Chapter XLI - Physicians and Surgeons

History of Hampshire County West Virginia From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present
By Hu Maxwell and H. L. Swisher
Morgantown, West Virginia; A. Brown Boughner Printer; 1897

PART 2 County History
Pages 481-492

A history of Hampshire county would be lacking in an important point without a record of a worthy and intelligent class of citizens whose work is quiet and unobtrusive, but who are indispensable — the physicians. It is to be regretted that the data from which to compile a history of the doctors of the county is so incomplete. It is impossible to do the subject justice, because information concerning many successful and learned men of the medical profession is fragmentary or wholly wanting. A record, often the name only, of twenty-nine physicians of Hampshire is all that can be obtained. There can be no doubt that one-half the doctors have been forgotten, This seems a cruel and undeserved fate; but it is a fact. Who can doubt that Hampshire in the one hundred and forty years of its existence has had at least one hundred practicing physicians? Yet, not one-third of them are now known by name. This is largely due to the fact that no medical society or association has ever been organized in the county. Had such society been in existence during the century or more last passed, a record of its proceedings would contain a history of Hampshire's medical men, and this chapter could be made far more complete than it is. In most counties such associations have been in existence many years, and every member is given a place upon its records. Following will be found sketches of a number of physicians.

B. F. Berkeley, M. D., was born in August, 1824, and attended the Louisville (Kentucky) medical institute in 1844, and for a number of years practiced his profession in Ohio. He was a surgeon in the union army during the Civil war. He afterwards took up his residence in Romney and continued to practice till his death, which occurred April 15, 1897.

Edward Beall, M. D., was born 1836, and was for a long time a successful practitioner in the eastern part of Hampshire county. He organized a confederate company early in the war, an account of which will be found in another chapter of this volume.

J. F. Gardner, M. D., was born in Frederick county, Virginia, 1843, and was educated by a Lutheran minister. When eighteen years of age he volunteered in company D, thirty-third regiment of Virginia volunteers, and fought under the flag of the Southern confederacy until the close of the war. He then entered the Bellevue Hospital Medical college, New York, and graduated from that institution in 1879. In June, 1830, he located at Bloomery, in Hampshire county, and eight years later removed to Capon Bridge where he has since practiced his profession. When Dr. Gardner came to Hampshire county his family consisted of a wife and six children; and three children were afterwards born. Mrs. Dr. Gardner, before her marriage, was a Miss Clawser, a descendent of one of the first settlers of the valley of Virginia. Her great grandmother was captured by the Indians, and was taken as far as the Ohio river, an account of which is given in Kercheval's history. She had a testament in her pocket, and she tore off bits of the leaves of the book, and when her captors were not observing her, she scattered these fragments of paper along the trail. Settlers from Virginia pursued the Indians, being guided by the scraps of paper, and overtook them at the Ohio river and recaptured the prisoner.

George H. Thomas, M. D., third son of Owen Thomas, a farmer living twelve miles west of Leesburg, was born in Loudoun county, Virginia, and received a free school education at his home. He was then sent to the Potomac academy, at Alexandria, Virginia, where he prepared himself for entering the university of Virginia, in 1887. He finished the course in medicine at the university of New York where he continued his medical studies and in April, 1891, he received the degree M. D. from that institution. Since then, for the purpose of more perfectly fitting himself for the responsible duties of his profession, he has twice taken post-graduating courses in the New York university, the first in 1892 and again in 1896. He had previously located for the practice of medicine at Springfield, Hampshire county. In July, 1893, he was married to Miss Margaret Washington, fifth daughter of Edward Washington. Their daughter, Margaret, was born July 4, 1894. Dr. Thomas removed from Springfield to Romney in May, 1894, where he has since practiced his profession.

J. J. T. Offutt, M. D., was born August 4, 1826, died in 1886. He began his course of reading while clerking in Chamberlain's store, which was in a part of the brick house at Capon Bridge, now owned by A. E. Pugh. The young student there had access to a good library and he made excellent use of it. He afterwards entered the medical college which was then at Winchester, and graduated there. He began the practice of medicine at Capon Bridge, and soon established a reputation for success. For forty years he lived and practiced his profession at Capon Bridge. In early years, when physicians were not so numerous, he rode over a large part of the county. During the war he was a union sympathizer, but never entered active service. Being a quiet citizen, and not disposed to intrude his opinions upon others, he continued in the peaceful practice of his profession during the whole war. He became postmaster at Capon Bridge before the war, and was continued in the office till 1885.

W. T. Shipe, M. D. — The subject of this sketch was born in 1867, in Clarke county, Virginia, and when seven years of age removed with his parents to Bunker Hill, Berkeley county, West Virginia, where he spent the early years of his life on his father's farm. He entered the Baltimore medical college and graduated in the spring of 1894. In the fall of that year he commenced practicing his profession at Springfield, Hampshire county. In December of that year he was married to Miss Ella M. Pine of Darkeville, Berkeley county.

Reuben Samuel Davis, M. D., son of Reuben Davis, was born November 6, 1834, on New creek, then in Hampshire county, now Mineral. His grandfather, of Welch ancestry, was born April 1761. He married Rebecca Dent, the daughter of Thomas Dent, who resided near Charlotte Hall, St. Mary's county, Maryland: The Dents came from Gainsborough, York county, England. Joseph Davis resided in Fauquier county, Virginia, from 1790 to 1799, and then removed to New creek, Hampshire county, and built a dwelling house within one rod of the county line, at which place he resided till his death, which occurred September 16, 1831. Thomas Dean, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born in 1757, and married Jane Gilmore. The ancestry of both came from Dublin, Ireland. He lived on New creek until his death, March 27, 1809. Reuben Davis was born September 30, 1792, in Fauquier county, Virginia, and came to Hampshire with his father in 1799. His great uncle, Colonel George Dent, stood godfather at his baptism, and gave him a set of silver sleeve buttons with his initials, "R. D.," engraved on each, which are now in possession of Dr. Davis, who retains them as a souvenir of the past century. Colonel Dent married Eleanor Dean, daughter of Thomas Dean, April 1, 1813. In the war of 1812 he served as ensign in Captain Cockerell's company at Norfolk, Virginia. He served many years as a magistrate by appointment, and was next to the last one to hold the office of sheriff of Hampshire county, on the priority of his commission, previous to the adoption of the constitution of 1850. He resided at Piedmont from 1860 to his death, November 17, 1368. Dr. Davis enlisted in Captain George F. Sheetz's company at Romney, June 6, 1861. The company was mustered into service about July 20, 1861. as company F, seventh regiment of Virginia cavalry, Colonel Turner Ashby's regiment, and become a part of Ashby's brigade, and was commanded by General Rosser at the close of the war, and was included in General Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Dr. Davis commenced the study of medicine in May, 1856, under Dr. W. H. Dew of West Milford, Harrison county, West Virginia, and continued the study until he volunteered in the confederate army, in June, 1861. He resumed his study in 1865, and commenced practice in 1868. His residence is at Kirby, Hampshire county.

Robert Newman, M. D. A sketch of the life of Dr. Newman will be found in this book in the chapter on the literary workers of Hampshire, and in the present chapter only such mention of him as refers especially to his labors as a physician will be given. He occupied a place of honor and confidence in Hampshire county, as well as in the adjacent portions of Maryland, which would be a credit to any professional man. He was an original investigator. His ideas did not follow beaten tracks, but struck boldly into unexplored regions. As elsewhere remarked, if he could have had the advantage of a university education, by which he would have been enabled to concentrate his talents upon unexplored fields rather than waste them in going over ground already traveled by others, he would probably have acquired a national reputation. But the time and place in which his lot was cast were not suited to acquiring knowledge from books. He fought on the frontiers, explored wildernesses beyond the Mississippi, encountered dangers, surmounted obstacles, triumphed over difficulties, and in spite of them all accomplished much as an investigator in the profession of medicine. His book on the treatment of dropsy, which he published while at Old Town in Maryland, embodied his own original ideas and investigations on the subject. He could claim whatever of merit there was in it; for it was his work, his idea, his experience. It would not be difficult for a well-read physician to compile a book on nearly any branch of his profession, by appropriating the ideas and investigations of others. But Dr. Newman did not do this. He acted upon the injunction:

"Think for thyself. One good idea,
    But known to be thine own,
Is better than a thousand gleaned
    From fields by others sown."

Dr. Newman was never a man of vigorous health. He always believed himself predisposed to consumption; but, as often happens, the man with questionable health outlives those who seem to be physically perfect. Dr. Newman had reached the age of fifty when he made Romney his home, removing to that place from Old Town, in 1820. His acquaintance with the people of the South branch dated several years earlier; for he had often been called, professionally, to attend the sick, even as far south as Moorefield. When he took up his residence in Romney he at once entered upon a large practice, and was particularly successful in treating cases in which the seat of the trouble was in the lungs. He was a resident of Romney until his death, which occurred in 1843, in his seventy-seventh year.

Dr. Newman's ideas regarding religion have already been mentioned; but he had a peculiarity which was all the more noticeable because of his scepticism, and which led some to doubt his sincerity in his claims of being unorthodox. Although he might have considered scepticism good enough during life, he evidently believed religion was better when the hour of death came. Whenever he realized that a patient of his could not recover, and that death was near, he would request Rev. Dr. Foote to pay the patient a ministerial visit. He and Dr. Foote were lifelong friends, and so uniform was his custom of sending the reverend gentleman to administer to the spiritual wants of those about to die, that the neighbors learned to understand what it meant when Dr. Foote would call upon one of Dr. Newman's patients. It meant that the sick person had been given up to die:

Although half a century has passed since Dr. Newman ceased his labors among the people of Hampshire, yet the influence of his life and work has enlarged and increased to this day.

Photograph - Dr. MillerJoseph M. Miller, M. D., of Romney, is of German extraction, both on the side of his mother and father; but the families were in America, probably before the Revolutionary war; at least at a very early date. His father, Rev. Peter Miller, descended from an old established family of Rockingham county, Virginia. The grandfather of the subject of this sketch, Joseph Miller, was born in Rockingham county, and there is no written record of the family further back. Rev. Peter Miller was born in 1828, and was married to Miss Margaret Lutz, of Rockingham county, whose father, George Lutz, was a native of Pennsylvania. Dr. J. M. Miller was born in 1853, in the old home county, Rockingham. When he was five years old his father's ministerial labors called him to Wardensville, in Hardy county, and he there resided many years in the work of the church.

The early life of Dr. Miller was spent at Wardensville where he attended such schools as the district afforded, and during vacations did farm work. The vacation took up the greater part of the year, and as a consequence, he had more opportunity to become acquainted with plows, pitchforks, horses and cattle, than with books. Nevertheless, he had ambitions which looked forward to better things. The drudgery of farm life gives little time for books, and he embraced the first opportunity of taking up something else. He clerked in the store of M. Coffman at Woodstock, Virginia, during portions of 1873 and 1874. But having made up his mind to pursue one of the learned professions, and having chosen medicine, he looked about for means of acquiring an education fitting him for his work. He entered the graded school at Woodstock, and made- excellent progress under the instruction of Professor Lindsay. An opportunity presenting itself, he entered the office of Dr. W. H. Triplett, at Woodstock. Dr. Triplett was a successful physician, and had a large practice. The three years which Dr. Miller spent in the office were of the greatest value to him in fitting him for his future work. So well was he instructed, not only in theory of medicine, but in its practice also, that he opened an office of his own and carried on a successful practice for two years without having* attended any medical college. But not being satisfied with anything less than thorough instruction and training in his chosen profession, he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Baltimore, and graduated in the spring of 1877.

Soon after this he located at Rio, on North river, in Hampshire county, and was soon in the enjoyment of a remunerative practice, He remained at that place till 1889 when he removed to Romney and has since lived there. On January 3, 1878, Dr. Miller was married to Miss Alberta C. Coffman, of Hampshire county, daughter of John C. Coffman who was born in Shenandoah county, 1805, and who was married to Miss Mary Thompson, of Hampshire county. Two sons were born to Dr. and Mrs. Miller, John Luther, 1880, who died at the age of five months, and Clyde Peter, born in 1882. Mrs. Miller died October 19, 1895.

Samuel R. Lupton, M. D., was born near Winchester, Virginia, March 21, 1827. His ancestors were Quakers and belonged to that group of persecuted persons who were imprisoned in Winchester during the Revolutionary war. Many of these were carried thither from Philadelphia, and the accusation against them was that they were friendly with the British and were furnishing information to the enemy. It is certain that this charge, if made against the Quakers as a body, was not well founded, although individual cases no doubt occurred in which persons of that denomination were friendly with the British. The persecution of the Quakers formed one of the unpleasant pages in the history of America during the revolution. Yet, in time of war, and particularly when the enemy was ravaging the land, as was the case when the British occupied Philadelphia, the most careful and just people may do that which at other times they would strongly condemn. Many of the Quakers who were imprisoned at Winchester were no doubt earnest sympathizers with the American cause. From that stock Dr. Lupton descended. Nothing eventful has been recorded of his early life, and while still a very young man he entered the Winchester medical college, and he graduated in June, 1848.

He began the practice of his profession in Pennsylvania, and remained eight years in that state. He then returned to Virginia and commenced practice in Romney. This was in 1856, and he brought with him a recommendation from Dr. H. H. McGuire of Winchester. He was soon in possession of a large practice and retained it till the end of his life, a period of more than twenty years. From the founding of the institution for the deaf and blind in Romney until his death, Dr. Lupton was its physician, with the exception of a brief interval. He was a regent of the institution, and for a brief period was its principal. In the latter part of his life he suffered from heart trouble, and knew that his end was not far off; yet, while in the grasp of death, he never neglected a patient, never let others suffer when he could help them; he would cheerfully answer calls day and night, in rain or sunshine, forgetful of his own suffering while trying to relieve the suffering of others; and at last he fell dead while in the act of reaching to a shelf for a bottle of medicine for a patient who had called at his office. Dr. Lupton was buried in Indian Mound cemetery, but his grave is unmarked, and the stranger who seeks it is liable to search in vain. Yet he was one who was not dependent upon sculptured marble as a guardian of his fame. He had built a more enduring monument. He had secured the respect, the confidence and the love of the people among whom he labored. Man's most everlasting monuments are not erected in the cities of the dead, but in the hearts of the living.

J. M. Snyder, M. D., was born at Clear Spring, Missouri, May 23, 1818, and was a son of Jacob and Margaret Snyder, of German origin. He was married September 22, 1841, to Miss Savinia Rizer, a native of Maryland. Their children were Anna M., Kate L., Robert D., Bettie S. and John. Mrs. Snyder having died, Dr. Snyder, on September 2, 1S73, was married to Miss Virginia Boyd Kidd, daughter of James and Hester Kidd, in the Presbyterian church at Romney, by Rev. George W. Finley. The death of Dr. Snyder occurred October 19, 1877. He began the study of medicine when he was twenty-one years of age, and graduated from the university of Maryland. He then entered the office of the distinguished Dr. Samuel Smith, at Cumberland, Maryland, and read an extensive course of medicine. From the office of Dr. Smith he went to Romney and practiced medicine with Dr. McClintock, whom he subsequently bought out, practice, house and all. Dr. Snyder enjoyed the reputation of being an excellent surgeon.

Edward K. Wilson, M. D., son of James M. and Annie E. Wilson, nee Robinson, was born at Darkeville, Berkeley county, West Virginia. He belongs to a very old family in Virginia. His paternal grandfather, Samuel K. Wilson, was born May 19, 1788, in Virginia, and was the eldest son of William Wilson. Samuel Wilson was a merchant at Gerardsville, and his son, the father of the subject of this sketch, was a farmer and afterwards a druggist. He is now a resident of Mineral county. Dr. Wilson was educated at North Mountain institute, in Berkeley county, taking the degree of A. M. in 1873. He then studied medicine under Dr. Samuel D. Marshall of Philadelphia, and afterwards graduated at Jefferson medical college, that city, 1877. He spent six years in Moorefield in the practice of his profession, then went to Kansas City, Missouri, where he lived several years, returning thence to Romney, where he has since been engaged in practice.

A complete list of the physicians who have made their homes in Hampshire county from the earliest times till the present cannot now be made out. The few names herein given have been gathered from various sources. The old court records contain the names of a few, but give no information concerning their births, deaths or family history. As far back as 1788 Dr. Unger was spoken of as "a reputable surgeon," in connection with a salaried position as surgeon of the Hampshire militia. Dr. Dyer was one of the early physicians. Dr. McDonald and Dr. Temple spent many years in the county, and both were reputed to be excellent doctors; but like many others, few facts concerning them can now be ascertained. Dr. Washington Williams lived in Romney in 1831. He was a brother of Dr. M. Williams of Moorefield. Dr. McClintock was one of the leading physicians of the county prior to 1842, He left Hampshire that year. Dr. Pratt was here about the same time. Dr. Kendall is well remembered by many people of the county. He died a few years ago at Pleasant Dale, but had not been in active practice for several years prior to his death. Dr. Townsend Clayton died at Spring field about thirty years ago. Dr. John W. Moore was also a resident of Springfield, as was Dr. Reuben Moore. Dr. Lemuel Moore practiced at Frankfort, now in Mineral county. Dr. Trask was a successful physician residing in Romney, but he subsequently went to Mineral county. Dr. John Taylor died in Romney about ten years ago. Dr. A. B. Hayden was for a. longtime a successful physician of Hampshire. He was in the county as early as 1838, and in 1874 removed from North river to the state of Texas. Dr. Lyons, a native of New York, was at Pleasant Dale a few years, and moved away. Dr. John Monroe, a great uncle of Colonel Alexander Monroe, lived on North river about the beginning of the present century. He removed to Capon and died there. Pie was a Baptist preacher as well as doctor, Dr. F. P. Canfield's name is found as one of the successful physicians of Hampshire. It is said that there were two Dr. Snyders in Hampshire, one dying half a century ago.

Return to the History of Hampshire County WV Index