Copied from Harbaugh's 1909 History
Miami County Ohio
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION,
PAST AND PRESENT
The Pioneer Doctor -
Crude Methods of a Century Ago
Home Remedies -
Bleeding the Main Reliance of the Old-Time "Regular"
Devotion of the Pioneer Physicians
Diseases Prevalent in Early Days -
The Charlatan of Former Days
Some Early Physicians -
The Medical Profession of the Present Day
The Miami County Medical Society.
The first disciples of Esculapius and Hippocrates to practice within
the present limits of Miami County did not have the advantages enjoyed
by their brethren of the present day. The practice of medicine one hundred
years ago was crude and unsatisfactory. It was the day of the lancet, calomel
and jalap. These, with the murderous "turn-key," formed the stock-intrade
of the old doctor. Without them he would have been as helpless as a rudderless
ship in a typhoon. People then were afflicted with many diseases arising
largely from the climate and exposure. Doctors were few and far between.
Sometimes they were half a day's ride from the isolated cabin and not infrequently
a swollen river intervened. Drug stores were unknown and the patent medicine
shelf with its cure-alls and exploited nostrums had not come into existence
to make poor humanity believe that it was afflicted with all the ills that
belong to the human race.
Every family was largely its own doctor. Each household had various
remedies compounded from herbs and roots which were supposed and fondly
believed to be efficacious. Tansy was a favorite remedy, and poccoon, snakeroot
and poke had their advocates. In an old book on the Miami Country published
in 18l5 I find a catalogue of the roots, herbs, etc., which were taken
from Nature's garden for the healing of the sick. Among the stimulants
are found prickly ash, Indian turnip, sassafras, ginseng, and the flower
of the wild hop. The list of tonics included the bark and flowers of the
dogwood, the rose willow, yellow poplar, the cucumber tree and the Spanish
oak, while the red maple, wild cherry, and crowfoot wore regarded as astringents
and so used. The early settler had a long list of Nature's remedies to
choose from and when sickness visited his family he became his own diagnostician
and prescribed accordingly. Almost every neighborhood had its "charm
Old women claimed to be experts in the removal of ringworms, tetter,
felons and the like, and were frequently called upon to exercise their
potent influence. They were said to be able to remove a bone felon by holding
a hot coal over it and accompanying the operation with a lot of cabalistic
words which awed the patient as well as the spectators. If the wart, ringworm
or tetter disappeared well and good and the "doctoress" received
the praise. Of course the old practitioner discounted the virtues of the
charm doctors and held them in contempt. He laughed at the testimouials
which were presented and went on with his bleeding and dosing just the
It mattered little how weak a patient might be, he had to be bled. The
very thing he needed most, blood, was taken from him. It is affirmed that
Washington was bled to death by Dr.Craik and others. This bleeding process
obtained in this county till long after the birth of the nineteenth century.
As late as 1828 Cooper, in a work on surgery, advised that the patient
be bled to fainting and said that during the swoon strangulated hernia
could be reduced within a quarter of an hour. Sometimes, when they could
be obtained, leeches were used in the practice of medicine, and as late
as 1830 Coster advised the application of twenty or thirty leeches in inflammation
of the ear. Diphtheria was known as croup in the early dawn of the county's
career and for this disease the old doctors gave tartar emetic, and bled.
Bleeding was also considered efficacious in pneumonia. The pioneer doctor
with his saddle-bags and well-known horse was a character those days.
He was filled with the milk of human kindness, refused no calls and
often rode miles through the unbroken forest to the bedside of his patient.
At one time Dr.Asa Coleman swam the Miami at flood-tide to obey a summons
and imperiled his life to give medical aid to the afflicted one. Night
rides through wintry forests and over snowy barreias were as nothing to
the first doctors of Miami. The howl of the wolf sometimes resounded on
every side. The only roads were blazed ones and often not even such traces
guided the old practitioner. His materia medica was small. His surgical
outfit was limited and crude, but with it he often performed marvels. There
were broken limbs then as now, gunshot wounds, fractures of every kind,
and some of the adjustments were as well done as those of the present day.
The trees of the forest furnished him with excellent splints and his amputations
nearly always redounded to his credit.
It was long before the day of anesthetics and the patient either suffered
in silence or roared out his pain till exhausted. When the torturing turnkey
fastened itself on a refractory tooth the stubborn molar was sure to come
if the pioneer doctor had the proper strength, and he was generally a man
of muscle. He has been known to spend a week at a house watching with the
tenderest solicitude over the bed of a sick child and to weep with the
sorrowing family, and often charged nothing for his services. The old doctors
of Miami were faithful to their trust and did their duty under the most
difficult circumstances without a murmur. Whatever may be the verdict of
this or coming generations concerning them, their merit will be none the
less. They had no nostrums and no specious advertisements and while the
nightwinds sing their requiem where they rest, many of them in the forgotten
little cemeteries, the world is better for their having lived, better for
any note of joy which they helped to beat out of the harsh discords of
the times. They deserve a greater mouument than has been raised to them.
The prevailing diseases of the early days of county history were many.
The winters were cold. One of the coldest days was that of January 8, 1797,
when the mercury dropped to eighteen degrees below zero. Consumption was
practically unknown among the pioneers, croup was the terror of the little
household and at times it was depopulated of its children. Weather changes
produced rheumatism and along the water courses remitting and intermitting
fevers, including ague, prevailed. In 1809, 10 and 11, typhoid fever was
prevalent, but after those years this dread scourge abated. Typhus fever
prevailed among the immigrants from New England and New York. These people
came here in the wrong season and were not proof against the changes of
climate. Dysentery occurred every summer in this locality, jaundice was
common, and measles and whooping-cough frequently became epidemic. Occasionally
the scourge of small-pox visited the infant settlements and on two occasions
there was an invasion of cholera which took off many people. Many settlers
on Lost Creek died of this terrible disease in the early forties. A disease
known locally as the "cold plague" visited this part of the country
in 1812-13. It generally attacked those who were most exposed to cold and
moisture, and, despite the skill of the old doctors, it proved alarmingly
Among the other diseases with which the first physicians had to contend
were scrofula, rickets, scurvy, dropsy, and apoplexy. Cancers were hardly
known in the county then and insanity was very rare. It is said that the
first suicide in the county is buried in the old Knoop cemetery in Staunton
Township. While venomous serpents were numerous along the streams and among
the rock piles, snake bites were infrequent and the few were generally
successfully treated. No bills of mortality were kept in the early days,
there were no boards of health and the old doctors were not called, upon
to furnish mortuary statistics. They kept, however, a careful account of
their practice and some of their notes and observations are decidedly interesting.
Some of the lirst county physicians held to tenacious opinions peculiarly
their own. It is said that John Mote, the first doctor in Union Township,
could hardly be convinced that there was such a thing as sick stomach or
vegetable poison. He treated such cases as bilious fever and the patient
generally succumbed. At last he contracted the disease himself and would
not believe it till a neighbor told him that he (the neighbor) could smell
it. Then the old doctor dosed himself properly and recovered.
The old-time medical profession of the county had an intense hatred
of the charlatan or quack doctor. This individual came to the surface now
and then to the detriment of the regular profession and found his dupes
as he finds them at the present day . In 1829 Dr. N. Jackson of Piqua in
the Piqua Gazette sounds a note of warning against the charlatan in the
following postscript to his "Medical Notice."
"Any person who may require medical aid who applies to one of these
empyrics known as patent doctors will please omit calling on me during
the continuance of that disease. I have determined to attend no such case
if known to me. If I should be called on when I ascertain the fact above
alluded to my charge will be six times what it otherwise would have been."
Dr. Jackson "informs the citizens of Piqua that he has removed
from town to the opposite bank of the Miami River about a half mile east
of Piqua and a convenient water craft will be kept opposite his dwelling
to accommodate foot passengers; persons on horseback will have a good ford
at the same place except in time of high water." He warrants his medicines
to be of the first quality and sold at the lowest rate. As there were few
bridges across the various county streams those days more than one doctor
provided boats for the accommodation of his patrons and some exciting trips
It is narrated that upon one occasion when the river was high, a messenger
hurrying for the doctor reached the river only to discover that the boat
was missing. Upon a tree at the mooring hung a horn capable of sounding
a blast that would rouse the dead. The excited man took down the horn and
blew upon it a blast that rivaled Don Rhoderick's. The night was dark and
the water a dangerous torrent. Presently across the stream came the voice
of the old doctor. "What's wanted?" asked the disciple of Esculapius.
"Jolinny's swallered something, doctor. It's stuck in his throat and
he's going to die!" yelled the troubled father. "Oh, is that
all, was the reply, " Go home, stand Johnny on his head and give him
a goodspanking. Good night! As there was no further call on the old doctor
it is supposed that "Johnny" had an uninterrupted though somewhat
The celebrated Indian agent, Col.John Johnston, though not a practitioner,
was known to be a good "bone setter," as the term went in the
early days. He was frequently called on to show his skill in this direction.
He used what was called a "shocking machine" by the neighbors.
It was really the old-fashioned and now out of date electrifying machine
and was looked upon as the marvel of the age. Those who underwent its tortures
were loud in its praises and wonders were ascribed to it. People came from
far and near to be "shocked," and the Colonel came to be regarded
as a man of more than celebrated ability. No one knows today the modtts
operandi of this wonderful invention, though it is likely that Johnston
was not the pioneer in this particular direction.
It must not be thought for a moment that the pioneer doctor was a man
of little education. He was a man much beyond his profession. He kept abreast
of the times in everything and especially in the therapeutics of the day.
His skill was well known and his willingness to respond to every call was
known the country over. His stock of medicines came generally from the
east, though in later years pharmacopceias were established at Cincinnati
and Columbus. For the remedies which he did not manufacture himself he
drew on the nearest medical depot, and, aside from jalap and calomel, he
was dependent on his own resources.
Among the early doctors on the west side of the county, besides Dr.
Mote already mentioned was Dr.Robert Crew the first physician to practice
in West Milton.
I have no data concerning him. Dr.Lat Patty practiced in Union Township
from 1826 to 1836. He was a pioneer of Kansas and died there just before
the outbreak of the Civil War. Some of the other doctors in this township
were Dr. Bolisky, a Pole of good family (1838), Dr. Dulon (1840). Dr.Dulon
was a strong anti- slavery man and was known as a station agent on the
"Underground Railroad." Dr.McReynolds practiced there from 1836
to '46 and Dr. Henry Davis from 1842 to '56. He was a brother to Probate
Judge Samuel Davis of the county. Dr.Davis had for a partner Dr.Riply.
Dr.J.S.Panabaker practiced in Union from 1846 to '50, and Dr. Eli Tenney,
afterward county auditor, from 1848 to '6S. Dr.S. Jennings of West Milton
began his practice there in 1862 and is still in active practice at the
Dr. William Patty began practice in Newton Township many years ago and
he is still living and actively engaged in his profession, although he
may be classed as a pioneer physician.
Dr. Asa Coleman, of Troy, was among the first of the pioneer physicians.
He came from Glastonbury, Conn., where he was born in 1788. Dr. Coleman
was identified with church, state, and Masonic affairs as well as with
medicine and surgery. He received his medical diploma in 1810 and set up
practice in Troy the following year. During the War of 1812 he attended
the sick and wounded in the various block-houses and passed through grades
of military promotion until he reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in
1818. He also filled the office of representative from Miami and was an
associate judge. For many years his figure was a prominent one on the streets
of Troy, tall, erect, and white-haired. He died February 25, 1870, and
was the father of Colonel A.H.Coleman, who was killed at the battle of
Dr. DeJoncourt was another of Troy's early physicians, so was Dr. Abbott.
Dr.Telford was another and Dr.Sabin (there were two. Drs.Sabin, father
and son) for a long time had a large share of Troy's practice many years
ago. Dr.Horace Coleman, son of Dr. Asa, opened an office in Troy about
1850, moved later to Indiana, where he entered the army as surgeon, serving
throughout the Civil War. He afterward resumed practice in Troy, but at
present is an examining surgeon in the United States Pension Office at
Washington, D.C. Dr Isaac S. Meeks, one of the old style doctors, practiced
for many years in the county, first in Lost Creek Township and later in
Troy. He was contemporaneous with Drs. Walkley, Keifer, Green and Bowers,
all doctors of ability. These doctors may be said to have been pioneers
in the profession, though some of them lived until recently. All were well
read and careful practitioners and stood in the foremost ranks of the profession.
Piqua has to her credit quite an army of old-time physicians. Some of
these became noted outside the profession of medicine. Probably the most
noted of these was Dr.G.Volney Dorsey, referred to several times in this
volume. He was probably the most erudite of the past physicians of the
county, a fine scholar and a deep thinker. Dr.Henry Chapeze came to Piqua
from Kentucky about 1814. He erected a brick office on the southwest corner
of Wayne and Water Streets, the first brick building to be built within
the village limits.
In 1820 Dr. John O'Ferrall settled in Piqua, where he practiced medicine
till his death many years later. Drs.Chapeze and O'Ferrall rode the county
when much of it was a vast unbroken forest, sleeping and eating in the
uncouth homes of the early settlers, but always having in mind the health
of the community. Dr.Chapeze died in 1828, but his colleague, Dr. O'Ferrall,
lived to see the county take its place among the first commonwealths within
the state. Among the other doctors of Piqua in early days were Drs.Jackson,
Teller, Jordon, Hendershott and Worrall. All these have passed away, but
their faithful ministrations are remembered where they lived and worked.
Dr. Alfred Potter was one of the early doctors of Casstown, a homely,
rough featured man, given over at times to mild mannered profanity, but
withal a capable friend of the sick, kind hearted and always ready to respond
to the most arduous call. It would be next to impossible to catalogue the
old physicians of the county. Many are entirely forgotten and the record
of them is but the slightest. They lived in the day of poor fees and hard
work, but this did not daunt them. They were the pioneers in medicine among
us and blazed the way for the present day practitioner.
The Medical Profession of Miami County at the present day stands high.
It is composed of representatives who have attained deserved recognition
in their calling. The advancement in medical science during the past thirty
years has been welcomed by the physicians of Miami County and all keep
pace with the latest discoveries in that branch. The smallest communities
are now supplied with capable doctors, whereas not many years ago they
were devoid of this convenience.
There was established within the county a few years ago "The Miami
County Medical Society." It is now one of the most progressive medical
bodies in the State and is officered as follows: President, Dr.S.S.Hartman,
Tippecanoe City; vicepresident, Dr.L.A. Ruhl, Covington; secretary and
treasurer, Dr.R.L. Kunkle, Piqua. Members of the Legislative Committee--Dr.A.B.Frame,
Piqua; Dr.Van S. Deaton, Alcony; Censors: Dr.R.M.O'Forrall, Piqua, and
Following is a complete list of the resident physicians of the county:
A.B.Frame, A.S.Ashton, J.B.Baker, J.H.Baker, R.M.O'Farrall,
R.M.Shannon, W.J.Prince, R.L.Kunkle, J.E.Murray, J.H.Lowe,
L.E.Reek, W.J.Kelly, J.B.Tennell, F.E.Kitsmiller, C.R.Coffeen,
F.M.Hunt. M.E.McManes, C.E.Hetherington, R.D.Burnham, F.E.Adams,
J.C.Fahnesteek, R.L.Hyde, P.L.Snorf, Ada L.Malick, J.R.Caywood,
L.Alf, J.Funderberg, H.H.Gravatt, L.D.Trowbridge, W.N.Unkefer.
W.R.Thompson, T.M.Wright, O.E.McCollough, J.S.Shinn, H.E.Shilling,
Warren Coleman, C.A.Hartley, W.W.Baker, E.B.Davis, P.P.Eagle,
L.M.Lindenberger, J.W.Means, R.C.Wolcott, M.G.Wright.
S.D.Hartman, J.D.Miller, H.H.Havens, W.E.Widener, B J.Kendall,
H.W.Kendall, C.E.Gaines, S.A.Roseinberger, A.C.Miller,
M.M. Brubaker, L.A.Ruhl, W.M.Gaines.
G.Jennings, S.Jennings, E.W.Spitler, G.C.Ullery.
C.W.Bausman, W.H.Minton, J.Ballinger, A.Minton, H.M.Foreman.
A.J.Bausman, S.N.Bausman, J.Teeter, W.Patty.
S.Hoover, C.R.Coate, S.P.Neff, Anson Troy.
Not all the above physicians are members of the Miami County Medical
Society, but it is believed that before long this active organization will
embrace the whole local profession. The medical corps of the county, as
listed above, is well known through out the state and is noted for its
progressiveness in the art of healing. During the past century medical
advance in the county has been great. The old system of practice has passed
away and there remains of it at the present day nothing but a memory. It
may be said in conclusion that the medical profession of the county has
a record to be proud of and that it keeps in the foremost rank of research
and discovery in its particular domain.
End of chapter 17
1909 History of Miami County Ohio
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