be-spattered with rotten eggs, and my life threatened in case I should ever shelter him or any other abolition lecturer. I confess that as much as I love property and my family, I love the right of free discussion more, and will sooner yield my life or see my country deluged in blood than relinquish it. I say this deliberately and I thank God that there are others in Dayton equally unyielding. Whilst, in obedience to the dictates of conscience, I shall not oppose force to force, I am determined, as long as my life is spared, not only to assert, but to use the right my Creator has bestowed and the constitution of my country has nominally guaranteed me."

Doctor Jewett was defendant in the most bitterly-contested malpractice suit ever tried in our courts. The suit was grounded on a badly-united fracture of the femur. Without thought of compromise he fought it to a successful issue. Shortly before his death he stated to a friend that the suit cost him more money than he had realized from the practice of surgery during his entire professional life.

Doctor Jewett left a good estate which, however, was not wholly acquired through practice. To secure a bad debt he was compelled to take, under great protest, some western lands which were considered practically worthless, but which, years afterward, proved to be rich in coal. I have often heard him laughingly tell of the lucky accident which gave him reputation as a financier, made him a  bank director, and led him to be consulted as to investments by all of the widows and orphans in his clientage.

For years preceding his death which occurred from malignant disease in the region of the sigmoid, Doctor Jewett suffered from a severe chronic bronchitis which led to the erroneous belief that he had phthisis.

He died in 1870.

 

ADAMS JEWETT, (1807-1875).

 

Dr. Adams Jewett, brother of the subject of the sketch just read and father of our colleague. Dr. H. S. Jewett, was one of the most scholarly men the local profession has ever had.

He was born in St. Johnsbury, Vt., in 1807 and graduated in arts from Dartmouth College in 1827. After leaving college he tutored in the South, reading medicine as occasion offered, until 1833, when he went abroad to complete his studies. Five years were thus passed mostly in Paris under those masters, Louis and Velpeau, then at the zenith of their fame, and in Edinburg, where in 1838 he took his degree from the Royal College of Physicians.

He began practice in Mobile, Ala., where he had formerly lived, but in 1842 removed to Dayton to enter into the partnership already noted. For thirty years he was one of the popular physicians, and held a high position in the community not only for his professional attainments but for his interest in all public matters. Influenced, probably, by his brother Hibberd, he did not connect himself with this society until 1872, a year later than his son.

Notwithstanding, perhaps because of his long residence in the South, he bore an implacable hatred to human slavery, and every fugitive black man who knocked at his door was sure of a cordial reception and of substantial aid in his run for freedom.

Doctor Jewett was a man of medium height, slender build, and when I first knew him, his stooped form, furrowed brow, and snow-white hair gave him a venerable appearance, which was added to by his custom of always wearing a full-dress coat.

Being very near-sighted he was generally accompanied by a driver in making his family visitations, and usually passed the time in reading, rarely looking up from his book even for a passing salutation. A ripe scholar and a lover of the classics, he retained his studious habits to the end of life which came to pass in 1875 at the age of 68 years.

 

HENRY VAN TUYL, (1805-1854).

D. B. VAN TUYL, (1815-1858).

 

Prominent among the founders of this society were Drs. H. and D. B. Van Tuyl, uncle and nephew. The former made the motion which spoke it into existence and was a member of the first Board of Censors.

The latter was on the committee which framed the constitution and was the first treasurer. Henry Van Tuyl was born in New Jersey in 1805 and came to Dayton with his father's family about 1826. I can learn nothing of his early training, but in 1828 he was associated in practice with Dr. Edwin Smith, and the presumption is strong that he attended one course of lectures in Cincinnati. He took an active interest in educational matters, lectured occasionally before the Mechanics' Institute, and was a member of the School Board in 1831, the date of the inauguration in Dayton of the present free school system. He read the first formal paper before this society. Its title was "The State of Medicine in Montgomery County Fifteen or Twenty Years Ago," and would be invaluable to us now had it been preserved. The cholera epidemic of 3833 led to the formation of a Board of Health as noted in our address of last year, but it was evidently soon dissolved, since Doctor Van Tuyl appeared before the City Council in 1841 and urged upon that body the importance of its reestablishment. No action seems to have been taken on his suggestion by the august fathers. Doctor Van Tuyl was a strong opponent of Masonry and took an active part in the bitter controversy which at that time dominated church and State. He was defeated for the legislature on the Anti-Masonic ticket in 1833. He had a large obstetrical practice due, so said his rivals, to his custom of presenting each happy mother delivered by him with a new calico dress.

The minutes of the November meeting, 1853, contain the curt statement that the resignation of H. Van Tuyl was read and accepted. He died from cholera in 1854 after a few hours' illness. Like a soldier on the fighting line, he fell with his face to the foe.

D. B. Van Tuyl was born in Philadelphia in 1815, studied medicine with his uncle. Doctor Henry, and received his degree from the Cincinnati Medical College, His professional card, tendering his services to the public of this vicinity, was published in 1843. He seems to have been of an inventive turn as he was the patentee of a device "for regulating the heat of storerooms, saving of fuel, maintaining an equable temperature and conserving health."

In 1854 he removed to South Bend, Ind., where he practiced until his death in 1858.

 

JOHN B. CRAIGHEAD, (1800-1868).

 

Doctor Craighead was born near Carlisle, Pa., in the last year of the eighteenth century. He graduated in arts from Dickinson College, and from the University of Pennsylvania in 1826. Coming west, he located at Mansfield, this State, and practiced there until his removal to Dayton in 1830.

Although one of the ten who signed the preliminary call he took no active part in the organization of the society.

The minutes do not indicate that he was ever a very zealous member; he rarely attended the meetings and still more rarely participated in the proceedings. He was a gentle, scholarly man, who found the highest enjoyment m his study. To his kindliness, integrity, and conscientious response to the demands of duty may be attributed much of the influence which he wielded both as citizen and physician.                                    

He died in the 68th year of his age.

 

ELIAS GARST, (1807-1859).

MICHAEL GARST, (1815-).

 

The brothers Garst, Elias and Michael, were Virginians by birth, and obtained their meagre preliminary education m the schools of Botetourt County. They were typical Americans of the older stock, full of shrewd common sense resourceful and self-reliant.

Elias entered the office of a local practitioner as student-apprentice, and at the expiration of the required three years' service, removed to dark County, this State, and began practice without having heard a medical lecture or made a dissection.

After having had several years experience he matriculated in the Medical College of Ohio and was graduated, in accordance with the custom of the times, on one course of lectures (1838).

In 1841 he came to Dayton and associated himself in business with his younger brother, who had preceded him.

Doctor Garst was a member of the first Board of Censors but his term of office was short on account of hi- removal to Marysville, Cal., where he died in 1859.

Dr. Michael Garst, the better educated and professionally the stronger of the brothers, was this society's second president.

At the age of eighteen he forsook the old Virginia homestead and at once began the study of medicine under the direction of Elias. His college expenses were met by teaching country schools and doing odd jobs during vacations.

After obtaining his medical degree from Jefferson College in 1837 he returned to New Carlisle and engaged in practice with his brother. This partnership was ended in 1839 by his removal to Dayton, and was resumed when his brother joined him here in 1841.

In the epidemic of 1849, Dr. M. Garst had charge of the first case of cholera. It was discovered on a canal boat on the basin, and if his advice, "to burn the boat and cremate the corpse," had been followed by the authorities, the epidemic in all probability would have been averted or greatly mitigated. In the fall of 1858 lie removed to Illinois and engaged in business. He served for one hundred days as surgeon of the Seventy-first Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He now lives at Coon Rapids, Iowa, hale and hearty at the age of 84.

 

JOSHUA CLEMENTS.

 

I have been able to gather little information about the antecedents or the preparatory work in letters or medicine of Dr. Joshua Clements, a prominent mid-century physician.

He was born somewhere on the historic eastern shore of Maryland, attended one course of medical lectures in Cincinnati, practiced a while in Lebanon, Ohio, and came to Dayton about 1832.

He early formed a partnership with Dr. Edwin Smith, and later with Dr. H. F. Koehne, a young man of brilliant parts, who was cut down by fell consumption just when the harvest had ripened for his sickle.

Lured by the siren's promises of ease and riches he abandoned medicine in 1839 and the sign of "Hardcastle & Clements, Dry Goods," swung and creaked in the breezes which swept the "old basin," then the center of the business district; a year hence a card announced his resumption of practice.

Doctor Clements was the first medical superintendent of the Dayton Insane Asylum (1855), but after a service of eight months, he fell a victim to the political reorganization which followed the election of Governor Chase. He was succeeded by Doctor McIlhenny. Doctor Clements was justly incensed at his removal for party reasons, and protested by appropriating to his private use the first annual report, which had been printed but not distributed. Only a few copies are in existence, one of which was given me by the doctor himself and is now in my library.

Doctor Clements was an old-time gentleman. Tall and well-formed, his dignified presence and clean-cut intellectual face bespoke him a cordial reception from strangers, while his kindly disposition, suave manners, and fine social qualities made him a welcome visitor to the homes of his friends both in sickness and in health. In his prime he was an accurate diagnostician and a high-minded honor-able practitioner who was never accused of turning a deaf ear to the summons of the poor and needy.

He was a true lover of and an exceptionally good judge of a horse, and no one ever appealed to him in vain for a pedigree or trotting record. It was hinted that he was a veritable David Harum in a "boss-trade." So universal was the doctor's love for the genus that, like a blanket, it covered all species of the horse, even that most popular and hardest ridden of all, the hobby.

One of his hobbies, and a thoroughbred one, was in the use of cathartics. The purgation his patients underwent at times, would be appalling to a fin de siecle practitioner. I recall well a consultation once held with the doctor in which he said, "Young man, physic him; run out the blue mud; the liver is clogged with blue mud." The patient survived a fearful onslaught of podophyllin and blue mass. This diagnosis reminds me of that given by an old doctor in a near-by village—"that the liver had quit secretin' bile and had gone to secretin' flatus."

Another of the doctor's hobbies was in the giving of remedies. Once started on a particular drug or combination of drugs, it was religiously prescribed for every patient no matter what the ailment, color, or condition in life, and, for the time being, the market was cornered on that remedy.

Of course, I speak of him now, as I knew him, when his zenith had been passed and when age and business reverses had led him into excesses upon which it is un-necessary to dwell.

 

"They say that in his prime,

Ere the pruning knife of Time

Cut him down,

Not a better man was found

By the Crier on his round

Through the town."

 

He died in January, 1879.

 

EDMUND SMITH, (1816-1851).

 

Dayton has had few better or more popular men in any walk of life than Dr. Edmund Smith, who located here in the fall of 1840. He was one of the prime movers in the organization of this society and its secretary for the first two years.

Young Smith emigrated to this State from his birth-place on Long Island in 1829, graduated from Miami University in 1835, and four years later received his medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

For a while he was a partner of Dr. John Steele. He was both a warm supporter of and a popular lecturer before the Mechanics' Institute, one of the instructive features in Dayton's intellectual life during that decade.

The announcement of the Dayton Academy for 1850 contains his name as instructor in anatomy and physiology.

He had charge of the cholera hospital during the epidemic of 1849, and won universal respect for the way in which he discharged his unenviable duties. A few months before his death, he with others, was arraigned by the Censors for violating the code in the selling of proprietary medicines. He pleaded guilty to the indictment and entered the ingenuous and frank defense, that he "preferred to do something as a druggist, to little or nothing as a physician." The action was promptly dismissed.

He died at the age of 35, respected by all, and with life's mission only partially fulfilled. He was endeared to every one by his uniform kindliness, courteous manners, and eminent literary and scientific abilities.

Doctor Smith was possessed of a modest competence and followed medicine because of his love for it and for science in general.

 

OLIVER CROOK, (1818-1873).

 

Doctor Crook, one of the charter members, and the eldest of three brothers who studied medicine, enjoyed the distinction of being the first native-born Montgomery County boy to enter the medical fold.

He was born in Wayne township in 1818, spent his boyhood on the farm and entered the office of the Doctors Garst as a student. In 1847 he received his diploma from the University of New York, and subsequently took a special course at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. He had partnerships with his brother-in-law. Doctor Koogler, and with his brother. Dr. James Crook, the latter being terminated by his brother's death in 1855.

Dr. James Crook was universally liked by his colleagues and was president of this society when death ended his far too short career.

Dr. Oliver Crook took a deep interest in the welfare of the society during its early life but soon began to fail in loyalty and after several arraignments by the Board of Censors, of which he was more than once a member, was expelled in 1858, for fracturing the code laws as to consultations.

Doctor Crook was spare built, dark in complexion, and as lithe and straight as the pine tree from which was distilled the famous wine of tar. Long before I knew him personally, his face was familiar as he rapidly drove by in his narrow buggy, the oddity of which at once fixed one's attention. With alertness and self-reliance he combined that rarest of qualities, reticence. He talked but little at any time, and at the bedside never volunteered an opinion, and yet, like his brother, the Indian-fighting General, he possessed the faculty of commanding men to an exceptional degree.

Doctor Crook was an indefatigable worker and seemed to have almost unlimited endurance. It is claimed that he had the largest and most remunerative practice of any Dayton physician before or since his day. Good authority estimates his annual professional income at not less than fifteen thousand dollars.   He was no admirer of codes or ethics and finally drifted into the manufacture of proprietary medicines of which the ''Wine of Tar," still on sale, was the most popular. With it he wrecked his professional standing and private fortune. He died from empyema in April, 1873.

 

HENRY K. STEELE, (1825-1890).

 

Dr. Henry K. Steele, son of Dr. John Steele and a charter member, was born in this city April 1, 1825.

His preliminary training was obtained in the local schools, his degree in arts from Center College, Kentucky, and his degree in medicine from the University of New York in 1848. In the same year he associated himself in business with his father, probably the ablest physician of early Dayton, which relationship continued until the latter's death in 1854.

In the War of the Rebellion he served three years as surgeon to the Forty-fourth Ohio Infantry and the Eighth Ohio Cavalry.

In 1871 Doctor Steele removed to Denver, Col.. where he achieved his greatest professional success. He be-came surgeon-in-chief to several large railroad combinations, was president of the Colorado State Medical Society in 1875, and was one of the founders and dean of the medical department of the University of Denver, in which he also filled the chair of surgery. By a fortunate investment in real estate he was enabled to retire from active practice in 1887, from which time until his death in 1890 lie passed much of his leisure in foreign travel. Doctor

Steele was one of nature's gentlemen, kind-hearted and genial, and richly deserved the success he won.


Return to "The Montgomery County Medical Society" Home Page