CHAPTER XV.
THE PROFESSION OF MEDICINE

The Sullivan County Medical Society was organized at a meeting of the physicians at the courthouse at Sullivan, May 19, 1858. The first set of officers consisted of: H. N. Helms, president; S. R. Youngman, vice president; John J. Thompson, secretary, and John M. Hinkle, treasurer. The only other members present at this time were Eli Bowyer and w. R. Miller, who were chosen censors. The objects of the society were most commendable. The association was "for the purpose of mutual recognition and fellowship; the maintenance of union and good government among its members; the promotion of the interest, honor and usefulness of the profession; and the cultivation and advancement of medical science and literature, and the elevation of the standard of medical education."

The names of several additional members of the profession appear in the list of those in attendance at the second annual meeting. They were A. J. Miller, Ziba Foote, A. N. Wier, J. K. O'Haver, Harvey Brown and W. G. Stout.

The Civil war interfered with the activity of the society, and the physicians did not reorganize until the late sixties, at which time they became a branch of the state medical society.

Another organization of the physicians of the county into an association was effected at Sullivan, April 23, 1895. The officers elected at that time were: R. H. Crowder, president; Dr. Cushman, vice president: Dr. Pirtle, secretary: Walter N. Thompson, treasurer.

A physician whose connection with the southern part of the county a quarter of a century ago will be readily recalled was Dr. Richard M. Whalen, who died at his home near Carlisle, July 7, 1899. His son, J. R. Whalen, succeeds him in the practice of the profession at Carlisle. The elder Dr. Whalen was physician to an older generation. The family is a prominent one. A forefather was born in Ireland, and later generations have lived in North Carolina and Tennessee, and for more than three quarters of a century the name has been identified with Haddon township. The late Dr. Whalen did not take up the study of medicine until about thirty-five years old, having spent a year in selling clocks about the country, and his life was further diversified by an experience in teaming during the early days in Kansas. His preparation for the practice of medicine was completed by a course in the Rush Medical College of Chicago, in 1867, and he then returned to practice in his native county. Some years ago he was proprietor of a drug store at Carlisle. He was an honored member of his profession, a fine type of the country doctor.

Dr. Andrew N. Weir began practice about 1858 and for twenty-five years visited the sick about Graysville, and later had a drug store and established a practice in Sullivan. During the war he was with the Seventy-first Regiment, at first as captain of the Sullivan company, and in 1863 was commissioned assistant surgeon and in the following year promoted to surgeon of the regiment, with which he remained to the close of the war. He was born in Washington county, Indiana, November 9, 1832, and died at Sullivan in September, 1885. He was a Mason and Odd Fellow.

It is said that Dr. John J. Thompson, when he came to Sullivan in 1848, had but fifty cents. He was then twenty-four years old, had been practicing medicine for a while, and after getting well established in Sullivan became, in time, known as a wealthy man. He had completed his professional course at Rush Medical College, and was an able man in every way. He married Miss Mary A. Langston.

A physician whose practice in Sullivan county covered the middle decades of the last century was Alexander Marion Murphy, who about 1841 formed a partnership with Dr. J. K. O'Haver at Carlisle, and for thirty years or more was quite actively identified with the profession. He was one of the early physicians whose education was along the broad lines that characterize the modern physician's training. He had begun his studies in Bloomington, continued them in the medical college at Louisville, Kentucky, and after practicing for several years took other courses in the University of New York. He was a surgeon in the Ninety-seventh Indiana Regiment from 1862 to 1864.

Dr. Jesse M. Mathes, who was born in this county in 1841, was a soldier in Company D of the Twenty-first Regiment and Company I of the Ninety-seventh, until his discharge in the latter part of 1864 on account of a wound received at Kenesaw Mountain, studied medicine after the war and began practice at Carlisle about 1868. He was a graduate of Rush Medical College of Chicago.

The career of one of the old physicians deserves special mention because of its associations with the life and affairs of the county during the central period of the last century. Dr. Hamet N. Helms, though born in New York state in 1814, came with his parents, Jacob and Anna Helms, to Carlisle in 1817, and for half a century was identified with the county in a way that is worthy of note. His life's future was determined by an event when he was ten years old. His mother dying about that time, he was subsequently reared to manhood in the home of the eminent citizen and physician, Dr. John W. Davis. In consequence of this association he took up the study of medicine, and during the winter of 1837-38 attended medical lectures at Lexington, Kentucky. Among the incidents of his early career he is said to have piloted flatboats from the shallow waters of Busseron creek, down the Wabash, Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans. In 1839 he began a partnership practice with Dr. Davis, and during his professional experience was associated with several physicians who have helped make medical history in Sullivan county, among them being Dr. A. M. Murphy, Dr. John M. Hinkle, and Dr. W. R. Miller. Dr. Helms was a fine type of the old-style physician, a friend of every patient, and beloved in the community which he served. His later years were devoted to farming, on a fine country estate near Carlisle. The Methodist church at Carlisle owed much to his efforts as a contributor and active worker, and the philanthropic direction of his enterprise was also shown in his appointment during later life as a trustee of the Indiana Reform School for Boys. He died at Carlisle, September 16, 1892. He was first married to Mary A. Davis about 1839 and three children were born to them, Benjamin R., Margaret D. and Ann R. His wife dying about 1851, shortly after her death he made an overland trip to California. After his return he was married to Mrs. Amanda Sollee and by this marriage three children were born, Samuel D., Albert G. and Daniel W. V.

Benjamin Rush Helms, oldest son by the first marriage of Dr. Hamet N., spent nearly all his life at Carlisle and was also a physician. He was born in 1840 and died in 1887. A schoolboy in the Carlisle Academy when the war broke out, he enlisted in Company D of the Twenty-first Indiana Infantry, and was promoted to second lieutenant. He studied medicine at Rush Medical College, and practiced at Carlisle until 1882, when he moved to Henderson, Kentucky. His first wife was Lola Jenkins and his second, Ella Letcherer.

Robert H. Crowder, whose father was a physician, was this well known family's representative in the field of medicine in Sullivan county. He began practice at Graysville some time during the war, but gave it up to enter the army, first as captain of a company, and later as surgeon of the Eleventh Indiana. After being mustered out in 1865 he re-entered Rush Medical College at Chicago, and, graduating in 1866, returned to a permanent connection with Sullivan as a physician.

A physician who began practice at Sullivan a short time before the war, and was thereafter prominent in his profession as also in Democratic politics, was Dr. S. S. Coffman. He was born in Indiana in 1828, and prepared for his profession in the Kentucky School of Medicine and in the medical department of Transylvania University at Lexington. He was active in Democratic politics and during the seventies represented the county in the legislature.

James Newton Young, who died at Carlisle. August 16, 1894, was for twenty-eight years a leading practitioner of that place. He was born in Gibson county, May 16, 1842, and after attending the schools at Princeton began the study of medicine in the Ohio Medical College in the fall of 1863. He was graduated in March, 1865, and was then appointed surgeon in the United States volunteer navy, and received the thanks of the department when he was discharged in 1866. He was in charge of the vessel Gazelle until the war closed, when he was given charge of the naval ordnance depot at Jefferson barracks. On leaving the service he located at Carlisle.



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