A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians Of Delaware County, Ohio

A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians Of Delaware County, Ohio (p. 1)


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A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians

Of Delaware County, Ohio


Reprinted from...

The Ohio State Medical Journal

August - September - October 1959

Stoneman Press Columbus, Ohio
A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians Of Delaware County, Ohio (p. 2)


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A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians

Of Delaware County, Ohio


The Author

Dr. Cherington, Delaware, is a member of

the staff of Jane M. Case Hospital.

IT is not certainly known just who may have

inhabited this area which now comprises

Delaware County, Ohio, in the period before

the Mound Builders, and they have left little to

tell us of their civilization, especially in regard to

sickness and their methods of treatment. The

Indians followed the Mound Builders and we

know that they had their Medicine Men who

practiced a sort of psycho-therapy and combined

it with use of massage, water treatment or

cures, the use of herbs, berries, roots etc., that

they, through the centuries perhaps had learned,

gave benefit in some conditions, but why they

knew not. Even the early settlers had at times

found it necessary to seek their help. The

Indians used the Mineral and the Sulphur Springs

for treatment by drinking the water and they also

used a sort of steam treatment from a pit contain-

ing hot rocks that, then, had water slowly poured

over them and covered by a teepee.

Early Concern for Doctor

The pioneer settlements of 150 to 200 years ago

were usually made by one or more families, and

in fairly well separated areas. The teacher, min-

ister, lawyer, etc., were not much needed but many

settlers were much concerned as to the availability

of a doctor.

When the Queen of Sheba, from Southern

Arabia, came to visit King Solomon, she brought

with her a physician, and the great medicinal

agent, the Balm of Gilead. The piety, wisdom,

glory and courtesy of Solomon greatly impressed

her. Upon her return to her own country she

sent, contrary to the laws of her land, the great

medicinal tree so long known to her kingdom, 800

miles away, to this admired ruler, to be planted

along the river Jordan. The tree grew, increased,

and furnished medicine to Palestine.

Jeremiah, 600 years after, and 600 years before

the Christian era, said, "Is there no Balm in

Gilead? Is there no physician there?" And so,

one of the first queries of the emigrant is, Bibli-

cally speaking, "Is there Balm in Gilead? Is there

a physician there?" Or in other words, "Is there

a doctor within reach?" Now "within reach" in

this area sometimes meant a one to even four

days' ride. As we will see later, such a one as

Dr. Lamb often rode as far north as Portland, now

Sandusky, and south to Chillicothe.

The settlers of that early day merely asked if

the person at hand was a doctor. They did not

have to worry about having to select or get the

services of one who came under a special type of

practice or "ism." It was not until about 1824

that the first system presented itself. This was

called the Thomsonian System, evolved by Samuel

Thomson (1769-1843) who advocated that "heat

was life and cold was death." He had prepared

formulas from No. 1 to No. 6 to produce these

results. Thus he steamed the patient outside and

stimulated him inside with his No. 6 formula.

Thomson's book of theories and instructions

were sold to families as well as physicians. In

a few years this system passed away but the steam-

ing and bathing had made an impression which

culminated in the erection of many large sanitar-

iums in this and all lands. It is interesting to

know also that one of the citizens of Delaware, a

Mr. Horton Howard, bought the rights to Ohio

and several Western and Southern states for the

promulgation of this system and the sale of the


Advocates of the next system to appear were

the Uroscopists, in 1838, who thought the kidneys

were the source of all our our ills. This, too, soon

passed away but served a good purpose as it stimu-

lated more thought and investigation on the part

of the regular school.

Schools of Other Systems

I do not know when the Eclectic School of

thought made its appearance here but it was not

long afterwards. An Eclectic School or College was

established at Worthington, in 1830. Dr. J. J.

Steel was president and Dr. J. G. Jones was the

dean. The latter was a partner of Dr. Case, the

husband of Mrs. Jane M. Case who, through her

will, provided money for the establishment of our

Hospital. Also Dr. J. A. Little, a resident of our

county, was associated with them for a while. He

was a student and a teacher and later became a

Presented before the Delaware County Historical Society

April 27, 1959.

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member of the regular school. This College and

system had a great influence in this area. Later

it was moved to Cincinnati and called the Eclectic

Medical College. Today there are none of such

schools left. It was an expansion of the herb sys-

tem and Indian medicine.

The Homeopathic doctrine made its appearance

in about 1850, and has had a representative in

this county ever since. Today there remains only

one such school, the Hahnemann Medical College

in Philadelphia, and it teaches all regular school

and modern doctrine in addition.

Then the many specialty groups began to ap-

pear and the masseurs and the osteopaths had be-

come established. These last and their method,

however, had been known to the Chinese, Hindus,

and Brahmans long before the Christian era. Fi-

nally, at the close of this era of change, we have

the appearance and acceptance of the lady physi-

cians, in 1840, who have played an increasingly

important part up to the present time.

It must be remembered also that the lone phy-

sician of those early days, besides doing the work

of a doctor and a surgeon, had to combine with it

that of a dentist and druggist. He also was re-

garded as the embodiment of learning generally,

and held the respect of the people in all matters.

In dealing with the History of Medicine in

Delaware County and the individual sketches of

the doctors who have served here we are greatly

indebted to one man, Dr. Silas W. Fowler, who

seemed to be of a literary nature, and what has

been written through the years has been done by

him. He was here as a young man, in 1880, and

wrote the first account on this subject for the 1880

Delaware County History. Again, when Judge

Lytle wrote the Centenary History, in 1908, he

asked him to write that part and bring it up to

date. Dr. Fowler published his own little book

two years later, 1910, on The History of Medicine

and Physicians of Delaware County, Ohio, at the

solicitation of the County Medical Society and the

Drake Memorial Association. As he stated, he

could not have done this had it not been for the

help of the older doctors in 1880, a few of whom

went back 50 years to 1830 and practiced and

mingled with those who preceeded them.

Then again, after 28 years, Dr. Fowler repeated

this same procedure. In his early days of practice

he was intimately associated with the scholarly and

renowned Dr. Ralph Hills, the son of Dr. James

H. Hills who had settled in Delaware in 1822, and

Drs. T. B. Williams, W. T. Constant, and John

A. Little, who often met in the studio of Dr. Ralph

Hills to listen to the stories of the pioneer, so

graphically related by him, as well as to hear the

history of those who came later.

Before taking up the individual physicians I

want to speak briefly of the Medical Society


Medical Societies.

It has been said that "associated action con-

stitutes the mainspring--the controlling motive

power of society." Thus it was with the pioneer

practitioners of this county, who saw the extreme

need for associated action. So in 1848 they set

about to form a medical society. Those present

were Drs. Ralph Hills, Abram Blymyer, J. M.

Cherry, M. Gerhard and a few others whose names

are lost. This was to be known as the Delaware

County Medical Society. Dr. Hills was the presi-

dent and Dr. Blymyer was vice-president. At

this meeting Dr. Blymyer read a paper on "Milk

Sickness and Its Treatment." Meetings were to

be held every three months.

During the years 1848, '49, and '50 they met

fairly regularly. In 1851 new members were

added and on the 15th of June, 1852, they made a

permanent organization. Among the many articles

in their constitution was one that declared that

"no person could be admitted to membership who

was not fully orthodox in his professional beliefs

and practice." The society after a few years for

some cause went to sleep, only to be revived again

in 1868. After the Civil War new life seemed to

be given to the society and the profession.

The Ohio State Medical Society convened in

Delaware in May, 1856, while Dr. Ralph Hills

was the editor of the Medical Counsellor, the first

weekly medical journal published in the West, and

which he had established in 1854.

At the reorganization of the Delaware County

Medical Society in 1868 Dr. Blymer was elected

president, Dr. P. Willis vice-president, Dr. E. H.

Hyatt, secretary and Dr. J. M. Cherry, treasurer.

Others present were Drs. T. B. Williams, W. T.

Constant, William McIntyre, John A. Little, J. H.

White, Henry Besse, Calvin Welch, John A.

Carouthers, Joseph McCann, and A. E. West-

brook. In 1869 Dr. Blymyer was reelected presi-

dent and at the close of his term he gave a grant

banquet to his colleagues. So far as we can

learn Dr. Blymyer, in 1869, Dr. Dorrance E.

Hughes, in 1907, and Dr. A. E. Westbrook,

Ashley, were the only ones to remember the so-

ciety with such honor.

Harmony and good feeling prevailed for many

years when some disturbing element put an end

to it. Many reorganizations took place but did

not last. After some 15 years of inactivity a

new organization was effected and has continued

in good form to this present time. In 1904, all

schools of medicine of the county were invited

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under the broad plan of "charity to all" to

become active members.

In the very early day of our pioneer settle-

ments the few white doctors had little more to

use in treating the diseases they were confronted

with than did the Indians, and many times the

Indians could do it better as they had had many

years of experience with them. The most seri-

ous diseases met with were: Malaria, which was

largely controlled by the drainage of the swamps

and the introduction of quinine; Remittant Fever

was at first confused with malaria, but when the

quinine failed to give relief they then resorted

to calomel with some success; Cholera was met

with several times as it swept up the river valley

and into the tributaries; Milk Sickness--This

was a new disease to the doctors and affected

cattle as well as man. It was probably due to

a poisonous weed and was transmitted to man

through milk or from unclean vessels.

In reviewing some of the physicians of the

early days, we will take the first few in the

order of their coming into the county. It is not

known who might have taken care of the small

number of people here from the time of the

Carpenter settlement until the coming of Dr.

Lamb. We do know that at Worthington Col.

Kilbourn, though not a doctor, did do much to

care for the sick of his settlement.

First Physician in County

DR. REUBEN LAMB, was the first physician in

this area. Colonel James Kilbourne first came

out to Worthington in 1802 and the next year

saw six men settled there who were members of

the Scioto Land Company. He may have been

influential in persuading Moses Byxbe to come

out and occupy his lands in what is now Delaware


Dr. Lamb was born in Chenango County,

New York, in 1774. He is said to have read

medicine there before 1806 but we do not know if

he had any formal medical education; however,

he was well prepared.

In the fall of 1805 he resolved to go to

Pittsburgh and down the Ohio and Mississippi

Rivers to New Orleans. However, at Pittsburgh

or on his way down the Ohio, he fell in with

Col. Moses Byxbe who persuaded him to go

with them to Worthington on the Scioto and on

north to Berkshire on Alum Creek.

Worthington was already a well known town

and business center in this area. After a few

months residence in Berkshire, Dr. Lamb moved

to Worthington. The town had no physician and

gave more promise for the future. Soon after

locating there Dr. Lamb married Miss Mary

Sloper, May 6, 1806. She lived only a short

time and on September 13, 1807 he married her

sister, Miss Cynthia Sloper. A few years after-

ward they moved to Illinois, to the town of

Galesburg. The doctor, we presume, practiced

medicine there. After a few months his wife

died of fever and he at once returned to


Helped Lay Out the Town

In the spring of 1808 Dr. Lamb joined his

old friend Col. Byxbe and they laid out the

town of Delaware. There is great confusion

about his marriages to whom and the dates.

It is stated that he was married three times but

it may have been more. The 1880 history gives

it as four. His oldest son was born in 1807 and

was long a resident of Delaware.

The Lytle history states that Dr. Lamb first

married a Miss Campbell of Worthington and

that after her death he married a Miss Sloper of

Delaware in 1815. They then moved to Illinois.

The following year she died and he at once re-

turned to Delaware, and soon after married Mrs.

Platt, a sister of his last wife. Dr. Lamb was about

35 years old when he began his work in the

county and because of ill health, in 1822 he

moved to Missouri where his wife died in less

than a year and he returned to Delaware, but

did not resume an active practice as before. He

died in 1850 and we are told that he left a

widow--his fourth wife, at least.

Dr. Lamb possessed great energy and mental

force. He had the credit of being a man of

ability and a most competent practitioner and

surgeon, besides being very well liked.

His energy and ability called him to many

vocations. He assisted in organizing the county

and town and in organizing and conducting

various business enterprises. He was the first

recorder of public records, and the first physician

of the county and city, and was called upon to

serve a wide area in that capacity. Col. Byxbe

erected for him a log cabin, for a home and an

office on the corner of East William and North

Union Streets on the lot Byxbe owned and where

later stood the residence of Hon. J. C. Evans and

still later and today the Sarah Moore Home. He

lived there briefly, perhaps only a year, when he

built for himself on South Union Street and on

the banks of the Delaware Run, a palatial cabin

that stood on the ground in the rear of where

Martin Miller's residence stood in 1880.

Dr. Lamb worked hard during these first years

and was called upon to ride great distances to

attend the sick. He perhaps was subjected to

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more exposure and danger in traveling over the

tractless wilds, in the night and in all sorts of

weather, and confronted by the wild animals

and the Indians, than was anyone else there.

There were no roads, merely trails or "cutouts"

and there were no bridges to cross the streams.

Often he would be alone but at times would be

accompanied by the messenger who had come for


Surgical Instruments Scarce

From physical disability he was required to quit

this very active practice and confine his work to

office practice, the preparation of medicines and

consultation. The types of diseases that he

met with in the West materially differed from

those he met with in the East, his homeland.

He was acknowledged by all to be skilled and

successful in dealing with the diseases of the

new country. He disliked surgery, but he was the

only one who had any instruments in the county

at that time. He freely loaned them to all prac-

titioners who had occasion to use them. He was

a man of few words and scorned and hated bluff

and sham and ignorance in the profession. He

was always sympathetic and affectionate, but quiet,

socially and professionally.

The old physicians were wont to tell a good

story on Dr. Lamb. In his early practice, about

1818, a Mr. Shippy was taken sick at the home

of a prominent citizen, Col. Sydney Moore. When

the crisis of the disease had come, two watchers

were engaged, but one failed to put in an ap-

pearance. The doctor made his last visit for the

night, gave careful and positive instructions to

the nurse and left. The man seated himself

comfortably before the fire to await the coming

of his associate. Weary from his day's labor, he

soon forgot his vigil and fell into a deep sleep.

Together, the nurse and the patient traveled in

the land of dreams. When the nurse awoke,

the beautiful sunshine was streaming into the

room. Frightened beyond measure and fearing

lest the patient be dead from neglect, he walked

silently to the bed. To his great amazement

and joy, the patient turned over, rubbed his eyes,

strethed his arms, and was equally surprised to

learn that it was morning. He spoke of having

had a good night's rest and of feeling much

better, and so did the nurse.

The good doctor soon arrived and going to

his patient, pronounced him out of danger, and

highly complimented the efficient nurse, remark-

ing that in the future he would know upon whom

to call to watch and nurse and give the medi-

cine to his sick. The patient lived for many

years. As stated before, Dr. Lamb died in 1850

at the age of 76, having lived here most of 43


Dr. Lamb was not left alone long to endure

the arduous duties in the wilderness for in 1809

DR. NOAH SPAULDING, a graduate in medicine

and literature at old Dartmouth College, and a

native of New Hampshire, settled in Berkshire.

He remained there but a short time as he saw

that Delaware was going to be a city of more

promise and so in a year or two he moved there.

He had good knowledge and was very cultured.

He was slow in expression, but exact in his state-

ments, exceedingly amiable, social and cheerful.

He was perfectly temperate in all of his habits.

The Human Touch

Dr. Spaulding was not long in gaining a good

practice among all classes. He was noted as a

delightful story teller, and with his feet high

above his head he would entertain his listeners

with pleasing and wholesome stories. He re-

mained in Delaware until his death in 1832. Dr.

Spaulding was a member of the Protestant Epis-

copal Church and a most exemplary Christian.

He was also a fine singer, and taught classes in

singing. He left his imprint upon the commu-

nity for many years.

In 1818 he assisted in organizing the first

Sunday School in the county. His scholarly

qualifications secured his appointment as a mem-

ber of the board of county examiners for teach-

ers. He made a pleasing impression on one of

Delaware county's greatest and most noted phy-

sicians, Dr. Ralph Hills. When a mere youth

medical profession was rapid and he grew into

Hills came before the board for examination for

credentials to teach school. Suddenly Dr. Spauld-

ing turned to the young man and said "Ralph,

what is the difference between six dozen and a

half dozen dozen." The answer being promptly

given the Doctor turned to his associates and

said "You may as well write out his certificate.

He is one of Dr. James Hills' sons and we know

what he is."

There is a joke handed down about Dr. Spauld-

ing. It seems he had not the most explicit con-

fidence in his own professional judgment. One

day he met Dr. Lamb on the street and said

"Doctor, I have given my wife some blue pills,

and they have not acted as they should, see what

you think of them," showing some he had in

his hand. Dr. Lamb examined them, placed

one between his teeth and then remarked: "These

are buckshot and made of lead."

The third doctor to locate in the county was

DR. N. HAWLEY. He came to the well adver-

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tised field of attraction, Berkshire, in 1810 or

1812, from what place is not known, and about

whom traditional history fails to tell anything.

His remarkable energy, shrewdness and great

skill gave him his share of the work in the new

land. He also was armed with pleasing anec-

dotes and attractice stories which entertained his

numerous friends. He died in 1822. He was

advanced in years when he came to Berkshire

and was known as "Old Dr. Hawley" from the


Misfortune Takes Its Toll

DR. SILAS MCCLARY, the fourth doctor to settle

in the county, in 1813 came to Berkshire, where

all seemed to settle first. After 20 years of labor

there he moved to Delaware and in a short time

went to Radnor, where he died. He, we think,

was the first doctor to settle in Radnor. In his

earlier days he was quite successful in business

but in later life misfortune came upon him and

he was left destitute and uncared for when he

died. Some traits of his character always pre-

vented him from becoming a favorite or friend

of members of the profession and his services

were seldom sought after by them.

DR. SAMUEL MOULTON, was the fifth physi-

cian to take up his work here and he came di-

rectly to Delaware, thus slighting Old Berk-

shire, in 1819. He came from Rutland, Vermont,

where he graduated in medicine. His rise in the

great favor and into an extensive practice. Dr.

Moulton was well read, skillful, and made few

mistakes. Dr. Lamb esteemed him highly for

his learning and gentlemanly qualities and often

sought his council. The "White Plague" or

tuberculosis cut his brilliant career short and he

died in 1821, or '22, at the age of 29 years. For

many years his name was kept green among the

people in this locality by Dr. Lamb and others

prescribing and using "Dr. Moulton's Cathartic


DR. ELEAZER COPELAND, the sixth to locate in

the county, came during the same year as Dr. Moul-

ton--1819. Also from Vermont, he located in

Zoar, now called Galena, and to our knowledge,

was the first doctor there. He was a shoemaker

by trade and studied general subjects and medicine

while plying his trade. All will admit he was a

self-made man.

While working at the bench he committed to

memory Murray's English Grammar in two weeks'

time. Other texts followed in rapid succession

and then he prepared himself for schoolteaching.

While teaching school he studied Greek and

Latin, which he mastered without an instructor,

and soon became a perfect translator of both

languages. He took up the study of medicine

in the same manner and became a careful, skill-

ful and excellent physician.

District Censor

Dr. Copeland was highly esteemed by all of

his professional brethren. He held the position

of censor of the Sixth and afterwards of the

Eleventh Medical District of Ohio, composed of

the counties of Franklin, Marion, Crawford and

Delaware. He was accidentally drowned in Big

Walnut Creek, near Galena, in 1834. As a wise

counsellor, a superior physician, a mature scholar

and a useful citizen, his loss was deeply felt in

all circles.

DR. ROYAL N. POWERS, the seventh doctor to

come to the county, located in Delaware in 1820.

It is not known where he came from or where

he went from here. His conduct was not ap-

preciated in the community and he was compelled

to leave unceremoniously, on a rail, carried by

several citizens, and others who accompanied him

a short distance from the town, as a lasting re-

membrance of their good will.

DR. ALPHEUS BIGELOW, the eighth doctor,

settled in Zoar, now Galena, in 1820--perhaps

a year after Dr. Copeland. He was a brother of

the celebrated evangelist, the Reverend Russell

Bigelow, of the Methodist Church. The doctor,

like his brother, was a self-educated man. Both

men possessed great energy of character, as well

as strong intellect. He possessed a mind of his

own and excellent judgment. Dr. Bigelow was

not a regular graduate, like many others in the

county, and he seldom evinced any disposition

to cultivate an intimacy with any school of medi-

cine, but he was a very skillful physician. He

died in 1850 and had been in practice in one

place, longer than any other physician at that

time in the county.

James Harvey Hills

DR. JAMES HARVEY HILLS, probably the ninth

physician to come to Delaware, was raised at

Farmington, Connecticut, and educated at Yale

College. He gained his early medical knowledge

in the office of his brother-in-law, Dr. Eli Todd,

out East, who was one of the most highly edu-

cated men in the profession of his time. After

practicing at his home place Dr. Hills determined

to go west and so set out for Ohio. He is

known to have settled first at Ravenna, Ohio,

but in due time located at Worthington, in 1808.

Here he soon grew in much favor and was called

for, far and near, to attend the afflicted. He

made frequent trips to Berkshire and Delaware

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and was for a time the only doctor in the area

besides Dr. Lamb.

At this point, I want to speak a bit of side-

light history. Soon after locating in Worthing-

ton Dr. Hills became affiliated with the New

England Lodge, F. & A. M. He took the Fellow

Craft degree on April 24, 1809, while Col. James

Kilbourne was Worshipful Master and Ezra Gris-

wold was Secretary; Samuel Sloper, the father-in-

law of Dr. Lamb, was Tyler and William Little

was a member. I mention this for in a few

years he located in Delaware and found them all

to then be residents there. Dr. Hills was raised

to the sublime degree of a Master Mason, May

10, 1810. He served in different chairs and soon

he joined the Horab Chapter of Royal Select Masters.

Hardships of Military Campaign

While living in Worthington Dr. Hills was

found ready for duty when the War of 1812 be-

gan and he was made Surgeon of the Sixth Regi-

ment of regulars, and marched with General

Harrison through the forests of central Ohio to

Fort Defiance on the Maumee River near Toledo.

While there he became seriously ill and a scout

was sent back to tell his wife of his illness. She

at once had her faithful riding mare saddled

and prepared for the long and dangerous journey

of 130 miles, through the forests and swollen

streams amidst dangers and death from the red

men and English scouts, to her sick and possibly

dying husband. Finally, safely reaching the camp

she ministered to him and others there until Dr.

Hills had recovered and they could return to

Worthington and to their family.

In 1818 they left there and moved to Darby

Plains, in Logan County, and lived at West Liberty

for four years, when they came to Delaware, in

1822. Here they found a town of about 40

houses and 250 people enjoying life. Among them

were the Kilbournes, Littles, Byxbes, Walkers,

Lambs, Hayes, and Sydney Moore with all of

whom he had fraternized at Worthington. Dur-

ing this year the Reverend Joseph Hughes died

from the plague. Through the years many of

the town's finest men were taken by this same

plague, or Milk Sickness, among them being Mr.

Hayes, the father of United States President

Rutherford B. Hayes; J. B. Andrews, the father

of Hon. Charles Sweetzer; and in 1830 Dr. James

H. Hills.

Dr. Hills had married Miss Beulah Andrews,

back East and was the father of a large family.

There were three sons named Ralph, two having

died in infancy, and the third who followed in

the footsteps of his father and attained great

prominence. The other sons were Reuben E.,

Chauncey Harvey, Darwin T., and James H. The

daughters were Eleanora, Mary Jane, Rachel, and

Mary. All of the children left their imprint for

much good on the community in which they lived.

DR. GEORGE M. SMITH, of New Hampshire,

came to Delaware in 1826 and formed a partner-

ship with Dr. James Hills. He was a thorough

anatomist. He was compelled to leave his native

State for exhuming a human body for the purpose

of study. After several years in Delaware his

abode was discovered by the authorities in the

East. He then went to Mississippi where he

married a woman of wealth. In a few years he

returned north on a visit and died of cholera.

Dr. Smith is particularly remembered because he

was the first one to introduce quinine in the

county for the treatment of chills and fever, and

malaria. This was in 1826.

DR. W. W. MILLER, given to us by Virginia

in 1827, first practiced in famed Worthington

briefly, and then came to Delaware. While he

was well trained, he did not seem to do well

here and moved shortly to Columbus and after

that to Missouri. He was a brother-in-law of

United States President, John Tyler.

Ralph Hills

DR. RALPH HILLS began practice in Delaware

in 1830. He was the son of Dr. James H. Hills,

of whom we have spoken and who began his

work in Worthington in 1808, coming to Dela-

ware in 1822. Dr. Ralph Hills was born in

Worthington in 1810 and was 12 years old when

he came to Delaware, with his parents. In the

first years of his life he was given the most

careful training, under the best teachers of his


At the age of 17 Ralph took up the study of

medicine under his father. He went to Cincinnati

in 1828 to attend medical lectures. He showed

great aptness and did thorough work in all

branches, but he devoted himself especially to

the study of the nervous system. In 1830, be-

fore his graduation, he was compelled to return

home on account of the death of his father. The

faculty of the college granted him an honorary

degree to practice medicine.

National Fame

The reputation of Dr. Ralph Hills as a suc-

cessful physician and surgeon became known far

and near. He was a great student in many

branches of knowledge and he was employed

to deliver a series of lectures on astronomy, and

traveled with the Russell's Great Planitarium for

two years. He was a great thinker on many sci-

A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians Of Delaware County, Ohio (p. 8)


A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians Of Delaware County, Ohio (p. 8)


[page 8]

[corresponds to page 8 of A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians Of Delaware County, Ohio]

entific subjects, other than those pertaining to

medicine. As a writer, none questioned his ability.

His judgment and calculations upon matters of

business were almost unerring.

After a few years of hard practice, at the

earnest request of his uncle, Dr. Eli Todd, who

had charge of a large hospital for the insane at

Hartford, Conn., Dr. Hills went there to assist

in the work and to study nervous disorders.

This study and knowledge under Dr. Tood, laid

the foundation for his great work and usefulness

in after years.

It was in Dr. Hills' parlor and through his

influence, that the idea originated and developed

into the Ohio Wesleyan Female College. Through

him and his intimate friends the Ohio Wesleyan

Univerity's future greatness was assured. In

1854 he established and edited the first weekly

medical journal, published in the West.

Headed Columbus Asylum

After two years of editorial work and pub-

lishing he was called to the superintendency of

the Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum at Columbus,

Ohio. For more than eight years he labored in

the new field, going to Europe to study all of

the new advancements in the great field of

nervous diseases. His work of advancement for

the unfortunate made his name nationally promin-

ent. He was called in 1862 to plan, superintend,

and build the largest state asylum in the United

States at Weston, West Virginia. In 1871 he

completed the task and established a new era

in this branch of medical science, which will

last for ages.

Dr. Hills then returned to his home in Dela-

ware and retired from active life. Possessing an

active brain and a strong physique for a man of

his age and labors, it was not intended that

he should be idle. He then designed, pattented

and built several fireproof houses which added

to his fame. He also organized, among the

physicians, a class to study and investigate medi-

cal and other scientific subjects.

It was said by Dr. Clouston, of England, that

"Dr. Hills was a third of a century in advance

of his time in the treatment and care of the

insane. He has unlocked the strong, iron-barred

doors and has cut the shackles from the ankles

and wrists of the unfortunate insane and has

turned them loose to enjoy the playgrounds and

the beautiful sunshine, and has given them other

equally beneficial entertainment."

Ohio state authorities soon sought out Dela-

ware's great thinker and tendered him the posi-

tion of head of the Girls' Industrial Home in

this County. Again he went to work to benefit

humanity. In the very midst of his active work

he was summoned by the great Master, whom he

had always served in a conscientious manner, to

His realm. Stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage,

in a few days it was all over and his work was

done, October 1879. In a short time his widow

followed, leaving a daughter.

Others That Followed

The foregoing is as much as we can cover now,

bringing us up to about 1850, but following are

the names of other physicians that through the

years have been here some time, were popular and

well regarded by the physicians and the citizens:

Dr. M. Gerhard came here in 1840, married the

granddaughter of Dr. Reuben Lamb, and died in

1868; Musician--played many instruments. He

owned the first piano ever in Delaware and it

was frequently borrowed by Ohio Wesleyan Uni-

versity for commencement exercises. He was the

first in the county to use chloroform as a general

anesthetic for surgery and the first to use antisep-

tics in open wounds.

Dr. Abram Blymer came in 1841 and died in

1882. He was one of our best physicians and

a great and respected leader in the community.

Dr. T. B. Williams came in 1849; Was in

the Civil War as a Surgeon; Served long on the

School Board and was in the Ohio Legislature.

Died in 1879.

Included, also, were Dr. John Little; Dr.

Joseph H. Van Deman; Dr. Joseph McCann;

Dr. E. H. Hyatt; Dr. W. T. Constant; Dr. A.

E. Westbrook, Ashley; Dr. B. W. Hedges, and

Dr. W. N. Vogt.


Dublin Core


A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians Of Delaware County, Ohio


Delaware County--Ohio--History
Physicians--Ohio--Delaware County--History


This re-printed article from the The Ohio State Medical Journal, August-September- October, 1959, covers the history of physicians in Delaware County beginning in the early 1800s.


Author Doctor M. S. Cherington


The Ohio State Medical Journal, August-September- October, 1959.


Columbus, Ohio: Stoneman Press















Author Doctor M. S. Cherington, “A Short History of Medicine and the Physicians Of Delaware County, Ohio,” Delaware County Memory, accessed July 15, 2024, http://delawarecountymemory.org/items/show/211.

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