MINERAL COUNTY MEDICAL HISTORY
(FROM J C SANDERS PAPERS)
Medical Science has advanced more than any other,
when we consider that within the past decade, seven years have been
added human life.
All the serums discovered for diphtheria, tetanus, colds, typhoid fever, etc., the X-ray , radium and others have given to the public and not commercialized as in other fields of discovery.
Mineral County has advanced with the nation. When Fairfax was locating his estates, Washington surveying routes to the west and Jack Ashby holding the "fort" at Frankfort, this section was once a part of Orange County, VA and afterwards part of Frederick Co.,m thence a part of Hampshire Co, now Mineral county, WV., has it's share of "Yarb Doctors".
There is in possession of Mr. D G Martin of Antioch, this county, the original bill for "blue Mass" made to George Washington to be taken by the men working on the road being built over the Alleghenies from Romney to Morgantown, this section known as the Morgantown Road.
The Statement reads: "Being out in the wilds without access to medical treatment, it seems prudent to take with them some medicine."
The Medical service of the section of Hampshire county, now Mineral County according to information handed down from generation to generation was given by three medicine men, now referred to as "Herb Doctors": Dr. Green, Dr. Lemon, and Dr. Leatherman.
The Eastern section now comprising Mineral County was served by Doctors Leatherman and Lemon.
DR. NICHOLAS LEATHERMAN
A "Thomsonian Doctor" lived in the mountain section east of what is now Purgittsville and gave medical service to all that section east of Patterson Creek.
DR. JAMES A LEMON
Was a graduate of a medical school then at Winchester, VA. He lived just west of Greenland and gave medical service to the people living in upper Patterson Creek and New Creek sections.
Lived in that section of the county and gave medical service to the territory now comprising Elk District.
Up until 1897, no State Examination was required by West Virginia. All one had to do to practice medicine in Mineral County was to register with the County Clerk and hang out his shingle.
In the year 1935 to be able to practice medicine anywhere one has to have two years Pre-Med College work, four years in Medical College, two years as Interne in approved hospital. Its longest and most expensive profession to be followed, but when an interne has completed his course, his knowledge and experience is aptly compared to that of a practictioner who has ten years to his credit.
West Virginia became a state on June 20, 1863. At that time it was sparsely peopled and its great resources undeveloped - but great and encouraging developments have since been made.
DR. ROBERT WILSON
Of Burlington, is the earliest mentioned in the profession of Medicine, being in this country in 1840. Not much can be learned of his Medical Education. A younger brother
JOHN S WILSON read medicine under him and at the formers death took over the practice and lived at Burlington as early as 1847, dying in 1904, aged 83 years.
DR. M F WRIGHT
Was the most widely known physician in this section sixty years ago. He came from his home in VA in 1851. Went to Moorefield, Hardy Co, and read medicine under DR. GUS WILLIAMS of that town. In 1852, Dr. Wright entered Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, the oldest in the United States. He returned to this County and was located in Ridgeville from 1856 to 1861. Then he united with Co F, Seventh VA Troops and served as a surgeon the four years of the Civil War. At its close, he returned to Burlington, lived there and enjoyed a large practice also the confidence of the people for many miles. He died in 1890 at age 69 years.
DR. ARNOLD GERSTELL
Was the oldest practicing physician, also he was a
German - finely educated and thoroughly equipped for the one or more
physicians in the Gerstell family since the 14th century (Cathedral
Records, Brunswick, Germany). Dr. Gerstell was born in 1815,
graduated from Gottingen University, with M D Degree in 1838. He then
went to Strasburg and Homburg, having private lessons under surgeons
in both cities. He came to America in 1842, stopping at Cumberland MD
for several years. From there he went to Piedmont, Mineral County and
was a surgeon for the B&O, that was then under construction. He
removed to Keyser, then New Creek in 1870 where he practiced until he
retired in 1885. Dr. Gerstell was at one time President of the
Allegheny Co MD Medical Society. He was a member of the American
Medical Society and in 1884 was President of the WV Stated Medical Society.
At Piedmont in the 60's can be found the names of DR. WILLIAM SHAW, DR. H TROXWELL, DR. E A RADOR, DR. A COIMELLY and DR. H BELL.
DR. THOMAS HILLERY WEST
Came to Keyser in 1869, a young man who had been surgeon in the Confederate Army. He attended lectures at the University of PA. Dr. West was the oldest practicing physician in Keyser. He and Fred Huffman also had a drug store, located on Water Street in 1869 or 1870, known as the West and Huffman Drug Store. Dr. West having his office on the second floor. Many young physicians "Read Medicine" in his office. Dr. West's wide experience and ability made him a man of wisdom and respect. He died in 1912 leaving a large practice and many friends.
The early seventies brought DOCTORS RICHARD GERSTELL, ROBERT GERSTELL, ROBERT BOYD, MILLER from Pittsburgh, CLARK, JAMES STOVER and E H PARSONS.
DR. EDGAR H PARSONS, of Piedmont, was always the "old grand man" of Medicine in this section. He started a young man in his profession and lived a long and useful life. Being especially good prescribing for Babies, he was called near and far, and many an adult today owes his life to the superior knowledge of Dr. Parsons. He was voted a life membership in the Grant, Hampshire, Hardy and Mineral Medicine Society in 1918. Dr. Parsons died about 1922.
DR. W A SHUEY and DR. MINSHALL were both in Piedmont in the late 70's. Both were medical advisors for the B&O and Western MD RR AND enjoyed the respect and confidence of that community.
DR. ROBERT and DR. RICHARD GERSTELL, together, graduated from the University of MD, Baltimore in 1875 and had an active practice in Keyser. When the mines, at Elk Garden were opened, Dr. Gerstell (Richard) left for that place, where he had charge of all mine work. In 1895, he moved to his farm in Mineral County, but had an office in Cumberland, MD. In 1892, he moved to Century, WV. Dr. Richard Gerstell retired from active medical work about 1910. He died in 1933.
Dr. Robert Gerstell was a Mine Doctor at Elk Garden, for a number of years. He later moved to Keyser, having an office on Center Street, between Main and Davis. Later he retired to his farm at Gerstell where he died. Dr. Robert Gerstell was first President of the G H H & M Medical Society.
FREDERICK S GERSTELL
Was the oldest son of Dr. Robert Gerstell. He graduated from Potomac Academy, Romney and from the Potomac MD Medical College in 1902. For several years, he too had the mine practice at Elk Garden. Later he moved to his father's farm doing medical work in that vicinity. He died in Grant Co in 1934, being the last Doctor in the Gerstell family of the present generation.
CHARLES S HOFFMAN
Started his practice of medicine in Keyser in 1877. He was no stranger to the County, having been bought by his parents from Harrisonburg, WV in the fall of 1865. He was educated in the Public School until 15 years old. After that age, he worked in the West & Hufffman's Drug store for two years. In 1873 & 1874, he attended Medical College at Louisville, KY. Returning to his home, he sent to work in Hubert Moss Drug Store, where he acquired quite a number of patients and later with his brother Richard started Hoffman Bros. Drug Store. In 1876 and 1977, he went of Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, graduation from there at the head of his class. He was located for three months in Philadelphia, but ill health sent him to the wide open spaces, so he came to Keyser, where he remained until his death. Dr. Hoffman joined the WV Medical Society in 1894. Was elected President of that body in 1899. His presidential address at Morgantown, stressed the need of a State Tuberculosis Hospital. A committee was immediately formed to wait upon the Legislature and the Hospital at Hopemont is the active result. Dr. Hoffman was elected to represent the State Medical Society at the American Medical Assn. in 1910. He became a fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1913, and served on Board of Censors for same until his death. Was Charter Member of the G H H& M Medical Society. A member of the State Executive Committee and Chairman of Local Advisory committee during WW. Dr. Hoffman was surgeon for the B&O RR from 4-25-1880, also surgeon for the W MD RR. he was regarded the pioneer of surgery in the State of WV. He wrote several articles for publication "Ovariectomy of Cystic Sareoma in Child of 33 months". (WV transactions 1897). Reported Double Dislocations of Hips and Special Plan of reduction, being only surgeon in that world, at that time, to have two cases of this injury. (Transactions American Journal of Surgery), Etc.
The first appendiceal operation of this section of WV and MD was performed by Dr. Hoffman on 10 Nov 1895. The patient being Mr. J J Johnson, now living on James St, Keyser. Mr. Johnson's description of same follows:
"All fall I'd had trouble with my stomach. Dr. gave me some medicine that localized the pain in my right side. It was so bad he was going to operate. I was willing for anything to give me relief. The doctor selected the room in my home he was going to use and said not to sweep it or raise any dust in it for three days before the operation. Before the operation, damp sterile sheets were hung around the room. A kitchen table was prepared but being too short another one that I had made out of store boxes to set flowers on was pushed up. Dr. W W Wylie of Cumberland, hearing about the appendicitis case, said he would like to be present as he had never seen or heard of such an operation in Cumberland. He came upon the Western and MD train at 8A and returned at 11A. He assisted Dr. Hoffman. The instruments and dressings used were sterilized in pans on the kitchen stove. DR. J W Hall, druggist of Keyser, gave the anesthetic. I did fine afterwards. The only thing Dr. Hoffman was so afraid something would happen that I was allowed every hour a teaspoonful of clear broth only for two weeks after the operation. I fell off 73 pounds. Before I reported back for work I went with Dr. Hoffman to a farm house on the Knobly Road where there was a small boy he had operated on shortly after mine. "Dr. Hoffman also operated on Bernard Brydon at his home, using the dining room table. Other cases under same conditions were James and Spates Brady of Mineral County, and Col Thomas B Gould and Mrs. Fairfax Landstreet of Tucker Co.
Having so many calls for operations and meeting with general success, Dr. Hoffman began to think of a hospital of his own. When it became known, in Keyser, that the site had been selected, the owners of adjoining property advertised their land for sale. Few had any idea what a hospital, or living next to one would be like. All things disagreeable at least.
DR Z T KALBAUGH of Piedmont became associated with Dr. Hoffman toward the completion of the building which was opened to the public on Dec 3, 1903.
Miss Jennie Morrison, Windsor Canada, was the first Superintendent. Misses Katherine Grove and (?Martha) Middleton graduate nurses and Miss Elizabeth Meeks, student were the staff. The hospital continued to grow from the very first and last became a necessity in the community. During Dr. Hoffman's lifetime, over some seven thousand operations were performed, most of them by him, and many medical cases treated. Dr. Hoffman was active to the last minute of his life. Known and loved by all, no man in Keyser was ever greater missed when he died suddenly on Feb 11, 1926.
From Sept 1, 1926 to Sept 1, 1927, DR. GEORGE A MCQUEEN of Charleston, WV leased the Hoffman Hospital. Dr. McQueen was a very skillful surgeon and a cultured gentleman of pleasing personality. He added many modern improvements to the building. He died in Charleston in Nov. 1927.
DR. ZADOCK TROXELL KALBAUGH was born in 1869 and died on Jan 11, 1935. Practiced in Mineral County for more than 30 years. Was connected with Dr. Hoffman in operation of the Hoffman Hospital. Graduated from the New York University College in 1891. Became a member of the State Medical Society in 1904. A member of the American Medical Society and a fellow in American College of Surgeons. Served as a Major of a Medical Corps, WV State Militia in the Cuban War, and helped organize a Medical Corps at the beginning of the World War (From WV State Medical Journal, Feb 1935).
DR. E B CLAYBROOKE
Was located in Keyser for three years. Coming here in 1899 as assistant to Dr. C S Huffman, He graduated from the Medical College of VA. Dr. Claybrooke later located in Cumberland here and was a successful practitioner until his death in 1930.
DR. ORLANDO S REYNOLDS graduated from Keyser High School in 1897, went to the University of PA for his Medical Education. After completing his work there he returned to Keyser to continue his career, but most unfortunately died of Typhoid Fever, July 26, 1907.
DR. FRANK H KEYS, practiced Medicine in Keyser for some years. He was associated with Dr. T H West. A graduate of Balto. College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Keys was an able and popular man. His early death in 1905 was muchly lamented.
DR W H WALCOTT, came to Keyser in 1910. He did not remain here long. In a few years, left in 1918 for his home in Connecticut.
DR J G ABBOTT, a graduate from the Balto. Medical College in 1894 and came as assistant to Dr. Z T Kalbaugh in Piedmont in 1898, where he remained until his death in 1931. He joined the G H H & M Medical Society in 1906. He was a member of the AMA.
DR L L EDGELL, died Jan 18, 1915. He was bon in 1859. Graduate of Starling Medical College, Columbus Ohio. He started practice in Ritchie Co, WV and from there moved to Elk Garden. About 1897, he moved to Keyser, where he resided and practiced his profession until his untimely death. From G H H & M Counties Medical Society Minutes.
DR W HOLMES YEAKLEY, a native of Staunton, VA came here from Davis, WV shortly after Dr. Edgell. They formed a partnership and practiced together until his tragic death in Aug 1914. Dr. Yeakly was drowned.
DR. PERCEIVAL LANTZ of Alaska, now Fort Ashby, died in 1918. He had been in Mineral County for a long time. Was a handsome, affable gentleman, properly qualified to pursue his profession. He was the first secretary of the H H & M Medical Society in which organization he was always active and held several offices.
DR. J OLIVER LANTZ lived at Hartmonsville for a long time. He graduated from Kentucky School of Medicine in 1898. He was a kindly, educated gentleman. Because a Medical Society in 1905, and died in 1931.
DR A A SCHERR was a graduate of MD College of Physicians and surgeons, Baltimore in 1903. He came to Keyser in 1920 from Eglon, WV. He was very successful practitioner and belonged to the local and state Medical Society, holding office in the former. He died in 1932.
DR. HARRY F COFFMAN received his Medical Education from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Baltimore graduating in 1913. For a number of years he was the B&O Company doctor of Keyser. Some time later he took up practice in a private location in Keyser. He was a member and held office in the G H H & M Medical Societies. Also a member of the AMA. Dr. Coffman was ill for a year before his death in 1934.
DR. WALTER M BABB came to Keyser from Pittsburgh PA in 1908. He was a resident physician in the Alleghany Hospital in that City. Dr. Babb graduated in 1893 from University of PA Medical College. He had practiced in Elk Garden for a short while before leaving for Pittsburgh. He was president of the G H H & M Medical Society in 1917 and was also secretary and treasurer of same for a number of years. Dr. Babb also was on the County Health Board of Mineral and was President of the Public Health Council State of WV in 1925. He was a member of the American Medical Association. Dr Babb died very suddenly on March 25, 1934, leaving many grief-stricken friends.
DR. M FRANK WRIGHT, now practicing at Burlington, graduated in April 1890 from the Medical College of University of MD. He is considered on one of the best diagnosticians in this section. Dr. Wright issued a call in 1905, to the doctor in Hampshire, Hardy and Mineral Counties for the organization of the local Medical Society, and has served the same in every capacity. He also served on the Medical Advisory Board during the World War. He is a member of the American Medical Assn.
DR FRANK L BAKER
Burlington, graduated from College of Physician and Surgeons, Baltimore in 1889. Began practicing the same year in Burlington and continued until 1928 when afflicted with a stroke of paralysis. He has been active in the G H H & M Medical Society. Also a member of the AMA.
DR R W PATTERSON, Fort Ashby, graduated from the University of MD in 1897. He came from Hurricane, WV to Mineral in the fall of 1931. He joined the G H H & M Medical Society in 1932.
DR. M RAY BELL, graduated from the University of MD in 1903. He has practiced medicine in Keyser longer than any physician here at present and has had wide experiences.
DR M H MAXWELL, graduated from George Washington Medical School in 1908. He came here from Thomas, WV and was associated with Dr. C S Hoffman of Keyser for a few years. Dr. Maxwell specializes in Obstetrics and has taken several courses in this line at the Lying In Hospital in New York City. He joined the G H H & M Medical Society in 1912, and has held several offices. Is also a member of the AMA.
DR. ERNEST A COURRIER, came to Keyser in the fall of 1934. He graduated from the Chicago Hospital College of Medicine now the Chicago Medical College in 1917, and joined the GH H & M Medical Society in 1934.
DR T C GIFFIN, graduated from the University of MD, Baltimore MD in 1923. For several years he was interne at Mercy Hospital having charge of one of the departments there. He came to Keyser in 1925. He jointed the G H H & M Medical Society the same year. Has held several offices in the same.
DR J E SUTER is a native of Piedmont. A graduate of the MD Medical College in 1893. Dr. Suter has now a drug store in Piedmont.
DR T L WILSON, graduated from the MD Medical College in 1909. He is a member of the G H H & M Medical Society and has held several offices in same. He is also a member of the AMA and resided in Piedmont for several years but moved to Pittsburgh.
DR. J NORMAN REEVES, received his BS degree from Wake Forest College, Wake Forest NC in 1928. Graduated in Medicine from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia in 1930. Was a resident physician at Atlantic City Hospital, Atlantic City NJ and Chief Beach Surgeon Atlantic City Beach Patrol in 1931. Three months general practice in Cape May, NJ. There months past graduate studies in ophthalmology at Mills Eye Hospital and Graduate Hospital and University PA. Six months post graduate studies at Oto-rhinolarynogology University, PA. Post Graduate School 1934 - 1935. Two years general practice in Piedmont, WV. Is a member of the G H H & M Medical Society and of the AMA.
DR P E BERRY, JR of Piedmont is president of the G H H & M Medical Society. He is a graduate of MD University School of Medicine in 1930 and came to this County in 1932. He specializes in Otology, Laryngoloty and Rhinology.
DR. PAUL WILSON, of Piedmont is Secy and Treas of the G H H & M Medical Society and a graduate of the University of MD school of medicine in 1925. he is a specialist in Urology and member of the State Society and the AMA
DR S W UMSTOT, graduated from the MD Medical College in 1907. He practiced in Keyser, and the county for a number of years.
DR D J LONG of Piedmont, came there to be associated with Dr. Z T Kalbaugh. he was quite active and popular. Was a charter member of the G H H & H Medical Society. he died in an automobile accident in 1917.
DR. JAMES H WOLVERTON is the Health Officer for Mineral County since 1923. He joined the G H H & M County Medical Society in 1923. Dr Wolverton holds an AB from Hampden Sidney College in 1903. Graduated in 1909 from the Medical Dept of the University of Louisville. From 1910 to 1917 he was located in El Paso, TX. Since 1917, has been located in Piedmont. Beside the local Medical Society, Dr. Wolverton belongs to the state society and the AMA.
DR. P S KEIM practiced in Elk Garden about ten years. He graduated form the University of PA in 1896. Belonged to teh G H H & H Medical Society and the AMA. He moved to Cumberland MD in 1917.
DR I B JOHNSON and DR KENNEDY were also Elk Garden doctors about 1915.
DR C L COPELAND was in Elk Garden about 1915 for a short while.
DR E H PARSON, Piedmont, for a short while. Later he moved to Hagerstown MD. Dr Campbell graduated in 1906 from University of MD. He is a member of the AMA.
DR EMERSON BOYNTON was in Elk Garden in about 1910. He graduated from the College of Physicians & Surgeous, Baltimore in 1897. He moved to Lancaster PA and is not in active practice.
DR H K OWENS, practiced in Keyser for several years having an office on Center St. He left here to locate in Elkins. Dr. Owens is a graduate of MD University of Balt in 1895, and a member of the AMA.
DR FRANK L CLYMER graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeous in 1886, was located in Elk Garden for several years.
DR. HUGH STRACHAN, University of MD in 1903, at Blaine.
DR HOLDRIDGE L HENRY, Baltimore University School of Medicine in 1889, at Elk Garden.
The names of DOCTORS GRIUM and BOYD are found but no information.
DR W A FLICK graduated in 1917 from Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta GA. He served in the Interne Lying in Hospital, New York City, later a member of the staff Resident surgeon Mt Sinai Hospital NY. Resident White Plains Hospital New York. Field Supervisor of 5th District US Public Health Service - including NC, SC, GA, FLA, TENN. Surgeon at US Veteran Hospital, Atlanta GA. Surgeon US Veteran Hospital Chicago, Washington.
DR THOMAS BESS received his medical diploma from the College of Physicians and Surgeous in 1914. He served as interne in Mercy Hospital for two years. Instructor in Surgery at same, for one year, and in charge of surgical division, Medical Course at Rockefeller Institution in New York. Then he joined the army. After his discharge he located at Fort Madison, Iowa, where he was at the head of all the industrial works and Iowa State Prison. He was for six a member of House Of Delegates, Iowa State Medical Society. For two years, he was chief of staff at Sacred Heart Hospital. He is a surgeon. A member of the G H H & M Medical Society and also the AMA.
DR. ROBERT BESS is an eye, ear and throat specialist, graduated from Richmond Medical College in 1925. A member of the G H H & M Medical Society. On Sept 1, 1927, Dr. Thomas Bess and Dr. Robert Bess purchased the Hoffman Hospital and Nurses Home from the owners. The patronage and standing of the Institution has increased and raised each year. In 1932, a fine new brick building was erected on South Mineral Street to take the place of the old Hoffman Hospital on Fort Avenue. This new building is now known as Potomac Valley Hospital. It is modern in every respect. This hospital can accommodate sixty patients. There they receive every care and skillful treatment that can not be improved anywhere else. Dr. Robert Bess studied Pre-medical work at University of Missouri, University of WV. In 1920 entered Medical College of Virginia at Richmond, and graduated from this Institution in 1924. Interned one year with Hospital Division of Medical College of VA. Practiced one year in Iowa. Spent ten months in Chicago studying eye, ear, nose and throat work. In 1927, came to Mineral County and was associated with the late Dr. Z T Kalbaugh of Piedmont, WV. A member of the local Medical Society and the State Society of WV, the American Medical Assn. and the Junior College of the American College of Surgeons.