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Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York
by John H. Selkreg, 1894; D. Mason & Co., Publisher
Methods of Medical Study - Medical Societies Authorized by Statute - Tompkins County Medical Society - The Homoeopathic Medical Society - Dr. E. J. MORGAN, sr. - The "Registration Law" - List of Registered Physicians
The pioneers to any locality have always been closely followed by "the good physician." This is one of the unpleasant necessities of human experience. In the first years of the present century the State of New York, unlike Pennsylvania and the New England States, had done very little to encourage science, and there was no school of medicine worthy of the name nearer than Boston or Philadelphia. Few young men could then afford to go so far to qualify themselves for a profession, whatever inducements its future offered. This led to the prevailing custom among young aspirants for medical practice to enter the office of a neighboring physician, study his books for two or three years, at the same time accompanying his tutor in professional visits. At the end of such a term the young doctor felt qualified to begin his professional career.
Laws then governing the admission and practice of physicians were practically worthless, but in 1806 the Legislature passed an act repealing former laws applying to the profession, and authorizing a general State Medical Society and County Societies. Under this act a society was organized in Onondaga county in 1806, and others closely followed in the counties from which Tompkins county was organized.
The first records of Tompkins County Medical Society have been lost, but it is known that an organization was effected in the year 1818, the year following the organization of the county. As far as can be known, the following physicians were the original members: A. J. MILLER, O. C. COMSTOCK, A. C. HAYT, Dyer FOOTE, Alexander McG. COMSTOCK. P. A. WILLIAMS, Daniel L. MEAD, Augustus CRARY, J. YOUNG, Jason ATWATER, Charles EMMONS, John W. PHILLIPS, George W. PHILLIPS, and Daniel JOHNSON. But there were, of course, physicians in the county who had practiced among the earlier settlers many years before the organization of this society; and some of them had, apparently, either died or removed from the locality before 1818. Among those early physicians may be mentioned Dr. Lewis BEERS, who was one of the early settlers of Danby in 1797; Dr. Dyer FOOTE, who was practicing in Ithaca at a very early date; Jason ATWATER, who was practicing in Hector in early years, and others whose names will be found in later histories of the town and county.
The medical society continued its existence, with varying degrees of success, until the year 1844, when for some reason its regular meetings ceased. During that period the following physicians joined the society in the years following their names. The towns in which they practiced are also given as far as possible:
After a long period of inactivity, the society was reorganized in October, 1862, and the following officers were chosen: President, Edward H. ELDRIDGE; vice-president, Henry B. CHASE, secretary, S. P. SACKETT; treasurer, S. RHOADES.
List of Presidents of the Tompkins Medical Society: 1862-3, Edward H. ELDRIDGE; 1864, John M. FARRINGTON; 1865, Richard LANING; 1866, C. C. COOK; 1867, T. S. BRIGGS; 1868, S. H. PECK; 1869, S. P. SACKETT; 1870-1 Henry B. CHASE. A reorganization with changes in the constitution was effected in 1871, and in December of that year Dr. MOE, of Groton, was elected president; J. D. LEWIS, of Trumansburg, vice-president; S. P. SACKETT, of Ithaca, secretary; M. M. BROWN, of Ithaca, treasurer, and S. H. PECK, librarian. President for 1872-3, William R. FITCH; 1874, George RIGHTMIRE; 1875, A. J. WHITE; 1876-7, A. D. SIMONDS; 1878-9, J. M. FARRINGTON; 1880, E. J. RITHWELL; 1881, J. WINSLOW; 1882, J. R. GREGORY; 1883, J. M. FARRINGTON; 1884-6, S. H. PECK; 1887, Judson BEACH; 1888, W. C. GALLAGHER; 1889, John WINSLOW; 1890, Eugene BAKER; 1891-3, John WINSLOW; 1894, C. P. BIGGS.
The regular members of this society in 1894 are Drs. E. BAKER, C. P. BIGGS, E. H. KYLE, E. MEANEY, S. H. PECK. S. P. SACKETT, J. WINSLOW, B. G. WILDER, E. H. HITCHCOCK, W. C. GALLAGHER, J. BEACH, J. E. BURR, J. P. FAHEY, J. M. POTTER, W. H. LOCKERBY. Honorary members: Drs. James LAW, S. H. GAGE, Mrs. GAGE.
Officers for 1894: President, C. P. BIGGS; vice-president, E. BAKER; secretary, J. M. POTTER; treasurer and librarian, E. MEANEY. Censors, E. BAKER, S. H. PECK, S. P. SACKETT, W. C. GALLAGHER, J. M. POTTER. Delegate to State society, B. G. WILDER.
The Homoeopathic Medical Society of Tompkins County 1
This society, composed of physicians of the homoeopathic school, was organized on the 9th of September, 1880, at the office of Dr. E. J. MORGAN in Ithaca. Preliminary to the organization the following physicians met at the same office on the 11th of August in that year: E. J. MORGAN, sr., E. J. MORGAN, jr., D. WHITE, A. BISHOP, N. R. FOSTER, G. E. ORTON, Rufus TALLMADGE, J. W. BROWN, J. S. KIRKENDALL, S. J. PARKER, and A. M. BALDWIN. Besides these persons, Drs. D. C. BARR, William BARR and L. W. CARPENTER responded to the call for the meeting, but were unable to attend. Dr. WHITE was made chairman of the meeting, the objects of which were stated "to unite as many physicians as possible in forming a society which should eventually become legalized by receiving a charter from the State Homoeopathic Society." The following officers were then nominated and elected: President, E. J. MORGAN, sr.; vice-president, D. WHITE; secretary, A. M. BALDWIN; treasurer, J. S. KIRKENDALL. A committee on constitution and by-laws was appointed, composed of the following: Drs. E. J. MORGAN, jr., S. J. PARKER, G. E. ORTON. This meeting was adjourned to meet again at the parlors of the Clinton House on the 9th of September. On this date the constitution and by-laws which had been prepared by the committee were adopted, and Drs. BESEMER, KIRKENDALL and PARKER were elected censors. Dr. PARKER read a paper on "Infantile Hygiene," which was first read before the society. Drs. L. W. CARPENTER, Rufus TALLMADGE and J. W. BROWN were appointed to read papers before the next meeting. Dr. C. E. VAN CLEEF was added to these appointments as a substitute.
The society continued in active existence until 1886, the last meeting of which there is any record having been held on February 17 of that year. The only apparent reason for its discontinuance was lack of sufficient interest to call its members together from the various towns of the county and to inspire the preparation and reading of papers that would bring the members together.
At the meeting of October 13, 1880, a committee consisting of Drs. William BARR, L. W. CARPENTER, of Ludlowville, N. K. FOSTER, of Dryden, and A. M. BALDWIN, of Groton, was appointed to investigate the legality of the diplomas then registered; also "the right to practice of either transient or permanent physicians who may hereafter locate in this county." At the succeeding meeting the committee reported the names of several physicians whose diplomas were in doubtful legality. The names of these were Drs. D. K. ALLEN, J. C. WALL, Ransom JOHNSON, E. F. BUTTERFIELD, and J. A. NORTHUP. Nothing further seems to have been done with the men.
Dr. E. J. MORGAN, jr., was chosen delegate to the State Society for 1881, and Dr. BALDWIN delegate to the County Society, including the counties of Tompkins, Tioga, Broome and Cortland.
Two women were admitted to membership in the society in January, 1881, after considerable discussion. These were Mistresses H. G. SMITH and M. L. W. LACY.
In April, 1881, a committee consisting of Drs. VAN CLEEF, WHITE and PARKER was appointed to prepare and file articles of incorporation for the society.
In June, 1881, the following amendment wass made to the constitution: "We believe in, and approve of, the law of similia similibus curantur; yet that belief shall not interfere with any therapeutical opinion that any individual member may hold."
At the meeting of June 25, 1881, election of officers was held with the following result: President E. J. MORGAN, sr.; vice-president, David WHITE; secretary, A. M. BALDWIN; treasurer, J. S. KIRKENDALL. In June, 1882, the following officers were elected: President, David WHITE; vice-president, S. N. JONES; secretary, S. J. PARKER; treasurer, J. S. KIRKENDALL.
By this time, in the history of the society, complaints were entered on the minutes of non-attendance and lack of interest on the part of the members.
For the year 1883 the following officers were elected: President, S. N. JONES; vice-president, E. C. VAN CLEEF; secretary, S. J. PARKER; treasurer, J. S. KIRKENDALL; censors, D. C. BARR, S. W. CARPENTER, R. TALLMADGE. E. J. MORGAN, sr., was appointed delegate to the State Society; S. J. PARKER, delegate to the Medical Society of the State of New York; and J. S. KIRKENDALL, delegate to the State Eclectic Society.
Officers for 1884: President, C. E. VAN CLEEF; vice-president, S. J. PARKER; secretary, E. J. MORGAN, jr.; treasurer, J. S. KIRKENDALL. Delegates same as previous year.
There is no record of an election of officers in 1885, and as before stated, the last meeting was held in February, 1886.
Regarding further details of proceedings at these various meetings, it may be added that Dr. E. J. MORGAN, sr., Dr. KIRKENDALL, and several of the others read papers of importance to the profession, while the society, as a whole, undoubtedly contributed in a considerable degree to the elevation and advancement of this school of practice in the county.
Edward Jay MORGAN, M.D., of Ithaca, N.Y., was born in Venice, N.Y., on June 29, 1825. This father, Thomas MORGAN, of New London, Conn., died in 1836. From circumstances connected with the financial condition of the country at the time, and although having once possessed a considerable fortune, he left his family almost wholly unprovided for. His mother was a remarkable woman, and to her wisdom, fortitude and christian character the subject of this sketch owes much. He was thrown from almost the first upon his own resources, a circumstance which in after life he came to look upon as having exerted a materially beneficial effect upon him. At the age of fourteen he went to Auburn, N.Y., for the purpose of acquiring a knowledge of dentistry, in order that he might earn means sufficient to defray his expenses while at school. He was soon enabled to commence an academic course at Auburn, which he completed at Groton, N.Y. He prepared himself to enter an advanced course in Hamilton College, then intending to join the ministry. Circumstances changed his determination, and in 1844 he went to Ithaca, N.Y., but not to cease studying. Soon after reaching Ithaca he commenced the study of medicine with the late Dr. J. E. HAWLEY, allopath, who was at that time the principal surgeon in Ithaca and the adjoining country. Having by practicing dentistry obtained the funds necessary to enter a medical college, and sufficiently prepared himself, he took two courses of lectures in 1848 and 1849, at Geneva Medical College, becoming at the same time a pupil of Professor Thomas SPENCER. He graduated in 1850, immediately returned to Ithaca, and commenced the practice of medicine and surgery, in partnership with his former preceptor, Dr. HAWLEY.
During the winter of 1855 he was called to a neighboring city to see his invalid mother, by whose bedside he met Dr. Horatio ROBINSON, of Auburn, the able and honored pioneer of homoeopathy in Western New York. Through his influence Dr. MORGAN was induced to examine into the claims of the new system, which he had been taught to regard as but the "fabric of a vision," but which, upon earnest investigation, he found to be based on a broad and solid foundation of scientific research. Against the advice of many of his friends he studied and adopted homoeopathy that same year. But he was never an extremist. Perhaps having studied both schools tempered any undue bias he might have had. Of course he experienced at this time much of the ridicule and opposition that one naturally meets with in espousing a new and unpopular cause or science. Nevertheless, he soon built up a practice, and before many years had succeeded in converting to homoeopathy many of the most intelligent and cultured people of Ithaca and the adjoining country. His practice was one of the largest in central New York, and, in fact, few physicians have for a longer term of years enjoyed the esteem and confidence of any community. He is still sent for far and wide in consultation.
At one period he was temporarily engaged at a medical institution at Spencer Springs, NY., the management of the homoeopathic dispensary being entrusted to him. His services to the cause of medicine, at the time he sought connection with the establishment, enlisted numerous highly complimentary testimonials from the best known Ithacans.
In 1851 Dr. MORGAN married the youngest daughter of Judge Andrew De Witt BRUYN, of Ithaca, by whom he has two children, a son and a daughter; the former is also an homoeopathic physician.
Dr. MORGAN's years of active practice extended from 1851 to 1893, but since 1890 his health has been breaking, though he did not retire from the field till October, 1893. And still very many of his old families cling to him, awaiting with anxiety the result of this last and very serious illness which the past winter (1894) has taken him up to death's very door, but from which he seems to be recovering though nearly sixty-nine years of age. Dr. MORGAN is an eminent surgeon. It is perhaps in the diagnosis of disease that his greatest talent lies. His judgment is swift and as unerring as direct. It has many times been said of him that he seldom made a mistake, that when he made a prediction it was usually fulfilled. This talent has brought him in the years past many compliments from specialists in the larger cities, and more than once he has had tempting offers to devote himself exclusively to the diagnosis of disease.
Dr. MORGAN's manner and presence in the sick room is unusually pleasing. He is rarely sympathetic and gives himself as well as his medicine to his patients. Many and many a time he has been known to walk the floor till long after midnight, studying or worrying over very sick patients, when he should have been asleep.
That his health was unbroken during the strain of so many years was due without doubt to his recreation with gun and rod. He was a most enthusiastic sportsman and went a few weeks of many succeeding summers nto what used to be called John BROWN's Tract, a region which particularly captivated him. For he loves and knows nature in many of her phases as well as he knows medicine. The trees and birds and rocks and flowers are known to him by name and companionship and he ever delights to study their habits.
Judge F. M. FINCH, the poet lawyer, one of his oldest and most intimate friends, wrote of him twenty years ago when in John BROWN's Tract:
…. The doctor, first of all-- Since always first--at early breakfast call, At floating for the dazed and wondering deer, At whipping wave and ripple far and near, At watching loon, the diver's distant wake, At wreathing clouds of smoke, like dreaming Turk; Or climbing granite peak, moss-grown and gray, Scored by the storms in many a frost and fray; And only last when Toil, bronze-armed and grand, Summoned his weary steps and doubtful hand. THE REGISTRATION LAW. Yet not an idler: He who wars with death, Upon the narrow ledges of a breath, On doubtful foothold of a tremulous grasp, May idle sometimes when the summer flowers With leaf and garland crown the resting hours; But not when low the fire of being burns, And life or death upon a heart-beat turns. So M______, prone on the earth, his tossing hair Loose to the tangling of the forest air-- But often, in the tran of marching years, To throw the doubtful dice of smiles or tears.
Dr. Samuel L. SIBLEY was the first homoeopathic physician in practice, and opened his office only a few years prior to the beginning of Dr. MORGAN's practice. He was formerly an old school physician. He practiced eight or ten years, when his health failed. He built the brick residence now occupied by Dr. HOYSRADT; was a successful practitioner and a courteous gentleman. Other homoeopathic physicians who practiced successfully in Ithaca were Dr. J. W. THOMPSON, who began a little later than Dr. MORGAN, and died about three years later. Dr. Charles E. SWIFT was for a time a partner of Dr. MORGAN, and removed to Auburn, where he had a large practice and died there recently. Dr. A. C. WELCH, for a time parner with Dr. MORGAN, as an able physician and removed west.
The Legislature of this State has done much to advance the interests of the medical profession, as well as those of the sick, by passing laws regulating practice, protecting regularly qualified physicians, and placing restrictions upon those who might be disposed to claim a professional position without having graduated from some recognized school. In 1872 a law was passed specifying the means by which applicants might be admitted to practice medicine, either by examination before a medical society, or by attendance at some recognized school. In 1880 what has been known as the "Registration Law" was passed, which required all physicians to personally register with the county clerk their name, place of birth, proposed residence in the county, the institution or society by which they were licensed, and the date of such license or diploma. A refusal to comply with the requirements of this law is a misdemeanor.
Under this law, which went into effect in 1880, the following named physicians have registered in the county clerk's office in Ithaca. The list is valuable for reference and preservation in case of destruction of the record book:
1There is little doubt that the village of Ludlowville, in Lansing, has the honor (if it is an honor) of being the residence about one year of Frederick HAHNEMANN, son of the great founder of the homoeopathic school of medicine. According to the account of Lorenze MEYERS, of Ludlowville, Frederick HAHNEMANN landed in New York from Germany in 1827, where he boarded a canal boat then running on the canal, by Andrew MEYERS, father of Lorenzo MEYERS, and was brought to "Meyers's Landing," near the site of Ludlowville. HAHNEMANN opened an office and practiced to some extent; but the prejudice of old school physicians finally became so strong that he left and went on westward, at least as far as Illinois, where trace of him is lost. Dr. Frederick HUMPHREY, formerly of Ludlowville, now of New York city (corner Williams and John streets), who has written a history of homoeopathy, gives credence to the above statements.
Landmarks - Chapter XI, Part II
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