Saturday, January 8, 2011

Early Physicians

The Marietta Times, April 3, 1890

Some of the Trials and Hardships of Early Ohio Physicians - An Extraordinary Costume in Marietta.

Dr. E. C. Brush's paper on Early Physicians of the Muskingum Valley was read last evening before the Historical Association in Columbus.  It is full of matter of interest to our readers, which it would be hopeless to attempt to compress into limits available for a newspaper.  It is a series of biographical sketches of the pioneer physicians of this locality.  Extracts are herewith given from two of them, one being the earliest to come to Marietta and the other to settle in what is now Zanesville.

Nathan McIntosh

In 1791 Doctor [Nathan] McIntosh was appointed surgeon's mate to Fort Frye at Waterford.  At first he was employed by the Ohio company and afterwards by the government.  He remained at Fort Frye about two years, and during this time - May 23, 1792 - he was married to Rhoda, the daughter of Deacon Enoch Shephard, of Marietta.  In July, 1793, the people of Clarksburg, Va., were in need of a physician and sent to Marietta for Dr. McIntosh.  The request was accompanied by a company of soldiers to escort the doctor to that place.  Mrs. McIntosh, with a baby six weeks old and a sister, went with the doctor.  There were no roads or public houses on the way, so that when night came they camped out.  In order to keep the baby from crying and thus attract the attention of the Indians, it was dosed with paregoric and a handkerchief used to suppress its cries.  This baby grew to be Col. Enoch Shephard McIntosh, one of the most respected and best known citizens of the Muskingum valley.  He died not long since in his ninety-sixth year.

Think of the bravery of that young mother and sister!  Imagine, if you can, a journey on horseback eighty miles through the forests, in constant danger from the Indians!  Imagine camping out at night with a sky for a covering and a six-weeks-old baby to care for!  No truer, nobler lot of heroic women ever lived than those who helped to settle the great northwest territory.

Doctor Increase Matthews

[Dr. Matthews] was born in Brain, Massachusetts, Dec. 22, 1772.  He was the son of Gen. Rufus Putnam's oldest sister, Huldah, and Daniel Matthews.  John Matthews, who came to Ohio with the original forty-eight, was a brother.  In 1798 Dr. Matthews came to Marietta on a prospecting tour and to visit relatives.  His diary of this journey is in the possession of his descendants, and is a very interesting document.  Under date of August 13, 1798, 1 P.M., is found the following note:

"Went with Mr. Edward Tupper to call on Mr. Blannerhassett and his lady, by whom we were politely received.  Met Miss Sallie Loudon there on a visit.  She was on the whole an amiable girl, and possessed of many of those qualities which make a good companion; kind, obliging, ever in good spirits and free from affectation."

The young doctor seems to have been impressed, and human nature was the same then as now.

Under date of October 31, 1797, is the following:

"Attended a ball at Col. Putnam's, in Belpre.  We had a large collection of ladies, some from Marietta and the Island, who made a brilliant appearance.  Spent the evening very agreeably."

The ladies from the Island were no doubt Mrs. Blannerhasset and her guest Miss Loudon.  It does not take a very great stretch of imagination to see the young doctor and Miss Loudon doing a little flirting.  After a pleasant visit Dr. Mathews went back east and married - April 29, 1799 - Abigail Willis, of Oakham, Mass.  In the fall of 1800, with his wife and baby, he again came back to Marietta, arriving there Oct. 4.  The winter was spent in Marietta, and the other half of the house in which they lived was occupied by the father of the late Governor Brough.

In the spring of 1801 the Matthews family moved to Zanesville, Ohio.  This same year Gen. Rufus Putnam and his two nephews, Dr. Matthews and Levi Whipple, purchased the land now composing the Seventh and Ninth wards of that city, and laid it out in a town, which they called Springfield, afterwards Putnam.  Doctor Matthews, after about one year's stay in Zanesville, moved across the river to the newly laid out town, and lived there the remainder of his life.  He was the first physician to permanently settle on the Muskingum river above Marietta.  On June 14, 1802, the doctor's wife died, and on March 23, 1803, he married for his second wife Betsy, daughter of Captain John Levins.  They were married at Major Lincoln's, who had married Betsy's sister Fanny.

Possessing large landed interests, and having a taste for agriculture, Doctor Matthews retired from the practice as other physicians settled around him.  He was a man of many accomplishments, with more than the usual amount of energy and push so characteristic of the pioneers.  He established the first drugstore, and was one of the five original members of the first church organized in Muskingum county.  Dr. Matthews sent to Spain for the first full-blooded Merino sheep brought to Ohio.  These sheep were delivered in Washington, D.C., and driven through to Putnam, Ohio, by a man sent to Washington for that purpose.

In 1801, when Dr. Matthews went to Marietta to buy land above mentioned, he had as his companion John McIntire.  These young men rode together, camped together at night, out on the road, but neither mentioned his business.  When they arrived at Marietta Dr. Matthews turned up Washington street to go to his uncle's, Gen. Putnam's office, whilst John McIntire went on to the tavern.  The next day the two men found themselves bidding against each other for the same tract of land.  John McIntire already owned a large tract where Zanesville proper now stands, but Dr. Matthews bid in the tract in question at $4.25 an acre.  Many years after it became blended with McIntire's tract in the City of Natural Advantages. 

The doctor enjoyed telling his grandchildren that the earliest distinct recollection of his childhood was the ringing of the bells to celebrate the declaration of independence.  He was a cultivated gentleman of the old school and a man whose energy and character were felt in his day and are still exemplified in his descendants.  He was an accomplished performer on the violincello and an entertaining and instructive conversationalist.  His life was characterized by its simplicity and purity.  He died full of years and with the high esteem of all his fellow-townsmen in the eighty-four year of his age, and is buried in Woodland cemetery, which is a part of his original purchase from the government in 1801.  Date of death, June 6, 1856.

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