James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 22 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 22 of 125)
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Vassar, Homer A. Nelson, P. P. Dickinson, Charles
Wheaton, Charles W. Swift, William A. Davies,
and Judge Anthony, Directors. A meeting of
stock-holders was held in Poughkeepsie, September
5, 1873, and a permanent organization was effected
as follows : Directors, J. Edgar Thompson, Phila-
delphia, of the Pennsylvania R. R., A. L. Dennis,
Newark, President N. J. R. R. & T. Co., Hon. H.

G. Eastman, LL. D., Mayor of Poughkeepsie and
President of Eastman's National Business College,
Andrew Carnegie, New York, of the Keystone
Bridge Works and Union Iron Mills of Pittsburg,
Charles G. Franklyn, of New York, Cunard Steam-
ship Co., David Solomon, New York, Financial
Agent Penn. R. R. Co., Andrew J. Cassatt, Phila-
delphia, General Manager Penn. R. R., George P.
Pelton, Poughkeepsie, President Poughkeepsie and
Eastern R. R., P. P. Dickinson, Poughkeepsie,
Chief Engineer P. & E. R. R., Strickland Kneass,
Philadelphia, Asst. President Peng. R. R. Co.,
Gardiner F. McCandless, New York, Treas. I. M.
& N. R. R. Co. ; President, A. L. Dennis ; Vice-
President, H. G. Eastman ; Treasurer, G. F.
McCandless ; Secretary, Charles B. Thurston •
Assistant Secretary and Attorney, R. F. Wilkinson.
The work of construction was commenced in the
summer of 1876, and two piers carried above the
surface of the water, in which condition it still
remains, doubtful if further work on it will soon be
prosecuted. The proposed bridge is to be a mag-
nificent and costly structure. The iron work is to be
sixty-four feet in height, above the piers, thus mak-
ing the total height from the water to the top of
the bridge at least one hundred and ninety-four feet.
Its construction wiU necessitate the erection of an



independent temporary wooden bridge from shore
to shore, at an estimated cost of $400,000. It is
proposed to lay the railroad track on the top chord
of the bridge.*


County Societies — Early Legislation on Medi-
cal Subjects — Duchess County Medical So-
ciety — Organization, Constituent Members
and First Officers — Digest of By-Laws —
Early Legislative Enactments by the So-
ciety — Names of Successive Presidents —
Names of Members from the Organization
OF THE Society — Rise and Spread of Home-
opathy — Its Introduction into Duchess
County — Homeopathic Medical Society of
Duchess County — Organization — Successive
Presidents — Names of Members from the Or-
ganization of the Society — Duchess County
Mutual Insurance Company.

THE practice of " physic and surgery" in the
city of New York was first regulated by leg-
islative enactment June 10, 1760, and afterwards
by an act of March, 1792. March 23, 1797, the
first general regulation was attempted, by author-
izing the Chancellor, a Judge of the Supreme or
Common Pleas Court, or Master in Chancery, to
license physicians or surgeons, upon evidence of
their having studied two years, etc., and the act
of 1792 was repealed. The act of 1797 was
amended in 1801, and again in 1803. The pen-
alty for practicing without a license at this period
was the prohibition to receive remuneration, and
the imposition of a fine of twenty-five dollars each
time pay was received. April 4, 1 806, an act of the
Legislature authorized the establishment of County
Medical Societies and a general State Medical So-
ciety, and repealed the former acts ; and this act
was incorporated in that of April 10, 1813, which
prohibited persons from practicing "physic and
surgery" without having passed an examination and
received a diploma from a medical society, which
they were required to have recorded in the County
Clerk's office, under penalty of being forever dis-
qualified from collecting any debt incurred by such
practice in any court in this State, and of forfeit-
ing twenty-five dollars for each offence of which
they might be convicted, provided they received
pay or reward for their services. Any person, how-

* The Sunday Courier, Poughkeepsie, September 7, 187s ; Hough's
Gazetteer of the State of New York, 260 ; and other documents.

ever, was permitted to use for the benefit of the
sick, " any roots, bark or herbs, the growth or pro-
duce of the United States.'' Every applicant for a
license was required to produce " satisfactory tes-
timony that he had regularly studied physic and
surgery or both * * * with one or more rep-
utable practitioner or practitioners for the term of
three years ;" but before being allowed to practice
he must have attained the age of twenty-one years.
The law authorized qualified physicians and sur-
geons, not less than five in number, in counties
where no medical society then existed, to organize
such society, and empowered them not only to grant
licenses but to recognize diplomas granted by other
States and countries as well as those received from
the Regents of the University and Geneva Medical
College. They were endowed with the usual cor-
porate powers, and permitted to hold real and per-
sonal property not exceeding in value $ i .000. They
might require the payment by their members of a
sum not exceeding three dollars, and by each prac-
ticing physician and surgeon in the county a sum
not exceeding one dollar a year, for procuring a
medical library and apparatus, and encouraging
useful discoveries in chemistry, botany, etc. The
amended law of April 20, 1818, modified these
provisions somewhat, and also required " every
practitioner of medicine in this State to report him-
self to and connect himself with the medical so-
ciety in the county" in which he resided. If any
failed to comply, his license was forfeited and he
subjected to the provisions and penalties applicable
to unlicensed physicians.

Sept. 20, 1806, the following named physicians
of Duchess county, being a majority of the physi-
cians in the county, met at Cunningham's Hotel
agreeable to public notice, and formed the Duch-
ess County Medical Society, viz : John W. Smith,
Amenia; Ebenezer Carey and Thomas Laffen,
Beekman ; Cyrus B6rry, George W. Cook, James
Downs, WiUiam Ely and Thomas Quinlan, Clin-
ton; Abraham Halsey, John Pinckney, Joseph
Rogers, James Thorn and Bartow White, Fishkill ;
Uri Judd, North East ; David Delavan and James
Scovel, Pawling ; John Chamberlain, Caleb Child,
Daniel Dayton, John Thomas, Charles Waldo,
Baltus L. Van Kleeck and J. Livingston Van-
Kleeck, Poughkeepsie ; David Tomlinson and
Wm. W. Wheeler, Rhinebeck ; Richard Bartlett;
Amasa Beeckman and Ezekiel H. Gurnsey, Stan-
ford ; and Benjamin Delavergne and Wm. Lathrop,
Washington. Benjamin Delavergne was chairman,
and Abraham Halsey, secretary of the meeting.



The following officers were elected : Samuel Bard,
of Hyde Park, President ; Benjamin Delavergiie,
Vice-President ; Robert Noxon, Treasurer, and J.
Livingston Van Kleeck, Secretary. After the
election of the above officers, the Vice-President,
Benjamin Delavergne, took the chair, and the fol-
lowing were elected Censors : Ebenezer Carey,
John Thomas, Wm. Lathrop, David Tomlinson
and Abraham Halsey. Wm. Wheeler was appointed
delegate to the State Society. John Thomas,
Bartow White, Thomas Laflfen, Wm. Ely and J.
Livingston Van Kleeck were appointed to draft a
code of by-laws.

Dr. Samuel Bard, who was elected President,
had retired from active life. He lived and prac-
ticed medicine in the city of New York, before,
during and after the Revolution of 1776. He was
a very successful practitioner, and, though not a
great author, had published a treatise written in
1 77 1, on Angina Suffocata, and another on the
" Use of Cold" in hemorrhage. His greatest and
best work was a treatise on obstetrics — a work the
more valuable because it was written and published
after he had retired, and not written to gain a reputa-
tion, but to give the young practitioner good ideas
particularly on the subject of the cautious use of
instruments in obstetrics. Thatcher says, in his
biography of medical men, that in 1813, Dr. Bard
was appointed President of the College of Physi-
cians and Surgeons in New York, which position
he held during the remainder of his life.*

At the second meeting, held at the same place
the second Tuesday in November, 1806, it was
" voted that the annual contribution be two dol-
lars."t By-laws, which every member of the So-
ciety was required to sign, were adopted. They
provided, among other things, that the annual
meetings of the Society should be held the second
Tuesday in November in every year, and the semi-
annual meetings the second Tuesday in May.
The delegate, in addition to his other duties, was
required " to support the honor and dignity of the
Society." Provision was made for the punishment
of all persons practicing "physic and surgery"
contrary to the law of April 4, 1806. " The cen-
sors, having been irregularly chosen at the last
meeting," were re-appointed at this. The delegate
seems to have performed satisfactorily the impor-
tant duty assigned him, for at the meeting of May
II, 1807, he was thanked for his services as such,,
" andfor his generous refusal to be remunerated for

.//To °'' ^".^«^'"='= ''«/'"• read before the Duchess County
Medical Society at Wappmgers Falls, June 8, 1881.
t May II, 1819, this was repealed and the amount fixed at $1

those services." At the latter date it was resolved
" that every candidate for admission de jure into
this Society shall produce to the Society a certifi-
cate of his legal qualification to practice physic and
surgery, according to the former laws of the State,
or that at least four members of the Society shall
vouch for his qualification."

Nov. II, 1807, the President, or, in his absence,
the Vice-President, was required to appoint three
persons in the order in which their names were
subscribed to the by-laws, to read dissertations on
some medical subject before the Society at its next
stated meeting.

Jan. 23, 1808, the by-laws were amended. The
Society resolved to confer licenses to practice
twice each year, at the annual and semi-annual
meetings; also to "give out twice in every six
months before each peri«l, a medical case, ques-
tion or aphorism," on which each candidate was
expected to write a short dissertation, to " be de-
Uvered to the Secretary at least fourteen days
before the next stated meeting, for the perusal
of such members as may choose to examine it."
The first examination was to be held on the morn-
ing of each stated meeting ; " be private before the
censors and such mernbers only as the candidate
might choose to invite," and " relate to anatomy,
physiology, chemistry, pharmacy, pathology and
therapeutics, on all of which, the candidate mani-
festing competent knowledge, the censors shall give
him a certificate thereof under their hands." The
second examination was to be public, on the after-
noon of the same day, and '' consist of a defense
by the candidate of such opinion as he may have
advanced in his dissertation, against the objections
which may be raised by the examiners," who were to
be chosen at every meeting of the Society for that
purpose. The candidate, having passed a satisfac-
tory examination, was required to repeat aloud and
subscribe to the following solemn declaration :—

"I, A. B., before God and this assembly, do
solemnly promise and declare that I will, at aU
times, practice the profession of physic and surgery
to which I am now to be licensed, cautiously, dili-
gently and conscientiously, and to the best of my
abilities, for the good of my patients, the care of
their diseases and the preservation of their health ;
tha.t I will, on no occasion, sacrifice them either to
the hope of reward, the gratification of resentment,
inexcusable negligence, or to any other motive
whatsoever ; that I will never conspire against the
life of the fetus, and that I will sacredly keep all
such secrets as shall be confided to me in my pro-
fessional capacity, which, as a citizen, I am not
bound to reveal."



Nov. 12, 181 1, the by-law relative to the exam-
ination of applicants for licenses, passed Feb. 22,
1808, was amended so as to make the day of ex-
amination ■ the day preceding the meeting of the
society, and May 9, 1815, was again amended so
as to permit the censors, by order of the President,
to convene on any day for that purpose, except
the days of the annual and semi-annual meetings
of the society. Nov. 14, 1815, it was "resolved
that the examination of the students shall be in the
presence of the Society in future, at their annual
and semi-annual meetings, and the Society (with
the Censors) shall decide on his or their quaUfica-
tion." Nov. 12, 1816, the by-law relating to
examination of students passed Nov. 14, 1815, was
repealed, and the law passed in 1806, "revived."
At that meeting also the Society concurred in the
efforts of the Albany .County Medical Society to
secure an amendment to the law regulating the
practice of physic and surgery in this State, so as
to make it unlawful for Censors of incorporated
medical societies in this State to proceed to the
examination of a student for hcense to practice
physic and surgery unless he previously exhibit a ,
certificate of having attended at least one session
of some of the medical colleges in the United
States or in Europe.

At a meeting held in January, 1809, the society
emphatically dissented from the proposed action
of the Medical Society of the City and County of
New York, which contemplated recommending to
the Regents of the University, the College of Phy-
sicians and Surgeons, as a fit association to be
clothed with powers appertaining to County Med-
ical Societies. The society was apprehensive of
this abridgment of the rights vested in County
Medical Societies by the Legislature, and regarded
the measure as one calculated to reduce them to
mere automatons.

Nov. 14, 1809, the delegate to the State Medi-
cal Society was instructed to endeavor to obtain in
the Society a petition to the Legislature to repeal
so much of a recent act to organize the militia of
the State, as subjected "practitioners of physic
and surgery to a fine for omitting or refusing to
perform military duty."

Nov. lo, 1 8 13, Censors were allowed two dol-
lars per day while engaged in the business of their
office i and Nov. 14, 1815, the like amount was
voted for attendance at annual and semi-annual
meetings. At the latter date, also, it was resolved
that a sum not exceeding $160 be appropriated
froi5 the moneys in " the treasury of the Society,

for the purchase of surgical instruments for the use
of the Society, and Drs. Halsey, Cooper and Sher-
rill were appointed to make such purchases. May
13, 1817, it was resolved that students thereafter
examined should pay to each censor present at his
examination $2, and $5 for his diploma. Nov. 11,
181 7, Dr. Sherrill described the symptoms, treat-
ment, termination and examination of a case of
polypii of the heart, and the paper was ordered
published with the proceedings of the Society.
At this meeting it was resolved to be expedient to
have a standard of prices fixed for ordinary prac-
tice, and a schedule was adopted. A standard for
medicine was also adopted, the prices varying
from six pence to four shiUings.

Aug. 28, 1821, the by-law respecting charges
was suspended until the next semi-annual meeting,
and the delegate was requested to use his influence
with the State Society to repeal their law disap-
proving a system of charges by County Societies.

May 12, 1818, the President was required to
deliver an address, publicly, on going out of office,
or in case of inability to attend, to forward to the
Secretary such address in writing to be read before
the Society. May 11, 1819, the Vice-President
was required to deliver an address at each semi-
annual meeting. Nov. 9, 1819, a committee was
appointed to purchase " surgical instruments,
books, etc," for the use of the Society, in amount
not to exceed $75. May 8, 1821, an additional
$25 was appropriated for the purchase of books,
instruments, etc., for the use of the members of
the Society. May 14, 1822, after various resolu-
tions had been offered respecting the disposition of
the surplus funds of the Society, and the sale of
the surgical instruments and books belonging to
it, it was resolved that the former be appropriated
in future to the purchase of books. May 9, 1826,
it was resolved to sell the surgical instruments of
the Society, and Nov. 13, 1832, the books. The
latter were sold Nov. 1 2, T.833.

Nov. 12, 1822, it was resolved to be "improper
that any penalty other than the annual tax of one
dollar should be exacted by law of such physicians
and surgeons as are unwiUing to become members
of the County Medical Societies." The initiation
fee, which had been two dollars, was reduced to

In January, 1823, the following were unani-
mously adopted : —

"Resolved, That we deem it highly requisite
both for the honor and dignity of the medical pro-
fession as well as for the interest of the community,



that there should be some tribunal vested with the
power of depriving unworthy practitioners of
physic and surgery of their licenses to practice.

'■'■Resolved, That we deem it just and consistent
with the dignity and utility of the medical profes-
sion, that the power to deprive of licenses should
be vested with the same body which by law has a
right to confer them.

'■'Resolved, That we concur with the medical
societies in this State which have agreed to petition
the Legislature so to amend the law relative to
physic and surgery that any medical society in this
State, on a vote of two-thirds of the members, may
have the power to deprive any practitioner of their
county guilty of malpractice or habitual intoxica-
tion, or convicted of any crime, or who may have
become so insane as to be incapable of attending
to his ordinary concerns, of his right to practice
physic and surgery, reserving always the right of
appeal to the State Medical Society or some other
tribunal established by law.

^'Resolved, That a committee of three be ap-
pointed to correspond with other medical societies,
and to petition the Legislature on the foregoing

Drs. Cooper, Sherrill and Schenck were appointed
that committee, and were also instructed at the same
meeting " to draft a memorial to the Legislature of
this State, prapng that a law may be passed prohib-
iting the sale of medicines at retail by any others
than those who have served a regular apprentice-
ship to the druggist business, or are regular practi-
tioners of physic.

In November, 1823, a new set of by-laws was

Nov. 12, 1833, Drs. Huntington, Sherrill, Stod-
dard, Judd and Thomas T. Everitt were appointed
"to draft a memorial to the Legislature, to be sub-
mitted to the State Medical Society, praying for an
amendment to the medical law, so as to require the
botanic and other professed practitioners of med-
icine to study the length of time and undergo the
usual examinations required of regular medical
students to entitle them to practice."

Two years later, in 1835, there were 69 physi-
cians and surgeons practicing in the county, a
larger number than any other county, except
Albany, which had 77, Monroe, 84, New York,
530, Oneida, 95, and Onondaga, 80, the total
number in the State then being 2,659.*

Nov. 8, 1842, it was "resolved, that in the opin-
ion of this society the privilege of licensing prac-
titioners of medicine and surgery ought to be
abolished from the county medical societies and
from the medical schools; that the privilege of
Ifcensing ought not to be conn ected with teaching."

''Gordon's Gazetteer of the State of , New York, 191.

This was a period when the physicians of this
county in corhmon with others throughout the
country were deeply agitated — the period when
homeopathy began to force its just claims on pub-
lic attention and to legal recognition ; and this
action was a precursor of the legislative action
which followed in 1844, and was regarded by many
with grave and honest apprehension ; for it was
feared the action of the Legislature would prove
detrimental to the interests of the profession, and
many believed "that their efforts to advance a
sound rational system of medical education and
practice were neither appreciated by the people,
nor their representatives in the Legislature. " It has,
however, worked beneficially, in resting the prestige
of the profession upon its real, rather than its
assumed, merits.

"So far as I know," says Dr. Pine, whom we
have previously quoted, "harmony prevailed in the
society up to 1839 or '40. About that time a cir-
cumstance occurred which disturbed its harmony.
A student by the name of I. Devine came before
the censors to be examined for a license. He
was examined by them and found qualified. How-
ever, before the license was given him, the censors
heard of things which made them think his practice
would be too Utopian; consequently they refused
to give him the license. One or two law suits fol-
lowed. The society was defeated ; Devine gained
his point. His name stands on our roll. From
some cause, after that the society became unpopu-
lar, and was neglected by the great body of physi-
cians for a long time."*

There is no record of a meeting from Nov. 1 1,
1845,10 October, 1854. At the latter date a
meeting of the physicians of Duchess county was
held at Washington Hollow, and attended by Drs.
Hillis, Hughson,Thorne, Dodge, Hasbrouck, Losee,
Pine, Harvey, Bell, Campbell and Bockee. Dr.
Thorne was chosen president, and Dr. Bockee,
secretary//-^ tempore. After some discussion, and
a motion made " to organize a new society uncon-
nected with the Duchess County Medical Society''
was lost, it was resolved to reorganize that society
and Drs. Walter Hughson, Per Lee Pine and
Jacob Bockee were appointed to review its by-laws
and present them at a future meeting. Nov. 14,
1854, the by-laws were revised and the name
"changed to the Medical Society of Duchess
County." The following officers were then elected :
C. Canfield, President ; A. B. Harvey, Vice-Presi-
dent; J. G. Hillis, S ecretary; C. H. Andrus,

* The Pmighkeefisie Daily Press, June lo, 1881.



Treasurer ; R. T. Gill, J. Cooper, J. H. Traver,
Per Lee Pine and J. Bockee, Censors. Walter
Hughson, Delegate, and A. Hasbrouck, Supernu-
merary Delegate to the State Medical Society.

The Society adjourned to meet at Dr. Pine's
office in Poughkeepsie, the second Tuesday in
February, 1855 ; but there is no further record of
a meeting till July 5, 1859, at which time an in-
formal meeting was held at the Poughkeepsie
Hotel, and attended by Drs. C. Canfield, President;
John Cooper, A. B. Harvey, R. T. Gill, Wm. Bell,
Paine and J. G. Hillis. No meetings are re-
corded between Nov. 12, 1861, and Nov. 13, 1866.
At the latter date the Secretary was directed to
apply to the Supervisors for a room in the Court
House in which to hold the meetings of the Society.
The by-laws were so amended that the annual meet-
ings were to be held the second Tuesday in May,
and the semi-annual meetings, the second Tuesday
in November. A committee was appointed to re-
vise the by-laws and schedule of charges. May 14,
1867, the name of Asahel Hall was stricken from
the role as " an irregular practitioner." June 1 1,
1867, a modified form of the fee bill of the Cayuga
County Medical Society was adopted, also revised
by-laws. The time of annual meeting was changed
to the second Tuesday in June, and semi-annual,
to the second Tuesday in January, each year, and
Washington Hollow was designated as the place of
holding the former, and Poughkeepsie, the latter.
From this period the records of the Society are
replete with reports of interesting cases, which re-
flect in a high degree the talent and professional
skill of its members. -

Jan. 14, 1868, Dr. Barker complained of the
action of the Supervisors in " unjustly " cutting
down physicians' bills and moved that a committee
be appointed to consider the subject and report
at the next meeting. Drs. Cooper, Andrus and
Webb, who were chosen as such committee, re-
ported June 9, 1868, the following, which was
adopted : —

''Resolved, by the members of the Duchess
County Medical Society, that they will in no case
accept a fee for making a post mortem examination
at the request of the Coroner, for an amount less

Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 22 of 125)