Detroit cannot be recommended as the paradise of physicians. The general mildness of the climate,
the pure breezes from the river and lake, the complete system of drainage, for which there are exceptional facilities, the inexhaustible supply of superior
water, the abundance and variety of fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables in its markets, the favorable
sanitary conditions, resulting from our wide and well-kept streets, the enlightened and efficient efforts of the Health Officers and Sanitary Police,
the almost entire absence of tenement houses, and the fact ihat a large majority of the inhabitants own their homes, are all to be taken into account in
explaining its fortunate condition as one of the most healthy cities in the world.
In cases of disease, these advantages are favorable to the physicians, making their prescriptions more effective and increasing the average of cures.
The doctors thus get full credit for their skill, and this fact, added to other desirable features, makes the city attractive to physicians as a place of residence, notwithstanding its general healthfuiness.
During the last forty years the prevailing diseases have been malarious fever, rheumatism, pneumonia, choleraic affections, croup, and pleurisy. There
have also been occasional visitations of the ordinary epidemic and contagious diseases, such as influenza, measles, scarlet-fever, small-pox, etc.,
and within twenty years typhoid, or rather typhomalarial fevers and diphtheria have been added to the above list, which, it will be observed, embraces
only the diseases common to temperate climates. Detroit has an advantage over other ordinarily healthy cities in the same latitude, in that these diseases, when they occur, arc exceptionally mild in
type. The yearly death-rate averages only about twenty for every i ,ooo persons. The total number of deaths reported in 1880 was 1.074: in 1881, 1.709; in 1882, 2,712: and in 1883. 2.957.
Old records show thai in 1703 the small-pox made severe inroads upon the infant colony. It appears from statements made in Zeisbcrgcr's diary, that small-pox was very prevalent at Detroit in December, 1785, and that the population generally were
greatly alarmed. It also appears that in September, 1789. a pestilence of some sort prevailed of which many people died. It is also undoubtedly true that the first American settlers suffered much from fever and ague, and whiskey, as an antidote, was freely
used by almost every one. In course of time quinine was substituted, and this, combined with other remedies, was first administered under the name of Dr. Sappington's Pills.
In the fall and winter of 1813 a severe epidemic prevailed in General Harrison's army. Hundreds of soldiers died, and were buried near the fort. The removal of their remains in 1826, at the time the Military Reserve was laid out into lots, was doubtless one of the causes of the illness of that year which carried away H. J. Hunt. A. (.1. Whitney, and other prominent citizens.
The first serious epidemic among citizens occurred in 1832. and in anticipation of its coming the Hoard of Health, on June 25. issued printed instructions
for the prevention and cure of the cholera, including lists of medicines and prescriptions for children and adults. The mayor's proclamation, appended to these instructions, forbade vessels from any other
port to approach within a hundred yards, or to land any person until after an examination by a health officer.
On July 4 the steamer Henry Clay arrived; she was on her way to Chicago with three hundred and seventy soldiers for the Itlack Hawk War. under command of Colonel Twiggs. On July 5 one of the
soldiers died of cholera, and the vessel was immediately ordered to Hog Island. From there she went on her way. but the disease attacked so many of the
troops that it was useless for the vessel to proceed and she was compelled to stop at Fort Gratiot. From there the soldiers began to make their way to
Detroit, but many of them died on the road, and were devoured by wild beasts; only one hundred and fifty reached the city, arriving here about July 8. They then embarked on the steamboat Wm.
Penn. but the disease compelled them to leave the vessel, and they went into camp at Springvills where they remained until the scuurge had expended its force.
Meanwhile, on July 6. two citizens died of the disease, and a panic was at once created. Many persons left their business and fled from the city. In
the country the excitement was even greater than at Detroit. On the arrival of the mail-coach at Ypsilanti, the driver was ordered by a health officer to
stop, that an examination of passengers might be made. The driver refusing, his horses were fired on; one was killed, and the driver himself had a
narrow escape. At other places fences were built across the roads, and travelers were compelled to turn back. At Rochester persons from Detroit were turned out of the hotel and their baggage thrown after them, and ihe bridges were torn up to prevent persons from entering the village. At Pontiac a body of men were armed, and sentinels were stationed
on the highway to prevent ingress. One of the citizens of this latter place. Dr. Porter. came here to investigate the disease, but on his return he was
refused admittance to his own home and compelled to revisit our city. In Detroit the Board of Health issued regular bulletins, and the court and jury-rooms in the old capitol were used for hospital purposes, liy August 15 the epidemic was practically
over. The deaths, ninety-six in number, could be traced in most instances to intemperance and carelessness.
Two years later the disease again appeared, and this time with added horrors. It began its work of destruction the first of August, and continued till the
last of September. The greatest number of deaths in any one day was sixteen. In twenty days there were one hundred and twenty-two deaths from cholera, and fifty-seven from other causes. Ninety-five of these victims were strangers. Seven per cent of the population died in a month. The oldest and best citizens, as well as those comparatively
unknown, were numbered among the dead. Business was hardly thought of. The air appeared unusually oppressive, and to purify it large kettles of pitch were burned at night in front of various houses, and at intervals along the streets; the burial rite was shortened; and persons were not allowed to enter or leave the city without inspection and due delay. It had been the custom to toll the Ik* 11 on the occasion of a death, but the tolling became so frequent that it increased the |>anic, and was therefore discontinued.
Mayor Trowbridge was especially active. Day after day he visited the hospital, and in many ways cared for the sick, most honorably fulfilling his duties as the chief magistrate of the city in its time of greatest need. A nurse corps was organized, and among those who gave special and personal attention to the patients were Drs. Whiting. Kite, and Chapin, Peter Desnoyers, Z. Chandler, John Farmer, and W. N. Carpenter.
Some of the patients were saved by the care of volunteer attendants after they had been given up by the regular physicians. In the case of one man thus given over. Mr. Farmer asked if he might give the man some " No. 6." The answer was " Yes ; give him arsenic if you want to,"—meaning that the man's case was hopeless. Some " No. 6" was administered; the man's pulse returned, he got better, and in three days was up and at his work. Tall, strong, brave Father Martin Kundig outshone and outdid all others by his tireless devotion to the sick and the dying. Noon after the cholera made its appearance. Father Kundig bought the old Presbyterian Church, which had just been moved to
the northwest corner of Hates Street and Michigan Grand Avenue, and divided it into two apartments, for male and female patients respectively. Out of four rows of pews, every second one was removed, and his hospital was ready. A one-horse ambulance
was then prepared, and morning after morning, night after night, he went here and there, gathering in the sick and taking them to the refuge which combined sanctuary and hospital. He was so much of the time among the patients that he was avoided on the streets lest he should spread the contagion. Dying patients, as they passed away, committed their children to his care, ami the trust was faithfully administered. The Legislature, on March 18, 1837, voted him 83.000 in acknowledgment of his services ; but, as is shown elsewhere, he was never fully reimbursed for the expenses he incurred.
Father Kundig was ably seconded by the Catholic Female Association and by the Sisters of St. Claire- Mr. Alpheus White also rendered ellicieni aid, not only neglecting his business himself, but giving also the time of his employees.
In June, 1849, the reappearance of the cholera was feared, and the following notice appeared in the daily papers:
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Friday. the inst. having been appointed by his Honor, The Mayor, aa a day of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving in view of an impending and terrible yet withheld epidemic, the public School of the city will therefore be dismissed for that day.
Levi Bishop - Chairman Committee School.
At this time the citizens turned out in force to clean up the city and to see that all nuisances were abated. The Common Council, at the suggestion of the Board of Health, passed an ordinance forbidding the sale of fresh fish, oysters, fruits, vegetables, veal, or pork. On July 9 the first death look place. July 16 there were three deaths. July 18 there were four, and on the 19th there were ten cases of cholera. On the 23d three died, and on the 25th seven deaths were reported. The mortality continued to increase, the aggregate of interments for the month being seven hundred and eighty-one. The average of deaths from cholera was twelve per day. and on several days the number of deaths ranged from thirty-five to forty. From the 1st to the 20th of August the number of deaths was two hundred and eighty.
The scourge, at this time, was a national one, and by proclamation of President Taylor the first Friday in August was observed as a day of fasting and prayer. Soon after this the mortality decreased, and on August 22 a Committee of the Council, appointed to make a daily report, was discharged, and the ordinance prohibiting the sale of certain fruits, meats and vegetables was rescinded. On August 25 the
disease again broke out. raged with virulence until the early part of September, and then gradually subsided. Its last victim died on September 12. In 1854 the pestilence again visited the city, and the papers made daily appeals to citizens to " sprinkle lime." It made its appearance in the latter part of
May. In June the number of deaths averaged two or three per day. In July the number of deaths from all causes was two hundred and fifty-nine, a majority being reported as from cholera. During August the scourge disappeared.
Medicine men are no modern innovation. The red men of the furcst used long words and mysterious decoctions long before the French "chirurgeons came". The Wa-be-no, a secret society of Indian prophets, or medicine men. once held its annual
meeting near Springwclls. and their mystic incantations and incomprehensible compounds formed a fitting prelude to the cabalistic signs and abbreviated Latin of their regular and irregular successors. The old records of St. Anne's Church contain the names, not only of the rur/s, but of the healers as well, and as early as May 9, 1710, the name of M. Henry Bel lisle, Chirurgeon, was inscribed therein. The names of others appear, on the following
dates: November 26. 1715, M.Jean Baptiste Forester; January 20, 1720. M. Pierre Jean Chapoton. Jr. February 8. 1755. the name of Gabriel Christopher Legrand, "Surgeon-Major of the Troops." appears. The records also show that, as a tilled surgeon, he outranked any of his predecessors or successors.
He was the " son of Graibel Louis LeGrand Esq., Sieur de Sinere. Viscount de Mortoim. Chevalier of the Royal and Military Order of St. Louis, and of Henriette Catharine de Cremay." A return of January 12, 1761. by George Croghan. of persons employed by the Government at Detroit,
contains the name of " Doctor Antoney," at " five shillings per day." This is undoubtedly meant for the name of Dr. George C. Anihon. He came to Detroit on November 29. 1760, with Major Rogers.
and was the sole medical officer of the post. The troops of the army and navy, the inhabitants, and the Indians, all alike in turn were patients of this gifted physician. He resigned on August 4, 1786. In 1780 the name of Dr. William Menzies appears.
The earlier physicians carried medicines and little scales, weighing out their prescriptions at the houses of their patients, and their long cues, powdered hair,
and ruffled shirt-fronis enforced the respect which their profession commanded. In his relation to their personal well-being, the doctor often comes to
be esteemed and reverenced among men as much as the pastor. His touch and his tread become known and loved, and his questions and his quassia even are longed for. The names of some of the physicians of the past are "as ointment poured forth." and their memory lingers like the perfume of cedars; strength and grace were theirs. Among the most widely known of the physicians of former days were the following:
William McCoskry, William Brown, Stephen C. Henry, J. L. Whiling, Marshall Chapin, Douglas Houghlon, E. Hurd, Zina Pitcher, A. L. Porter, R. S. Rice, Shelomith S. Hall, A. R Terry, George B. Russel, Abraham Sagar, J. H. Scovel, L. F Starkcy. Robert McMillan, T. B. Clark, E. A Thelter, H. P Cobb, L. H. Cobb, E. G. Desnoyers, Francis Brcckenridge, Justin Rice, Linus Molt, J. H. Bagg, E. W. Cowles, Pliny Power, Moses Gunn, J. C. Gorton, E Batwell, C. S. Tripler, C. N. Ege, Ira M. Allen, J. M. Alden. Richard Inglis, E. H. Drake. George Bigelow, E. M. Clark, A. L. Leland, J. J. Oakley, Isaac S. Smith. N. D. Stebbins, S. B. Thayer, S. M. Ax-ford. Rufus Brown. I). Day, E. Kane. A. B. Palmer. L. C. Rose, M. P. Stewart, S. G. Armor, A. S. Heaton, and D. O. Farrand.
The physicians now resident in Detroit are located conveniently all over the city. Many of them are established on and near I,afaycttc Avenue, and those desiring treatment by any of the popular "pathies " of the day can be accommodated.
The Medical College graduates a large number of students every year, several excellent hospitals afford exceptional clinical advantages, and a number of valuable medical journals are published in the city.
While the doctors have often been enabled to keep their patients alive, their own societies have over and again died for want of care and because of improper treatment. It is evidently easier to compound drugs than to harmonize the views of members of the profession, and a diagnosis of some "Society" cases would perhaps reveal symptoms ornmental poisoning. The first society was authorized by an Act of the Legislative Council of June 14, 1819. Under this Act the physicians and surgeons of the Territory were authorized to meet in Detroit on July 3. 1819, to form a medical society.
The Act also provided for the formation of county societies, who were authorized to examine persons seeking to practice, and to grant diplomas. A fee of $10 was to be paid for each diploma, and without Mich diploma no one might practice. Disaster of some kind soon terminated the existence of
these organizations. In 1839 the Michigan Medical Society was in existence, with D. 0. Hoyt as president and K. W. Cowles as secretary. A few years later the Sydenham Medical Society was organized. It ceased in 1848. The Wayne County Medical Society was organized in May. 1866, and lived for ten years. It was then disbanded, and on August 17, 1876, a new society by the same name was organized. William Hrodie, president, and W. H. Rouse, secretary, have served from its organization, except for 1884 and 1885. when C. C. Yemans was President.
A Wayne County Homoeopathic Institute was organized July 3. 1868. and continued in existence for ten years. It was succeeded, in 1878. by the Homoeopathic College of Physicians and Surgeons, organized October 21, 1878. and incorporated on January 20. 1879. The presidents and recorders of this institute have been as follows: Presidents.— 1878-1881. F. X. Spranger; 1881. C. C. Miller; 1882, R. C. Olin; 1883. J. McGuire; 1884-1887. Phil. Porter: 1887. E. P. Gaylord. Rccorders,- 1878-1883. J. G. Gilchrist; 1883- , J. M. Griffin.
Since April, 1880, it has maintained a Free Dispensary, which is a continuation of a Free Homceopathic Dispensary organized by a number of ladies in 1876.
The Detroit Academy of Medicine was organized on September 18, 1869. at the office of Richard Inglis. The officers have been as follows: Presidents.—1869, Richard Inglis; 1870, E. W. Jenks; 1871. H. F. Lyster; 1872, James F. Noyes; 1873, Henry A. Cicland; 1874. E. L. Shurly; 1875. C. B. Gilbert; 1876. George P. Andrews; 1877, Lean us Connor; 1878, A. B. Lyons; 1879 and 1880, Theodore A. McGraw; 1881, H. O. Walker; 1882- 1884, Judson Bradley; 1884. W. H. Long; 1885. J. E. Emerson; 1886- , W. H. Long. Secretaries, —1869. W. H. Lathrop; 1870. A. B. Lyons; 1871, L. Connor; 1872, A. B. Lyons; 1873, Frank Livermore; 1874. A. B. Lyons; 1875, H. 0. Walker; 1876 and 1877. James D. Munson; 1878. E. A. ChapOtOO; 1879 and 1880, J W. Robertson; i881, A. E. Carrier. 1882. Morse Stewart. Jr.; 1883- , A. B. Lyons.
The Detroit Medical and Library Association was organized October 4. 1876. and incorporated March 12, 1877. The officers have been as follows: Presidents.—1877. J. A. Brown. 1878, A. S. Heaton; 1879, E. L. Shurly; 1880. H. A. Cleland; 1881. T. A. McGraw; 1882, N. W. Webber; 1883-1885, A. Jamieson . 1885.D Inglis; 1886. C.J. Lundy; 1887. H. 0. Walker. Secretaries,—1877 and 1878. T F.Kerr; 1879. F, D. Porter; 1880-1885, Willard Chaney; 1885-1887. Geo. Duffield; 1887, F. W. Mann