Typed by Frank Manning.
OLD PHYSICIANS OF WHEELING.
The first permanently settled physician in Wheeling was Gideon C. Forsythe, in 1803. He was alone in the practice here until 1806, when Drs. R. H. Potter, Thomas Toner and James Ralff studied medicine under him, the first named of whom afterwards became his partner, but only for a short time as he soon left. Dr. Potter returned, however, in 1808, and opened an office and practiced here for several years: Dr. Forsythe continued his practice here until after the close of the War of 1812, when he removed to below New Orleans, and there engaged in the manufacture of rum. He opened an apothecary shop, dispensing drugs and medicines. The following incident connected with the professional life of the gentleman is taken from the Wheeling Repository, a newspaper published in Wheeling, under date of December 31, 1807:
On Tuesday, the 22d inst., a box was found on the Virginia shore of the Ohio River, a short distance below town. On opening the box it was found to contain the remains of a human body so disfigured as to make it difficult to know whether it was black or white. It was presumed to be some murdered person committed to the current to prevent detection. The coroner was about to hold an inquest and applied to Dr. Forsythe to examine the body. Dr. Forsythe intimated that an inquest was unnecessary. Upon examination of some of the grave clothes, it proved to be the body of a black woman lately belonging to the subscriber, who died on the 10th ints and was decently buried. It was also ascertained that the body was taken from the grave, sawn and hacked to pieces by the midnight butchers of Dr. Forsythe's shop and that they afterward placed it in a most indecent manner in a box, and with great inhumanity put it into the river, to be cast ashore and be eaten by dogs, etc. It is hardly credible that any one would be guilty of such a brutal and infamous transaction. If the remains of deceased persons are to be disturbed and mangled in this way by the savages of the "doctor's shop," it is fair to presume that cases of death will be heard of with satisfaction and desired by them, so that our graves will require a guard to prevent their bodies being taken up. This is published to the world to awaken public indignation against such inhuman and abominable proceedings.
Dr. Toner, after practicing four or five years, abandoned his profession and became associated with his brother-in-law in editing and publishing the Northwestern Virginia Gazette.
Dr. Ralff, after finishing his studies with Dr. Forsythe was appointed surgeon of one of the Virginia regiments, and accompanied his regiment, when it was ordered to Richmond, in 1814, and never returned.
Dr. Martin Luther Todd, who was one of the successors of Dr. Forsythe, was a native of the state of New York. He studied under his brother, Dr. John Todd, and finished his medical course in 1808. He located in Wheeling in 1814. Shortly after coming to Wheeling, he was appointed surgeon to the One Hundred and Fortieth Regiment of state troops, then being raised in the Panhandle counties of the state. He retained his commission until the close of the war. After peace was restored, he resumed his medical practice and in a few years became one of the leading physicians of the town. He was popular, affable and social in his manners and thereby secured a large and lucrative practice. He married a lady, ? beautiful and accomplished, ? daughter of Andrew Woods, one of the early settlers of this place. After gaining a competency Dr. Todd retired from practice to a beautiful country residence above the present city of Bellaire. When advanced in years he lost his wife, who had been his companion for over fifty years. He died on the h of March. 1866, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.
Joshua Morton, M. D., was born in Massachusetts, whence be came to Wheeling in 1816, and continued in active practice until the early part of 1839, when his death occurred. Soon after settling in Wheeling, he formed a partnership with Dr. William Scott, which continued for one year, when it was dissolved by Dr. Scott removing from the place.
James W. Clemens, M. D., was a native of Washington county, Pennsylvania. He graduated at Washington College in the year 1816, after which he removed to Wheeling. Here he commenced the study of medicine and at the same time taught school. He began practice in 1819. In1822 he formed a partnership with J. W. Ray, a druggist, which proved a pecuniary success, but by the great fire of 1827 both lost everything and had to commence life anew. He attended medical lectures at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in the winter of 1823-24. He was associated in partnership successively with Drs. William Crett, Baltzell, Thomas Townsend, John Frisswell and R. H. Cummins. He was ambitious in his profession, alive to keeping up with the march of improvement and discoveries in new remedies, being a constant reader of medical periodicals, both foreign and domestic. He had a chemical laboratory of his own in which he made many experiments. He was fond of mechanics and had a private shop for the construction of splints, thermometers, barometers and surgical instruments, besides other apparatus for scientific purposes. He also kept a private dissecting room in his house on Main street for the use of himself and. students. He was a ready writer and fluent speaker, and delivered many public addresses. He died November 21, 1846, in the fifty-second year of his age.
Dr. John Eoff, born in Jefferson county, Virginia, in 1788, practiced medicine for a time in Charleston, Kanawha county, and moved to Wheeling about the year 1817. He had married Helen L. Quarrier, of Richmond, Virginia, by whom he had four sons and six daughters. His eldest son, John Q. Eoff, studied medicine and practiced several years. Dr. Eoff and family being wealthy, after nine or ten years he retired from practice. He died January 28, 1859, in his seventy-first year.
Dr. John Wilson began practice in 1812, and continued until his death, in 1829. He was a pupil of the celebrated Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia. His place of residence was six miles above Wheeling. He had a great reputation as a surgeon and was a bold and successful operator, being sent for from far and near. One leg being shorter than the other and partly flexed, he devised a saddle with an upright horn to enable him to ride on horseback.
Dr. Waterman, another of the early physicians of Wheeling, after practicing here about one year removed to Ohio.
Dr. Thomas Townsend was born near Uniontown, Fayette county, Pennsylvania, about the year 1787. He came to Wheeling from Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and commenced the practice of medicine in 1828. He undertook the study of medicine when about thirty-five or thirty-six years of age. He was essentially a self made man. He was fond of natural science and was a devoted student. He gathered a complete herbarium of the botany of this region; having been frequently seen climbing around our hills and putting his specimens into his hat for preservation, a report was originated that he was of unsound mind, for said they, "We saw him wandering over the hills, pulling up weeds and putting their in his hat." He also studied the geology and mineralogy of our hills, and collected a very clever cabinet, this also serving in the opinion of the ignorant to corroborate the idea of his being insane, "For," said they, "we saw him picking up stones and bringing them home." In his studies he manifested a childlike simplicity of manner and a candor which made him both attractive and engaging. He was a member of the Society of Friends and sustained the reputation of that sect for honesty, sincerity and charity. He died of pneumonia on the 29th day of March, 1851, at the age of about sixty-four years.
From the year 1820 to the year 1828 Drs. Emery, John Thompson, Hunter, Downey and I. H. Irwin practiced in Wheeling for short periods; of their histories, however, but little is known.
Dr. James Tanner was of Irish parentage, and was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1796. He settled in Wheeling about the year 1820, and shortly after married Deborah Graham, by whom he had a son and daughter. The son died when about fourteen years of age and the daughter married Hon. A. I. Boreman, of Parkersburg, and is still living. Dr. Tanner was regarded as a successful practitioner, passionate, warm hearted and devoted to his patients and friends. He was also public spirited, participating largely in the affairs of the city government, being at the time of his death, (which. occurred December 26, 1858) mayor of the city. He died at the age of sixty-two. Dr. Tanner probably did more hard, laborious practice, rendering the citizens of Wheeling more charitable and unrequited service, in the thirty-eight years of his practice than any other practitioner, and his death was deeply regretted by the community.
Dr. D. B. Dorsey came to Wheeling in 1834. He was a minister of the M. E. church and also practiced medicine. From Wheeling he went to Steubenville, Ohio.
Dr. Jonathan Zane was born in Wheeling, August 25, 1802. He studied medicine under Dr. Rhodes, of Zanesville, Ohio, and began the practice of it in Wheeling in the fall of 1826. His health becoming impaired, he emigrated to Natchitoches, Louisiana, where he died in 1826.
Dr. S. P. Hullihen was born in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, on the 10th day of December, 1810, and died in Wheeling. March 27, 1857, of typhoid-pneumooia, aged forty-six years, three months and seventeen days. He was of Irish extraction, his father and ancestry being plain Pennsylvania farmers. In his ninth year he met with a severe accident by which both feet were so seriously burned that he was to some extent crippled for life. At an early age he manifested a love for surgery and medicine, and his vigorous pursuit of these studies was shown by his success in after life. In 1832 he commenced practice, combining dentistry with general surgery at Canton, Stark county, Ohio. In 1835 he married and removed to Wheeling. He never practiced general medicine. His great success and usefulness appeared in surgical operations. In 1845 he established a private infirmary and several years later he succeeded in establishing the "Wheeling Hospital," in the northern part of the city. This was a favorite project of Dr. Hullihen. Having concerted measures with Bishop Whelan, and having secured the aid of the Sisters of the Catholic church, a house was purchased by the Bishop and a charter obtained March 12, 1850, under the name of the "Wheeling Hospital." Since then it has been largely improved and extended to its present capacity by the contributions of benevolent persons, liberal expenditures of Bishop Whelan and the gentle charity of the Sisters.
Dr. Hullihen was a man of true genius and especially gifted in reference, to original conceptions whereby to overcome difficulties. He possessed the discriminating mind, the quick eye and the cunning hand that, act in harmony to produce correct decisions when he assumed the task of a, bold and difficult operation. Dr. John Frissell acted with Dr. Hullihen in the surgical department from 1840 to the time of Dr. Hullihen's death. His death caused profound sorrow throughout the city. At a public meeting of the citizens at the Court House it was resolved to erect a suitable monument to his memory. The monument has long since been erected, and with the following inscription it marks his resting place in Mount Wood cemetery:
"Erected by the citizens of Wheeling to the memory of one who had so lived among them, that they mourned his death as a public calamity."
Dr. J. H. Kieffer was born in western Pennsylvania. In early manhood he was a Lutheran preacher. He came to Wheeling in 1836 and turned his attention to practice here, chiefly among his German friends. In 1845 he entered into partnership with Dr. Victor E. Anler, which continued but a few months, when it was dissolved by Dr. Anler's leaving the city. Dr. Kieffer died in 1848, highly esteemed among his countrymen.
Dr. Robert Wilson practiced here but a short period and removed to Pittsburg.
Dr. Samuel W. McElhenny was born in Lewisburg,. Greenbrier county, Virginia, December 25, 1815. He obtained his degree from the University in Philadelphia in 1838. He began his practice at Covington, Alleghany county, Virginia, but as it was chiefly a country practice the exposure and fatigue proved too great for him. He removed to Canton, Mississippi in 1842, hoping to regain his failing health and to recover his waning strength, but being disappointed in this he came to Wheeling in the fall of 1843. Here he married the only daughter of Hon. Zachariah Jacob. He continued practice until his death, which occurred April 9, 1853, in his thirty-eighth year. He was a man highly esteemed, a Christian gentleman of affable, engaging manners and professional honor. His medical acquirements were fully up to the time; his feeble health, however, unfitted, him for the exposure of active practice.
Dr. Joseph Thoburn was born early in the year 1825 in County Antrim, Ireland. In the fall of the same year his father moved to Canada and the next year settled on a farm in Belmont county, Ohio, near St. Clairsville. His advantages for education were here limited, being only such as might be acquired in the country log school-houses, but his desire for books and learning was early developed and his aptitude and progress in study in the English branches fitted him at an early age to embark in the business of teaching school to acquire the means of prosecuting more advanced and expensive studies. After teaching for several years he entered the office of Dr. Ephraim Gaston, of Morristown, Ohio, as a medical student and subsequently attended medical lectures at Starling Medical College, Columbus, Ohio. In 1848 he located at Brownsville, Pennsylvania, where he formed a partnership which was dissolved by his appointment in 1850 as an assistant to Dr. Aul, of the Ohio Lunatic Asylum; being displaced by political influence in 1853, he then. moved to Wheeling and continued his practice until May, 1861, when he was commissioned as surgeon of the First Virginia Regiment, under Colonel B. F. Kelley, in the three months service. He accompanied his regiment and was in the battle of Philippi and attended Colonel Kelley, who was wounded in that engagement. In August, 1861, on the reorganization of the First Virginia Regiment, he was commissioned colonel, and led his regiment in the numerous battles fought in the valley of Virginia until he was killed in the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, being in his fortieth year. As a soldier he was greatly beloved by his brother officers and men. He was full of kindness and benevolence and of undoubted bravery and patriotism. His body was brought to this city and followed to Mount Wood cemetery by a public procession composed of the city officers, council, medical faculty, military escort and a large concourse of citizens.
Dr. Ernst August Wilhelm Wehrman was born in Hanover, Germany, and educated at the University of Gottingen and immigrated to Wheeling in 1838. His health failing, he left Wheeling and settled near Captina, Ohio, in the beginning of 1845, hoping to recover his health, but died about one year afterward.
Dr. D. J. McGinnis came to Wheeling from Fairmont, West Virginia, in 1868. He was also a minister of the M. E. church. In the fall of 1870 his health failed rapidly and he died December 22, 1870.
Dr. Joseph S. Elder was born in Clarion county, Pennsylvania, June 5, 1843. He came to Wheeling in 1863. He graduated at the Miami Medical College in Cincinnati, Ohio,. in 1871. After practicing in Wheeling about two years he went to Texas in 1874, where he died January 5, 1875, aged thirty-two years.
Dr. Robert H. Cummins was born in Washington, Pennsylvania, in February, 1817. He died in Wheeling April 12, 1873. (See sketch of his life in the transactions of the medical society for 1873.)
Henry J. Wiesel, M. D., was born in Baltimire, April 22, 1840, and died in Wheeling November 4, 1873. (See transactions of medical society as above.)