LESLIE R. BRAGG, M.D.
"Read my little fable;
who runs may read.
Most can raise the flowers now
For all have got the seed."
T'is good sometimes
to travel back
To days of "Auld Lang Syne"
Retrace the ancient
Along the mossy line;
Visit the old ancestral homes;
parents' virtues learn,
And round their monumental stones
Twenty years ago, or in other words, about two hundred
years since the region which is now Oxford, Dudley and Webster was a trackless
wilderness, the writer of this study was casually asked if he would write
a short story about the Doctors who have practiced in Webster. This undertaking
seemed at first to be simple enough but upon investigation the scope of
the task broadened rapidly and like the Nipmuck country was found to extend
far back into colonial history.
among the older people in the community brought to light but little definite information
about even those Doctors who were, almost recently, living amoung us, while references
to the usual sources of information showed that of the Doctors little record has
been left and much of the history of the lives of these men, which is of public
interest, has been forever lost in the unwritten history of the past.
failure of the Historians of Nipmuck Country to recognize the importance of the
Medical Profession in the history of the region and to make suitable records for
futures generations in ample motive for a study of these forgotten men.
deficiency in the sources and supply of detailed information has greatly hindered
the progress of the work. It has led to hundred of miles of travel, visits to
many libraries and cemeteries; reading of many books and writing of many letters
in the process of gathering fragmentary bits of information. Assembling these
fragmentary and often disconnected records with attention to fact rather than
fiction, the writer has endeavored to construct a word picture, showing some of
the vital and family statistics, careers and fact of social and human interest
concerning as many of the former physicians of the town as possible, in order
that the story of the lives and public services of these men may not, like the
Doctors themselves, disappear forever from the face of the earth.
THE EARLIEST DOCTORS IN DUDLEY
first and most striking fact that is noted when one begins to search old records
for information relating to the early Country Doctors, in that almost nothing
has been written upon the subject.
In Vol. 1 of D. Hamilton Hurd's History of Worcester County
68 pages are devoted to the History of the Bench and the Bar while only
short scattered references are made to history of the Medical Profession.
In the histories of the various towns,
note is made that there were Doctors in the communities but little more space
is given to them than to hog reeves and pound keepers.
a History of Dudley written by the Reverend Zephaniah Baker, which is to be found
in The History of Worcester County, published in 1879 is found; "A supply
of Doctors has always been had since the early settlers gave up their simple habits
and kind Mothers and Maidens their nursing and herb raising." Another reference
by the same author reads: "The settlers were the kind who knew well what
was needed. The Mother was at once the nurse and physician and professional care
was little needed. Diseases seemed to come later and only as the simple habits
of the settlers were displaced by lives of greater ease and more luxurious habits."
The town records of the early years of Dudley make few references
to Doctors. Without doubt, in cases of serious illness, the Doctors of Oxford
and Woodstock were consulted by the early settlers.
Dudley Doctors, whose names have been found are: Doctor Will Gleason, Dr. Ebenezer
Stimson, Dr. Ebenezer Lillie and Dr. Samuel Waldron.
Memorial Volume, written by Hezekiah Conant, at the rime of the dedication of
the Conant Memorial Church, there is an Historical Sermon delivered by the Reverend
James H. Francis on Fast Day, April 9, 1835. The following reference to the early
Doctors is made: "In respect to the physicians who have practiced in town,
I am not able to state the time when they commenced or terminated their professional
careers. I can mention their names in the order, I believe, in which they succeeded
The first, according to their records
was William (or Ebenezer) Stimson of Reading.
2d John Day
3d Dr. Waldron
Dr. Ebenezer Lillie
5th Dr. John Eliot Eaton
6th Dr. Samuel P. Knight
to Dr. Eaton, and probably during the early part of his career, a son of Rev.
Charles Gleason was practising, to some extent here, the medical profession and
also a man by the name of Dr. James Walcott.
DR. EBENEZER STIMSON
far as has been discovered the first Doctor in Dudley was Dr. Ebenezer Stimson
of Reading. Of his professional work, no record has been found. On Sept 1, 1748,
he and Elener Damon of Reading, filed intentions of marriage in Dudley and according
to the Vital Statistics of Reading, they were married on Oct. 25, 1748. The Vital
Statistics of Dudley record the birth of a son, Ebenezer of Oct. 12, 1749 and
William born on July 4, 1751.
DR. JOHN DAY
NO RECORD OF
THE LIFE AND ACTIVITIES OF DR. DAY HAS BEEN FOUND
DR. SAMUEL WALDRON
Little reference to Dr. Waldron has been found. From
the records of Dudley we learn that between 1761 and 1774 three boys and two girls
were born to Samuel and Elizabeth Waldron. Whether the Doctor was not popular
or whether his large family was too great an expense we do not know, but the records
of the Town Meeting of May 27, 1776, show that it was voted "to abate Dr.
Samuel Waldron's Minister rates for 1775."
DR. WILL GLEASON
Born October 5, 1750 - Died April 6, 1793
Age 42 years,
6 months, 1 day
Cause of death
Dr. Will Gleason was born
in Dudley, Mass. on October 5, 1750. His parents were Reverend Charles and Bethia
(Scarborough) Gleason of Roxbury, Mass., who filed intentions of marriage on Octobert
2, 1747. Rev. Charles Gleason was the second Dudley Pastor and his pastorate lasted
for 46 years.
Of Will's early years and education little
is known. Doubtless he attended the public schools, but where he obtained the
limited medical education which was then available is a matter of pure speculation.
Since his mother came from Roxbury it is possible that he was sent back to the
Colony to study with some well known Doctor. It is likewise possible that he studied
with one of the Woodstock or Oxford Doctors, for even at this early period there
were those who are known to have students living and studying in their homes.
May 30, 1774, he married Mary Kidder of Dudley. There are no records of children
born to Will and Mary but Sarah, a sister of Dr. Will, married Dr. Thomas Sterne
on March 5, 1769, and gave birth to Fanny on April 15, 1772. There is no record
to show whether Dr. Sterne practised in Dudley or not. An early historical address
remarks, in referring to the early Doctors: "Dr. Will Gleason is said to
have practised in town to an unknown extent."
Further than this, no record of Dr. Will's medical career
has been found but after the death of Rev. Gleason on May 5, 1790, his
name begins to appear frequently in the town records. It appears that
Dr. Will had been appointed administrator of his father's estate and in
settling the estate a quarrel arose with the selectmen over serious arrearage
in the Pastor's salary which seems to have been running for several years
and not to have been decreasing very fast. Dr. Will seems to have been
persistent, however, and after several years of committees, conferences
and finally a legal action, a settlement was reached. No doubt he got
less than he hoped for but perhaps the prudent town fathers gave him all
that was due and that, so far as we know, ends the story of the career
of Dr. William Gleason.
DR. EBENEZER LILLIE
Born August 25, 1734 in Dudley
16, 1812 in Oxford, South Gore
At a town meeting held in
Dudley on July 20, 1732, John Lille, one of the very early settlers was elected
the fifth selectman and town clerk for the current year.
years later his wife, Abigail, gave birth to a son who was later to become one
of the prominent Doctors of Dudley, Oxford and Woodstock.
his early years little information has been found. Doubtless his early education
was received in the town schools which were functioning at an early date. Later
he studied with Dr. Alexander Campbell in Oxford. In 1767 Dr. Campbell brought
suit against Dr. Lillie, he being then of Dudley, charging that "For three
years previous to 1 April, last, he boarded the defendant and taught him the profession
art, and practise of medicine, etc." The outcome of this litigation is not
mentioned. It might be found in the records of the court.
Lillie seems to have lived in Dudley from 1767 to 1784 and he is said to have
lived in Woodstock until 1790. On Dec. 9, 1762, Dr. Lillie married Abigail Morse
of Dudley, who died in Oxford Dec. 9, 1806. Later he filed intentions of marriage
to Polly, daughter of Peter Bonsey, a Hessian soldier.
past middle age Dr. Lillie transferred his practice to Oxford where he lived until
1807. At that time he moved to South Gore, residing there until his death in 1812.
At his death Dr. Lillie left an estate valued at $1,657.00.
It may be suspected that the widow was neither senile nor sufficiently
puritanical to cause her to keep quiet and enjoy the rewards of a frugal,
well spent life, for on March 18, 1812, according to Daniel's History
of Oxford, the Selectmen of Oxford petitioned the Probate Court to have
a guardian appointed for the widow as she was squandering the estate.
DR. JAMES WOLCOTT
4, 1754 -- Died September 14, 1830
There is little information to be found about Dr. Wolcott.
In Amidowns Historical Collection, Vol. 2, page 373, there is an extended
account of Globe Manufacturing Company of Southbridge, which was established
in 1812 by James Wolcott, Jr. and his brother Perez. After several years
of successful operation followed by reverses due to war, tariff restrictions
and finally a spring freshet which completely destroyed the mill, the
business passed into other hands.
father of Mr. Wolcott was a native of Rhode Island who removed from there to the
town of Dudley, Massachusetts, about the close of the Revolutionary War. He was
known as Dr. James Wolcott; born November 4, 1754 and died at Queechey, Vermont
September 14, 1830, age 76 to which place he removed from Southbridge in the year
Dr. James Wolcott, Jr., apparently the son of Doctor James
Wolcott, it is believed was a native of Dudley, born on April 19, 1787;
he removed to Southbridge and from there to Walcottville, Connecticut,
from thence to New York. Perez, the second son, was born April 17, 1789.
DR. JOHN ELIOT EATON
1756 - 1812
Born February 9, 1756 -- Died October 21, 1812
56 years, 8 months, 21 days
Cause of death -- Tuberculosis
On the eastern slope of the Cemetery, where many of the
early settlers of Dudley are buried, there is a group of old, weather
beaten stones which mark the last resting place of the family of Dr. John
Eliot Eaton, the first regular physician of Dudley. These stone, like
the memories of the oldest settlers now living, are slowly crumbling away
and in places the inscriptions may only with difficulty be deciphered.
Two little stones stand in memory of twins who lived but a day; a stone
in memory of a son who lived but a year; a fourth in memory of a son who
died at 18, and a fifth marking the grave of Beriah, the first wife who
died at the age of 19, all express a mute recognition of the ravages of
Tuberculosis and the struggle for existence in which our early ancestors
passed their lives.
The central stone in this group bears the following inscription: "In
this sacred asylum are deposited the remains of Dr. John Eliot Eaton who
rose to eminent distinction in the noble art of healing. He departed this
life October 12, 1812, after a long and distressing illness which he bore
with patience and resigning to the will of God. Age. 56."
Dr. John Eliot Eaton was the first regular physician in the town of Dudley.
Of the genealogy of the Eaton and Eliot families much has been written,
but of the pioneer Physician of Dudley, Massachusetts, Dr. John Eliot
Eaton, little record has been left. It would seem that the writers upon
the subject have been satisfied to record Dr. John Eliot Eaton, a distinguished
physician of his time, as a link in a chain whereby interested descendants
may trace their ancestry to these distinguished families rather than to
preserve for future years, the story of his useful career and his valuable
services to his day and generation.
Dr. Eaton was a direct descendant of Francis Eaton of the Mayflower (1620)
and on his Mother's side the fourth descendant from John Eliot, the Apostle
to the Indians. It later became his lot to spend his life in a brave attempt
to cure the bodily ills of the inhabitants of the Nipmuck Country, where
a century before, his ancestor had labored as valiantly, and with about
as much success, to sure the souls of the natives of the region.
Notes and writings left by Dr. Eaton are, medically speaking, real antiques,
showing the vast improvement which has been made in medicine in the last
two centuries. They likewise show that he was an outstanding Doctor and
in many ways ahead of his time. After nearly thirty years of active practice
it is but natural that he should have left considerable property. The
inventory of his estate filed at the Probate Court in Worcester, includes,
among other items: 134 acres of land and buildings, 5 cows, 1 horse, 4
pigs, Medical Books $25, instruments (foreceps) $1.25, 4 catheters, 4
lances $1.25, tooth instruments .50. Total $5413.90.
There were also 300 accounts and notes due of which no value was estimated.
Doubtless as at present, such assets were of doubtful value.
Since Dr. Eaton died of Chronic Tuberculosis, like many of his family
before him, it is reasonable to suppose that before his death, there was
a long period of failing health. During this period doubtless Dr. Knight
gradually rook over the business and during 1811, the books seem to have
been kept by the young Doctor and his wife.
The Massachusetts Spy, a paper published in Worcester, carried the following
"Died in Dudley, the 21st inst., Dr, John Eliot Eaton, aged. 56.
It is but justice to remark that he sustained the various relations of
life with capacity and usefulness, as a physician and an able theorist
and a discreet practitioner. In this family he was a kind husband and
tender parent. He was the friend and supporter of religious order, in
death he was supported by the hope of a Christian."
A sermon prepared for the funeral of Dr. John Eliot Eaton by Rev. Abiel
Williams of Dudley. A copy of the sermon has been preserved by a relative,
Mrs. Thornton. It is a sermon quite characteristic of the time. In the
opening paragraph it says, "The loss of a faithful physician must
be regarded as a grievous frown of Providence. In such a bereaving stroke,
the hand of God is to be seen and especially acknowledged." (sic.
He died of Tuberculosis). "That it must be regarded as a frown of
Providence is naturally inferred from the circumstances by which many
are so deeply afflicted.
Dr. John Eliot Eaton was born of highly respectable parents from whom
he received a religious education -- also a college education. Having
completed his preparatory studies he commenced his professional business
in this place. Dr. Eaton was a good scholar, an excellent man and physician.
His mind was formed for critical investigation, his ideas being the result
of study and reflection. He acquired a great knowledge of his profession.
His perception clear and brilliant, his judgment manly and discriminating,
he appeared to love his employment in relieving his fellow men."
"He sought to be useful rather than celebrated. He labored in season
and out of season; he seemed willing to spend and be spent. He was good
to the poor, hospitable to strangers, ready to countenance and promote
the good order and peace of society. In public life he either found the
people his friends or made them such by a winning and affectionate address.
His conversation was cheerful and his society both pleasing and instructing.
His whole deportment was conciliating and approved of man. In the laborious
discharge of his duty, he was not only faithful but greatly successful.
By the blessing of God on his endeavors, he was hopefully instrumental
of relieving the distress and continuing the lives of his fellow creatures.
From a rare assemblage of useful talents and from the blessing of God
which seemed to attend his labors, the hope was indulged that he might
long be continued to us. But God seeth not as man seeth, His thoughts
are not as our, His ways are unsearchable. The man who had been the favored
instrument of much good and of whom much more was expected, was arrested
in his useful course by the fatal disease which has long threatened his
life...We have lost a faithful physician but his partner has lost in him
the husband of her youth, and the children a father in who, under God,
they might safely have confided as their doctor and friend."
An old letter from James Draper to John Langdon Sibley contains the following:
"Mr. William Pope purchased the (Eaton) homestead. Joshua Eaton Jr.,
after having disposed of his property which he inherited from his father,
went to Boston where he met a young lady, Miss Weems.
He went into business in Boston but soon failed and began the study of
physic with his Brother Dr. John Eliot Eaton of Dudley. Later, having
acquired a smattering of physic set up in practice in New Hampshire but
did not succeed very well, became very poor and died.
After his death, his brother in Dudley took some or all of his brother's
children to his own home. One was a beautiful child name Grace.
DR. AARON TUFTS, LATER JUDGE TUFTS
1770 - 1943
Born January 30, 1770 -- Died October 17, 1843
Age 73 Years, 8 Months, 17 Days
Judge Aaron Tufts was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on January 30,
1770 and moved to Woodstock, Connecticut with his mother in 1776. (Amidons
Historical Collections, Vol. 1, page 423).
He attended the public schools and later studied medicine with Dr. John
E. Eaton of Dudley where he passed the remainder of his life.
For five years he practised medicine in Dudley after which he engaged
very extensively in business, in time acquiring a handsome fortune.
The Merino Woolen company, which later became the Stevens Linen Corporation
which was incorporated on February 13, 1812 and Aaron Tufts was one of
For many years, he represented the town in the General Court and from
1819 to 1825 he was a member of the Senate. He was widely known and respected
for his opinions regarding tariff legislation.
Dr. Tufts married Sally Barker, daughter of William Barker of Worcester.
He was appointed Judge of Court of Sessions in 1819, and died on October
DR. SAMUEL PARKIS KNIGHT
Born January 17, 1782 -- Died July 25, 1862
Age 80 years, 6 months, 8 days
Cause of death, Consumption
Dr. Samuel Parkis Knight was born on January 17, 1782,
at Killingly, Connecticut. Search of the Vital Statistics at Killingly
reveals no record of his birth but there is a record of the birth of Samuel
Knight, son of Samuel and Rachel Knight, on April 21, 1757. This was doubtless
the father of Dr. Knight, who is said to have been born on January 17,
1782, as noted above. His parents are said to have moved to Warren, Massachusetts,
but the records of Warren do not record his birth. So it seems uncertain
in which of the two towns he was born.
Of his early years little is known. At the age of twenty-four, he entered
the home of Dr. John Eliot Eaton, of Dudley, at first as a student; later
he became a son-in-law and finally the successor to Dr. Eaton, when in
1812, the ravages of Tuberculosis ended the Doctor's career.
On May 22, 1811 (says Henry E. Knight,a grandson, in The Webster Times
of September 6, 1923) he was married to Miss Harriet Elizabeth Eaton,
daughter of Dr, John E. Eaton, thus inheriting from his teacher and friend,
a wife, a successful practise and, sad to relate, though probably true,
Tuberculosis which eventually caused his death in 1862.
Ten children were born to Dr. John and Elizabeth.
It is a tradition among the very old people of the present, that Dr. Knight
was a man of amiable disposition, very popular and an exemplary citizen,
and the chief physician of Dudley for fifty years.
In the History of Worcester County, page 642, in "The History of
Dudley," written by the Rev. Zephaniah Baker, we find the following:
"Dr. Eaton bequeathed to his son-in-law Dr. Samuel Parkis Knight,
his business and virtues. He was very successful in teaching people to
be careful and avoid disease as well as in faithfully and skillfully avoiding
On May 1, 1837, forty-eight prominent citizens of Dudley formed an association
ad purchased land for use as a new burying ground, each subscribing for
one lot. Among this group of men was Dr. Knight, bears the inscription:
"He was for fifty years
A Practising Physician in this Community,
Taking care of its physical welfare."
Upon the stone in his family lot is inscribed:
"For more than fifty years' labor in his profession with signal success,
he has gone to reap the reward of the faithful."
Aside from the above facts which have been found, information concerning
this man, who was a successful farmer as well as a much appreciated and,
as they were then rated, successful Doctor, there is but little record.
We may be sure that he travelled about the rough country road on horse
back with his medicines in saddle bags.
An oil painting of the doctor shows the bust of what seems to have been
a rather short but stout grizzly old man who looked more like a farmer
than a Doctor. His account books show that he was engaged in agricultural
business as well as medicine.
Like Doctor Eaton before him, Doctor Knight probably had students who
"rode with him" but one only is remembered. Dr. Silas F. Lindsey,
when beginning practise, was for a time associated with Dr. Knight who
said that the young Doctor would be much appreciated for his work's sake.
A living relative relates the story of one of the Doctor's families in
which five died in one week of Putred Sore Throat.
The most fruitful source of information about the Doctor
and his work is a desk and a set of old account books which are still
readable. The desk has the appearance of real old age. One wonders if
perhaps it is not one of the articles which Dr. Knight inherited from
his friend and teacher, Dr. Eaton.
It is a desk made to be used while standing. The structure is made of
rough boards and consists of four plain legs which support a box-like
top which slants upward at an angle of about forty degrees from before
backward and hinged at the back so that the cover may be lifted to allow
books or papers to be easily put away or taken out as needed. There are
no little drawers, ink wells or other modern gadgets on or about the desk.
Upon lifting the top cover, one finds a space about 20 x 30 inches and
perhaps 12 inches deep, at the back, for books, ink, stationery and a
few quill pens.
The account books are made of coarse, unlined paper and the leather bindings
are crumbling with age.
The writing within is mostly of masculine type and poor, with now and
then pages in a more feminine hand as though more than one person had
made entries. The charges are varied and interesting and suggest that
while people change, their troubles do not.
On a page well toward the front of the book, in a feminine hand and signed
with the initials of the Doctor's wife, is the following note, written
in 1812, which suggests that long ago the country Doctor was subject to
somewhat the same criticisms as at present: "In the country the physician
who gets rich by the distribution of his pills and gallipots, or in other
words, the practitioners of medicine, who lead the most slavish life of
any class of people, yet if any become wealthy, it is a prodigy to the
age in which they lived.
"There is surely no capacity in which a man can act
which exposes him to the censures of mankind to such an extent as a physician.
When the judgments of Heaven are sent upon the earth for the wickedness
and abomination of the people of he people; if the judgment be pestilence
and the termination dyssolution, all is imputed to the ignorance and unskillfulness
of the Physician.
"Count that day lost, whose low descending sun views, from thy hand,
no worthy action done."
"It would be establishing a good principle (if it be at present established,
I believe it is not practised) if we could divest ourselves of that evil
of which we take great pride in condemning our neighbor.
"Let man who lives to the common age appointed in the sacred writing,
abstract from the period of his life, his infancy, hours of sleep and
sickness and his time devoted to useless amusements and how small a portion
of time is left for him to devote to things of more importance."
Some ideas of the conditions of medical practise between the times of
the Revolution and the Civil War may be obtained by observing the remedies
available for the treatment of disease and the prices paid for medical
Since actual knowledge was not rapidly increasing in those years, doubtless
the usual remedies remained much the same in the hands of Dr. Knight as
of Dr. Eaton. From Dr. Knight's books, the following remedies have been
listed: Tartar Emetic, Pink Root, Paregoric, Jalap, Aloes, Sulphur, Mercurial
Ointment, Calomba, Quassia, Salts, Bitters, Mercury Pills, Digitalis,
Glycyrrhiza, Oil of Peppermint, Emplastrum Diachylon, Camphor, Gum Tragacanthe,
etc. Most of these remedies had very negligible influence upon the course
or cure of disease.
Visits to houses were made for 10 to 50 cents while confinements cost
$1 to $2. Venesections @ 12 cts. Charges were made of $4.00 for visits
to Brookfield; Brimfield. $2.50 and tapping an anasarca .50. A lady who
lived to be over 100 years of age, remembered that Dr. Knight attended
her mother in five confinements at .25 a visit and furnished all medicine.
She remembers that the medicine was usually in powder form, that the Doctor
divided it into parts with his jack knife, tasted it, smacked his lips
and said, "That's good, you must take it."
Once she thinks her mother narrowly escaped injury when the Doctor used
wet cups upon her back and with bad judgment treated the resulting redness
with the application of raw cabbage leaves.
Reviewing his career and work from a century later, it must be admitted
that Dr. Knight was a good Doctor. He labored for the people of his generation
as well as he could with his knowledge and equipment. Final judgment must
be made by the standards of his time rather that by those of a century
later. Even in these days perhaps our judgments of success are what they
seem to us to be rather than what they actually are.
By his will, Dr. Knight left "all personal estate to my wife for
use during her life. After her death it is to be distributed among my
The inventory showed Real Estate $2500.00 and Personal $406.00
DR. SILAS FOSTER LINDSEY
Born August 18, 1827. Died August 10, 1885
Age, 57 years, 11 months, 22 days
Cause of death, Bright's Disease
Dr. Silas Foster Lindsey was born in Union, Connecticut on August 18,
1827. His parents were Ebenezer and Susan (Pickering) Foster who had moved
from Petersham to Union, Connecticut, shortly before Silas was born. Yale
University records say Silas was born in Petersham.
His early education was obtained in the public schools
and in 1846 he entered Yale Medical School from which he was graduated
with the degree M.D., in the Class of 1849.
Beginning practise with Dr. Samuel P. Knight and taking
over the business when the Doctor's health failed, Dr. Lindsey was in
practice for forty-three years. He married Salome Maria Chapman, of Westford,
Connecticut in 1851, and in due time two daughters and one son were born.
The first daughter died at five; the second, Minne Jane, married Dr. Edward
Merle Frissell who practised for many years in Dudley and then moved to
Webster, Massachusetts. Minnie was musically inclined and became a violinist
of considerable skill.
Unlike his father and grandfather the son, Eben, did not
choose to follow the medical profession. Like his sister he preferred
music and became a cornetist of note. He organized and led Father Quan's
Band which was connected with the St. Louis Church, and later travelled
extensively with a musical organization in Europe.
For a doctor who was very well liked and served his town so many years,
it is rather surprising how little record he left except the memories
of his friends who have almost entirely passed away.
Rev. Charles Goodell of Dudley, in his book, "Black Tavern Tales",
pays a high tribute to Dr. Lindsey in a chapter entitled "The Young
Doctor". There is no doubt about who the "Young Doctor"
was, though his name is not mentioned.
With the assistance of an active imagination and his masterful literary
ability, Dr. Goodell wrote a tale which is interesting to read but can
hardly be called history, though, without question, it reveals many of
the characteristics of the man and the high esteem in which he was held
in the community.
Dr. Lindsey was tall and stout and as was the custom he wore a long full
beard. At birth he is said to have weighed 2 1/2 pounds but in his later
years he tipped the scales at 250. He was a man of excellent judgment,
kind and benevolent in appearance, pleasant as a rule but having a quick
temper and rather brusque attitude when displeased. He is said to have
been habitually giving financial aid as well as medical attention to the
poor. Dr. Knight, with who, he worked, spoke of Dr. Lindsey as one who
would be esteemed for his good works' sake.
Somewhat at a variance with customs of the average Doctor of his day,
Dr. Lindsey was a very temperate man who neither used liquor nor prescribed
it at the request of his patients. He was very outspoken in his disapproval
when patients pursued a course which seemed to him unwise and the question
of pay was of much less importance to him than the relief of his patients.
It was during the years of Dr. Lindsey's greatest activity
that the forward march of Medical Science began. With the discovery of
startling facts which were, in coming years, to revolutionize Medical
Science, the practice of Medicine began to improve and violent quarrels
and disputes among different so-called schools arose, but Dr. Lindsey
always maintained a conservative course, never using new methods of practise
until they had been thoroughly tested.
He was a student and read the best of the few medical
books which were available and perhaps a Medical Journal or two; bound
volumes of The London Lancet being found, not infrequently in Doctors'
Libraries. He was not, however, bothered by the flood of new and more
or less proprietary remedies with grossly exaggerated medical virtues,
which now jam the Doctors' mail and clutter up his office table.
Dr. Lindsey's practice was extensive and his fame was
not limited to his home town. Three horses, of which he was very fond,
were necessary to meet the demands of his practice and it was his expressed
wish that when he died his body should be drawn to the grave by his favorite
horse. In compliance with this wish, his casket, after the funeral was
placed upon a backboard and drawn to the cemetery by the faithful old
horse which for years had taken him safely upon innumerable errands of
Mr. George Williams, an old resident of Dudley, recalls the time when
Dr. Lindsey was called to Boston to operate upon a Dudley resident who
was ill in the city and the "Black Tavern Tales" by Rev. Charles
Goodell, tell of his going to Washington to bring home a seriously wounded
Dudley boy who was shot during the Civil War.
Boating, fishing and rifle shooting were hobbies which
the Doctor cultivated in his spare time and after the day's work was over
he played in his family orchestra. It is remembered that there was a special
wagon, fitted to carry his fishing boat to neighboring ponds when the
"signs" were right.
In July 1885, after a period of failing health, due to
chronic Bright's Disease, Dr. Lindsey suffered a slight shock which affected
his left hand. "This was followed by violent spasms. He improved
temporarily but congestion of the brain set in and he died after a week's
DR. EBENEZER LINDSEY
Born August 18, 1799 -- Dies June 15, 1877
Age 77 years, 9 months, 27 days
Cause of death, Heart Disease
Dr. Ebenezer Lindsey, the son of Habakuk and Joanne (Gowing) Lindsey,
of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, was born on the 18th of August, 1799. Soon
after his birth his parents moved to New Salem, Mass., where he attended
the Public Schools.
From the records at Yale we learn that Ebenezer was graduated
from Middlebury College but the year is not stated, neither does this
record specify whether the degree was B.A. or M.D. It is certain that
he never was a student at Yale unless perhaps he attended lectures or
some special courses there. He is said to have received a degree in 1824
and this was probably from Middlebury. Where he obtained his medical education
is not apparent, but he began his practise in Prescott, Massachusetts
and soon moved to Petersham where on January 9, 1827, he was married to
Susan Pickering Foster of Petersham.
Shortly after his marriage, Dr. Lindsey moved to Union, Connecticut and
on August 18, 1827, his only son, Silas Foster Lindsey, was born.
Silas followed in his father's footsteps and studied medicine, in due
time settling in Dudley, Massachusetts, where he practised medicine for
over thirty years. When Silas had become well established, Dr. Ebenezer
moved to Dudley where he continued in practise until increasing years
and a failing heart ended his career.
Dr. Ebenezer Lindsey was a member of Golden Rule Lodge A.F. & A.M.
of New Salem. He had a brother, Dr. Daniel Lindsey, who practised in Petersham
and Athol and in Swansea, New Hampshire.
Mr. George F. Hall of Dudley, recently deceased, remembered Dr. Lindsey
very well. He remembers that the Doctor has a "Heart Trouble"
which he says, at times caused the doctor to become unconscious while
driving along in his carriage. The faithful old horse, apparently missing
the guiding hand of his master, never failed to bring the unconscious
Doctor to the barn door where the watchful, waiting family were always
ready to give any needed attention.
Dr. Lindsey died at his home in Dudley on June 15, 1877 of heart diseases
at the age of 77 years, 9 months, 27 days.
A book "The Lindseys of America" by Margaret Isabella Lindsey,
published by Joel Munsell & Sons of Albany, N.Y., 1899, traces the
line of descent of the Lindsey family back to Christian de Lindsey who
lived in Scotland (?) in 1335.
There is a tradition among the Lindseys of Salem, Massachusetts, a branch
of the old family, that about 1680, an English war vessel whose commander
was a Scotchman by the name of Lyndsey, put into the port of Salem for
the purpose of having some repairs made upon the ships, Salem being the
only port nearby in which the work could be done. Among the officers of
the ship were two sons of Captain Lindsey.
During the week which was requiring for the repairing of the ship, one
of the sons of the Captain married a Miss Moutton, a daughter of the Captain
of the port. This somewhat hasty marriage was permitted by the bride's
father on the promise of the officer that as soon as his ship should reach
home he would resign his commission, return to America and settle in Salem.
The ship sailed away but before reaching England met a French man-of-war,
in the Bay of Biscay, and was blown up with all on board during the engagement
In due time, the Widow of the young Lindsey, gave birth to a son who grew
up to manhood and had a son. In each of several succeeding generations
single sons were born to perpetuate the family.
The earliest existing record of the family is of the marriage of one Habakuk
Lindsey of North Danvers, Massachusetts, now a part of Salem, to Mary
Green on October 6, 1741.
This Habakuk Lindsey left two sons and one daughter. The younger of these
two sons was Habakuk the ancestor of the succeeding generations.
Habakuk married Joanna, a daughter of Captain Gideon Gowing of Lynnfield
and soon moved to New Salem, Massachusetts, where he died in 1835, leaving
two daughters and five sons, the youngest of who, was born on August 18,
1799 and was named Ebenezer and is the subject of this sketch.
Dr. Ebenezer Lindsey is said to have been a handsome man with a very bad
temper. He was very good to his patients in a financial way. One day he
attended the wife of a man who told him he had no money. Dr. Lindsey said
he would call it square for a couple of pretty Japonica which were growing
in the yard. One of these bushes was planted in his yard and was still
blooming a few years ago when a recent owner destroyed it. The Doctor's
wife did much midwifery and is said to have been not too successful.
Dr. Silas was very much apposed to the use of corsets which he said were
"the invention of the devil". His daughter, a student at the
"Academy" secretly obtained a garment and wore it. When her
father discovered the fact that she was wearing corsets he became very
much displeased and is said to have given her a horsewhipping. Dr. Silas'
wife Salome did much midwifery in connection with his practise and not
only cared for the patients during labor but remained with them for a
week or more.
The history of Medicine in the last century reads like
a rapidly moving drama. Beginning slowly in the first third, but with
increasing speed in the second third of the century, a rapid succession
of medical and surgical discoveries were made which completely revolutionized
medical practice and brought inestimable relief to suffering humanity.
So quietly have these changes taken place that the average adult of the
present day, unless he has given the matter special attention, accepts
the medical safety of his generation as a natural part of modern life,
while the elderly adult, who has lived through the period of the great
medical and surgical discoveries, which have at last placed medicine upon
a scientific basis, is with few exceptions blissfully unconscious of the
momentous events through which he has lived.
The social, civic and medical conditions which prevailed nearly a hundred
years ago furnish a background for the picture of the early Doctors and
the conditions in which they passed their lives.
At the turn of the century there was a general recognition, throughout
the work, of a distressing lack of knowledge about the nature, cause and
cure of disease and intensive research was being made by Scientists as
well as Doctors in their efforts to discover the secrets of nature. Old
theories which for years had been accepted as true were being questioned
and cast aside as they were found to be unsound, and new ideas were taking
their places. New and better trained Doctors were coming to town and,
while medical practice is never abreast with the latest discoveries, the
Doctors were in a measure prepared for the great increase in medical knowledge
which was imminent.
In 1832, by an act of the Legislature, a portion of Oxford, including
Oxford South Gore and a part of Dudley, were set off and incorporated
as the Town of Webster. This township, including between 1,000 and 1,200
inhabitants, was made up largely of three small mill villages, viz., the
East, The North, and the South and extended westward to the French River
and southward to the Connecticut State Line. In what is now the center
of Webster, there were a few dwelling houses and the Methodist Meetinghouse
which had been built in 1828. The Slater Mills and the Merino Woolen Company,
which was later to become the Stevens Linen Corp., were fostering the
prosperity of the town. The population was increasing and the new town
was soon to become larger and more prosperous than the parent towns. Stagecoach
to Worcester and Boston had been established and the Norwich and Worcester
Railroad was soon to be built. A gradual shifting of the population from
the East, North and South Villages to what was to become Depot Village
and alter the center of the town, was already taking place.
There were, at the time of its incorporation, two Doctors
in town, Dr. Charles Negus and Dr. John Tenny. Looking back over the century
we can see, in the Medical field, what was then not appreciated by the
people, that old things were passing away. The saddle bags and the two
wheeled chaise of the Doctor were giving away to the four wheeled carriage;
the apprentice system of medical education had been well nigh abandoned
and medical schools were taking its place. The Harvard and Yale Medical
schools were in operation and the Berkshire Medical Institute which had
been established at Pittsfield, Mass, in 1823 as a part of Williams College
and, later the official Medical School of the Massachusetts Medical Society,
was for years a rival of Harvard both in size and reputation. The coming
generation of Doctors was to see the beginnings of modern scientific medicine
but was not even to suspect the wonderful discoveries which the coming
century was to bring forth.
In 1835 Bigelow, a prominent Boston Doctor, published a paper entitled
"The Self Limited Nature of Disease", establishing the fact
that many of the common diseases were transient in nature and if given
a chance would get well. This discovery at once destroyed the old belief
that there was no curative power in nature and marked the beginning of
the end of the custom of bleeding, purging, sweating and other drastic
remedies which were supposed to drive disease from the bodies of the victims.
A little later a vigorous quarrel arose between Holmes of Boston, Meigs
of Philadelphia and Semmelweis of Austria over the infective nature of
Puerperal Fever. This controversy eventually established the fact that
this disease was due to germ infection and was caused by the carelessness
and ignorance of the Doctors and laid the foundation of modern obstetrics.
While the medical men of those days were trying to understand the significance
of the new discoveries and adopt new methods in their daily work, the
discovery of ether in 1846, at once by removing the pains of surgery without
anaesthesia, opened up broad new fields of work for the surgeons.
In 1867, as the result of his work in France, Louis Pasteur was able to
prove that bacteria were the cause of many disease and in the excitement
of his great discovery he wrote, "It is within the power of man to
make the parasitic disease from the face of the earth." To this astounding
but essentially true statement, his contemporaries replied "The poor
fellow is crazy." This discovery of bacteria, however, and their
relation to disease opened the way for the development of preventative
medicine with its vast saving of human life.
The cause and means of control of infectious disease having been discovered
it became possible by means of inexpensive inoculations to prevent pestilences
and disease rather than to cure patients after their bodies had been seriously
damaged by destructive bacteria.
The results of these discoveries concerning bacteria and
their relation to disease is that the great pestilences which have at
intervals in the past ravaged different portions of the country, destroying
in individual epidemics, as many as a third of the adult population, or
practically all of the children in a given region, have been controlled.
Small Pox, Cholera, Typhus and Typhoid Fever (the destroyers of armies),
Dysentery and Bubonic Plague have become preventable. Diabetes which has
been wide spread and fatal has become entirely manageable by the use of
insulin while Tuberculosis is become more and more amenable of treatment.
The cancer problem, while far from being solved, is, by virtue of early
discovery and treatment by surgery and by radiation, becoming better understood
and more frequently cured.
In recent years a series of far reaching discoveries have been made which
have resulted in the development of greater control over infections than
all of the discoveries since medical history began. These discoveries
have been in the fields of Chemotherapy and the Antibiotics. Chemotherapy
is the treatment of disease by chemical disinfection or inhibition of
pathogenic agencies without serious toxic effects on the patient while
the Antibiotics are substances which are made from moulds, found in the
ground, which are destructive to various types of bacteria and viruses.
By the use of these Sulfonamide drugs and Penicillin and other Anti-biotic
substances many of the serious infections previously uncontrollable diseases
have become almost entirely curable while new remedies are being developed
rapidly and providing cures for previously uncontrollable infections.
In the same period of years during which such great improvement in medical
knowledge and practice has taken place surgery has made no less spectacular
advance both in knowledge and technique and at the present time practically
all parts of the body have become safe for surgical intervention, with
the assistance of ether and other forms of anaesthesia.
Through this century, in which medicine had advanced from impotent ignorance
to its present state of efficient co-ordinated science, generation after
generation of Doctors have come and gone, using new methods and new remedies
as they became available.
The following pages give such information as has been found concerning
most of the Doctors who have practiced in Webster. It is certain that
there have been other Doctors who for longer or shorter periods have practiced
in town and departed leaving no record behind them. Some of these have
without doubt risen to positions of importance in other communities.
In previous pages a brief sketch of the exploration and settlement of
the Nipmuck Country has been made; allusions to the people, their customs
and medical practice in the past have been noted and before considering
them individually it may be well to look at the Doctors as a group in
It is not easy to make an evaluation of these men for few records are
available for study. They did not write for publication as facilities
for publication were not common, and no one wrote about them. It is know
that there were, at intervals, as early as 1786, medical meetings held
in Dudley and surrounding towns where discussions of interesting cases
were held for mutual information. Death notices and memorials which have
been recorded as one Doctor after another has passed away, as might be
expected, are very charitable noting the good qualities of the departed
and avoiding reference to less favorable parts of their careers. So it
is evident that real knowledge about these men is somewhat limited to
what living contemporaries passed on by word of mouth. It must also be
remembered that traditions and stories are often uncharitable and unreliable.
The Doctors have been recruited from the common people and, while better
educated than the average person, they have, nevertheless, been always
subject to the influence of the common enemies of mankind such as Tuberculosis,
Heart Disease, Diabetes, Infectious Diseases, Alcohol, Venereal Diseases
and many other conditions which have always had unfavorable influence
on the careers of mankind.
As in every group of human beings, regardless of station, there have been
black sheep among the Doctors. Some by misadventure or lack of obedience
to law have been apprehended and subjected to unpleasant penalties and
disgrace. Some like the foolish ostrich in the desert, which thinks he
is not visible when his head is covered in the sand, have pursued unwise,
anti-social activities too boldly and their careers have been injured
by public disapproval. Alcohol and immorality have exacted their usual
On the other hand personal characteristics such as industry, willingness
to work, skill and success have been influential in making the more favorable
picture which many have left behind. It is fair to say that a common characteristic
of the doctors in general is that they have always found work that needed
to be done and they have in greater or less degree done it and the extent
in which hey have done this has been the measure of one's success or failure
as a Doctor. It seems, therefore, fair to say that the Doctors of the
Nipmuck country past and present have been as good and as bad as a similar
number of other men under similar circumstances and it would be unkind
and useless to perpetuate the memory of unfortunate events for which there
may have been extenuating circumstances.
DR. JAMES GLEASON
The first doctor of who record has been found was Dr. James Gleason of
Thompson, Connecticut in 1765. With Levi Wright, in partnership, he bought
the Campbell grant of 400 acres in the South Gore, removed thither and
there spent his remaining days.
He was born Sept. 10, 1723. In 1791 he sold his farm to his sons, Jacob
and Jesse. He married, Feb. 7, 1751, Elizabeth Atwill. He died Oct. 9,
1803, aged 80, at the homestead on the hill, the site of the brick, George
The North line of this grant was about one third of a mile southerly of
what was called Brown's Pond "Reid Smith's Cove". The line ran
East and West about two feet north of the present Gore Church and extended
south more than a mile on the lake shore.
It may be that his grave may be found in the Gleason lot. This lot is
on the South side of the cemetery below Ide's lot.
DR. CHARLES NEGUS
Born January 14, 1792. Died September 28, 1856.
Age 65 years, 9 months, 14 days.
Cause of death. Apoplexy.
Dr, Charles Negus was probably the first regular Doctor
in Webster. It is quite likely that after the days of Doctor Gleason,
of the Gore District, there may have been other "farmer Doctors,"
but no records of their presence has been found. About 1820 the young
Doctor Negus moved from Woodstock to Quinebaug and lived in a small house
now standing at Lynch's Corner. A few years later, finding himself in
possession of much land in what is now the center of Webster, he moved
over and settled in the growing village. On Sept. 10, 1827, he sold 21
acres to S. Slater for $640.00. Where this land was, is not mentioned.
Dr. Negus was s son of Silas and Mehitabel Negus of Woodstock.
There is no record of his early education. Since there were few Medical
Schools at the time, he probably got his medical education by "riding
with" and studying in the office of some local Doctor.
Town records show that on July 9, 1918, Dr. Negus and
Mehitabel Marcey of West Sturbridge filed intentions of marriage and that
in due time two children were born to them; Mary Ann, who died on April
27, 1853, and Lyman who was born on July 25, 1818.
Tradition has it that many young doctors studied with
Dr. Negus but names of only two are known. Daniels History of Oxford says,
"Dr. David Holman, later of Oxford, began practice with Doctor Negus
of Dudley, now Webster, about 1821 and continuing for about ten years
when he settled in Oxford."
In his earlier years of practise, Dr. Negus doubtless
rode on horseback, carrying his medicines in saddlebags, while in his
later years he probably jounced over the rough country roads in a two
wheeled chaise. It is presumable that Dr. Negus was a religious man as
his name appears in the records of the Webster Methodist Church as one
of the committee appointed to build a Church, when in 1831 the society
had become sufficiently large and strong to have a Meeting House. The
records show that for the sum of ten dollars he sold to that society a
peice of land, where later the house of Chester Corbin stood, upon which
the first Meeting House was built.
For the same price, in 1838, he sold to the Congregational Church, the
land upon Main and Church Street where the Church now stands.
For a long time before his death, Dr. Negus was in poor health, and his
death was due to Apoplexy. He was buried in a little cemetery where the
Congregationa lParish House now stands. Later his remains were moved to
Mt. Zion Cemetery.
A rumor has been handed down from Father to Son that when the grave was
opened for the purpose of moving the Doctor's remains to the final resting
place his body was found to be lying face down; "showing that the
poor man had been buried alive and had turned over in his coffin."
Since the old Doctor is known to have been in poor health for a long time
and to have had a "shock" some time before his death, it is
fair to suppose that, after a well spent life, the poor man was spared
that distressing ordeal and allowed to sleep the sleep of the just.
Jewett's History of Worcester County devotes a chapter to the History
of Webster. The writer of this History, himself a prominent physician
of Webster, in a later period, says, "Dr. Charles Negus was a successful
Physician for more than forty years. He was born in Woodstock in 1792
and died in Webster on the 28th of September 1856." Thus disposing
almost in a word, of the career of a man whose life was filled with events
and deeds which were surely of value to his fellow citizens and of interest
ot future generations but which are now lost in the unwritten history
of the past.
The value of the Doctors of many years ago to the communities in which
they lived was intimately connected not only with their skill as Physicians
but also with their successes in other lines for they were often Clergymen,
Lawyers, Businessmen and Farmers.
Their education involved a matter of time and labor rather than the expenditure
of large sums of money as at the present, for the student was able to
pay, at least part of the cost of his education, by working for his teacher
during the period of apprenticeship. There was but little expense connected
with a Doctor's library for books were scarce and not subject to early
absolescence (because of the slow increase in medical knowledge) while
surgical instruments were crude, limited in number and inexpensive. While
the expense of becoming qualified to be a Doctor and the equipment necesary
ro enable one to practice medicine were small, the number of people to
be doctored was also small and the number of Doctors was quite large,
hence it was necessary for many of the Doctors to have extra lines of
activity. It is certain that the early Doctors had but little knowledge
of the disease which they treated and the remedies which they used. Some
of these remedies are still in use but have no effect upon the course
or termination of diseases. Hence it is evident that the success of the
old Doctors depended almost entirely upon what the people thought of them.
With the passage of the years, all who knew these men passed on and we
know that the usual death notices recorded by the Press are better suited
to stand as charitable descriptions of real or assumed virtues rather
than as reliable historic records.
The records of the Probate court furnish certain reliable though not infallable,
indications as to a Doctor's success.
On October 7, 1856 the last Will of Dr. Charles Negus was filed in the
Probate Court of Worcester.
The inventory showed an estate of $8109.07 of which $6270 was real estate,
and $1839.07 was personal property. His library was valued at $15.00 and
his instruments at $10.00. The will specified that Dr. Negus was to be
buried in a lot in the rear of the Congregational Church; an iron fence,
40 x 40, enclosed about the lot at an expense of not more than $100.00
and a monument of fine Italian marble erected at a cost of not more than
With this short and incomplete sketch, we must leave the old pioneer Doctor
Negus. The old people who knew him have long since died. If time were
available for more extended search, without doubt more facts and incidents
connected with his life and work might be found. He was a characteristic
figure in the early years of the town. Like all of his contemporaries
he doubtless had his good and not so good characteristics, his successes
and failures. Because of the fact that numerous young Doctors came to
study with him, we may be sure that, judged by the standards of his time,
he was a good Doctor.
He served his day and generation faithfully and well and deserved the
veneration and respect of those who from a distance review his career
in the light of understanding of his profession far beyond anything which
he could have dreamed.
"Let not ambition mock their humble joys,
Their homely ways, their destiny obscure,
Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor."
DR. DAVID HOLMAN
Dr. Holman was born at Union, Conn., on the 24th of January
1803 and died at Oxford on the 13th of March 1881 at the age of 78. In
the Webster TIMES of January 31, 1880 we read, " Dr. David Holman
of Union, Conn., and for over 50 years a practising physician in Oxford
reached his 77th birthday on January 24th. It is a notable fact that during
his term of practice in Oxford no practising physician died here, while
in the next town, Webster, six have deceased; viz., Drs. Negus (age 65),
Tenney, Burroughs, Hart, Smith and Adams."
Dr. Holman was a descendant of Solomon Holman of Newbury
1693 or 1694, who came from Wales, the line being Thomas, Thomas, Abraham,
who was born on the 30th of July 1776 at Sutton. According to the History
of Sutton, he was born on Sept. 9th at Providence, R.I.
Their son David was born January 24, 1803 at Union, Conn.,
where Abraham, his father, then lived. David studies at the Pittsfield
Medical Institute and was graduated at an early age and began practice
with Dr. Charles Negus in Webster, continuing for ten years. An old map,
published in 1855, shows the location of Dr. Holman's home on the west
side of East Main St., a few houses above the Baptist Chapel. He settled
in Oxford in 1831 where he continued for fifty years.
He married Almira, daughter of Rufus and Hulda (Bates)
Brown of Thompson, Conn. In 1841 he bought the estate (181H) South of
the North Common and died there on March 13, 1881 at the age of 78 years.
DR. DANIEL TIFFANY
Born April 3, 1765. Died November 9, 1856.
Age 91 years, 7 months, 6 days.
Dr. Daniel Tiffany was born in Attleboro, Mass., on April
3, 1765 and died on November 9, 1856. His parents seem to have been Daniel
and Polly Tift Tiffany. He married Parmelia who died June 21, 1849. A
son Dimosthenes was born to Daniel and Parmelia on March 25, 1803.
Dr. Tiffany seems to have lived in Webster but no definite
record of his life here has been found.
DR. JOHN WATERS TENNEY
Born December 25, 1802. Died april 29, 1849
Age 46 years, 4 months, 4 days.
Cause of death. Dropsy.
Dr. Tenney was born in Sutton on December 25, 1802. His
parents were Dniel and Betsy (Waters) Tenney. After attending the public
schools, he entered Brown University, from which he graduated in 1823.
Continuing his studies, he was graduated from the Medical School of the
University of Maryland in 1829 with the degree M.D.
On October 3, 1829, he was married to Elizabeth Tilleston
Fisher, born May 31, 1803, died Aug. 21, 1847, the daughter of Caleb and
Sally (Cushing) Fisher of Franklin, Mass.
A son, Edward Waters, was born to Doctor and Mrs. Tenney
in Sutton on October 8, 1830.
There is some difference in opinion as to when Dr. Tenney
began to practise. It is recorded that he was at first associated with
Dr. David Smith of Sutton in 1831. What seems more probable is the statement
in Daniel's History of Oxford, p. 256; "Dr. Tenney came to Oxford
in 1830 and took the house of Dr. Delano Pierce, expecting to succeed
him in his business. For some reason, at present unknown, he moved, in
1831, to the south part of the town, which is now Webster, where he remained
until his death on the 29th of April 1849 at the age of 46 years.
At any rate, when Webster was incorporated in 1832, Dr.Tenney
was in practise and lived in a house, now standing, just a little back
from East Main Street near the present Baptist Church.
At the first town meeting in the new town, he was elected
a member of the school committee, an office which he held for eleven years
before his death. Twice he served as Moderator at the town meeting, ten
consecutive years as Treasurer and twice he was elected to the State Legislature.
He was also a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society.
The Congregational Church was incorporated in 1832 and
Dr. Tenny's name is mentioned as one of the incorporators.
Dr. Tenney's first wife died on May 31, 1847 and on November
1, 1848 he married Junia Somers.
Judging by the number of public postions, which historic
evidence shows that he satisfactorily occupied, it seems probable that
there are yet other civic positions in which he freely gave of his time
and effort for the good of the community.
Dr. Tenney was a member of the Congregational Church.
The Webster Times of October 19, 1887: "The First Congregational
Church and Society of Webster were organized June 13, 1838 by 41 persons
among whose names were Dr. John and Eliza Tenney. A preliminary meeting
for the organization of the church was held in the home of Dexter Jones,
where later Captain Amos Bartlett lived. Dr. Tenney was one of the Committee
on arrangements. He was the person who issued the call to George B. Slater,
Esq., one of the Justices of the Peace in the County of Worcester, for
the purpose of organization."
Though the span of his life was short, his years were
filled with labor for the good of the community and the State. While little
or no record of his medical work has been recorded, it was without doubt
of the same high quality as his political labor. At his death Dr, Tenney
left two daughters, Catherine Beecher and Helen Everett, wife of David
A. Alden of Windsor, Vermont.
According to the Vital Statistics, Dr. Tenney died of
Dropsy and was buried in Mt, Zion Cemetery, Webster.
DR. A.D. RAWSON
Definite facts concerning this Doctor have not been found.
He may have lived in a neighboring town or he may have lived in Webster
for a time and had been too inconspicuous a figure to have attracted sufficient
attention to have left enduring records.
However, an old scrap of paper, which is rather suggestive,
has been found. It suggests that some of the troubles that bothered the
Old Times and still active problems.
The first of these papers reads as follows:
Webster, Feb. 14, 1842
John Shumway & E. Shumway, Dr.
To services of Dr. A. D. Rawson
Bal. on old acct. -- $1.93
Oct. 10, Emetic pills, powders, bitters, visit -- $1.50
Oct. 14, one visit and medicine -- $1.00
Interest I will call -- .62
Total -- $5.05
April 8, 1847, Rec'd. Payment to date
A similar yellow paper reads
"Jeremiah Shumway of Thompson
To Hosea Rich, sum of seventy five cents for
patient two visits and sundry medicine."
Upon the back of the paper is written;
.75 The payment for the above account has been
.87 George C. Larned, Atty.
From these two fragmentary records, it would seem that,
although Doctor's fees were much smaller a hundred years ago than now,
it was at time necessary to call upon the "Men of Law" for assistance
in collecting accounts. It is to be hoped that legal fees were likewise
smaller than at present.
DR. GEORGE IDE
Born May 9, 1792. Died October 8, 1864
Age 72 years, 4 months, 9 days.
Cause of death: Internal injuries received in a political riot in Boston.
Dr. George Ide was born in Attleboro, Mass., on May 9,
1792. His parents were Timothy and Elizabeth (Bates) Ide. The Ide family
was descended from Nicholas Ide, who came from England and settled in
Rehoboth on 1636. The elder son, Nicholas,moved to the North Purchase
which later came to be known as Attleboro, Mass. By 1787 George's father
had bouth land in Thompson at the foot of the lake. It is not certain
when the family built their home. Sometime later the family moved around
to the hill overlooking the lake and bought the big, red, brick house
at the top of the hill, which for two generations was known as Ide's Hill.
This region was first known as the Oxford South Gore; later, when Dudley
was incorporated, it became a part of that town, and when Webster was
set off from Oxford and Dudley it became the Webster Gore. The large,
red, brick house which George occupied for many years was earlier known
as the Emerson Place.
In his earlier years, Dr. Ide was a farmer and a stone mason and is said
to have weighed 250 pounds. Many of the cellar walls, wells, and road
culverts in and about East Webster were the work of his hands, and he
took great pride in his work. It was his custom daily to walk, often long
distances, to his work, carrying his heavy mason's tools in his hands,
before beginning the long day's work.
Later in life, at the age of 51, George decided to study medicine and,
as was then the custom, studied with an established Doctor. Family tradition
says that, "he paid Dr. James Gleason of Thompson, previously mentioned,
the sum of $90, for all the old man knew about the practice of medicine."
Dr. Gleason, George's grandfather-in-law. was a "self
taught" doctor who had become somewhat noted for his skill in treating
certain maladies. In the family archives many of the recipes which he
used are still preserved. These were made largely from native herbs which,
for a consideration, the grandchildren gathered in the surrounding fields
and forests. Some of these recipes are marked as from certain Indians
like "Indian Solomon" and many contain some form of alcohol
and red pepper.
In those days Indian Doctors were supposed to be very
skillful and a tradition says that George studied with an Indian, Doctor
Solomon, who resided in Rehoboth and was of considerable repute.
After he had become somewhat familiar with the ordinary
diseases which were prevalent about 1840 George began to practise and
for over twenty years did considerable work in the Gore and surrounding
A grandson remembers the Doctor as a large, powerful man
with a long beard, weighing over 250 pounds and driving around in the
customary chaise. He found the Indian remedies of great use, and, for
one prescription known as the London Lotion, he paid $75. This lotion
was for diseases of the eyes and contained 19 ingredients. Patients are
said to have come as far as from Boston to get it and there were many
refills. This preparation, his Grandson, now over 80 years old, believes
would have undoubtedly made him a millionaire if he had possessed sufficient
money to "properly dump it on the market."
His "jaw breaker" an unusual instrument for
use in extracting teeth and also a primitive battery with which he gave
treatments for certain diseases are still in existence and, while we may
question their actual value as remedial agents, they suggested that his
mind was searching for answers which were to remain secrets for years
Dr. Ide was married three times. The first wife was Lucretia Gleason of
the South Gore, the Mother of his six children. The second, Mrs. Patience
(Goldthwaite) Allen. After her dealth he married Mrs. Mary Jane Wakefield.
He was a member of the Reformed Methodist Church in the
"In his later years, Dr. Ide became interested in
Spiritualism, searching for the reality that lies beyond our physical
senses, and confident that one day creditable results might be achieved
in this direction."
He also had a fixed belief that there was gold in the
Gore Hills and there are still holes which he excavated in the hillsides
while seeking for the pay dirt.
An ardent Anti-Slavery man and supporter of President
Lincoln, he was in Boston in the exciting campaign of 1864. It is said
that he was making a speech in the street in defense of Lincoln and the
Union Policy in what was called the "Copperhead Irish" section.
When he called for "Three cheers for Abe Lincoln," he was set
upon by his opponenets, mobbed and jumped upon. Being an old man and heavy
of body, he suffered internal injuries. He reached home in bad coniditionm
but by great will power, and died three days later from the effect of
This is the story which has been handed down from generation
to generation in the family.
Upon his gravestone in the Gore Cemetery is inscribed:
"There is a debt to nature due
Which I have paid. And so must you."
Dr. Ide died Octobert 8, 1864.
DR. FREDERICK DAVIS BROWN
Born September 5, 1824. Died November 8, 1886.
Age 62 years, 2 months, 3 days
Cause of death. Apoplexy.
Dr. Frederick David Brown was born in Sutton, Mass., on
September 5, 1824. His parents were Felix and Fanny (Hicks) Brown. At
the age of seventeen after the usual public school education, he was interested
in the study of medicine and became a student in the office of Dr. George
Rawson of Grafton. In this country Doctor's office his duties are said
to have been, to a considerable extent, limited to the care of horses,
barn chores, gathering of herbs and preparing pills and powders but on
rare occasions he was allowed to assist at surgical operations. Leaving
Dr. Rawson's office, he entered Worcester Academy where he studied for
two years, continuing his medical studies in the meantime in the office
of Dr. Samuel Green, one of the eminent Physicians of Worcester. Dr. Green
left Worcester to become a Missionary in Ceylon, and on his departure
Dr. Brown was transferred to the office of Dr. John Green, where he studied
for two years more. The young man next entered the University of Pennsylvania
and later the Castleton Vermont Medical School from which he was graduated
in 1849. An internship in the Bloomington Asylum Hospital followed and
in 1850 Dr. Brown settled in Webster where he soon took over the large
practice of Dr. Charles Negus who was in poor health.
It is safe to assume that Dr. Brown soon built up an active
practise. On May 1, 1854, he was married to Miss Tamar Sibley Waters of
Sutton, the marriage being performed at Webster. Two sons were born to
this couple, Frederick Augustus and Clifford. The elder, Frederick Augustus,
in turn became a Doctor and practised with his Father.
After Dr. Brown's death his son continued practise in
the old homestead office until well into the 20th century. The office
in its later years was so well known that no sign was displayed at the
door and the writer of this sketch well remembers the day when, as an
ambitious disciple of Aesculapius, he tried to hire the Doctor's parlor
from the Doctor's wife for an office, without any considerable success
but with considerable chagrin as he discovered his error.
Being a well educated Doctor in a new and rapidly growing
towm, not too well supplied by Doctors, and following a popular man like
Dr. Negus, it was but natural that Doctor Brown whould soon build up a
large practise and enjoy the respect and affection of the community until
his unexpected death in 1886.
Unlike many Doctors of the early years, "Dr. Brown
was a well educated Gentleman and a typical Doctor of the Old School.
His photographs reveal a fatherly appearing man with a countenance suggesting
a friendly disposition and good judgment. His face shows a calm nature;
displays human interest and inspires confidence." Although quiet
and retiring in nature and content to perform his duties in a modest way,
the many positions of trust which he held show unmistakable proof that
his ability was recognized and appreciated by his contemporaries. His
extensive practise and the tributes paid him by his associates at the
time of his death confirm the impression that he was, in reality, one
of the leading men of the County. Soon after begining practise, Dr. Brown
joined the Worcester District Branch of the Massachusetts Medical Society
and he must have been an active member for in 1876 he was elected Vice
President of the Society at its annual meeting in June. This was not a
routine election by a single vote cast by the Secretary. There was considerable
competition and three ballots were required before the election was made.
The Annual Oration which he delivered before he became President of the
Society was upon the subject, with which he was especially well acquainted,
"The Country Doctor". Unfortunately no copy of this Oration
has been found. In 1878 Dr. Brown was elected President of the Society
and, as was the custom, served for two years. Until 1880 his name appears
among the members of the Council of the State Society, from the Worcester
The following excerpts from the records of the Worcester District Medical
Meetings of the period reflect certain of the medical ideas which were
prevalent though in the process of being changed as a result of important
discoveries which were being made.
On July 13, 1881, at a meeting of the Society in a discussion
of a paper on "Typhoid Fever" Dr. Brown said. "He believed,
from his experience, that drainage had much to do in producing Typhoid
Fever. As to treatment, he has little faith in remedies but has unbounded
faith in nature. He considers good nursing as good as anything."
Again on March 12, 1884, in a discussion of a paper on
"50 cases in Midwifery" he said, " Obstetric cases seem
to be more difficult than 30 years ago. Then he was accustomed to wait
2 or 3 days but now uses forceps to save pain." He uses antiseptics
more because they are advocated by the profession than because there is
any better success. That he had some experience to support his opinions
is evident from the following note which appeared in the "Times"
of Nov. 12, 1886: "It is perhaps not saying too much that as a physician
he was the agent through who one third of the young people saw light for
the first time, his practise being so extensive with the humble as well
as the richer citizens." He said he never yet stitched a ruptured
perineum and had not known a case of rupture severe enough to demand it,
though there is almost always some small tear.
Dr. Brown was followed in the discussion by Dr. ____ who
said he had not usually found instrumental cases possible without some
tear. He uses forceps in about one case in three but not if they could
be avoided. He reported one case in which forceps were used and a slight
rupture of the perineum occurred. Amniotic fluid for a week, to the amount
of twenty gallons. Puerperal mania followed and lasted three months and
the patient was not entirely well for a year.
"The History of Webster" which is a part of
Jewett's History of Worcester was written by Dr. Brown and is another
tribute to his literary ability and professional standing in the County.
Dr. Brown's Church affiliations were with the Episcopal
Church in which he was a member of the Parish but not a Communicant. Early
in the history of Webster Lodge A. F. & A. M., it is recorded that
Frederick Davis Brown became a member of the Order by admission from another
Lodge and he was buried with Masonic Honors.
In politics Dr. Brown was a staunch Republican and Chairman
of the Town Committee. In 1863 he was the State Representative; Town Selectman
in 1864 and '65, and State Senator in 1868. While in the Senate, he helped
pass the law incorporating The Webster Five Cents Savings Bank of which
he was President at the time of his death.
During the Civil War he was very active in raising men
and money for the service; for two years the Examining Surgeon for Worcester
county and a Justice of the Peace.
A few of the many interesting incidents which gave color
and variety to the daily work of the Doctor may be mentioned. Hospitals
were not numerous at the time and means of transportation were crude and
inadequate. Consequently the country Doctor was obliged to treat many
cases which now would be hurried to a Hospital. Live or die, they had
to be treated on the spot with such facilities and equipment as were at
hand. Contagious and infectious diseases which now require isolation in
suitable Hospitals were treated at home and although the results were
often terrible the public seems to have been quite well satisfied with
the treatment provided.
Newspaper reports of the period, mention Dr. Brown in
connection with accidents and assault cases. On July 22, 1865, the papers
say Dr. Brown removed a bullet from the neck of a victim of a shooting
case, the bullet entered the neck and lodged in the right shoulder. An
acquaintance remembers the time when there were six in his family ill
with Typhoid Fever during an epidemic which had been started by soldiers
returning from the Civil War. All six of these patients recovered but
there were twenty other cases which died in the South Village in the same
epidemic. Another person recalls a time in 1872 when her brother who lived
in Mechanicsville, Conn., had Diptheria. She persuaded Dr. Brown to take
charge of the case. Unknown to the local Doctor, he visited the patient
three times and the patient recovered.
An old Settler remembers the time when the son of the
village undertaker served as assistant to his father. There came a day
when, possibly because of the good medical treatment provided for the
people, business in the Undertaker's field was slack and the boy took
a job in the Savings Bank. At the end of the first day's work, the young
undertaker's books showed a deficit of one cent. While a vigorous seach
for the missing penny was being made after banking hours, Dr. Brown, who
was President of the bank, came in and observing the evident agitation
of the help, asked the cause of the disturbance. He was told that what
was troubling everyone. The clerk said, "Well, I'll put in the penny
rather than hunt longer for the mistake." Before there was time for
the missing money to change hands, however, the penny was found far back
in a drawer and Dr. Brown was informed that the lost was found. Wishing
to impress upon the new Clerk the necessity for accuracy in transacting
the business of the bank, Dr. Brown said, "Well young man, it is
all right this time but don't let such a thing happen again. We have to
be accurate in this institution," whereupon the young Undertaker
replied, "Well, Dr. Brown, in the past I have covered up many of
In addition to his professional and political work, Dr. Brown found time
to attend to many social and educational duties. For twenty years he was
on the School Committee where he was greatly interested in raising the
standard of education. For years he displayed much interest in the Temperance
Cause. He was also a Director of the First National Bank and President
of the Five Cents Saving Bank.
In the fall of 1886, early in his 61st year, when at the peak of his usefulness
to the community, Dr. Brown suffered a slight illness which caused no
alarm and was supposed to be progressing satisfactorily when, on November
sixth he suffered an apoplectic shock and died the following day.
Following his death, at a regular meeting of the Worcester
District Medical Society, the following resolutions were adopted, ordered
spread upon the records of the Society, and a copy sent to the family
of the deceased.
MEMORIAL FOR DR. F. D. BROWN
January 12, 1887, at a meeting of the Worcester District
Medical Society, Dr. T. H. Gage presented the following obituary notice.
Dr. Frederick David Brown, a former president of this
society, and for several years a councillor of the Massachusetts Medical
Society, died at his residence in Webster on Monday morning November 8,
His death was attributed to Apoplexy, and the fatal illness
was of short duration. He had not been in his usual health for two weeks
previous, but nothing had appeared to alarm his friends until the evening
of Nov. 7th when he became unconscious. In that condition, he lingered
through the night and in the morning passed away.
Dr. Brown was born in Sutton, September 5, 1824. He studied
medicine with the late Dr. John Green of Worcester, attending lectures
at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Medical School in Castleton,
Vermont. From the latter he received his degree in 1849.
Soon after, he established himself in Webster, and in
that town he passed his whole professional life.
As a citizen, Dr. Brown was prominent, influential and
useful, holding many positions of responsibility and trust, and discharging
all the duties of all faithfully and well. Few men, probably, in the community
where he lived, or in any similar community have ever received more marked
tokens of public appreciation and confidence than he. By repeated elections,
and for long periods he filled the most important offices in the town,
representing it more than once in the legislature and in both branches.
Upon its institutions; political, educational, social and financial he
has left the abiding impress of his diligent and faithful work. As a physician,
he had the unquestioning confidence and affectionate regard of the most
intelligent of the people among whom he passed his life. Observant, cautious
and watchful he applied with excellent judgment and sound common sense,
the plain fundamental principles of professional science and art to the
alleviation of human suffering. Led neither by ambition nor his tastes
to the attempt of great and startling achievements, he was content to
do well and acceptably the humble and less conspicuous, yet all important
duties, which make up, in so large a part the daily routine of every good
physician's life; and it is safe to aver that among the people who loved
him, and who appreciated the services that he rendered, he will be long
and gratefully remembered.
Dr. Brown leaves a wife and two sons, one of the latter
already started as a physician in his father's place. In view of the sad
event we have been contemplating, the committee of this society, appointed
to draft an appropriate testimonial of respect, beg leave to submit for
consideration the following resolutions with a recommendation that they
be adopted and spread upon the records, and that the secretary be instructed
to transmit a copy of them to the family of the deceased.
Resolved:-- That in the sudden and unexpected removal
of Dr. Frederick Davis Brown, of Webster, by death at the height of his
usefulness, and in the midst of the most important activities, the community
at large and especially that with which he had been so long and so favorable
identified, has sustained a heavy and almost irreparable loss.
Resolved:-- That in his death the medical profession has
lost one of the wisest, most honorable and esteemed of its members, and
this society an associate beloved and respected by all.
Resolved:-- That to his bereaved family we respectfully
extend the sincerest sympathy, with an assurance that the memory of our
beloved associate and friend will be by us long and tenderly cherished.
Viewing the life and work of Dr. Frederick Davis Brown
in light of such facts and traditions as exist sfter the lapse of mearly
a century, it is easily recognized that Dr. Brown was one of the outstanding
men and Doctors of Worcester County in the years of his active life.
Giving freely of his time and ability to municipal and
State affairs, he has left his mark in the legal and financial history
of the town and state. His high standing in medical circles is attested
by the fact that he was for two years President of the Worcester District
Medical Society and was spoken of as one whose opinion was highly valued
in the Councils of the Massachusetts State Medical Society.
His knowledge of the History of the Town and his skill
as a writer was recognized when he was chosen to write the History of
Webster which is a part of the History of Worcester, by Jewett.
Although the life of a Country practitioner offers little
opportunity for one to achieve national fame or world wide recognition,
yet in his own field, Dr. Frederick Davis Brown was an honor to his profession
and his faithful and tireless labors for town and state entitles his name
to be included with the names of Clara Barton, William Morton and other
noted men and women of the County who deserve the grateful recognition
of their fellow citizens.
DR. JOHN GOVE HART
Born 1829. Died February 28, 1867
Age 38 Years.
Cause of death. Tuberculosis
Dr. John Gove Hart was born in Goshen, N.H., in 1829. His parents were
John and Mary Addie (Richardson) Hart. Little information has been found
concerning his family, early life or education. We may assume that he
attended the public schools of Goshen and later studied medicine with
some country Doctor. Just when he opened his office in Webster is unknown,
but it was before 1857 for in that year a son, George Fred, who in later
years was to be one of the most popular and successful Doctors in Webster,
Of Dr. Hart's proefssional career in Webster there remains little record.
It is said that in his later years he had a rather extensive practice.
The Webster Times, in its issue of March 2, 1867, carried the following
obituary: "We are pained to record the death of one of our most active
professional citizens, Dr. John G. Hart. His disease was Consumption and
was brought on by excessive professional labor. In him the poor and afflicted
have lost a true friend, who was ever ready to minister to their afflictions
without regard to their financial condition, or his own failing health.
His family will receive the deep sympathy of a large circle of friends
in their great affliction." Since Dr. Hart died of Tuberculosis in
early middle life, it is reasonable to suppose that for several years
he was in failing health and much restricted in his activities. In spite
of the large practice which he is said to have had, his poor health and
untimely death doubtless account for his financial condition which was
so bad that his estate was not large enough to provide for the education
of his son.
As in the cases of not a few of the physicians of the early years, the
Probate Records are of interest. Although the obituary notices speak of
lucrative practice, the Probate Records indicate that many of the Doctors
were eigher poor collectors or just poor. The tax department of the State
had not become sufficiently well developed so that people could be suspected
of getting rid of their wealth just before death in order to escape inheritance
Dr. Hart's inventory amounted to $136.00 of which the principle items
were 1 rifle $25.00; 1 carbine $8.00; 1 revolver $15.00; surgical instruments
$7.00. The sale of his personal effects brought $100.00 above the appraised
In appraising the value of the man to individuals and to the community,
we must remember that books were few, instruments were crude and poor
and there was but little actual medical knowledge. Perchance many a wealthy
Doctor of the present, with libraries of books, elaborate equipment and
the latest knowedge, but little real genuine interest in the welfare of
his patients, will die and be buried leaving behind him but a small portion
of the love and esteem which was the heritage of the ordinary Doctor of
DR. ETHAN A. BARROWS
Born May 7, 1825. Died January 16, 1857.
Ages 31 years, 8 months, 19 days.
Cause of death. Tuberculosis.
Dr. Barrows was a son of John and Sarah Barrows of Mansfield, Conn. He
Practically no historical records of Dr. Barrows have been found. He is
said to have been somewhat of a surgeon and to have lived in a house with
large pillars in frontm standing where the Tracy Block now stands. The
old house has been moved back into Tracy Court and is now a slowly disintegrating
monument of the past.
In the last years of his life Dr. Elisha G. Burnett is said to have been
associated with Dr. Barrows.
In the Probate Records at Worcester, we find that Dr. Barrows died intestate.
The inventory of his property shows that he possessed Real Estate $80;
Personal Property $753.37; Books $29.00; Dissecting Instruments $2.00;
Tooth Instruments $10.00; Saddle Bags $1.25; 1 Basket Medicine $2.75;
Promissory Notes $117.87. Total assets $780.00. Bills Payable $1287.77.
He owned 1/8 acre of land in the rear of his residence -- evidently the
lot upon which the house now stands. His horse was valued at $95.00 and
his buggy at $170.00.
Times, Nov. 12, 1886. B. Emile Norcutt, M.D. Office and
residence, 11 Brookline St.
1888 Dr. Tingier is mentioned in connection with an anniversary celebration
at the Baptist Church.
DR. GEORGE W. EMERSON
1830 -- 1905
Born November 26, 1830. Died October 9, 1905.
Age 74 years, 10 months, 13 days.
Cause of death. Locomotor Ataxia.
It is difficult to understand how a man like Doctor Emerson could have
lived in town so long; established such a fine reputation in the community
and died leaving so little definite record of his career as a Doctor.
He was born in Goshen, N.H. on November 26, 1830. His parents were Daniel
and Polly (Pike) Emerson. After the usual public school education, he
continued his studies in the Newport Academy at Newport, Vermont. His
name is in the list of students enrolled in the Eclectic Medical School
in Worcester in 1853. This school was in existence for a few years only,
and Dr. Emerson was not among those who were graduated.
He opened an office in a house on Main street, where later Doctor Brown's
house stood, on January 10, 1853. After a time his office was on Mechanic
On February 21, 1849, he was married to Emily S. Richards of ? Three children,
in due time, were born, all died in infancy. In the early part of the
Doctor's career in Webster, he is said to have become mixed up in some
trouble of undiscovered nature which caused him to leave town for a time
and apparently a part ot his time was passed in study, for he was graduated
from Bellevue Hospital, New York (?) in 1864.
After his graduation from Bellevue, Dr. Emerson returned to Webster. Regardless
of a possibly bad start, his nearly fifty years of faithful work for the
community and the high esteem in which he was held by the townspeople
at the time of his death entitles him to be remembered as a good and faithful
Doctor who was mourned by a multitude of friends. Doctor Emerson was a
Mason and an Odd Fellow.
Following his death the Webster Times carried the following death notice:
"Dr. Emerson was the last of a quartet of Webster's old and famous
physicians, Dr. Charles Negus, Dr. Frederick Davis Brown, Dr. Elisha Burnett,
and Dr. George W. Emerson." An editorial note observes: "The
passing of Doctor Emerson has caused universal regret. He was a man of
sterling character, generous, benevolent. He had a strong sympathetic
nature and showed keen interest in the general welfare of his patients
which endeared him to the hearts of hundreds who mourned his death. Dr.
Emerson retired from practice ten years before his death."
DR. ELISHA GRIFFIN BURNETT
Born May 1, 1827. Died March 6, 1894.
Age 66 years, 10 months, 25 days.
Cause of death -- "Stomach trouble and general breaking up of the
Dr. Elisha Griffin Burnett was one of the seven children of David and
Asenath (Mosley) Burnett and he was born in Gouveneur, St. Lawrence County,
New York, on the 1st of May, 1827.
Among the effects of Doctor Burnett, after his death, was found a "well
thumbed New Testament" which contained the following geneaological
information: John Alden and his wife Priscilla Mullens; their seventh
daughter, Ruth, married John Bass; Sarah, his seventh child married Ephraim
Thayer; Ruth, their eighth child married John Capen; Sarah, their eighth
child married Nathaniel Mosley, Deacon of the First Congregational Church
of Hampton, Conn., of which her father was a Pastor. Emil, son of Nathaniel
married and had three daughters; Asenath, second daughter, married David
Burnett, of Hampton, Conn., and had six sons and one daughter. Elisha
Griffin Burnett, the fourth son married at the age of twenty eight, Maria
Eaton, of Chaplin, Conn., and had three daughters."
Dr. Burnett's early education was obtained in the public schools, after
which he was one of the first pupils in the Watertown Institute, one of
the best preparatory schools in the state.
In 1851 he was graduated from the Jefferson Medical School, Philapdelphia,
with the degree M.D., and the reputation of being a "grind"
with a remarkable memory.
In 1856, at the age of 28, he was married at Maria (Roxanna) Eaton, of
Chaplin, Conn., as noted above.
Three children were born to Doctor and Mrs. Burnett. Cara, married Judge
Isaac M. Mills of Mt. Vernon, New York. Judge Mills was born in Thompson,
Conn., in the house opposite the schoolhouse at Brandy Hill.
The second daughter, Julia, married Clarence Smith of Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Mary. the third daughter, never married. She became a Social Worker in
Spain. After some years, she returned to America and died in New York.
After his graduation from Jefferson, Dr. Burnett practiced for two years
in Arlington, New York, and in 1854 moved to Webster, where he remained
until his death in 1894. At first he was associated with Doctor Barrows
who was in poor health and lived but a short time.
As is the case of many of the early physicians, little record of his medical
career remains. Judging by such scattered facts as have been gathered
we may assume that, being a well educated man, he enjoyed a good practice
until the latter part of his life, when his sight failed and he became
almost entirely blind. Early in his career in Webster, he bought the Drug
Store which stood at the corner of Chase Avenue and Main Street. Later
this became the E. N. Bigelow Drug Store, which like its proprietor was
a landmark in town. Always interested in politics, Dr. Burnett was a member
of the School Committee in 1856, 1861-64, 1872-74, and selectman in 1880.
He served also on many Town Committees. One who remembers the Doctor well
says that he was a very convincing speaker and on one occasion at a town
meeting spoke for over an house, holding the attention of the voters until
the end. Aside from his medical and political activities, Dr. Burnett
was interested in real estate. He built houses on Main, School and High
He died at his home on School Street after a long period of failing vision
and some apparently poorly understood disease.
A friend and former patient remembers the time when as a young man he
was taking music lessons and his teacher "insisted that he take notes
that were too high for him and he strained his neck so that it hurt him
severely to turn his head from side to side." He went to see Dr.
Burnett who, after looking at him a while, said, "I guess I can fix
you up." A bottle of medicine for local application, with directions
for use, was given. A rapid cure was effected as promised, but George
remembers that it felt "like circus fire and lightning."
Another Old Settler thinks Doctor Burnett was a fine Doctor but he used
the most potent medicine that was used by any Doctor in town. He tells
of a patient who went abroad one night with a group of congenial spirits
to a notorious tavern. This was before the era of the "night clubs",
but barring the absence of the effects of the disastrous muxture of liquor
and gasoline, the results obtained were not too much inferior to those
which occur at the present time.
At a late hour, and for purposes which were not mentioned by the Old Settler,
the driver proceeded upward toward the Church, from whose doors his path
had long strayed afar. Either he was "under the influence" of
brain fog or the darkness of the night concealed an embankment which caused
the wagon to overturn. In due time, the injured member of the ill starred
expedition was presented to Doctor Burnett who calmly viewed the wreck
and said, "Well, Jim, you certainly got a good one this time but
I guess I can fix you." In addition to attending to such physicial
damage as needed to be repaired the Doctor gave a bottle of medicine with
strict orders that it must be taken only as directed.
With the perversity of the human race which persists, in not infrequent
cases, even to this day, the unfortunate young man reasoned that if a
little was good more would be better, so he partook of the potent remedy,
not wisely but too well.
The Old Settler avers stoutly that the medicine paralyzed the man's throat
and, although he lived for years, the man never spoke clearly again.
These two cases seem to prove that the Doctors of years ago used powerful
medicine and that it was necessary that they be used with discretion in
order to avoid untoward results.
DR. HENRY S. SMITH
Born February 13, 1836. Died October 30, 1877.
Age 41 years, 8 months, 17 days.
Dr. Henry S. Smith was born in Woodstock on February 13, 1836. His parents
were Henry E. and Clarissa (Pratt) Smith. It is probable that he received
his early education in the public schools and later attended lectures
in Boston and New York. For a time he studied at Harvard but was not graduated
from that institution, his graduation having been from The Medical University
of New York.
On May 4, 1856, he married Sally Davis of Dudley and in due time three
children were born to them.
Clara M. born on March 22, 1858 at Woodstock, Conn.
Henry B. born on September 6, 1868 at Webster, Mass.
Fidelia born September 30, 1873 at Webster.
After his graduation, Dr. Smith began practise at East Woodstock and did
a "flourishing" business. Dr. Joseph Spalding (Harvard '67)
studied with him before entering Harvard.
About 1868 Dr. Smith moved to Webster where he remained until his death.
Subsequent to her husband's death, Mrs. Smith is said to have taken some
courses in Boston and continued her husband's practise, especially the
1848 New England Female College
1873 it became B.U. School of Medicine
1870 Cornerstone of present B.U. Bldg.
First students chiefly interested in obstetrics.
In 1851 First complete medical course for women was inaugurated.
Many women attended without graduating.
Again on the strength of rumors and gossip, we learn that after a time
this widow Doctor became involved in some, probably obstetrical, irregularities
and moved from Webster to parts unknown.
In the absence of reliable information and judging from the tales of old
settlers, we suspect that the old Doctor was a somewhat picturesque character,
who lived in the Walker house on School Street. An Old Settler in Quinebaug
avers that he knew the Doctor well and that he was a good Doctor when
not drunk. Before and for some years after he moved from Woodstock to
Webster, to be exact, in 1864 and 1877, we find the name of Dr. Smith
among the names of the members of the Woodstock Theft Detection Society.
This Society was organized on May 20, 1793, with the idea of recovering
property which had been stolen in town. The usual officers were regularly
elected and in addiition six "Pursuers" who in case of theft
were provided, without charge, horses upon which they were obliged to
pursue the thieves at a moments notice.
Larned's History of Windham County, Vol. 2, P. 533 says: "The Thief
Detection Society", (which must have been in operation for some time)
"having eaten up its funds in oyster and turkey suppers, reorganized
in 1824 upon a new basis. Incorporation was secured and the annual dinner
was restricted to such members as chose to pay it out of their own pockets."
Bowen's History Vol. 8, P. 522 does not state whether unpaid Doctor's
bills were sufficient evidence of dishonesty to classify them amond the
legitimate field of activity of the "pursuers".
The Old Settler remembers that his brother's son tried to walk a beam
in the barn, with his eyes shut. Naturally he fell and hurt his leg, which
soon became red, swollen and painful. A new French Doctor who was consulted
"nearly killed the boy by putting on wet, brown paper."
Other Doctors tried in vain to cure the inflammation and finally at the
Massachusetts General Hospital the family were told that "nothing
could be done for the boy." At last Doctor Smith was visited. He
said, if they would call again in a few days when he was not so drunk,
he would prescribe.
In due time, the patient was again presented to the Doctor who, after
due examination, gave some "Blue salve" which, while it did
not cure, did much good.
Nearly a year later the boy, who now was a helpless cripple, was sitting
out back of the barn in the sunshine, picking at some bare, dead bone
just below the knee in the depths of the large ulcer. To his great surprise,
the bone moved and with one mighty pull "the whole leg bone, including
the ankle bone came out and after a time the boy again became able to
walk, run and dance as well as the other boys."
Of course this is the story of an unrecognized and inadequately treated
osteomyelitis which sometimes runs its course and gets well, but Doctor
Smith did not know about that.
One more incident, reported from memory of a former patient. One day a
lady consulted the Doctor on account of a sore throat. The Doctor advised
the application of Croton Oil, applied with a feather to the outside of
the neck. Soon after retiring, the patient became greatly distressed by
severe smarting in her eyes. So great was her discomfort that another
Doctor was summoned. He at once asked what she had been doing, and upon
being told that she had rubbed Croton Oil on her neck with her finger
he said, "Gus Davis' horse just died from that treatment."
Item, Webster Times December 24, 1947:
Theft Detecting Society to Meet
The annual meeting of the Woodstock Theft Detecting Society will be held
at the Baptist Church in South Woodstock Tuesday, Dec. 30. The business
meeting is called for 11 o'clock and Bert Johnson, president, will be
in charge. At 12 o'clock promptly, there will be a roll call of members.
Dinner will be served at 12:30.
There will be entertainment in the afternoon. Vernon Wetherell is chairman
of the Literary Committee. Sheriff Lionel Poirier will be the guest speaker.
The society which was organized in 1793, is the oldest of its kind in
the country and has met continuously except during the last war years.
DR. FISHER AMES BOSWORTH
1817 -- 1891
Born January 3, 1817 -- Died, July 28, 1891
Age 74 years, 6 months, 25 days.
Cause of death. Liver Disease.
Dr. Fisher Ames Bosworth was born in Bellingham, Massachusetts on January
3, 1817. His parents were Stacy and Abigail Bosworth. After his early
education in the public schools, he studied medicine with Reverend Doctor
Calvin Newton, a Baptist Clergyman at Bellingham, who was also a physician
of good repute. Dr. Newton later founded the Eclectic Medical College,
at Worcester. This Medical College was conducted in a part of the buildings
which are now The Worcester Academy, and was in existence only long enough
to graduate a very few classes.
The catalogue of Colby College for the years 1820-1827 indicates that
Dr. Bosworth studied for a time in that institution.
After three years of study with Dr. Newton, as required by Harvard Medical
School as preparation for admission, he entered that Institution where
he studied for a time.
Having finished his medical education, Dr. Bosworth practiced in Three
Rivers and Grafton, Mass. In the latter part of the Civil War (1865) he
served as Volunteer Surgeon in the Christian Commission.
At the close of the war, in 1865, he moved from Grafton to Webster and
opened an office in a house standing near the present location of the
Dr. Bosworth was twice married. His first wife, to whom he was married
in May 15, 1843, was Nancy Fay, of Grafton, Mass. She died in Webster
on May 17, 1880. His second wife was Mr. Jenny Freeman of Campello. Her
death occurred in Webster about 1907.
Dr. Bosworth seems to have been a somewhat picturesque personality in
the town during the latter part of the last century. His latter years
are well within the memory period of people now living but they recall
but insignificant facts. It is remembered that he was "a fine old
man and knew his business." He wore a long beard; scuffed his feet
as he walked, and drove about in a two wheeled chaise. Some say, he was
addicted to the use of opium.
A card in the Times of August 8, 1865 reads: "Dr. Bosworth gives
special attention to surgical diseases." As late as January 24, 1890
the following note appeared in The Times "Yesterday Joseph______
was helping carry a carboy of vitriol at one of the mills, when he fell
and was badly burned by the acid." The following day Dr. Bosworth
took him about 75 miles to the State Hospital in Tewksbury. Dr. Bosworth's
name is mentioned as one who was present at the autopsy of Lilly Hoyle,
who had been murdered a few days before.
For over twenty years Dr. Bosworth was a prominent member of the Baptist
Church and for a long time the Clerk of the Society. With Solomon Shumway
and Ebenezer Ames, he was on the committee which built the present Church,
which was completed in 1867, at a cost of $33,067.88. At the 20th Anniversary
of the dedication of the new Church, in March 1888, Dr. Bosworth made
a Historical Address with reminiscences concerning the building of the
Church twenty years before.
Dr. Bosworth is said to have had a large practice and his reputation as
a surgeon was deservingly high although he never reaped a proportionate
reward for his services. He was esteemed a kind man, much of whose work
For some time before his death, failing health prevented him from working,
and when he died the Times noted, "the loss of one of the town's
best and oldest citizens. His well known, somewhat eccentric manner will
long be remembered."
There is a tradition among certain of the Old Settlers that certain differences
in family opinion may have had some influence in the trouble in getting
at the story of the Doctor's later life. It seems he was, at one time,
the Town Physician, and, having to visit the Town Farm frequently, he
became interested in and married an unfortunate Widow woman, who, for
reasons at present unknown, was a town charge. Being a lonely widower
himself, perhaps his act was in no way unreasonable, but his family objected
as often happens.
A real Old Settler of the dim, distant past says that once upon a time
Dr. Bosworth came to see his father. When the consultation had been completed,
the old Grandma said, "Doctor, I want you to give this girl here
a Lobelia Pewk, she's ailing." The Doctor asked a few questions,
observed the girl a while and said, "I shan't give that girl no Lobelia
Pewk." The old lady persisted and finally asked "Why won't you
give her a Lobelia Pewk?" With perhaps characteristics bluntness,
the Doctor said, "It didn't go in that way and it won't come out
While words were few, we may infer that even a century ago people were
subject to distressing complications much as they are today.
DR. ALBERT S. ROI
1844 -- 1893
Born October 1, 1844. Died November 8, 1893.
Age 54 Years, 1 month, 7 days.
Cause of death. Heart Disease.
Dr. Albert S. Roi was born in St. Hyacinth, P.Q., on October 1, 1844.
He was the son of Vilmart and Maria (Brochiert) Roi. His early education
was obtained in the public schools. At eighteen years of age he entered
Terrebond College for boys and afterwards studied, and probably received
his degree, at McGill University. It is said that he led his class in
scholarship and was graduated with high honors.
For some time after his graduation, he practised in Canada and then in
1865 settled in Webster. Among the Doctors who seem to have been remembered
for their personal appearance and eccentricities rather than for their
skill or public service, Dr. Roi is prominent. He is remembered as being
a tall man who habitually wore a tall, silk hat and smoked a clay pipe.
It was said by some who remembered him that he was very much addicted
to the use of alcohol and that he was supposed to have been at his best
when under the influence of liquor. As a specialist in the treatment of
Rheumatism, he had a great reputation but he would not tell what remedies
he used. His office was on the corner of Main and School streets.
He is said to have had a daughter who became a writer of some repute.
It was said by a contemporary, perhaps because of some past unpleasant
memory, that the Doctor was subject to some sort of convulsions and that
it was his custom, upon finding himself up against some troublesome case,
to "throw a fit" so that some other physician would be called
in to relieve him of unwelcome responsibility.
Another tradition has it that the Doctor was very fond of good old fashioned
fighting and that not infrequently he indulged in his hobby, silk hat
and long tailed coat to the contrary notwithstanding.
DR. C. H. PERRY
The only record of Dr. Perry that has been found is the following
note found in the Times of October 12, 1867.
"Dr. C. H. Perry is absent from town and will be away a week or more."
Dr. Perry was a member of Webster Lodge A.F. & A.M. He took a Demit
on January 3, 1871.
DR. CHARLES PAGE
A card in the Times in 1865 announces: "Doctor Charles H.
Page, Accoucheur, Physician and Surgeon. Particular attention to Diseases
of Women and Children, also to Pulmonary and Chronic Affections."
Dr. Page is said to have been State Representative in 1870.
DR. LOUIS CORBEIL
1847 -- 1880
Born February 2, 1847. Died March 29, 1880.
Age 33 years, 1 month, 22 days.
Cause of death. Typhoid Fever and Apoplexy.
Dr. Louis Corbeil was born in Montreal, Canada on February 2, 1847. His
parents were Prosper and Elizabeth (Baliquet) Corbeil, Montreal, Canada.
His early education was obtained in the public schools. Owing to the poor
financial condition of his family, it became necessary for the young man
to work in order to obtain the money needed to finish his education. For
some years he taught music and conducted a choir in Montreal. In 1870
he was graduated with the degree M.D. from Victoria University.
Soon after his graduation Dr. Corbeil settled in Baltic, Conn., and shortly
was married to Emma Fullam of Montreal. In due time there were born to
them three boys and one girl.
Dr. Corbeil was induced to settle in Webster by a local physician who
had tuberculosis and soon moved back to Canada, after disposing of his
Dr, Corbeil is said to have had a good practice here in the time when
Dr. George Emerson and Dr. Albert Roi (commonly spoken of as Dr. King)
were prominent in town.
In those days Small Pox and Diptheria were prevalent in town and Dr. Corbeil
is said to have cared for many such cases. Dysentery also was very prevalent
and for this disease the Doctor had a private remedy which remained in
the hands of one druggist and was used in town for many years after Dr.
Soon after he settled in town, Dr. Corbeil opened a drug store on Main
Street. Soon he moved to the corner of Chase Avenue where he had his office
as well as his store.
Dr. Corbeil was a member of Sacred Heart Church, served as Organist and
organized its first choir, of forty members.
His musical ability was such that he was frequently employed in staging
concerts and dramas for various organizations.
DR. J. X. BEAUDRY
1836 -- 1890
Born 1836. Died January 23, 1890.
Age 54 years.
Cause of death. Grippe, Heart Failure.
Dr. Beaudry was born in Canada in 1836 and died in Webster January 23,
1890 of Grippe and Heart Disease.
He was graduated from Victoria University, Montreal. After graduation
he practised medicine in Canada and for a time in Royal (?) Mass., after
which he came to Webster.
Soon after coming to Webster, he bought a drug store occupied by Dugan's
Drug Store. In 1888 he built the house on East Main Street, west of the
Baptist Church. Dr. Beaudry was not a rugged man and died at the age of
53 years of heart failure.
The Webster Times of January 31, 1890 made the following announcement:
"Dr. J. X. Beaudry departed this life at 6:10 P.M., January 23, from
a long illness of Bright's Disease, which confined him to his house for
the last few weeks."
He left a widow and no children.
DR. CORNELIUS JANSEN HASBROUCK
1852 -- 1925
Born March 30, 1852. Died April 26, 1925.
Age 73 years, 27 days.
Cause of death. Cardiac Disease.
Dr. Cornelius Jansen Hasbrouck, son of Lewis Broadhead and Rachel (Jansen)
Hasbrouck was born in Aligersville, New York on March 30, 1852.
His early education was obtained in the public schools of his native town.
For a time he taught school and then entered the Albany Medical School
of Union University from which he was graduated on January 20, 1874.
On October 14, 1874, he married Sarah Deborah Penoyae of North Chatham,
After his graduation Dr. Hasbrouck became assistant to Dr. J. H. Nehr
of Nassau, New York, but soon opened an office in Shokan, where he practiced
in 1875-76. Apparently he later practiced in Valatie, New York for a time
and then came to Webster. The Times of Feb. 28, 1880 prints the following
card: "Dr. C. H. Hasbrouck, M.D., Homoeopathic Physician and Surgeon
can be found at the residence of the late Dr. George Adams, Reference,
Dr. W. B. Chamberlain, Worcester."
A historical sketch of the local Royal Arcanum, printed in the Times of
May 31, 1889 says Dr.Hasbrouck joined the society in 1880 and was elected
Medical Examiner. Again on May 20, 1881 he is mentioned as having moved
away. Apparently he went to Warren, Mass., where he was in practice in
1882. Later he was in Worcester, New York City and finally on November
1, 1888 he settled in Bristol, R. I., where he remained until his death
on April 26, 1925.
Sometime, probably early in his medical career, he "reorganized the
value of the Homoeopathic method of medical treatment," studied the
subject and later practiced both allopathy and homoeopathy "enlightened
medical treatment" as Dr. Nehr used to call it.
He was a member of the Rhode Island Homoeopathic Society and the American
Medical Association. He was once President of the Rhode Island Homoeopathic
Society and a member of the Committee for the building of the Providence
"He was always interested in civic and Church affairs; served on
the Town Council and School Committee of Bristol, R. I., at various times;
on the Prudential Committee of Pilgrim Congregational Church, New York
City; as member and for many years President of the Board of Trustees
of the First Congregational Church at Bristol, R.I."
Although Dr. Hasbrouck was in Webster but a short time and left little
evidence of his professional skill, yet from his subsequent career we
can see that he was a good man and true, and carried on valiantly to the
extent of his knowledge.
The delay and hesitation in getting settled at first is well compensated
by the later constancy.
Perhaps no better picture of the man may be delineated than the description
kindly furnished by his daughter.
"His recreation included attendance at tennis and baseball games,
motoring, old fashioned New England clam bakes, given by country churches
and Granges where he averaged nine to twelve a summer, and the movies.
He owned and operated, through an agent, a movie theatre in Bristol, R.
I., for several years before his death."
He developed a hair tonic, Baldine; a digestive tablet, Gasgos, and an
antiseptic, Germine. At the time of his sudden death from cardiac trouble,
he was anticipating giving up general practice and specializing in urinary
diseases. He was clever in setting bones, particularly successful with
fractured hips and had a method of dissolving cataracts with medicine:
something no one else has apparently tried. He would reduce a fracture
immediately, before inflammation set in, and have X-ray pictures taken
later to prove his accuracy.
Silently, with few graces, conversationally or socially, dependable in
carrying out duties assigned, rugged of character, "so honest that
he bent over backward" as people said and an ardent champion of fair
play were some of his personal characteristics.
He moved very quietly in spite of his six foot height and approximately
two hundred pounds. He was seen once to be walking on his toes in the
street. He was deeply absorbed in his profession, gently, with quick and
deep sympathy and unlimited patience. At critical periods he would sit
by the bedside of his patient until the right remedy had taken effect.
We found among his effects a set of forceps which he used for pulling
teeth in Shokan where no dentists wer available.
In later years he helped draw up wills and other legal matters, a knowledge
of which he had learned from his Lawyer Father. He rode far and wide to
his patients in different adjoining states and took night work which his
younger colleagues refused.
He was greatly beloved by the people of Bristol where he had acquired
the title of "The poor man's Doctor." At his death he was mourned
by the whole town, a continual stream of people passing for two days through
the house to take leave of him. In other words the tale of "The Country
Doctor" could be duplicated in the story of Dr. Hasbrouck's life.
DR. GEORGE PORTER
Sometime before 1880 Dr. Porter was a student of Dr. George A.
Adams who was at the time a popular and busy doctor in town. It is remembered
by some of the people who have good memories that he was quite popular
with the ladies, which at least suggests that as yet he was unmarried
and aside from his medical qualifications, an interesting subject for
The Webster Times of March 25, 1881 says:
Dr. George Porter, M.D., formerly with the late Dr. Adams, Homeopathic
Physician and Surgeon, Shumway Block.
So Doctor Porter took over the practice of Dr. Adams and carried on until
he developed Tuberculosis, and moved to Orlando, Florida, where he died
Dr. Porter and his wife are buried in Manchester, N.H.
DR. GEORGE A. ADAMS
Died January 13, 1880
Cause of death. Malignant Diphtheria
Dr. George A. Adams was born in New Boston, New Hampshire. He was one
of thirteen children of Marshall C. and Sarah (Richards) Adams. Very little
record of the life and work of Dr. Adams has been found. Probably his
early education was obtained in the public schools. Where he got his medical
education is not known. He was a Homeopathic Doctor and came to Webster
about 1874 as a student of Dr. George Porter. His office was at the corner
of Chase Avenue and Main Street. Dr. Adams was a man of generous and pleasing
personality. A patient once said that his face, when seen at the door
of the room of a sick patient, was "enough to more than half cure
Dr. Adams was a member and constant attendant at the Congregational Church
and a member of the Church Choir.
He was a Charter Member of the Ben Franklin Council No. 333 of the Royal
Arcanum and served the Council as Medical Examiner.
On January 11, 1880 he was about his work as usual when he became ill
with Malignant Diphtheria. This was before the days of Diphtheria Antitoxin
and in spite of the best efforts of his contemporaries he died two days
later. Such was the frequent course and outcome of the dread disease known
as Diptheria, the terror of the community and the despair of the Doctor.
Three years later the bacillus which is the cause of the disease was discovered
but not until 1893 was the Diphtheria Antitoxin first used, marking the
beginning of the control of one of the pestilences of the past.
The Webster Times, January 31, 1880 says, "The sudden death of Dr.
Adams, beloved of all, for his virtues and honored by all for his rare
usefullness as a Physician, is a terrible blow to the whole community.
As a citizen he was looked up to; as a father and husband, loving and
kind; and as a physician, skillful, patient and kind. He is survived by
his wife and one daughter, Gertrude."
In the Times Memorial Edition, under the Caption 200 Years of Progress,
an article entitled "Physicians Past and Present" gives a short
record of the Physicians who have lived and practiced in town. Concerning
the period from 1880 onward for years, it says: -- "Following the
death of Dr. Adams in 1880, Webster seems to have been a very popular
place for young Doctors and at least twenty opened their offices within
the next ten years. Of these, Doctors David Hincks, George Porter, A.O.
Houle, (?) Fournier, C. H. Grput, Cornelius Hasbrouck, Wilfred Sanword,
Napoleon Malo, Fred Burnett, Charles Canfield, B.E. Norcutt, (?) Dorval,
Thomas Cronin,Charles Pomerat, and J. J. Hurley remained in town for short
periods after which they moved to other towns."
DR. NAPOLEON MALO
1857 -- 1899
Born 1857. Died Nov. 7, 1899
Age 42 years.
Dr. Malo was born at St. Marc sur Hichelieu, P. Q. He was the son of Clovis
and Mademoiselle LaPierre. He received his early education in local schools
and later entered the University of Montreal from which in due time he
In 1876 he married Odelie Bernier. They had no children.
Dr. Malo was one of the numerous Doctors who settled in Webster in the
'80's. He was one of the founders of the St. Jean Baptist Society, which
was formed in 1882. About 1880 he settled in Webster where he remained
in practice until 1887 when he moved to Danielson, Conn. Later he moved
to Central Falls where he practised until his death.
Dr. Malo is said to have had a large practise and to have been much interested
in State politics in Connecticut.
DR. HENRY J. BRUCE
1849 -- 1912
Born November 5, 1849. Died Aug. 8, 1912
Age 62 years, 9 months, 7 days.
Cause of death. Apoplexy.
Dr. Henry J. Bruce was the son of (?) of Webster, Mass. He received his
early education in the public schools of the town and was a member of
the first class to be graduated from the Webster High School in 1869.
No record of medical training has been found. He must have studied civil
engineering somewhere as he was recognized as a surveyor and an authority
upon the boundaries of the Stevens Linen Company which he surveyed in
his early years.
He certainly practised medicine in Webster for a time. A newspaper clipping
records his presence at a reunion of his High School Class in 1865 and
in 1874 he was a member of the Masons.
Dr. Bruce married Lydia (?)
At an unknown date he moved to Burrillville, R. I., where
he lived until his death on Aug. 8, 1912. As he "found the routine
work of a physician very monotonous he continued the work of a surveyor
as a side line and is said to have laid out many of the streets in Pascoag,
Bridgeton, and the rural highways of Burrillville. Moreover it added somewhat
to his income, as he was known as a poor collector. By nature he was slow
and deliberate and often said it was impossible to please all of his patients
as they complained if he called too often and accused him of neglectling
them if he called infrequently."
He was interested in politics and served on the Town Council. During the
meetings, it was his custom to set with his head thrown back and his eyes
closed. Once during a heated debate a new member, apparently disturbed
at his apparent lack of attention remarked that it was unfortunate that
Dr. Bruce would not concentrate on the matter at hand. Far from being
asleep Dr. Bruce was wide awake, and at once replied that his accuser
would never know as much as was going on in his mind "at this moment."
Dr. Bruce died of a paralytic shock. Being unable to talk after he was
stricken, he wrote on a piece of paper asking someone to look into his
mouth and see on which side of his mouth his tongue lay. Upon being informed
he promptly wrote "The stroke will be fatal."
A fellow townsman who remembers Dr. Bruce well says, "He was a brilliant
man, well-liked and still spoken of as the town's best physician. Certainly
the Old Timers have found no one to take his place."
DR. WILBUR FISK SANFORD
1843 -- 1917
Born December 2, 1843. Died March 30, 1917.
Age 73 years, 3 months, 28 days.
Cause of death unknown.
Dr. Wilbur Fisk Sanford was born in Gouveneur, New York, on Dec. 2, 1843.
His parents were Sidney and Helen (Hubbard) Sanford. Little record of
the career of Dr. Sanford, in Webster or elsewhere, has been found except
that which is recorded in the Alumni Records of Wesleyan University in
Middletown, Conn. Of his early education no record has been found, but
he entered Wesleyan University in 1862 with the class of 1866. During
his junior (?) years he enlisted and served (1864-1865), in the Civil
War in the 29th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. After the close of the
war he returned to Wesleyan, from which he was graduated in the class
of 1867, with the Degree B.A.:B.D.
In 1867-1868 he taught at the Providence Conference Seminary (now the
East Greenwich Academy, R. I.) after which in 1868-1869, he began the
study of medicine at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. For some reason he turned
from the study of medicine again and was Principal of the Sandwich, Mass.,
High School for the years 1869-1870 when he again changed to the study
of Theology at the Boston University Theological Seminary. After three
years at the Seminary (1870-1873) he was a Methodist Clergyman in the
Troy, N,Y., conference (1873-1877). Again, for unknown reasons he changed
his plans and in 1877-78 he was studying medicine at the School of Medicine
of Boston University from which he was graduated with the Degree M.D.,
in 1878. Dr. Sanford's instability of character and purpose seems to have
been unchanged in the study of medicine for he practiced in Taunton, Mass.,
1878-79; in Mansfield, Mass., 1879-80, and in Webster, Mass., 1880-90.
Dr. Sanford was one of many Homoeopathic physicians who settled in Webster
in the '80's, most of whom remained in town for short periods. According
to the Times of May 20, 1881, "Doctor Sanford has opened an office
in the house occupied by the late Dr. Adams, and also by Dr. Hasbrouck,
lately removed. Dr. Sanford was successful in the practice of Homoeopathy."
Some of the older people in town remember Dr. Sanford but can give few
significant facts concerning his professional career and standing in town.
He was for four years a member of the school committee; Medical Examiner
(1881-1889) and Regent of the Order Royal Arcanum in 1885.
Dr. Sanford was a member of the Methodist Church, having been received
into membership by letter from the Troy, New York Conference in which
he was a preacher.
On December 25, 1855, Dr. Sanford was married to Lucy Atlanta Tayer, of
Stephentown Center, N.Y. The Doctor was said to have been about twice
the age of the bride, he having waited for her to grow up.
There were two children, Wilbur, born December 6, 1886 (B.A. Middlebury
1909) and Ellen Lucy, born August 9, 1888.
Leaving Webster in 1890, Dr. Sanford was in Athens-on-Hudson 1890-1892;
Lebanon Spring 1892-94; Warren, R.I., 1894-99. From 1899 to 1905 he was
engaged in farming and from 1905 to 1917 he was in the Soldiers' Home
in Tennessee. His death occurred at Washington on March 30, 1917.
The long and varied career of this Doctor is interesting. The charitable
supposition that he was a man of talent, which he employed in many places,
where there was need for his services, is probably unsound because his
later years were spent in a soldiers' home. From the first he displayed
instability of mind which led to frequent changes in his plans and trying
war experiences may have aggravated this condition. The gossipy stories
of his career in town reveal him at one time as active in Church work
and again as a heavy drinker; now as a successful country Doctor, and
again as moving from town in the night to escape creditors. Probably he
was a weak brother who was unable to stand the knocks of life and, following
the line of least resistance, failed to make the grade.
DR. JOSEPH OLIVIER GENEREUX
Born April 28, 1859 -- Died December 19, 1951
Age 91 years, 7 months, 21 days.
Dr. Joseph Olivier Genereaux was born in St. Cuthbert, Canada, on April
28, 1859. His parents were Louis and Desanges (Savoie) Genereux. His early
education was obtained in the public schools of St. Cuthbert, P.Q., and
was followed by advanced classical study in the same community. At The
Jacques Cartier Normal School, he was awarded a gold medal for excellent
work. After a year's work at teaching in Champlain, P.Q., he entered St.
Joseph's College in Trois Rivieres, P.Q., from which he was graduated
His first year in college was passed in study alone, but during the second
and third years he taught various branches, including Theology. After
his collegiate course, he matriculated at Bowdoin Medical School from
which he was graduated in 1884.
The Brunswick Telegraph of May 30, 1884 featured an account of The Graduation
Exercises of the Medical School of Maine. The address to the Graduating
Class was given by Dr. G. S. Brown of Dartmouth, later President of Hamilton
College, New York.
Dr. Brown spoke upon "Some of the relations of the Medical Profession
to that complex result which we call Civilization."
Before the presentation of the diplomas, an announcement was made giving
the names of the four students who had attained the highest scholastic
rank during the Medical course.
The names, with their addresses and the subject of their Thesis are as
Dr. Frederick Carrol Heath, (A.B. Amherst) Gardner, Maine.
Subject of Thesis. Homoeopathy.
Dr. Joseph Olivier Genereaux, (St. Joseph's, P.Q.) Skowhegan, Maine. Subject
of Thesis. Dyspepsia.
Dr. Frederick Thomas Simpson, (A.B. Yale) Bath, Maine. Subject of Thesis.
Dr. Lyman Beecher Shehan, (A.B. Amherst) Portland, Maine. Subject of Thesis.
Differential Diagnosis Between Conjunctivitis and Iritis.
On May 29 of the same year, Dr. Genereaux married Heloise, a daughter
of Pierre and Adelaide Vincellette of Biddeford, Maine, the marriage taking
place at Skowhegan, Maine. The Doctor at once opened in Manitoba where
he practiced for three years,
After this period of very profitable experience in the frontier, which
developed great versatility and confidence in his ability to meet the
serious emergencies of life, which in those days of the infancy of Modern
Medicine, had to be treated by the general practitioners, Dr. Genereux
came to Webster on the 10th of March 1887. His first office was on Main
Street opposite his present residence, to which he moved after seven years.
Business was slow in picking up at first and the Doctor was considering
a move to another town, but he delayed and his patience was soon rewarded
by the development of a large practice which continued for sixty years.
During this long and active professional life, Dr. Genereux saw his family
increase by the birth and growth to adult life of seven sons and daughters.
One son, J. Edmund, following in his father's steps became a Doctor and
for two years practiced with his father, after which he practiced in Leominster
for two years. Leaving Leominster, he settled in New York where he was
in practice for fifteen years, when he died a sudden and untimely death.
Another son, Joseph Louise, became a Dentist, while a thrid son, Joseph
Celerin, became a successful lawyer in his home town. Three daughters
were all teachers.
Dr. Genereux was for many years a member of the American Medical Association
and so far as is known he is the only Webster Doctor who has been honored
by having a paper from his pen published in the The Journal of that Association.
This contribution was published in 1901 and was entitled "Two rare
cases of Malformation," and described unusual obstetrical monstrosities.
Dr. Genereux was a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society and for
several years a Council Member from the Worcester District Society. He
was a member of the Webster-Dudley Medical Club and the first President
of the Staff of Webster District Hospital.
After he had been in practice in Webster for 65 years, the Webster Times,
on March 11, 1943, commented as follows: "Starting with a horse for
transportation fifty-six years ago Dr. Genereux has 'used up' five horses,
a bicycle, a motorcycle and 10 automobiles in making calls during the
56 years he has spent administering to the ill in the community."
In the course of his active career, the Doctor found time to share his
knowledge and skill with at least three Student Doctors including his
son. One of these, Dr. William J. Dugan, later of Philadelphia, became
a Lecturer at the Jefferson Medical College and published a Hand Book
of Electro-Therapeutics. Upon the fly leaf of an autographed copy of this
book is inscribed: " 'Tis all in the start." "For my Dear
Friend, Dr. J. O. Genereux, the one who started me right in the study
of Medicine." "With the best wishes of Wm. J. Dugan, June 16,
1910." The second student was the Doctor's own son, Joseph Edmund,
and the third was Charles Edward Morton of Webster, who later entered
Columbia Medical School, but died before he had completed his studies.
During the last two years, due to increasing years, the Doctor's activities
have been greatly curtailed but he could be seen, almost daily, walking
on the street with more brisk steps than some of his contemporaries who
were much younger but much more feeble.
To some of his older and more appreciative patients, he still, at times,
gave much prized advice based upon his years of study and personal knowledge
of the patient.
In addition to his professional duties, the Doctor found time to serve
upon the School Committee from 1909 to 1921.
During his long residence in Webster, Dr. Genereux was a faithful and
devoted member of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church and an honorable
and much loved citizen.
One, who for over forty years has enjoyed working with Dr. Genereux in
unbroken harmony and good fellowship, appreciates another side of a grand
personality. The Doctor, during much of his active years, wore a very
professional, close cropped beard, which, with his serious, thoughtful
countenance, gave him a somewhat stern appearance. This, however, was
but the professional cover for a very friendly, happy personality which
became apparent as one became acquainted and he was ever ready, with advice
or assisance, to help a brother Doctor to relieve a sufferer.
The Doctor was fond of good horses and a very clever driver, often piloting
his rig safely at full speed, through narrow gaps, in horse drawn traffic,
which at first sight seemed to be entirely inadequate. With the advent
of the motorcycle and the auto, the Doctor's desire for speed was by no
means lost, and at times it fell to the lot of the writer to bind up wounds
caused by the refusal of the motorcycle to take curves on one wheel. On
another occasion, when the professional companions alighted from the car
upon reaching home after a medical meeting, the Doctor without a smile
remarked, "We were in great danger only twice on the trip."
A classmate at the Medical School is responsible for the story that there
was some feeling between the Meds and the college students at Bowdoin
at one time, and during the night before a big ball game the two resourceful
Meds obtained a horse and plough and ploughed up the diamond. With commendable
modesty, the culprits have not as yet reported who won the game.
DR. J. W. BENTLEY
Among the somewhat large group of Doctors who have, for longer or shorter
periods, been residents of Webster, presumably in active practise, and
have moved away, leaving no material record of their professional activity,
was Dr. Bentley.
The only information referring to him, that has been found is in a note
in the Webster Times of July 19, 1879 which says: "Dr. Bentley, formerly
of this place but for the last few years a very successful physician of
Providence, R.I., was last week stricken with cerebrospinal meningitis.
At the last report, he was somewhat better and his many friends will be
anxious to learn of his complete recovery."
Another Webster Doctor of whom no record has been found
is Dr. Fournier. A newspaper note in 1881 lists Dr. Fournier as a member
of the School Committee.
DR. ANSELM O'TOOLE
It is said that Dr. O'Toole came from Cohoes, New York
and that he married a lady from Laconia, New Hampshire.
No further information has been found.
DR. LOUIS JOSEPH PAPINEAU
1848 -- 1922
Born Feb. 23, 1848. Died Oct. 19, 1922.
Age 74 years, 7 months, 26 days.
Cause of death. Arterio-Sclerosis
Dr. Louis Joseph Papineau was born in Saint Cesaire, Canada, on February
23, 1848. His parents were Anthony and Marian (Benoit) Papineau. After
the usual public school education at Saint Cesaire, he studied at McGill
University and in 1861 was graduated from Victoria and Laval University
Medical School. For two years after his graduation Dr. Papineau practiced
in Montreal then located in Green Island, New York, and later in Haydenville,
Mass. In 1867 he married Evalina Edmire Charbonneau of Salem, Mass., and
in due time four boys and two girls were born to the family.
Following the untimely death of Dr. George Adams, a Homoeopathic Physician
in Webster in 1880, a group of new Physicians settled in town and after
short periods many of them moved on. Among this group was Dr. Papineau.
He opened his office in 1886, soon became well established and followed
his profession here for over 30 years. He was a prominent and respected
member of the professional family in Webster and, in his best years, had
a good practice.
Following his death, the Webster Times carried the following obituary
notice: "Dr. Papineau was a quiet man, devoted to his profession
and family, and had a host of friends in town. His courteous and dignified
appearnace has been a familiar sight in the streets of Webster for the
past 36 years."
Dr. Papineau was a very methodical man, always arising at 5 a.m. His appearance
was always the neatest, and he was rarely seen without a flower in his
buttonhole. His immaculate appearance was but a part of his methodical
life. He was not a great mixer but was usually found at home with his
books. Each night he retired at 9 o'clock, yet he never hesitated when
called at any hour of the night to attend a patient, be he rich or poor.
A man of very simple tastes and habits, his circle of acquaintances was
not as large as it might have been otherwise, but those who knew him admired
the straight, courteous, dignified man; a gentleman always, and whose
many good deeds were always done with no accompaniment of publicity. In
May, 1921, at his Golden Wedding, he was presented a "Gold Headed
Cane" by the doctors of the community.
Failing health and strength later caused the Doctor to give up his office
and business and pass the remaining days of his life in quiet seclusion.
He died on October 19, 1922, of Arterio-Sclerosis.
Dr. Papineau was educated in the days when Modern Medicine
was very young. Much was known about the physical characteristics, course
and effects of the various diseases upon the human body but the causes,
methods of spread and the cures of the conditions were entirely unknown
and much of what he was taught was unfounded theory. The great discoveries
which were to revolutionize medicine in the coming century had not been
made. Certain incidents in his career suggest that although his premises
were often wrong and led to incorrect conclusions, never-the-less Dr.
Papineau used his brains and the knowledge which he had to the best of
his ability. A rather reserved man, devoted to his family and his professional
work, he was not materially interested in Church, Society or Politics.
He was not a member of the Medical Society and did not mix intimately
with the medical fraternity. As a resu
lt of these circumstances it was difficult for him to become acquainted
with the new methods of treatment which were developed rapidly in the
later years of his professional life. One day he requested one of the
younger Doctors to go to a certain house and give Antitoxin to a patient
who had diphtheria, saying, "I never gave Antitoxin and know nothing
about it." Upon arriving at the home, the young Doctor was greeted
with harsh words and threats and was obliged to get assistance from the
police before he was able to give the necessary treatment and save the
life of the patient.
Lacking knowledge and modern diagnostic aids it was impossible to make
accurate diagnosis in many cases and while "Slow Fever, Malaria,
Lung Fever", etc., were often inaccurate diagnoses, they were descriptive
names and were satisfacotry to the patients and explained indefinitely
Medical rackets were young and unorganized; rebates and fee splitting
were unknown or not frowned upon but advertising was common. It was commonly
noted on Doctors' signs that Dr. ------- gives special attention to "Diseases
of Women," "Lung Diseases," etc.; the same intent but slightly
different technique from that used at the present time.
The large jar of assorted teeth which stood in the office window of Dr.
Papineau's office was just a gentle public reminder that within is a Doctor
who skillfully removes teeth. Whether as a result of a fixed confidence
in the curative value of remedies which he had discovered in the course
of his extensive medical researches, or a recognition of certain commercial
aspects of the business, he had a "Cure for Consumption" and
private formulae for Blood Purifiers No. 1 and No. 2, for sale at $1.00
DR. DAVID HINCKS
Little information concerning Dr. Hincks has been found. He was
a young married Doctor who came from Hyde Park, Massachusetts where his
father was a Doctor and lived in the Colvin House on Main street, later
the home of Dr. L. R. Bragg.
A former patient remembers when Dr. Hincks cared for his father who had
Typhoid Fever in or about 1880.
Dr. Hincks was a member of the Massachusetts State Medical Society in
1890. After a few years in Webster, he returned to Hyde Park to take over
the practise of his father who had died.
DR. CHARLES SAMUEL SARGENT
Born June 20, 1855 -- Died September 26, 1914
Age 59 years, 2 months, 29 days
Cause of death. Chronic Bright's Disease
Dr. Charles Samuel Sargent was born in Chichester, N.H. on June 20, 1855.
A year later his parents moved to Boston, Mass., where he received his
early education, in the public schools. Continuing his studies at the
Boston University Medical School, at that time a Homeopathic School, he
was graduated on March 5, 1879. Soon after his graduation from the Medical
School, Dr. Sargent opened an office in North Grosvenordale, Conn., and
on September 26, 1883, he was married to Emma Augusta Jacobs of North
Grosvenordale, Connecticut. They had no children. A year after his marriage,
Dr. Sargent went to Europe and spent two years in Post Graduate study
in Paris, Berlin and Vienna.
Soon after returning from Europe, he moved to Webster and began general
practice and for several years was a very busy and popular doctor. Being
a keen business man and urgent in the financial management of his practice,
his popularity was of short duration.
Again he journeyed to Europe and took special courses
in Nose and Throat work at Holla, Germany and at Vienna. Back at his old
office once more, his practice was somewhat limited to his specialty.
After a time he opened an office in Worcester where he did Nose and Throat
work each afternoon.
Apparently he had no hospital connections which must have
seriously limited his activities in his specialty.
For many years the loiterers upon Main Street could almost
have set their watches by the dignified passage of the tall, austere appearing
Doctor, with his little professional bag in his hand, as he daily moved
toward the railroad Station on his way to his office in Worcester.
Dr. Sargent was an ardent believer in the theory and practice
of Homeopathy and especially in his ability by the use of Homeopathic
remedies, to cure Endocarditis and Bright's Disease.
He died in Webster on September 16, 1914 and it was the
opinion of his attending physicians that he died of the same Bright's
Disease which he was so sure he had completely cured years before.
DR. FREDERICK AUGUSTUS BROWN
Born October 24, 1856. Died January 21, 1927
Age 76 years, 2 months, 8 days.
Cause of death. Heart Attack.
Dr. Frederick Augustus Brown, or "Fred" as he was commonly called, was the son of Dr. Frederick Davis Brown, who for over thrity years, was not only one of the most prominent physicians in Webster but also a noted statesman, a banker, town official and public minded citizen.
After the usual public school education, Dr. Brown attended the Phillips-Andover Preparatory School from which he was graduated in the 200th Anniversary of that institution. He successfully passed the examinations for admission to the Lawrence Scientific School but for some reason, did not matriculate there but enetered the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, from which he was graduated with the degree,. M.D. in 1882. The long summer vacations during the medical course were spent in intern work at the Universaity of Vermont Hospital.
Having been educated in the years when startling discoveries in the medical world were beginning to pop at frequent intervals and the profession at large was beginning to realize the significance of some of the discoveries which had already been made, it is easy to understand why Doctor Fred was very anxious to continue his studies and become a surgeon. This plan was not approved by the elder Dr. Brown so Fred returned to Webster and began practise.
The combination of a young Doctor, well trained and acquainted with the latest medical knowledge, and a well known and popular old Doctor with great experience, could hardly fail to be successful and we may well believe that in a short time, the two were doing a lot of business; doing medicine and surgery of a little different type and using hitherto unknown methods of treatment to such an extent that some of the older physicians were often put upon the defensive. It is said that the little picket scales which the "Young Doctor" used to weigh out powders, instead of pressing and dividing them with his small pocket knife, as had been the custom for years, caused quite a sensation. In fancy, we can almost hear a sarcastic remark from one or another that "a Doctor who cannot tell what is the proper dose of Jalap, without a pair of scales must be a numbskull."
Dr. Brown was one of the group of Doctors, including Drs. Brown, Genereux, Hart, Papineau, Sargent and Thompson who for nearly forty years were the prominent members of the profession in Webster. Other Doctors came, stayed awhile and disappeared, apparently unable to make way against the sturdy sextette who for many years served the town faithfully and well.
On September 26, 1893, Dr. Brown married Katherine Slater, daughter of William Strutt Slater of Webster, Massachusetts. Three sons and two daughters were born to them during the following five years; Slater Brown who died at birth; William Slater Brown, born in 1896, Katherine Brown, born in 1898; Frederick Brown, born in 1899, and Joyce Waters Brown, born in 1901.
For nearly forty years Dr. Brown was one of the popular practising physicians in Webster, occupying the same office in which his father had practised for thirty-five years before him.
In the early years of his professional life, Dr. Brown became offended, for some reason at present unknown, and never joined the State Medical Society, in which his father was always greatly interested.
In his more active years the Doctor kept three or four fast horses and a driver and it was a common sight to see them dashing about the town at all hours of the day or night and in all kinds of weather. It was not considered good form, at least by the driver, to be passed on the road by a competitor, so not infrequently the townspeople enjoyed exhibitions of what real good horses could do. This was of course long before the days of speed limits and State Cops and yellow "tickets" were unknown. People knew the hazards of fast driving upon town streets but had not become familiar with the legal possibilities in connection with injuries, real and imaginary, consequently summonses were infrequent and it was commonly uncertain which was the faster horse.
Further evidence of the Doctor's fondness for the horses is indicated by the following note which appeared in the "Times" of January 5, 1893: "Doctor Brown's Tally-Ho made its first appearance today." For some time this picturesque vehicle was a frequent sight upon the streets of Webster and surrounding towns and on it or in it the Doctor and his friends enjoyed many a happy coaching party.
For many years Dr. Brown was in charge of the accident work at the Slater Mills. Safety devices upon the machinery were conspicuous by their absence; cheap labor was employed and accidents were not only frequent but often severe and consequently much surgery had to be done including much fracture work and at times serious amputations. The "Times" in 1887 notes: "Dr. F.A. Brown and Dr. Bosworth amputated the left arm of ...who was injured in the Slater Mill."
In extra medical lines Dr. Brown was always active. For many years he served as Town Physician and as a member of the School Committee. He served upon the Committee which built the Bartlett High School. He was elected Representative in the State Legislature in 1895 and was appointed Medical Examiner for the District. For many years he was a director of the Webster Five Cents Savings Bank. His Church affiliations were with the Episcopal Church of the Reconciliation.
From his early years Dr. Brown was interested in athletics, especially football; in later years he was prominent in the Chaubunagungamaug Yacht Club. He recognized the Lake as a great civic asset and always tried to promote its use as a play ground and public summer resort.
Early in World War I, Dr. Brown applied for and received a Commission as first Lieutenant in the Medical Corps. His service was limited to Camp Duty in the United States and he was honorably discharged when his services were no loner needed in his particular line.
In the latter years of his life the Doctor gradually relinquished his practice. Neither of the children had seen fit to follow the Doctor in his medical career and finally the Office which for over fifty years had been widely known as a safe resort in times of trouble, was pushed back from the street by encroaching business. Bowling alleys, a theatre and stores now occupy the Health Centre of fifty years.
The old homestead was torn down and the Old Doctor, driven by age and adversity, moved away from his native town and died in Dedham on January 21, 1927.
During the second half of the corporate life of Webster which roughly covered his active professional life, Dr. Brown saw a new Medical Science emerge from the ignorance of earlier years and become 20th Century medicine. He saw Small Pox, Diphtheria, Dysentery, Typhoid Fever, against which his father fought valiantly but without success, gradually removed from common causes of death and the mortality of Tuberculosis greatly reduced.
He saw medicine change, from the bedside care of those who were ill and the administration of relief until such time as death end the scene, to a science which is more and more becoming a preventative force in the Community and year by year is making the world a safer place in which to live.