Header Graphic
The Pioneer Doctor
Part Two




Dr. John Steele was born near Lexington, Ky and graduated in arts at the famous Transylvania University, of which his father was one of the founders. His medical degree was gotten from the University of Pennsylvania. He came to Dayton in 1812 on the advice of his brother James, a prominent citizen, and was probably the first graduate physician to locate here.

Tall, well formed, and straight as an arrow, Doctor Steele's personal appearance was striking and commanding. He was a reader and thinker, and is said to have had an exceptionally good medical library. Even now one occasionally runs across some choice book with his name on the fly-leaf. He was strongly inclined to view life from its sunny side, and had the reputation of both telling and enjoying a good story.

In "Early Dayton" Miss Steele says: "Even to the present day many families remember his skill and knowledge as doctor and surgeon with gratitude, and speak of him with love and respect. He was remarkable for dry humor and wit, and his old patients recall and repeat his witty sayings with a relish heightened by the memory of the relief they brought amid the despondency and gloom of the sickroom."

Doctor Steele began practice in Dayton under most favorable auspices, and soon acquired a full business. His consultation business was especially large. He was a surgeon of considerable ability, and Doctor Haines, in a diary to be soon quoted, speaks of assisting him in operations for hare-lip and strangulated hernia.

He was a pronounced churchman, one of the founders of the Third Street Presbyterian church, and was prominently connected with all the benevolent and educational movements of his day.

During the second war with England, Dayton being on the frontier line and favorably situated as a base for supplies, was made, by order of Governor Meigs, the rendezvous for a large body of Ohio troops and became an important military station.

It was here that General Hull assumed command of the army which marched to inglorious surrender at Detroit, and here that General Harrison** organized the troops which by their brilliant victory on the Thames brought peace to the Western frontier. Shortly after Doctor Steele's coming a frame hospital for disabled soldiers was built on the northwest corner of Third and Main streets, to which he was assigned as surgeon it was not long to remain unused. In the bloody but victorious fight near Muncietown between a detachment of the nineteenth regulars and the Indians, the former lost eight killed and forty-eight wounded. The wounded were brought here on stretchers and suffered severely from cold and exposure during the ten days march. Dayton never gave a warmer greeting than was given to these brave men, and every house was open to those who not be cared for in the little hospital.

(**General Harrison was finishing his medical studies in the University of Pennsylvania when, under the impulse of military taste he entered the army as an officer of the line instead of medical staff.  His professional knowledge, however, enabled him to frequently afford relief to those unable to command the services of a surgeon, an emergency of frequent occurrence in the Indian wars.)

Doctor Steele took a deep interest in public affairs, and filled many positions of honor and trust, among which mentioned membership in the State legislature of 1820, and several terms as member and president of the town council. The following incident is told of his service in the latter body.

Party excitement never ran higher in Dayton than during the Jackson-Clay campaign of 1832. On the eve of the election a hickory pole was raised in front of the court-house and from it floated a Jackson banner which fired the indignation of the Whigs as much as it enthused the spirits of the Democrats

The gathering of the clans on the street corners and the angry mutterings foretold a bloody fight if the pole was allowed to remain. A meeting of council was called before breakfast at which the pole was solemnly and officially declared a nuisance and ordered to be cut down. The marshal, intimidated by the angry Jacksonites, hesitated, when, says an eye-witness, a man of lofty mien and determined purpose stepped to the front, seized the axe and wielding it as only a stalwart Kentuckian could, soon brought the offensive emblem to the ground. This brave act of Doctor Steele, doubtless prevented a bloody riot.

Like nearly all of his colleagues, Doctor Steele kept a drug-store at which he had his doctor-shop, and advertises that in addition to the usual free medical advice, he will exchange "genuine medicines for clean vials at fifty cents a dozen."

During the years 1827-29 he was associated in business with Dr. Hibbard Jewett, then a new comer, and years later with his son, Dr. H. K. Steele, one of the charter members of this society.

Doctor Steele was secretary of the Dayton Medical Society, organized in i816, which was the first society formed north of Cincinnati. It met quarterly, and the alphabetical enrollment determined the order in which each member should contribute to the program. Dr. Henry Chapze, of Piqua, was the first essayist. The following subjects were discussed; "How do poisons operate in the human system in producing death?"  In what is commonly called bilious diseases is there a redundancy or deficiency in the secretion of bile?" "The causes, nature, and treatment of chlorosis." Notwithstanding the weighty problems discussed, some of which are yet sub judice, the society, judging from the absence of published records, came to a premature end after the third meeting.

The second medical society was formed in 1824. The Genera] Assembly of that year passed an act dividing the State into twenty medical societies. Montgomery and Clark counties constituted the seventh society, and John Steele, Job Haines, William Blodgett, W. A. Needham, Richard Hunt, Elijah Lawrence, and Ambrose Blount were named as organizers.

The meeting for organization was held at Reid’s Inn, Dayton, on May 25, and resulted in the election of the following officers: John Steele, president; Hugh Alexander, vice-president; Job Haines, secretary; Nathaniel Strong, treasurer; William Blodgett, William Mount, C. G. Espich, R. W. Hunt, A. Blount, censors. This society met regularly in May and November of each year, usually in Dayton and Fairfield, occasionally in Springfield, until the fall of 1832, beyond which I am unable to trace its history.

In 1828 the printed roll of membership contained twenty-three names.**

(**The society met in annual meeting in Dayton, May, 1828, with the following officers and membership: Officers—Wm. Blodgett, president; Lot Cooper, vice-president; W. Mount, secretary and treasurer; A. Blount, E. Laurence, H. Alexander, W. A. Needham, R. E. Stephens, censors. Members-P. M. Crume, J. L. Tellers, Hibberd Jewett, Edwin Smith, Nelson Donnellan, C. G. Espich, Robert Houston, Wm. Lindsay, Job Haines, E. W. Hunt, H. Humphreys, John Steele, Nathaniel Strong, Thos. S. Fowler, Thos. Haines.)

To return from this digression to the subject of our memoir we have only to add that Doctor Steele was closely identified with the bitter fight between the friends of the Medical College of Ohio and of Daniel Drake, which waged for years and drew into its vortex nearly all of the prominent medical men of the State. Doctor Steele was one of the petitioners to the Legislature for reorganizing the Ohio Medical College, the failure of which ultimately led to the forming of the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery by Drake and his followers.

Although Doctor Steele's name headed the preliminary call for the forming of this society, he was not formally elected to membership until the October meeting.

He died in 1854, aged sixty-three.




One of the noted medical characters even as late as my coming to the city, and the only one mentioned to-night of whom I had personal knowledge, was Dr. John Treon, of Miamisburg. He was of French descent, his paternal grandfather having been a surgeon in the army of France. His father was a pioneer physician in Berks County, Pennsylvania, where the subject of our notice was born in 1791.

Doctor Treon's preliminary education was acquired largely under his father, who is said to have been an excellent linguist. At the age of fourteen he began his professional studies in his father's office and finished under Doctor Dewees, a distinguished teacher and obstetrician of Philadelphia, whose "System of Mid-wifery" was doubtless used as a text-book by some present this evening. In the fall of 1811 he left home with his uncle, Peter Treon, also a physician, located at Hole's Station, and later (1818) became one of the founders of Miamisburg.

Dr. Peter Treon, with whom he was associated in the practice of medicine, drug business, and other mercantile ventures, seems to have been something of a Lothario, if a judgment of $1,450 for seduction recorded against him on the Common Pleas docket of 1820 is sufficient evidence upon which to base an opinion.

Doctor Treon was sturdy in build, of strong personality, dignified in manner, and exacted from his patrons the most profound deference. The following incident will illustrate this latter phase of his character.

A man injured in the woods was removed to the nearest cabin to await the coming of the doctor. Dr. Treon diagnosed a dislocation of the shoulder and called upon a bystander to assist in the reduction. As the doctor was about to begin manipulations, observing that his assistant still wore his hat, he desisted, straightened himself with great dignity, removed the hat from the countryman's head, and in a deep sonorous voice said: "Sir, stand uncovered in the presence of science."

The practice of Dr. John Treon, like that of most pioneer doctors, covered a wide area, and professional visits to the Indiana line, or even to the shores of Erie, were no very uncommon occurrence. For his regular circuit he kept relays of horses at conveniently located cabins at which he always stopped, and whore additional sick-calls were received. In his earlier career he had considerable reputation as an operator and served as volunteer surgeon under General Hull in the war of 1812. The Watchman of November 30, 1837, states that Doctor Price, of Centerville, assisted by Doctors Treon and Dubois, removed a wen from the thigh of Jos. Anderson, measuring thirty-two inches in circumference and weighing nine and one-half pounds.

Doctor Treon was never deeply interested in medical meetings. His name does not appear in the published lists of the earlier organizations and he did not gain membership in this society until 1853, nor do the minutes show that he ever took part in the debates.

It is probably due to this neglect of society duties that Doctor Treon failed to keep abreast of the advance corps in medicine, and consequently did not in his latter days command that confidence of his colleagues to which his native abilities entitled him.

Having accumulated a competence he retired from practice in 1874, after nearly sixty-five years of active work. He married for the second time when eighty-two years of age, and the event was turned into a jubilee by his many friends.




Dr. Job Haines was born in New Jersey in 1791 graduated in letters from Princeton College and in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in the spring of 1815. In the following July he left home to carve out a career in the "far western country " After a short stay in Cincinnati he went to Springfield, and forming a partnership with Doctor Hunt, a prominent physician, remained there until the death of Doctor Estes in January, 1817, when he came to Dayton

Doctor Haines was licensed to practice by the censors of the Seventh District Medical Society, April 1 1816 along with Joshua Martin, of Xenia, Isaac Hendershott; ot Piqua, Carter, of Urbana, and Needham, of Springfield, all men of prominence in the medical history of the valley. He was tall and slender in form, simple and dignified in manner, and inclined to look upon the solemn rather than upon the humorous side of life in an unusual degree he possessed the admirable trait ot being kind to and considerate of every one, especially his colleagues. The young doctor never appealed for help in vain. In this respect his life offers an example which the young man should imitate and the old man not forget.

Miss Steele writes, "The unobtrusive goodness, the quiet activity of benevolent work in his daily life the fact that he was equally a lover of truth, a lover of peace, and a peace-maker endeared him to all who knew him even slightly."

In a day when the sturdy pioneers considered whiskey one of the staples of life and necessary to existence in this ague-stricken region, Doctor Haines was the head and front of all anti-liquor leagues, and never lost an opportunity to preach the gospel of temperance. From his youth he was a deeply religious man. For more than forty years he was identified, as member or elder, with the First Presbyterian church, and often, in the absence of the pastor, read a sermon to the congregation. At the request of the session lie wrote a history of the First church, which was never published, but is still preserved in its archives. Although he never offensively obtruded his religious views, it was no unusual thing for him, when desired by the patient, to close a professional visit with a Bible-reading or short prayer. Doctor Este tells of the severe rebuke given a patron who presumed to speak of the weather as atrocious. The application of such an adjective to anything God had made filled the old doctor with righteous indignation.

Doctor Haines was a lover of nature and an expert botanist. He was interested in a nursery in 1844, and is credited with having stocked the rivulets here with watercress brought across the mountains in his saddle-bags.

He was an active participator in all of the early medical gatherings, and, as already noted, was the first secretary of the Montgomery and Clark County Medical Society. For some unknown reason his name does not appear among the charter members of this society, but joining soon after its organization, he continued an active and useful member until his death, serving as its president for three successive terms (1852-1855).

The diary of Dr. Haines, for the years 1816 to 1820, the gift of Dr. H. S. Jewett, is now in the Public Library.  In it many subjects of medical interest are discussed, among which may be mentioned the treatment of bilious intermittent and remittent fevers, which prevailed so malignantly in the lowlands about Dayton, and milk-sickness, a never-ending subject of controversy in medical circles during the early years of the century. This interesting and instructive relic of the far past is well worth careful study, but to-night I must content myself with abstracting, briefly as possible, the treatment of two cases, in both of which one or more consultants were associated, and which may, therefore, be taken as representative of the practice of that day.

The first case is undoubtedly one of cerebro-spinal meningitis though not so called by Dr. Haines.

On the 29th of August, 1816, Mr. Burgess was at tacked with vomiting and headache in consequence as was supposed, of eating unripe plums. Draughts' of warm water to promote vomiting was given, followed by julep of   carbonate of Potassium and laudanum. The symptoms persisting, he was bled, purged and evaporating lotions applied to head. He seemed to improve and the next day, after a precautionary bleeding, went to his home four and one-half miles away.

On the third instant, Dr. Haines was recalled, diagnosed phrenitis, and immediately drew sixteen to twenty ounces of blood, ordered  free catharsis, and epispastics to back of neck. The same routine of bleeding, catharsis, blistering and sweating was repeated daily, or oftener, to noon of the 14th instant when the patient had a fainting fit attended  with vomiting and a slow, intermittent pulse. "The pulse after the syncope gradually rose and he lost, at his own request, ten to twelve ounces of blood before I saw him. "When I arrived near sunset I took twelve to fourteen ounces more from the jugular, applied an epispastic to the forepart of the head, and gave a cathartic. By these means he was in a measure relieved of pain, but not entirely. The pulse being tense and the pain severe, I bled him again this morning (15th inst.) to fourteen ounces, and gave an antimonial diaphoretic. In my absence during the day the pain returned and the pulse became tense. I had left my lancet with him and directed him to bleed if necessary. Accordingly he had a vein opened twice and lost twelve to fourteen ounces each time, so that when I arrived in the evening the pulse was soft and pain very moderate. I concluded to stay all night. Was called up about three o'clock on account of return of fever and pain and bled again to twelve ounces. I left in the morning, but during my absence the pain returned and he lost by two bleedings sixteen ounces of blood." The lancet was now sheathed for twenty-four hours, but on the morning of the 18th, says the record, the pain and fever returned, and the patient lost by his own direction sixteen ounces of blood.

Dr. Joshua Martin, of whom I have heard my father speak in the most extravagant terms, was now called in consultation. "I gave him a history of the case and of the treatment, which he approved. Before the doctor knew that I had commenced to give calomel with a view of causing ptyalism, he proposed that course, saying that as the disease was disposed to return daily something must be resorted to besides depletion which had already been carried so far that the patient could not bear much more."

Though greatly debilitated Mr. B. did fairly well for the next thirty-six hours when a paroxysm of head pain was the signal for the letting of more blood, and fourteen ounces at two bleedings were taken from the jugular. The lancet was now exchanged for cups but the patient steadily became weaker, more delirious and was filled with delusions, if they can be so called of dying. Mr. B.'s mental condition gave great uneasiness, and Doctor Hall was summoned as consultant This consultation, like the previous one, lasted a day and night, and seems to have brought to an end the sanguinary conflict with a net loss to the patient in twenty bleedings, of about seventeen pounds of blood.

The treatment thus outlined recalls vividly the practice of Guy Patin in the seventeenth century who bled babes of three days and his mother-in-law of eighty years. Mr. B.'s convalescence was slow, but the final entry made on the 26th inst. reads: "Mr. B grows stronger, but  is troubled with dyspepsia, to which he is constitutionally subject."

A few weeks later one stumbles on this significant memorandum: January 4, 1817.  "Clear and pleasant. Sale at Widow Burgess'."

The second case is undoubtedly one of diphtheria, though described in the diary as "Cynanche Tonsillaris with Lung Complications," which disease is said to have prevailed extensively throughout the United States in the winters of 1812-14. The administration of emetics cathartics, and diaphoretics with astringent gargles failing to control the disease. Dr. John Steele was invited to a consultation. The consultants agreed as to diagnosis and concluded to administer calomel so as to produce catharsis and ptyalism in conjunction with diaphoretics and expectorants. One hundred and twenty grains of calomel were given in the twenty-four hours succeeding the consultation. Seneca ten with Glauber's salt was prescribed as an expectorant and adjuvant to the calomel. The patient grew steadily worse; delirium, stupor, sordes, and other typhoid symptoms supervened, and yet the patient continued to take from thirty to forty grains of calomel daily. At one time Mrs. H. was apparently moribund, but brandy and snake-root caused her to revive. On the twenty-fifth day the entry reads: "She continues to take from twenty to forty grains of calomel per day, which is neither sufficient to keep the bowels open or to produce ptyalism; and yet in addition to this internal use of mercury, "calomel was frequently rubbed on the gums and mercurial ointment on the skin."

Such a statement taxes heavily one's credulity. Either calomel was different in action then from now or patients were built on a different plan—perhaps both. I will not attempt to compute the amount of mercury taken by Mrs. H., who is said to have been of a "robust constitution," but probably more than would be prescribed by many modern practitioners in years. These clinical records recall, if they do not justify the trenchant sarcasms of Moliere, or the much-quoted line of Boileau, slightly paraphrased:—

"The one died empty of blood, the other full ot calomel."

Doctor Haines held various municipal and county offices, and was mayor of the town in 1833, the year of the first visitation of cholera, when he did much to restore confidence to the panic-stricken people. The disease appeared late in June and was not stamped out until September. On account of the grossly exaggerated reports which spread through this section of the State, greatly to the detriment of the business interests of the town, Doctor Haines, as mayor, issued an official bulletin admitting an unusual prevalence of bowel troubles but denying on the authority of seven practicing physicians the presence of epidemic cholera. ** Notwithstanding the edict of "the seven wise men," the disease, like Banquo's ghost, would not down, and be-fore the ink was dry with which the denial was penned, other cases occurred and established beyond question the choleraic nature of the prevailing disease.

(**The following names were appended to this bulletin: Job Haines, John Steele, Joshua Clements, D. L. Terry, M. Chambers, Edwin Smith, John B. Craighead.)

At the request of the clergy and many citizens, the twenty-third of July was set apart by the mayor as a day of humiliation and prayer. The epidemic was only moderately fatal—thirty-three deaths out of a population of about four thousand. Dayton's first Board of Health was established at this time, and consisted of a member of Council and two citizens from each ward.

Dr. Job Haines died in July, 1860, at the age of sixty-nine. The public respect accorded him through a long and well-spent life was shown in a marked degree on the day of his burial. The streets along which the funeral cort6ge passed were thronged with sad and sorrowing people. Doctor McDermont wrote of the occasion: "It is the custom of all nations when a great man dies to invest his funeral obsequies with the ceremonial pomp and circumstance befitting his rank, but we doubt whether any of the world's great men, heroes, statesmen, princes, or poets, ever received from the crowd an ovation of deeper or holier reverence than was paid to the lifeless form of Job Haines in its transit to the grave."




Perhaps one of the strongest medical men both in name and fact this county has ever had was Dr. Nathaniel Strong, of Centerville, the father of Colonel Strong, who at the head of the gallant Ninety-third regiment fell mortally wounded at bloody Chickamauga.

Although Doctor Strong did not die until 1867 at the ripe age of eighty-four, I have been able to gather but few details of his professional life. Of English parentage, he was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1783. He served as surgeon in the War of 1812, and before coming west made a trip around the world presumably as ship's surgeon. The printed announcement of the censors of the Seventh District Medical Society shows that he was licensed to practice November 6,1817, and located in Centerville, then a formidable rival of Dayton.

Doctor Strong was an active member and often an officer in the Montgomery and Clark County Medical Society, which met regularly from 1824 to 1832. He was elected to membership in our society May, 1850, but the records do not show that he took an active part in the proceedings and soon after quit the profession to engage in general business.

He was a man of parts, and held various municipal offices in his township, but his special claim to our recognition rests largely and safely upon a paper writ-ten in 1818. This paper, which discusses the whole subject of reproduction and displays a remarkable familiarity with comparative anatomy, is now in the possession of Mrs. Strong, of this city, through whose courtesy I have been permitted to read it. In it the modern doctrine of ovulation and menstruation is distinctly and clearly taught, thus antedating by four years Doctor Powers, of London, who is credited with the honor of the discovery, although it was not generally accepted until Negrier in 1831 proved its truth by his beautiful anatomical preparations. Doctor Strong's original manuscript was read before this society in March, 1854, by Doctor Lamme, his successor in Centerville, and called forth the highest encomiums upon its author. A resolution was passed instructing the secretary to have the manuscript printed, but the order of the society was not carried out. When written Doctor Strong's paper was sent to a medical journal, but was rejected, more, perhaps, on account of the obscurity of the author than on the heterodoxy of its doctrines. But for this rejection this man of genius and original thinker, though only a backwoods doctor, would to-day stand before the world as the discoverer of one of the great fundamental facts in the physiology of reproduction, and his name would be enrolled among the great epoch-makers of our profession. All honor to Doctor Strong!

Doctors Wait and Martini both came in 1817, but left behind them only footprints in the sand, which time has completely erased. " Doctor Martini from Europe," as lie modestly puts it, came provided with medicines and all kinds of surgical instruments, and proposed to cure cancer and perform skillful operations on cataract. He was licensed by the Board of Censors, November 6, 1817.




The Watchman of August 18, 1818, contains the announcement that Dr. Wm. Blodgett intends to practice medicine in Dayton and vicinity. Doctor Blodgett, descended from an Anglo-French family, was born in Stafford, Connecticut, in the historic year 1776, and before coming to Dayton practiced his profession in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and other locations. Being a man of experience and a shrewd politician he soon acquired prominence in his new home.

Besides holding many minor offices he was elected to the general assembly in 1821, after a short residence in the county. He was less successful in his other campaigns, being defeated for the State Senate in 1825, and by Judge McLean for Congress in 1822. This latter contest was waged with a bitterness remarkable even in that day, when personalities entered so largely into political methods, and the public prints were filled with the most vindictive and libelous charges and counter charges. The Gridiron, a witty but scurrilous sheet, published in the early twenties, with the ominous motto—

"Burn, roast meat, burn;

Boil over ye pots; ye spits forget to turn,"

was especially malignant and persistently spoke of him as Dr. Pill-box, Pestle-Mortar, Spermaceti, Sponge, Panacea Blodgett. As a sample of its doggerel we quote:

"As B— lay sick and 't was thought he was dying,

His friends and relations around him were crying,

Who made with their plaints such a terrible din,

That Death who was passing and heard it went in.

What the deuce, said the daemon, good folks, is the matter,

That ye make around the doctor so devilish a clatter ;

I'm not come to hurt him, so leave off your whining,

You've no reason to tear me, altho' I look grim,

For I know my own interest too well to kill him."

One of the withering charges of the campaign, and supported by sworn affidavits, was that the doctor on sundry occasions had spoken contemptuously of the Apostle Paul. It will not do, of course, in estimating one's character to rely upon the statements of rival politicians, and it would be unfair to quote them with-out qualification. They have, perhaps, more value for showing the temper of the times than for determining the character of men. Doctor Blodgett was a man of positive convictions, bold and even aggressive in defense of them, and became, therefore, a fit target for the shafts of political opponents.

When in his prime he had a large practice and stood well with his colleagues, as is proven by the fact that he was a member of the first Board of Censors of the Dayton and Clark County Medical Society and its president in 1828. He died October 26, 1838, aged sixty-two years.




Doctor Espich, who located in Germantown about 1820 and lived there until his death in 1853, was a man of prominence.

He had partnerships at different times with Doctor Brasacker (1824-1827) and with his former student, Doctor Donellan, 1853, recently deceased.

He did not gain membership in this society until November, 1853, a few weeks prior to his death, although his name is found on the rolls of the Dayton and Clark County Society both as member and censor (1825.)

Doctor Espich is said to have been an excellent practitioner, though not a graduate, and unquestionably did a large business in the valley of the Twins, but his greatest laurels were won at general musters which, in those days, were gala occasions for the entire community.

In 1829 he was elected Brigadier General, Tenth Division, Ohio Militia, and served the State in that capacity for many years. Calls for officer's muster, and general parade over his signature occur regularly in the public prints.

The following humorous and bombastic communication on the burning question of "pay for the drinks," a question still of importance and frequent recurrence in the economy of society, is abstracted from the Ohio National Journal and Montgomery and Dayton Advertiser, 1827:

FELLOW CITIZENS : When the character of a man is assailed, which is dear to every person of correct principle, sacred duty requires him to appear openly before an enlightened community in justification of the same. The contention is that after the close of the brigadier-general's election at John Turner's home in Liberty, I offered Mr. Turner pay for the drinks had at the house, when Mr. Turner's reply to me was that Hippie would pay for the drinks. The sworn statement of the principals are backed up by men whose integrity has never yet been disputed.        (Signed)  C. G. ESPIOH.

Under the inspiration of Corwin's famous reply to General Cary we can almost see our doughty doctor-general—"far off his coming shines"—mounted on his "crop-eared mare with bushy tail and sickel ham," charging at the head of his gallant staff on Turner's bar, and, having assuaged the heroic fires of their patriotic souls, full of glory and fuller of whiskey, marching boldly away without making payment—confiscated to the needs of the army. Such was war on general-muster days in the first quarter of the century.




We now turn from comedy to tragedy. "From the long course of studies that he has pursued in the different medical schools of the Eastward and from his own attainments in general science, he confidently expects a portion of general patronage." Thus ends the professional announcement to the citizens of Dayton made in 1824 by Dr. Francis Glass, A.M., honorable member of the National Institute of France, and one of the most eccentric and most gifted geniuses that the local profession has ever had

Born in Ireland in 1790, he came to this country with his parents when a lad, and at the age of nineteen graduated A.B. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Contracting an early and unfortunate marriage he drifted to Ohio in 1817, and eked out a precarious livelihood by teaching school. He was the author of a Life of Washington in Latin, which in the judgment or competent critics was remarkable for its purity of style and strength of diction. Printed by a friend after the death of the gifted author it was adopted as a text-book by many schools and academies. The only copy now known to exist is in the Public Library There is some lung pathetic, says his biographer in the story of this enthusiast and scholar who, amid the hardships of pioneer life and the bitter privations of poverty never lost interest in classical study

Reaching Dayton in the course of his wanderings he sought to retrieve his fortunes by taking up he profession of his choice as stated in his card, but alas! this venture scored another failure, and he was soon driven by poverty and ill health to resume teaching for which he was so thoroughly equipped. Of a highly  sensitive nervous organization, frail in physique, an impractical dreamer, stung with poverty and wrecked ambitions, like some tender exotic transplanted into uncongenial soil, he went to an early death and to-night sleeps in an unmarked grave in Woodland Cemetery.

Two other names appear, Doctors Robbins (1819) and Ranney (1822), but the record closes with the printed statement of their willingness to serve the public in a medical way.

The roll-call of our honored dead for the forepart of the century is now ended.  We have sketched Dayton in a medical way from a hamlet of six or seven log cabins to a prosperous county town with a population all told of 1,743.

The roll is necessarily incomplete, for doubtless, then as now, many came and went and left no memories behind. But, imperfect as the record may be, it is an honorable one. Nowhere in the history of the profession can one find greater heroism, purity of purpose, sacrifice of self and usefulness to others than is exemplified in the lives just passed in review If we compare ourselves with them, allowing for differences in surroundings and opportunities, there will be scant room for self-congratulation. With an Elliott, a Welsh, a Steele, a Strong, a Haines, educated and cultured, some of them college-bred in letters as well as medicine, the status of the profession has bettered but little with the passing of the years. Let the memories of these men inspire us to so live that the historian of the twentieth century can think and speak of us as we now speak and think of them.


The End


Return to "The Pioneer Doctor" Home Page