Tag Archives: Medical History

Remarkable North Country Multiple Births

Cover Twins MagazineIn days of yore (pre-Internet times), I once subscribed to more than a dozen different magazines. Further back, in the 1960s and 1970s, there seemed to be a magazine for just about any subject that anyone was ever interested in. I was reminded of this last year when a saw a cover titled TWINS. The subject matter was everything related to twins: having them, being one, doctoring them, parenting them, and so on.

What really surprised me was the subtitle: The Magazine for Multiples Since 1984. I’d never heard of it, but it has been around for nearly three decades. It also reminded me of some twin-related North Country stories I’ve collected over the years. Here’s a sampling. Continue reading

A Unique North Country Civil War Connection

Plaque 77th Reg NYS Vol NYH1It’s guaranteed that you’re going to enjoy this, another unique North Country link to the Civil War. It sounds like something culled from the pages of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and begs the question: what the heck are the odds of that happening?

Though I can’t answer the question, I do recall that in my former employment, it was notable when three men all having the same first name worked in the same department. So what can you say about “The One-Legged Jims,” a group of three Civil War veterans? Continue reading

New Exhibit on 18th Century Medicine at Fort Ticonderoga

medicine exhibitFort Ticonderoga’s newest exhibit, “It would make a heart of stone melt”: Sickness, Injury, and Medicine at Fort Ticonderoga, is now open. The exhibit explores early medical theory, practice, and experience as each relates to the armies that served at Fort Ticonderoga in the 18th century.

Organized into several sections, the exhibit presents an overview of medical practices, diseases of the army, and the treatment of wounds for the armies that fought in America during the French and Indian War and American Revolution. Continue reading

Mount Lebanon Herb Festival at Historic Shaker Village

2nd annual mount lebanon herbfest finalThe Mount Lebanon Herb Festival will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, rain or shine on the campus of the Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY, the historic grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.

New Lebanon has a remarkable history with herbs. Its famous warm spring feeds the Shaker Swamp in the village of New Lebanon, and that supported an extraordinary collection of wild herbs long used by Native Americans. The Shakers, who based their national headquarters in New Lebanon, expanded on the uses of these herbs and created an industry around their sales. In 1824, Elam Tilden (father of politician Samuel J. Tilden) put this knowledge toward the start of one of the nation’s first pharmaceutical companies, the Tilden Company, using herbal tinctures, extracts and compounds derived in New Lebanon that were eventually marketed around the world. Continue reading

AIDS in New York: The First Five Years

aids-ResearchnotHysteriaAP8306270128The early history of the AIDS epidemic in New York City—from the first rumors in 1981 of a “gay plague” through the ensuing period of intense activism, clinical research, and political struggle—will be the subject of a major new exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, AIDS in New York: The First Five Years, on view from June 7 through September 15, 2013.

With a wealth of materials drawn from New-York Historical’s archives as well as the archives of the New York Public Library, New York University, and the National Archive of LGBT History, the exhibition will use artifacts including clinicians’ notes, journal entries, diaries, letters, audio and video clips, posters, photographs, pamphlets, and newspapers to revisit the impact of the epidemic on personal lives and public culture in New York City and the nation.
Continue reading

A Tompkins County Civil War Love StoryNew Exhibition Opens At The NYS Museum

tarbell_portraitsAn exhibition featuring a Civil War love story, I Shall Think of You Often: The Civil War Story of Doctor and Mary Tarbell, opened Saturday, March 30, 2013 at the New York State Museum.

The exhibit focuses on the life and marriage of Doctor and Mary Tarbell of Tompkins County, New York, during the Civil War. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War, a 7,000-square foot exhibition commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Both exhibitions are open through September 22, 2013. Continue reading

Lyon Mountain Mines: George Davies of Clinton County


George Davies of Standish in Clinton County was about as tough an Adirondacker as you’ll find anywhere. Standish was the sister community to Lyon Mountain during its century-long run of producing the world’s best iron ore. Davies (1892–1983) was among the many old-timers I interviewed around 1980 for my second book, Lyon Mountain: The Tragedy of a Mining Town. He was kind, welcoming, and honest in describing events of long ago.

George was a good man. The stories he told me seemed far-fetched at first, but follow-up research in microfilm archives left me amazed at his accuracy recounting events of the early 1900s. His truthfulness was confirmed in articles on items like strikes, riots, injuries, and deaths.

When I last interviewed George in 1981 (he was 88), he proudly showed me a photograph of himself as Machine Shop Supervisor in the iron mines, accepting a prestigious award for safety. I laughed so hard I almost cried as he described the scene. George, you see, had to hold the award just so, hiding the fact that he had far fewer than his originally allotted ten fingers. He figured it wouldn’t look right to reveal his stubs while cradling a safety plaque.
In matter-of-fact fashion, he proceeded to tell me what happened. Taken from the book, here are snippets from our conversation as recorded in 1981: “I lost one full finger and half of another in a machine, but I still took my early March trapping run to the Springs. I had a camp six miles up the Owl’s Head Road. While I was out there, I slipped in the water and nearly froze the hand. I had to remove the bandages to thaw out my hand, and I was all alone, of course. It was just something I had to do to survive.

“When I lost the end of my second finger in an accident at work, I was back on the job in forty-five minutes. Another time I was hit on the head by a lever on a crane. It knocked me senseless for ten minutes. When I woke up, I went back to work within a few minutes. [George also pointed out that, in those days, there was no sick time, no vacation time, and no holidays. Unionization was still three decades away, and the furnace’s schedule ran around the clock.]

“When I started working down here, the work day was twelve hours per day, seven days a week, and the pay was $1.80 per day for twelve hours [fifteen cents per hour] around the year 1910. That was poor money back then. When they gave you a raise, it was only one or two cents an hour, and they didn’t give them very often.

“In one month of January I had thirty-nine of the twelve-hour shifts. You had to work thirty-six hours to put an extra shift in, and you still got the fourteen or fifteen cents per hour. It was pretty rough going, but everybody lived through it. Some people did all right back then. Of course, it wasn’t a dollar and a half for cigarettes back then [remember, this was recorded in 1981].

“Two fellows took sick at the same time, two engineers that ran the switches. They sent me out to work, and I worked sixty hours without coming home. Then the boss came out to run it and I went and slept for twelve hours. Then I returned for a thirty-six hour shift. No overtime pay, just the rate of twenty-five cents per hour.” Now THAT’s Lyon Mountain toughness.

The tough man had also been a tough kid. “When I was thirteen years old, I worked cleaning bricks from the kilns at one dollar for one thousand. On July 3rd, 1907, when I was fifteen, I accidentally shot myself in the leg. I stayed in Standish that night, and on the next day I walked to Lyon Mountain, about three miles of rough walking.”

His father was in charge of repairing the trains, and young George climbed aboard as often as he could. “I was running those engines when I was sixteen years old, all alone, and I didn’t even have a fireman. I always wanted to be on the railroad, but I had the pleasure of losing an eye when I was nine years old. I was chopping wood and a stick flew up and hit me in the eye.

“I pulled it out, and I could see all right for a while. Not long after, I lost sight in it. The stick had cut the eyeball and the pupil, and a cataract or something ruined my eye. The doctor wanted to take the eye out, but I’ve still got it. And that’s what kept me off of the railroad. That was  seventy-nine years ago, in 1901.”

Next week: A few of George Davies’ remarkable acquaintances.

Photo: George Davies.

Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 books and more than 100 articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 32 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing

Leeches and Laudanum: 18th Century Medicine

The Colonie (Albany County) Historical Society will host a program entitled &#8220Leeches &amp- Laudanum: Medicine in 18th Century New York,&#8221 presented by museum educator and re-enactor Stuart W. Lehman.

Bloodletting and purges were standard treatments in eighteenth century medicine. Operations were performed without benefit of anesthesia or sterilized equipment, however many remedies available in Colonial New York did help and some are still used today. Continue reading

John L. Dunlap: A Jefferson County Eccentric

Eccentricsthey’re part of virtually every community, and, in fact, are usually the people we remember best. The definition of eccentricbehavior that is odd, or non-customarycertainly fit Watertown’s John L. Dunlap. 

Historians noted his “peculiar kinks of mind,” and referred to him as “a person of comic interest,” but they knew little of the man before he reached the age of 50. His peculiarities overshadowed an entertaining life filled with plenty of substance. And he just may have been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.

Dunlap’s story began more than 200 years ago, rooted in the American Revolution. In 1774, his father (John) and grandfather emigrated from Scotland to Washington County, N.Y. In 177778 they fought in the War of Independence and saw plenty of action. According to a payroll attachment from his regiment, Dunlap served at Ticonderoga. Years later, he became a Presbyterian pastor in Cambridge, New York, and in 1791 married Catherine Courtenius. It took time for the reverend to see the light about the rights of manrecords indicate that he freed Nell, his slave, in September 1814, not long after several of his parishioners had liberated their own slaves.Among the children born to John and Catherine Dunlap was John L., who arrived in the late 1790s. He was reared on stories of his dad and grand-dad battling for America’s freedom. While his father ministered to the spiritual needs of several Washington County communities for many decades, John L. became a doctor in 1826 and likewise tended to their physical needs for more than 20 years, serving in Cambridge, Salem, and Shushan.Dunlap focused on two passions in life: his line of self-developed remedies for all sorts of illnesses, and a consuming interest in politics on both the state and national level.  He pursued both with great vigor and developed a reputation as an orator in the Albany-Troy area.On July 4, 1848, John delivered a stirring oration at the courthouse in Troy, an event so popular that reportedly “thousands were unable to find admission.” Repeat performances were so in demand that for the next two years he gave the same speech in Troy, Utica, and elsewhere, at the same time marketing and selling his various medicines. Dunlap’s Syrup was claimed to cure Consumption, Dyspepsia, Scrofula, Liver Complaints, and other ills.Just as his father had left Washington County decades earlier to help establish churches in several central New York towns, Dunlap took his speech on the road to Schenectady, Utica, and other locales. Crowds gathered to hear his famous lecture and purchase his line of medicines.He had sought public office in the past, but his increasingly high profile and passion for politics presented new opportunities. At the 1850 state Democratic Convention in Syracuse, Dunlap’s name was among those submitted as the party candidate for governor. Horatio Seymour eventually won the nomination.Shortly after, Dunlap settled in Watertown and announced his Independent candidacy as a Jefferson County representative. He was as outspoken as alwayssome viewed him as eccentric, while others saw in him a free thinker. Fearless in taking a stand, he called for the annexation of Cuba and Canada, and was a proponent of women’s rights.Viewed from more recent times, those stances might sound a little off-the-wall, but there was actually nothing eccentric about the annexation issues. The Cuban idea was a prominent topic in 1850, and the annexation of Canada was based in America’s Articles of Confederation, which contained a specific clause allowing Canada to join the United States. And as far as women’s rights are concerned, he proved to be a man far ahead of his time.

In late 1851, Dunlap went on a speaking tour, including stops in Syracuse and Rochester, and announced his candidacy for President. The Syracuse Star said, “We suspect he is just as fit a man for president as Zachary Taylor was.”From that point on, Dunlap was a perennial candidate for office, always running but never winning. In 185556, he announced for the US Senate- not gaining the nomination, he announced for the Presidency (he was promoted as the “Second Old Hickory of America”)- and not winning that nomination, he announced for the governorship of New York. And he did all of that within a 12-month span.All the while, Dunlap continued selling his medicines and seeing patients in his office at Watertown’s Hungerford Block. An 1856 advertisement noted: “His justly celebrated Cough and Lung Syrup, to cure asthma and bleeding of the lungs, surpasses all the preparations now in use in the United States.”Another of his concoctions was advertised in verse:“Let me advise you ’ere it be too late,And the grim foe, Consumption, seals your fate,To get that remedy most sure and calm, A bottle of Dr. Dunlap’s Healing Balm.”His vegetable compounds were claimed as cures for dozens of ailments ranging from general weakness to eruptions of the skin to heart palpitations. There was no restraint in his advertisements, one of which placed him in particularly high company.It read: “Christopher Columbus was raised up to discover a new world. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, captivated by her charms two Roman Generals, Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony. Napoleon Bonaparte was raised up to conquer nearly all of Europe and put down the Inquisition in Spain. George Washington was raised up to be the deliverer of his country. Dr. John L. Dunlap of Watertown, N.Y. was raised up to make great and important discoveries in medicine, and to alleviate the sufferings and prolong the lives of thousands of human beings.”Next week: Part 2?Dunlap gains a national reputation.Photo: Official handbill of the People’s Convention promoting the candidacy of Dunlap and Grant (1864).Lawrence Gooley has authored eleven books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 23 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Crown Point: The Remarkable Life of Enos Dudley

“Card of Thanks” entries were routine fare in newspapers of years past. They were commonly used by families acknowledging those who provided aid and comfort during times of bereavement. The “Cards” shared a standard formatciting doctors, nurses, and friends, followed by the names of the immediate-family members who were doing the thanking—but some stood out as unusual. The death of Crown Point’s Enos Dudley in 1950 is a case in point.Shortly after he passed, a Card of Thanks noted “the death of our beloved father, Enos J. Dudley” and featured the names of seven family members. Below it was a second Card of Thanks referring to Enos as “our beloved husband and father.” It ended with the names of six other family members.

Intriguing, for sure. My suspicion was that there had to be a story there somewhere, so I began digging. As it turns out, Enos led a pretty normal life, spent almost entirely within a few miles of his birthplace. A few details about his family, however, proved to be anything but ordinary.He was born in 1869 and married Frances Kinney of Ticonderoga in 1888. Within a year they began raising a family. Sons Roy, Jerry, and John came in quick succession, followed by twins Ella and Della. By 1902, Walter, Greta, and Keith had brought the count up to eight children.At that same time, newspaper mention was made of the ninth daughter (unusual in itself) born to the Evangelist Cassina family of Ticonderoga, a fact that will tie in to Enos’ story later.In the early 1900s, typhoid fever was the scourge of many North Country communities. Deaths were common, and in 1909, the family of Enos Dudley was hard-hit. His wife, Frances, after frequent illnesses, succumbed to the disease in late June.The Dudley children, beset by sickness, were tended to by local doctors. Various women in the community looked after the family’s everyday needs as Enos struggled with the loss of his wife. In September, tragedy struck again when 20-year-old Roy, the oldest child, died.A few months later, six of the Dudley children were stricken with scarlet fever, but all survived and were on their way to recovery by spring, thanks once again to community support.In late 1912, Enos, 43, was engaged to marry 21-year-old Christina Cassina (second daughter of the aforementioned all-girl Ticonderoga family). They were joined on November 28 in Montreal.Nine months later, both of Enos’ families expanded. On August 7, he welcomed a grandson (his son Jerry was the father), and on August 10, Enos himself became a father again when Florence was born. There were two numerical twists associated with the births: Enos’s new wife (Christina) was one year younger than his son (Jerry), and Enos’ new daughter was three days younger than his new grandson!Unusual, certainly, but perhaps not qualified for the upper stratosphere of rarities. Still, Enos and Christina weren’t finished just yet. In 1915, when he was 46 and she was 24, they had a son, Roy. (This was Enos’ second Roy. His first Roy had died in 1909 from typhoid fever.) A series of health issues—back pain, a serious logging injury, and disabling bouts of sciatic rheumatism (sciatica)—plagued Enos as he aged, but in 1924, when he was 55 (life expectancy for a man then was 58), Christina gave birth to daughter Frances (named after Enos’ first wife).There was certainly no lack of drama or trauma in the life of Enos Dudley. Six months after Frances was born, Enos was buried beneath a load of wood that tipped over. He was hospitalized in critical condition with kidney damage and two broken ribs, but eventually recovered.In 1927, while working on road construction, he suffered serious injuries that almost resulted in the loss of an eye. Again, Enos survived, damaged but intact.In 1929, he nearly lost 14-year-old Roy in a winter sledding accident on Sugar Hill at Crown Point. On a roadway seldom used by automobiles, Roy was seated behind a 12-year-old friend when their speeding sled collided with a passing car. The younger boy was killed instantly, but his body cushioned the impact for Roy, who escaped with only minor injuries.Enos also suffered recurring bouts of severe rheumatism that required hospitalization. After one such incident, he was released from the hospital in spring 1930.Maybe it was the remarkable curative powers of the folks at the Moses-Ludington Hospital in Ticonderoga that kept him going. Whatever it was, apparently Enos felt realbetter real soon. In January 1931, nine months after his release, wife Christina gave birth to a daughter, Bernice. Already a grandfather many times over, the proud new dad was now 62 years old.Over the years, Enos worked many jobs to support his families, including farming, logging, operating an apartment building, driving a school bus, and working construction. In 1931 he ran one of the 20 gas stations (another very unusual number) that existed in Crown Point, and took a second job as night watchman at the Crown Point State Historic Site.Soon he returned to farming in the daytime while still maintaining the watchman job at night. Meanwhile, the family continued to grow, and within a few years, Enos was twice made a great-grandfather. Clearly his golden years would be filled with children of all ages.Perhaps that’s a bit of an understatement. On June 23, 1936, grandson William Enos Meldon was born to Enos’ daughter, Florence. And 20 days later, on July 13—if you haven’t already guessed—Enos and Christina welcomed their sixth child, Hugh.As crazy as it seems, this new son was younger than all of Enos’ grandchildren—and younger than his two great-grandchildren! Now THAT might qualify for any list of rare occurrences.Hugh was his 14th offspring. One child of Enos and Christina’s six children had not survived, so when Hugh was born, seven of eight children from Enos’ first marriage and five of six from his second marriage were all alive.In an interview, Enos said he worked two jobs and slept only four to five hours a day (and that any more sleep than that was a waste of time). Through hard times and near-fatal accidents, he had endured. No one would be questioning Enos Dudley’s stamina for those reasons, and perhaps one other: his youngest (Hugh) and oldest (the first Roy) children were born over 47 years apart … and long before the development of little blue pills.Another interesting coincidence: at that point, Enos’ wife Christina was 45, and he had been married for 45 years—21 to Frances and 24 to Christina.In 1939, Enos was hospitalized for heart problems and high blood pressure, but as tough as he was, two more years passed before he finally retired from the watchman job at age 72.Enos was finished having children of his own, but the family continued to grow, and the ups and downs of life continued. Daughter Frances was valedictorian of her class- son Roy served two years in Europe during World War Two- and wife Christina fell and broke her shoulder in 1948.Enos required more hospital stays and eventually moved to the Wells Nursing Home in Ticonderoga. In 1950, his grandson, Kenneth, 39, died following surgery. Three months later, Enos, 82, passed away, prompting two Cards of Thanks from two very appreciative families.Photo L to R: Daughter Florence Meldon, grandson William Meldon, son Hugh Dudley, and Enos Dudleygreat-grandfat
her, proud new grandfather, and proud new father (1936).
Lawrence Gooley has authored eleven books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 23 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.