The History of New York State
Book 13, Part 1

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

CHAPTER XIII
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION

The settlement of white people in the New York region cannot be dated from the year 1609, when Henry Hudson came into it waters; but a few years later traders began to pivot from Manhattan Island. An important trading post was established "up-river"--at Fort Nassau, where Albany eventually grew--and another trading post was in process of development opposite Manhattan, at Bergen in new Jersey, by 1618. It is said that by 1640 the village on Manhattan Island had become so much a cosmopolitan centre that eighteen languages were spoken in it and its environs. Of course there was some demand for medical serve in this Dutch province long before that time, but no community in New Netherland had yet reached such size as to attract a fully qualified physician. The first regular physician to take up residence in New Amsterdam, and to stay, was Johannes La Montagne. His coming was probably due, mainly, to the fact that he was related, by marriage, to the De Forests, through whose influence the Walloons had begun to colonize new Netherland in 1623 or 1624. Dr. La Montagne did not arrive until 1637 but there must of course have been demand for medical services in the province during the previous twenty years or so; and no doubt the ailing were treated. These career practitioners, however, were ship surgeons. They served the temporary purpose in the best way that their elementary knowledge of medicine would suggest, but not one of them seems to have the right to oust the Huguenot physician, La Montagne, from first place in a medical review of New York.

Some good-natured historians are inclined to be more humorously indulgent than critical in writing of all medicine of that period. The regular practitioner and the "quack" are apt to be both brought into one class--the unskilled. What could be expected of Dr. La Montagne, points our one writer #1 at a time "when a remedy recommended by the most famous physician in London was a balsam of bats, and the chief ingredient in a popular concoction was raspings from a human skull unburied." Such a impression of European medicine of three centuries ago was not one whit truer than a historian three centuries hence might gain of the present state of medical science from the fact that in New York City many unlettered, or strangely lettered, medical "quacks" thrive in the practice of ludicrous theories upon the ailing bodies of the gullible. Medical science has advanced wonderfully during the last fifty years, but the seventeenth century was not without its triumphs in medicine and surgery.

Most of the lettered men of the Dutch period in New York were graduates of the University of Leyden; and to Leyden went many of the English medical students of that period. Indeed, of the 137 students who graduated at Leyden during its first fifty years, twenty-one were Englishmen. #2 Most of the Leyden graduates who were in New York during the Dutch period had had the benefit of learning medicine under Silvius, who, with his successors, Ruysch (163801731), and Boerhaave (1668-1738), and some other professors brought the medical school of Leyden university into prominent place. Indeed, Leyden became the "medical teaching capital of Europe of that time." Silvius introduced ward instruction into medical education, and clinical teaching soon became a general practice in the Netherlands.

So, it may be realized that those lettered men who practiced medicine in New Netherland were not to be classed among those whose knowledge of medicine was at best elementary. Indeed, a closer study of practice makes it appear that there was far less difference than is commonly supposed between medical practice of three centuries ago and that of today.

Of course, in the first years of the exploitation of the New York region by the Dutch traders, the settlements were of too transient a type to attract a physician. Some of the larger ships of that period carried a surgeon of an accepted class if not a regular. As a matter of fact ship captains were only too willing to shirt their responsibility for their sailors' health onto the shoulders of any adventurous young man who had even a little knowledge of drugs, and showed even crude skill in opening abscesses. From this class was apt to come the early chirurgeon of early colonies. At all events, more than one practicing chirurgeon of early New York had had little professional experience beyond that of their seagoing days. Maybe, some of the traders of the Dutch settlement were treated by a professional man of this class before the arrival of genuine chirurgeons, or surgeons, but there is no record of a ship's surgeon settling in New Netherland until 1633. Prior to that time, the medical service was not of much help to the sick. At best, it was not much more than first-aid and last-consolation treatment.

Walloons began to settle in 1623 or 1624 and more came in 1626 with Peter Minuit, the first Director-General of New Netherland. The white settlement on Manhattan Island at that time was about 200, and there were times, no doubt, when they needed spiritual help, moral counsel and medical treatment. For this purpose, Minuit had brought in his ship from Holland two zieckentroosters, or visitors or consolers of the sick, Sebastian Janscz Crol and Jan Kuyck. Their education had been more along theological lines than medical for they were expected to conduct church services in the absence of an ordained minister. Apparently, they were of more than menial standing in the province, for upon the recall of Minuit in 1632, Crol was given executive office. He was Acting-Director until the arrival of Van Twiller, Minuit's successor, in 1633.

A higher professional grade, in both ministerial and medical service, was that required of, and usually given by the ordained clergy. They, if graduates of a good university, were usually doctors of almost all the sciences. In addition to being good theologians, they were usually expected to be skilled physicians and were generally learned in the law; able also, in case of need, they could act as schoolmaster. The first ordained minister in New Amsterdam, the Rev. Jonas Michaelius, reached the colony in 1628. Dominie Bogardus, the second clergyman, arrived with Van Twiller in 1633. Later came Adam Rolantsen, the schoolmaster. The latter's duties were almost as many and various; indeed, the schoolmaster, too comes into medical records. It appears that "intellectual attributes" were of "secondary importance in the required qualifications of a New Amsterdam schoolmaster, but the incumbent of that office was expected to supplement the work of the dominie by acting as a worthy consoler of the sick, by promoting religious worship in the capacities of precentor and church-clerk, and by turning the hour-glass, to indicate to the preacher that the time allotted for a sermon had elapsed." #3 No one of these, however, could be considered a physician.

In 1633 also there settled a chirurgeon, Herman Meynderts van den Boogaerdt (Bogart). He had been surgeon of the ship "Eendracht" since 1630, and when in New York waters practiced on Manhattan. He was still in his early twenties, it seems, when appointed surgeon at Fort orange in 1633. Not much is known of his professional record, and it is not recorded that he was a graduate of a school of medicine, though he is generally referred to as "Doctor"; but he soon became one of the leading men of the colony. He was a fearless man, many times risking his life in going among hostile Indian tribes in the interests of province or colony. He ventured once too often, being murdered by Indians in the Mohawk Valley in 1647 or 1648.

The province was not without trained nurses, or caretakers of the sick. They were called in mainly in maternity cases, and, in their useful practice as midwives, were probably equal to the demands upon them. One of these nurses was Trynte Jonas, but there were several others. In nearly every case they were elderly women who had themselves brought up families, and who, in the rearing, had become familiar with home remedies for common ailments. Annetje Jans' mother was one of these caretakers of the sick. A house was built for her on Pearl Street, New York City, in 1635.

Probably the first lettered man to come into the province was Dr. Lubbertus van Dincklagen, who was "skilled in all the sciences." It is not known that he practiced medicine. He comes mostly into political record, his history in this respect beginning in 1634, when he was appointed Schout-Fiscaal (Attorney-General) of New Netherland. His relations with the Governor, Van Twiller, were not harmonious, and he did not keep the office for long, but he came into prominence, in public office, later. His career is reviewed more extensively in the Bench and Bar chapter.

Another ship's surgeon who practiced in New Amsterdam at about the same time as Bogart was William Deeping, of the London ship. "William." he was in chururgical practice in New Amsterdam in 1663, during the stay of his ship in port. Other ship's surgeons, perhaps not so well qualified, took opportunity of gaining additional income in this way. In many cases, probably, the patients of these unlettered doctors suffered more during and after treatment than they had before. With the coming of Dr. Johannes La Montagne, however, medical service in the province reached a safer plane. Settling in Harlem in 1637, he soon became "the only doctor in Manhattan in whom the settlers had any confidence." #4 with the change of governors in 1638, the new executive, Kieft, recognized the standing of Dr. La Montagne by making him his counsellor. In fact, the doctor constituted in himself the whole legislative body of the province, though the governor was the real legislator, having reserved for himself two votes to the council's one vote on all provincial legislation. In later years, the people demanded and secured fairer representation, but throughout his life Dr. La Montagne was among the leading men of New Netherland and of the succeeding English province of New York. To him, in his official capacity, came the authority to end the abuse of surgical practice by unskilled ship's surgeons. The ordinance, which granted Dr. la Montagne the power to issue permits to practice ashore only to those ship's surgeons who seemed to be sufficiently expert in medicine and surgery, was the first legal enactment for the regulation of the practice of medicine in New York. Moreover, he had the authority to decide upon the fitness of barber-surgeons who applied for posts on ships about to sail from New Amsterdam.

In passing, it might be remarked that a that time barbers were commonly looked upon as surgeons. Any skilled barber was likely to be applied to for surgical procedures. This aroused the jealousy of the regular chirurgeons who also performed with the razor; and the agitation in Europe for better regulation of surgery in this connection was reflected in the following ordinance which was passed in New Netherland on February 2, 1652.

On the petition of the chirurgeons of New Amsterdam, that none but they alone be allowed to shave; the Director and Council understanding that shaving doth not appertain exclusively to chirurgery, but is an appendix thereunto; that no man can be prevented operating on himself, nor to do another a friendly act, provided it be through courtesy and not for gain, which is hereby forbidden. It is then further ordered that Ship-barbers shall not be allowed to dress any wounds nor minister any potions on shore, without the previous knowledge and special consent of the petitioners, or at least of Dr. La Montagne.

New Amsterdam possessed several experienced surgeons, at that time; and these apparently derived an important part of their income from barbering operations. An interesting incident is recorded of one of these professional men. Hans Kierstede, of Magdenburg, Saxony, came to New Amsterdam in 1638 with Governor Kieft. In 1642 he married Sara Roelofs, daughter of Anneke Jans. At their wedding festivities, "after the fourth or fifth round of drinking," patroon de Vries thought that the moment was opportune to circulate a subscription paper. Signatures, pledging the willing signers to contribute much more toward the fund for building a stone church in New Amsterdam than a they could well afford, were easily obtained; and although next morning the regrets were common, Governor Kieft forbade the withdrawal of any subscriptions. So it came about that New Amsterdam secured the means with which to erect its much-needed stone church. To Dr. and Mrs. Kierstede were born ten children, and their descendants are now found to be numerously spread over this land. One was General Henry T. Kiersted of Harlem, their great-great-grandson, a druggist, who dispensed the "Kierstede ointment'; at his Broadway drug-store, a generation or so ago, the recipe being on that the original Dr. Hans had left. A surgical partner of Dr. Hans Kierstede, in 1638, was Dr. Gerrit Schutt. Peter van der Linde was also in the province in 1638, and Jan Petersen was in practice, at the South River (Delaware) as a surgeon in 1638. Another surgeon, Abraham Staats, arrived in Rensselaerswyck in 1642. Jacob Hendricksen Varvanger, who became the resident surgeon of the first hospital founded in America, is of record from 1646 to 1674. Isaac Jansen comes into the record in 1649; John Pauw, Jacob Mollenaer, and William Nobel at about the same period. In 1658, however, according to the New York City "Medical Register," there were only three surgeons inactive practice in New Amsterdam. They were Kierstede, Varvanger, and L'Orange.

Nearly all of the surgeons named came to New Netherland in the capacity of ship-surgeons, in the employ of the Dutch West India Company. It is probably not right to put them in the unskilled class of ship surgeons, for at that time Holland, more than any other European nation, was sending out well-skilled surgeons. For more then half a century Dutch scientists had been more interested in anatomy than those of other countries, and Holland had become "the home of a progressive re-awakening in surgical" teaching, in consequence. In the Netherlands there was not the foolish popular prejudice against dissection of the human body that prevailed in other countries. The students of the Dutch professional schools therefore had greater opportunity to practice surgery and, after graduation, such men did not hesitate to proclaim that dissection had entered importantly into their surgical studies. That surgery was not in its infancy at that time is indicated by what is recorded of one Dutch surgical teacher of the seventeenth century. Hendrick van Roonhuyse was performing "all sorts of external operations, such as for wry neck and hare-lip." He was the first to develop orthopedic surgery in the West of Europe. His "Heelkonstige Aanmerkkingen" was, according to Garrison, "the first work on operative gynecology in the modern sense." His work shows that even laparotomy was not uncommon at that period. Caesarean section he practiced frequently, and his "Annotations" "contain case reports of the successful treatment of extra uterine pregnancy and rupture of the uterus." #5 Van Roonhuyse's description of an operation for vesico-vaginal fistula will astonish those who imagine that surgery of the seventeenth century was crude. It would not be surprising, there fore, to find that the surgeons who were in accredited practice in New Netherland were of the more skilled class.

The surgeons of New Amsterdam in 1658 have been named, but, in addition to these three, there were several others in practice during the last years of the Dutch period, or the first year of the English. Among them were Peter Breucht, Isaac Jensen, John Paul, and Williams Hays. The first doctor to take up residence and practice in Brooklyn was Paulus van der Beeck, who came to New Amsterdam with a company of soldiers in 1643. He was probably the first army surgeon. After the Indian campaign was at an end, in 1645, he settled on a farm. Maybe, like most of the other surgeons, he continued to be on the company's payroll. Surgeon Kierstede, who came to the province in 1638, was still serving the West India Company, as a surgeon, in 1650. Some took other public office, maybe to eke out a meagre stipend as company surgeon. Van der Linde was an inspector of tobacco in 1640 and in 1648 served as schoolmaster and church-clerk. Jan Petersen was earning ten florins a month as a barber in 1638. Abraham Staats found fur-trading a lucrative adjunct to surgery. William Nobel, perhaps, cones more into the category of naval surgeon, inasmuch as his ship, the yacht "La Garse," arrived in New Netherland early in 1650, from a West Indian cruise, "taking prizes."

The first New Yorker to cross the ocean to study medicine was Samuel Staats, son of Abraham Staats. Samuel was born in New Amsterdam and, after graduating in medicine in Holland, returned to his native place which had become New York City. He died in 1716, after a distinguished career. Indeed, "he was probably the best-known physician of the colony in the seventeenth century." His brother, Jacob, was also a successful physician.

Dominie Samuel Megapolensis came to New Netherland in the same ship as Abraham Staats, in 1642. He was a graduate of the University of Utrecht, receiving both theological and medical degrees. He also graduated from Harvard college. In New York, he found that his ministerial duties did not prevent him from going to some extent into medical practice. He as one of those who negotiated the treaty between the Dutch and English commanders, when New Amsterdam was surrendered and became New York. By that time the city has become quite cosmopolitan, as witness such names as Alexander Curtis, Jacob L'Orange, Samuel Megapolensis, Henry Taylor, Hans Kierstede, J. Hughes, and Giles Geodineau among the physicians and surgeons of New York City.

The first serious attempt to regular formally the practice of medicine followed soon after the occupation of the province by the English in 1664. In March of 1665, at the convention at Hempstead, on Long Island, the governing code known as the Duke's Laws were adopted. For a time in the shrievalty of Yorkshire, which political district consisted principally of Long Island. Eventually, the code became the law of the Dutch communities of the province of New York also. Still it would seem quite probably that the law relating to chirurgeons, midwives, and physician was enforced in some places. It reads as follows:

Chirurgeons, Midwives, Physicians: That no person or persons whatever employed about the bodys of men, women or children, for the preservation of life or health, as chirurgeons, midwives, physician or others, presume to put forth or exercise any act contrary to the known approved rule of art in each mystery or occupation, or exercise any force, violence or cruelty upon or towards the body of any, whether young or old without the advice of some of the wisest and gravest then present, and consent of the patient or patients, if they be mentis compotes, much less contrary to such advice and consent, upon such severe punishment as the nature of the fact may deserve; which law, nevertheless, is not intended to discourage any from all lawful use of their skill, but rather to encourage and direct them in the right use thereof, and so inhibit and restrain the presumptuous arrogance of such as, though confidence of their own skill or any other sinister respects, dare boldly attempt to exercise any violence upon, or towards the body of young or old, one or other, to the prejudice or hazard of the life or limb of man, woman, or child.

Possibly this was not the reason why a number of the physicians who practiced in New Netherland during the Dutch regime preferred to depart soon after the English came into possession. Nevertheless, they did. Among them was Alexander C. Curtis, evidently an Englishman. He had conducted a Latin school, in addition to practicing medicine during Stuyvesant's administration. When one notices what a number of Stuyvesant officials became practicing physicians after New Netherland became New York, one realizes to what an extent the government of the Dutch province had leaned upon medical men. Among the prominent physicians who practiced in the first years of the English period were Gysvert van Imbroeck, son-in-law of Dr. La Montagne; Geraldus Beeckman, Peter Jansen van der Bergh, Hermann Wessels, Cornelis van Dyke. Some of these names are encountered in the political history. Van Imbroeck represented Wiltwyck in the last convention of Dutch towns in 1664, and Geraldus Beeckman was implicated in the movement which brought Jacob Leisler to his death. Dr. Johannes Kerfbyle, in the same year--1691--made an autoptical examination--with other physicians--of the body of Governor Sloughter, who died suddenly some months after signing the death warrant of Leisler. New York physicians of the last decade of that century were John Miller, Lewis Giton, Hugh Farguhar, Cornelius Viele, Jacobus Kiersted, John Newberry, Jacob Provoost, Hartman Wessels and Peter Bassett.

New York had many distinguished physicians and surgeons during the eighteenth century. One of the best known was Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776). He was the son of the Rev. Alexander Colden, of Dunse, Scotland, and was graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1705. Three years later he came to Philadelphia and entered into medical practice. He was one of the most learned scientists of his time in the colony, was a botanist of note, an authority on sanitary science, and above all became a public executive of considerable influence and ability. In addition, his writings on scientific, philosophical, political, and historical subjects were definite contributions of value to his time. His long political career is given proper notice in the political review. His study of the Indian Confederacy, as indicated by his "History of the Five Nations," brings Cadwallader Colden into high place "in the beginnings of American ethnology." For almost sixty years--from 1718 until his death in 1776--Dr. Colden devoted his talents to New York. Although it is not known that the practiced medicine in the province for long, the inference is that he was in practice for many years after 1720, when he accepted his first political appointment, that of surveyor-general of New York. At all events, he continued to take a most active interest in medical science. In 1720 he wrote and published his first medial article, "An Account of the Climate and Diseases of New York." In or after 1742 he wrote an article on "The Fever Which Prevailed in the City of New York in 1741-42"; and innumerable other medical articles during the same period of more then two decades were in the form of correspondence with scientists abroad. Indeed, it is said that his "correspondence was a sort of clearing house for all the scientific ideas in America of that time, besides being an outlet and inlet for European scientific interests." His public life spanned the whole period of the political strife that ended in the Revolution, and although he was an old man, seventy-two years old, when the heavy burden of Crown government was placed upon his shoulders in 1760, and although the burden became heavier as the political differences waxed hotter, Dr. Colden did not hesitate to meet all public calls. From his seventy-second year (1760) until the State of New York assumed all the authority of the province, in 1776, Cadwallader Colden wa almost constantly in chief office, as Acting Governor, many times the butt of both Crown and people. Even to the last, in mid-octogenarian years, he was strong, fearless, and efficient. Dr. Colden was, indeed, on of the most remarkable New Yorkers of the Provincial period.

John Van Buren was another well-known physician of the eighteenth century in New York. He was a graduate of the University of Leyden, and for many years served as physician to the almshouse in New York. His son, Beekman Van Buren, (1727-1812), who was born in New York, succeeded his father in the city appointment, and held it until the British occupation in 1776.

Dr. John Nicoll, who died in New York City in 1743, practiced for about fifty years as a physician, and also conducted an apothecary business. His name comes quite prominently into political history of the period, though not always creditably; he was one of the judges who tried and sentenced Leisler to death in 1691. His apothecary shop on Hanover Square was taken over by Dr. Isaac Dubois. The latter's professional career was short, for within three years of his graduation from Leyden (1740) he was dead. He cannot have conducted the Nicoll apothecary for many months after the death of Dr. Nicoll.

Other physicians of the middle decades of the eighteenth century include James Magrath, who practiced in New York City for about forty years from 1740. At that time he came in company with Drs. John Brett, and Thomas Rodman. John Bard (1716-99) was conspicuous as a physician in New York City for more than fifty years; and for some time earlier he was in practice in Philadelphia. Dr. bard was born in Burlington, New Jersey, and while still in his early years began medical study under a strict Philadelphia physician. Bard came to New York City to practice in 1746 and from that time until his death, in 1799, was a prominent member of its medical fraternity. He was often in difficulties, had little idea of the value of money, and was more than once rescued from financial embarrassment by his more practical son, Samuel. Dr. Bard was inclined to Beau Brummel ostentation, and, usually was readily distinguishable upon the thoroughfares by his attire--red coat, cock hat and gold-headed cane. His medical career was somewhat noteworthy. He first came noticeably forward in establishing New York's first quarantine station; for that experiment he procured Bedloe's Island. The fact that, just after the Revolution, Dr. John Bard was chosen as the first president of the Medical Society of New York then formed is indication of the esteem in which he was held by the medical fraternity, the section of the community best able to gauge his public and professional worth. Benjamin Franklin thought highly of Dr. bard; indeed, it was at the former's solicitation that he removed to New York. Dr. Bard's son Samuel, however, was much more distinguished. Mumford thought Dr. Samuel Bard was, indeed, "the most eminent American physician of his time, with the single exception of Benjamin Rush."

It is not possible to notice, in this brief sketch, all the distinguished New York physicians and surgeons of the provincial period. The communities were rapidly increasing, the medical problems were often perplexingly serious, and the frequent epidemics calling for extraordinary effort by the medical fraternity. Toward the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century the province had a population of 34,393 white persons and 6,171 Negro "and other slaves." Ten years later (1731), the population of the province had increased by nearly one-fourth, to 43,508 whites and 7,231 blacks. In 1746 the total population was 61,589; in 1749, 73,448; in 1756, 96,765, including 13,500 blacks. A London document cited by O'Callaghan estimates the population of New York province in 1774 at 182,247, including 22,149 blacks. The early census takings disclosed a larger proportion of males than females in both white and black population, the deficiency of females being most marked in children. From the statistics, if dependable, Dr. Walsh, infers that there were social reasons at work for the limitation of the less valuable female blacks. Of course, the epidemics also may have disturbed the balance of the sexes. At all events, in such growing communities, subject as they were to smallpox, "ship fever" (typhus), typhoid, yellow fever, throat distemper (diphtheria), and other diseases that found ideal conditions of propagation in the somewhat unsanitary communal life of that period, there must have been need of many physicians. New York City alone had twenty-seven in the first year of the republic. Most of them were busy in private practice, but some gave much time and deep thought to preventive medicine. Among the pioneers in sanitary science during the provincial period should be named Drs. Cadwallader Colden and John Bard.

Among the medical men who became army surgeons during the Revolution were George Campbell, Andrew Cragie, George Draper, John Elliott, Stephen Graham, Henry Moore, Abner Prior, Thomas Reid, Nicholas Schuyler, William P. Smith, Caleb Sweet, Malachi Treat, Samuel Woodruff, Joseph Young, Caleb Austin, Samuel cook, Elias Cornelius, Mordecai Hale, Ebenezer Hutchinson, Isaac Ledyard, Benjamin B. Stockton, Joseph Watrous, John F. Vacher, William Wheeler, Henlock Woodruff, Peter van der Lynn, Daniel Menema, Benjamin Wells, Samuel Stringer, John Thomas, David Shepard, Moses Willard, Moses Younglove, Walter Vrooman Whimple and John Cochran. This is a creditable contribution of professional men from a region inhabited by less than 200,000 white persons. Some of the company surgeons were regimental, some in wider military responsibility. All passed through periods of excitement, there can be no doubt. Dr. peter van der Lynn, who was with General Clinton, New York's first State Governor, at Fort Montgomery when the British general, Clinton attacked and took the place, escaped by swimming across the Hudson River. David Shepard, was at Bunker Hill. Samuel Stringer, at the outbreak of the Revolution, was appointed Director-General of Hospital of the Northern Department. Dr. Cochran, who, indeed, might be rightly claimed by Pennsylvania, seeing that it was not until after the Revolution that he settled in Albany, was appointed Surgeon-General of the Middle Department, in 1777, and in 1781 became Director-General of the hospitals of the United States.

Some of the Revolutionary surgeons reached prominence afterwards. Poughkeepsie's first prominent physician was Army Surgeon John Thomas. Dr. Ebenezer Crosby, a graduate of Harvard, and medical graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, was surgeon of the New York guards of the Continental Army, but did not practice in the city until after the war. Until his death, in 1788, he was professor of surgery at Columbia college. Another army surgeon who reached distinction in private practice in New York City was Dr. Charles McKnight. One of this cases, the successful removal of an extra-uterine abdominal foetus, was so remarkable as to gain report in the "Memoirs of the Medical Society of London." Dr. John Jones, whose military record included the French and Indians and the Revolutionary Wars, was a surgeon-teacher of wide experience and marked ability. He had studied in London and Paris. As the author of the first volume on medicine written and published in America, Dr. Jones had distinctive place in American medical history. He was born on Long Island, and was the first to perform lithotomy in New York, and held the chair of surgery in King's college, New York's first medical school. Walsh describes Dr. Jones as "the most distinguished pioneer surgeon of American history."

Dr. Jones was well prepared for his professional career. He studied medicine under Dr. Cadwallader, of Philadelphia, who at that time was the best-known surgeon in America. After a year of practice in Philadelphia Dr. Jones, having ample means, went to Europe for graduate study. In London he came under the influence of Drs. John Hunter and Percival Pott. After the latter, Pott's Disease is named; and Hunter was, or became, one of the ablest teachers of anatomy in England. A year later, Jones went to Paris, where he studied under Petit, the inventor of the screw tourniquet. In New York City practice Dr. Jones attracted attention throughout the middle and eastern colonies by his success in the operation of lithotomy. Cases came to him from all points. He acquired such facility in operating that he rarely took more then three minutes in a lithotomy. This, at a time when anaesthetic was not administered, must have been a boon to the suffering all-seeing patients. During the French and Indian War his fame in military surgery spread throughout the army, and Baron Dieskau, the wounded French commander captured at lake George, was put under his care. Dr. Jones was a man of positive mind. after the war some of the physicians of New York, with a view of dignifying their profession, or of rendering themselves distinctive from other citizens, resolved upon a particular mode of dressing their hair. Jones, however, positively refused to don the "New-fashioned bob," even though such defiance should cost him some consultations. He was a plain-spoken man, one of the most practical of demonstrators, and the most lucid of teachers. Those who studied surgery under him at King's College appreciated their teacher. When the Revolution closed the college, and the needs of the fighting forces called for the best that was known of medicine and surgery, Dr. Jones wrote his little book. Its title: "Plain, Concise and Practical Remarks on the Treatment of Wounds and Fractures," is typical of its author; and its contents demonstrated his wroth as a surgeon. This surgical guide book was what the army surgeons most needed, and, doubtless, it saved many lives during the years of war.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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