Dated Sept. 23, 1798, posted in PJ on Sept 26, 1798 and the week prior


The Licensure Law of 1797

The second attempt to form a medical society in the Dutchess County area was noted in the Poughkeepsie Journal on September 26, 1797.  On this date, a notice was published by the “Medical Society of the County of Dutchess”.  Posted by Dr. J. Livingston Van Kleeck, it was dated “Poughkeepsie, September 23, 1797.”  [Note: derived from microfilm, therefore the grey lines are scratch-marks; for text version, see end of this page.]

As increasing numbers of physicians and other healers were engaged in these practices in the Hudson Valley,regular physicians residing in the area felt there was a need for some form of professional monitoring and regulation of practice.  Everything about this attitude that prevailed amongst key members of the medical profession in Dutchess County was  made clear in the following letter posted in the Journal on September 23, 1797, signed only by “A Physician.”  

“The Physicians of Dutchess who are not incorporated into the above society are invited to associate with its members at their ensuing meeting.  The invitation is extended to those Physicians who reside on the western limit of Connecticut. 

“It is believed that the object of this society has been sufficiently explained.  No remarks are necessary to prove that the gentlemen who compose it are influenced chiefly by motive of public good.  They have united in an instructive and a friendly research into the principles of their profession.  To restore the bloom of health to the faded cheek of disease–to reume [sic] the languid eye of sickness–to afford at least an unstable prop to sinking humanity–these incitements have been esteemed essential to the exercise of a few of those relative duties which obligate them as men and as citizens.  Shall their exertions be solitary in a cause so praiseworthy?  Fellow practitioners, you will do well to emulate their example.  And they solicit you to join them in good work in which they are engaged.  The expence of time which will accrue to you will be trifling.  The stated meetings of the society are only twice a year.”

Based on the events immediately following this announcement, we know that the physician who wrote this letter was Dr. J. Livingston Van Kleeck, who served mostly as a pharmacist in Poughkeepsie, but also had a pharmacy established in Red Hook.  He was one several directly and indirectly related to a family with a heritage linked to one of the most influential families in local medical history–Dr. Cornelius Osborn, three sons and one nephew. 

The purpose of this meeting was to gather all of the physicians of this part of New York together for political, professional and legal reasons,by forming the Dutchess County Medical Society. This would be one of the first such societies ever formed in the United States with a sense of permanency.  This Society would develop one of the first legal licensure methods for defining one’s profession as a physician or surgeon, providing these individuals with a license to practice, producible only by a local judge.  As a part of this licensure, apprentices would have to prove not only their knowledge but also their penmanship and grammer skills in the form of a thesis to be presented and argued with acommittee of experienced physicians bearing the same intellectual history.

The primary initiator of this society Van Kleeck was fairly adamant about the degree of training these physicians-to-be received.  he made sure it was clear that their training was obtained locally, or at least within the state of New York.  There is a three part series of articles published in the Poughkeepsie Journal as well defining these basic requirements for being a doctor.    As an additional part of this writing, Van Kleeck troubled the peers in this profession with the request of initiating a library for future students.  This library would be kept in a central location, and be made available to anyone engaged in an apprenticeship under the guidance of a physician recognized by the Society.  The following this series of articles:

[Begin Quote]

For the Poughkeepsie Journal

To the Physicians of Dutchess

No. I

INSTITUTIONS which possets instruction for their basis, are coeval with the necessities of mankind.  They have been chosen as the best mean to remove, or to repair them.  Philosophy has detailed their importance; and the arts and medicine have acknowledged their ascendency.

     It is almost impossible to calculate the impulse which is given to genius by a contrast of its power, and, the fund of information which is acquitted by a concentration of its energy.—Each carries in its train the flow and valuable collections of experience, and the golden and impressive precepts of wisdom.

Associations for the purpose of improvement are especially essential when they who should compose them, reside a great way from each other.  It is by suggestion and communication, chiefly, that we excel.  Now, it is very seldom that either is made, or received where intercourse is difficult.

     These remarks will be illustrated in the consideration of an object to which it is the end of the present paper to engage the Physicians of this county.  I take the liberty to call their attention to the formation of a society which shall embrace its district.  Example is not [which ]; it is indeed, so frequent it is a shame not to follow it.  The only difficulty is to begin the business.  To expedite it, a meeting of the Physicians of Dutchess county is requested at Mr. Chauncey Week.*  [this] holder in the town of Fishkill on Wednesday the 1st March ensuing.

     It might not to affect the matter of the foregoing request that an institution exists, under the name of “The United Medical Association of Dutchess and Columbia .”  A line from the northern extremity of Columbia to the southern limit of Dutchess, affords too large an extent of territory for a single society.  Fraternities of this nature should combine convenience with utility.


*The place of meeting is appointed at Mr. Weeks, in the idea that it will be centrical (?sic) to the Physicians who will presently first attend.  It can alternate [if] thought necessary.

Poughkeepsie, Jan 20, 1797.

[End Quote]



For the Poughkeepsie Journal

To the Physicians of Dutchess

No. II

THE result of an intense scrutiny into the animal economy and its pathology is of intrinsic consequence to a community.  And, an impression of the importance of medical research has progressed with a knowledge of the delicacy of the springs by which the organic fabric is actuated.  But, however elaborate we contemplate the hinges on which diseases turn, and attenuated the thread by which life itself is suspended, whatever advantage we deduce from the preceding view of our subject, other motives concur to manifest the expediency of the proposed institution.  I mean the admission of students to the practice of medicine; the rating of the services of Physicians; the founding of a library, & the cultivation of a more friendly disposition, than generally characterises the faculty.  And, these inducements have a fit title to our concern.  One of them is infinitely interesting: Perhaps, it is hard  to determine, whether a large herd of medical men—whether  a very common routine of prescription does not over-balance every benefit which we derive from the talents and the observation of Physicians, regularly educated.  This reflection shall receive due regard in its proper place.

     1st.  Admission of students to the practice of medicine.

“To enjoy good health is better than to command the world.”  Yes, the way to preserve, or procure it is superseded by the wicked arts of ignorance and imposture.  [It is] astonishing with what facility the dubbed Doctor is ordained to [a] trial of his mysteries.

     These evils must be nipt in the bud; The fountain must be made pure.  Men should not be considered the guardians of health unless they be properly qualified; nor, should they be thought properly qualified by their own testimony.  Their only passport should be their credentials, and credential too, founded on a sufficient term of apprenticeship and a rigid examination.  This term of apprenticeship may be ascertained, and this examination made by a well-regulated society.  Let every member be obliged to refuse a certificate to his student, until he shall have completed a stipulated time of servitude; Let this certificate be the groundwork of his examination.  And, let the student be forbidden the patronage of the society if he settles[s] in the vicinity of the members, without having submitted to its ordeal.

It is presumed that this plan might be a partial drawback to the effects of empiricism.  Its extirpation depends on the state legislature.  To lay the spirit of quackery is an herculean task.  It is not merely to explode the use of an amulet, or an abracadabra.

     Oracious Heaven!  How long will the human race be blind to their dearest interest!  How long will the oxygenated current be prevented from regaining its accustomed channel!  Nature, left to herself, would do more to bring it back, than the injudicious medication of arrogant pretenders. Her movements are directed by laws which are seldom fallacious; the prudent physician will never neglect them, but empirics have substituted a different rule of process—they have substituted a code as multiform as obscure; and, which was instampt at its birth with the most shameless effrontery.

     The present is an age of investigation and improvement: Yet, as long as the 6th commandment is neglected, and men go about seeking whom they may devour, without the restrictions and the penalties of socieites and of law, we may interpose a claim to a laurel which is not our own, and wear its wreath in vain.


January 28 .




For the Poughkeepsie Journal

To the Physicians of Dutchess

No. III.

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.”  Holy Bible.

THE numbers hitherto presented, contain the principal reasons for the establishment of a Medical Society in the county of Dutchess.  They apply to places where population is compact, and to those where it is diffused.  This is not the case with the next division of our argument.

2d. The rating of the services of Physicians:

Every practitioner of the country, who has had a tolerable proportion of employment, must be persuaded of the necessity of fixing some standard by which to accommodate the profit of his charges.  An arrangement to this purpose is indispensible, in the present vague and loose state of their appraisement.  The genuine Physician despises the occupation of lessening the value of the acts, which can hardly be appreciated too highly.  Nevertheless, it is an article of the empirical decalogue to negotiate  the skill which made it for a paltry and a degrading emolument; and, although this article has not the sanction of an external punishment, it has most of the currency, which could have been derived from an hereafter.

It is not the province of our civil representatives to make provision in the premises.  They have nothing to do with them; nor are they competent to pass any law, which will not be generative of less and  [then evil.]  [Lines lost] …  procure its cicatrice—they alone can cleanse the augean stable of its filth.

3d.  The founding of a library.

There are truths which need no comment.  { [1.75 lines lost in fold] To prove that a collection of   . . . [fy their authors] on medicine would edify their [confi]dence to a  lot. }    These waters are never troubled.  And, their salubrity is asserted, now, merely to invite the sick to the pool to go down, when they please. 

4th.  The cultivation of a more friendly disposition than, generally, characterises the faculty.

I  must be permitted to wave a wish to press this point.  It is, in fact, devoutly to be desired that the votaries of our science would hail each other with the greeting of peace and of friendship; but, the above theme wears an aspect of which it will be allowed to avoid an analysis.  It is, moreover, unpleasant to unmask the depth of gloom which overspreads the fair face of the Aesculapian offspring.  It is intimated as an auxiliary to a retrospect by Physicians, of their usual etiquette.  Their recollection will shew why their contentions have become proverbial.  For they have imitated a pattern which is very unlike the example left us by the most eminent Physician this world has afforded—a Physician who was more illustrious than Hippocrates, and more sagacious than Sydenham; and, who, to vary a panegyric of the erudite Boerhaave was “the ornament” of Palestine, and more than [“] the apollo of the age.”

The design in the publication of these papers will be tested by the magnitude of their object.  The writer has been dictated by a sincere intention to increase the sum of health of his country.  He has not a hope that they will effect much towards it; for he is aware of the coy and negligent reception which is frequently given to institutions of the kind to which he has alluded.  Besides, he is far from entertaining the presumption, to believe that the circumscribed plan which he has adopted, can produce more than an exhibition of familiar incentives which may call them into action.  He is, hence, however, no way solicitous about the fate which his attempt may meet.  He commits it to the candid enquiry of some of this fellow-practitioners, and, top the caprice and malevolence of the rest.


February 3d.


Note: all images are included at the end of this page.


This was in part in response to some discussions related to concerns for the different types of practices physicians were engaged in.  A modern interpretation has been that these differences are that there were physicians allowed to practice due to their training versus the poorly described others termed “Quacks.”   These others typically had training that either could not be verified in any way due to the location that it took place, or in some way was not accepted by those already practicing in the area.  For the most part, those in control of making these decisions were apprenticed physicians.  The presence of college or hospital trained physicians who received their training in Europe were extremely scarce for the region.  The identities of these are discernible because a number of these physicians were in some way published, either in their later years of practice in the Hudson Valley, or prior to this year in the form of some sort of informal (but not locatible) thesis or essay.  Very few doctors left behind much written evidence detailing their level of knowledge in their profession, such as the underlying theories for disease which they adhered to or notes and formulas providing us with clues as to where or who they learned their materia medical and clinical practice from. 

There is also a variable definition for the physician worthy of a license by the state during this time.  Doctors trained under a military surgeon while serving the military had a different sort of training than someone apprenticed under a famous and highly reputed physician lacking much of the military experience, but possessing some other highly respected feature such as training from abroad.   Dr. Van Kleeck himself seemed to be more a drug store operator than a physician, although no doubt the drug store served as a major source of income for him, perhaps his primary income source for the most part.  Unlike other physicians actively working mostly in the field as surgeons, oculists, dentists, midwives or general practitioners, Van Kleeck was content with appearing like he was mostly a pharmacist.  Since he was apprenticed and therefore worthy of being interpreted as a physician due to the minimal differences between the two professions that could exist during this time.

So, when Dr. Van Kleeck set up plans to hold the first meeting, he was considered to be one of the better trained and learned doctors in the area probably, and due to either ambition or willingness took on the task of initiating the medical society for this part of the State.  In 1796 according to his ad he had a store in Poughkeepsie.  However there is also an ad post a few months later that suggests he had a store in Red Hook.  And there is the third store operated by a relative of his along with Robert Thorne.  A potential leader in the local politics of pharmacy and medicine had just been defined.

The 1797 meeting was one of the first formal or official meetings of the local Medical Society to be held in quite some time.  The previous official meeting held took place in 1787 in Sharon, Ct., another economically successful hub for those parts of New York west of the Hudson River.   This next meeting was to be held at Timothy Beadle’s house in or near Fishkill on “the second Monday of November next.”  Its purpose wasto establish a setting in which local physicians could promote their practice and share their knowledge about the ever-changing field of medicine and the legalities regarding their training and practice philosophy. 

Around this time, a number of very new philosophies were making their way through the local social and professional networks of the Valley.  Aside from patent and proprietary medicine dealers and salesmen, the use of local medicinal plants in a more ‘traditional way’ was becoming popular.   In the Northwest Province of Ohio, the knowledge of new Indian remedies being tested was making t was back to the East Coast market.  None of these as of yet made it way into the official marketplace, as some form of unique  medical practice for everyone to engage in.  But some of these Indian root medicines, as they came to be called, became highly popular in certain rural settings where the cost for a patent medicine was neither conducive to purchase nor begging for some new charlatan to pass through the reason trying to pawn off these wares when its secret ingredients flourished out thre in someone’s unkept corn field.

Still, the most convincing evidence that it was these alternatives in medicine that was leading to the passage of State laws, is the relationship between Sharon and Dutchess County physicians.  The Sharon physicians had a Connecticut physician taking central stage during the ongoing professional theatrics that went on about this time.  Elisha Perkins had just begun marketing his Metallic Tractors, which New Yorkers in Dutchess County knew as Metalic Points.  It’s first promoted was a Quaker residing in the Oswego hamlet near Verbank Village, who marketed it along with his garden seeds.  The cultural traditions practiced along the border of New York were pretty much defined by the Quakers living in the Oblong Patent incurred to them by the governor years before, and the slowly migrating Massachusetts and Connecticut families of Puritan descent making their way into this valley that set between New York’s Hudson Valley edged by a small ridge between Millbrook and Amenia running parallel to Connecticut’s Taghinaks and Berkshires.

Letter of Support for Perkins, published in the Poughkeepsie Journal (see separate essay on this movement, managed primarily by Robert Todd)

Also about this time, more of the details about specific plant products were better known by practitioners, as the  field of medical botany was being born.  The stronger acting medicinal components of certain plant products were being isolated, including meconin from opium, and several alkaloids.  A possible mechanism of the famous Foxglove or Digitalis plant was being isolated back in England.  A Carolina plant, Spigelia, was becoming famous around the states due to its ipecac-like effects.   Due to Osborn and others in the Fishkill area, the local dogwood was beicoming popular for use as a cinchona substitute.    Regular doctors were meanwhile also replacing many of their weaker herbal medications with some very strong mineral remedies, like the mercurials used to treat fevers and the many salts now available to the market.

Several weeks after the first letter was posted for the Medical Society meeting in September, this meeting was held in November.  At this meeting, another local doctor Benjamin Delavergne was elected to serve as President of the society. James L. Van Kleeck was elected to serve as Vice-President, Thomas Saffron as the society’s Secretary, and Abraham Halsey as Librarian.  This medical society then signed on about 25 members to join the society in November 1797. The next formal meeting of the society wouldn’t take place for another six months, the notice for which came by an announcement in the Journal dated April 21, 1798, and published in the newspaper on May 1. 

Some of the pop culture that led to the popularization of suspended animation and medical electricity in the region

1799 On

Elisha Perkins set the stage for what was about to happen over the next several years in the Hudson Valley.  In 1799, a Quaker, Jedediah Tallman, began promoting the use of static electric generators for healing.  He purchased cylinder-based models of these devices, which had become very popular as a possible way to re-excite or revitalize a diseased body. The most convincing evidence out there for this use of the statis electric generator came in the form of a demonstration showing that it could cause an inactive muscle of a person with a history of stroke or childhood paralysis, or a muscle removed from an animal or corpse, or the body of a recently hung prisoner, and make that part of the body act and behave as though it was still alive.  It is perhaps even for this reason that Van Kleeck in the above announcement makes it a special point to define the regular medical professions definition of the cause for life’s energy, “oxygenated current” (Letter II, paragraph 6).  The electric charge wasn’t alone enough to bring an inanimate object to life, or resuscitate a seemingly dead drowning victim just pulled from the Hudson River.  But a little resuscitation performed mechanically or through the nose (the new method for the time) was enough to revitalize a charge not yet totally removed from the body–that aspect of human soul, which according to the church, was not ready to depart its physical receptacle.

According to the  wording in Letter II of the series of three letters addressed to the Physicians of Dutchess County, the importance of religion wasn’t an ongoing dilemma that existed in some of the local medicine.  Science and medicine as of yet had not completely detached from the church.  This suggested that not all doctors may have been loyal enough to the Word to go to church, but there were enough physicians out there who still believed in the ultimate healer or Great Physician as their possible superior.   These people would repeatedly show their face in the Poughkeepsie setting over the next ten to fifteen years.  

Aside from medicine there was still the social scene ruling what would become popular or not in the valley between 1800 and 1805.  This period of time was just six years in length, yet incredibly diverse in terms of the kinds and methods of healing that made their way through each of the hamlets on up to big towns or cities.   There were probably domestic herbalists practicing in this region, although no direct evidence for any of these has been found to date.  The notion of religious cure, such as the use of prayer and laying on of hands was no doubtedly a private practice engaged in by those who believed most in these methods of cure, like the Huguenots.  But it wasn’t a surprise for locals if every few years a faith healer came to town and offered to engage in his or her practice again for those who were intersted.  Such is the case for Mrs. Smith, who made her way into the large hotel frequented by other non-traditional healers as well; during her trip to Poughkeepsie in 1802, she notes her history of engaging in these visits from years prior. (See separate pages on any of the above topics for more.)

Another unique individual making his way into the local popular culture circuit was neither a faith healer, medical electrician, nor physical medicine practitioner, he was a physiognotracer, someone who was an expert at reading individuals personalities based on the physical form of their body and face.  This early version of the artist/psychologist, specialized in a kind of psychology that was essentailly the stepping stone from temperamental philosophy to the more scientific mind-and-emotions forms of psychology that began to form in the middle of the 19th century. As a part of documenting your looks down on paper, in excruciating detail, he was a savant at making sense of how you looked, and what others would make of it once they saw your new portrait handing inside the house.  Whereas chiromancers read palms, and tea-leaf readers predicted you future based on your pewter stein or oriental tea cup, physiognotracers amazed you and others enough to at least have an emotional impact on your own self, your body form, your looks, even if this was only for a short time. (See page about to be completed on this topic for more as well)

As for patent medicines, these were not so peculiar for the time as past authors defined them to be.  There were no advertisements in the Poughkeepsie Journal penned specifically for a single product during the earliest years of its publication.  The very first such remedy to appear in the Journal would be an advertisement for Peruvian bark being distributed by a physician living in New York City.  It would take another decade in fact for the idea of advertising these items in the Journal to take off.  In spite of no advertisements, we know there were some patenti medicines being distributed, with many if not most of European origin.    About the time the patent medicines started appearing in the published newspapers, equal amounts of very locally produced remedies were marketed as well in the paper.  Based on this it is safe to assume that there were locally produced recipes circulating and perhaps even some patent medicines in glass and wooden containers being produced.

Take for example the follow brief notes seen in advertisements for auctioned goods and products distributed from perrsonal homes.  Even Van Kleeck’s store took part in this local piece of market history:

The James Fever powder is an early 1700s (ca. 1720) remedy popular since around 1720, the time when Robert James invented it and used it to heal the King.  Hooper’s Pills was a popular treatment for “female complaints.”  Bateman’s drops a “pectoral” remedy used to treat conumption and other lung disorders.   Steer’s Opodeldoc, Stoughton’s Elixir, and Anderson’s Pills were all popular as well, at times in the Colonies and United States more so than at home.  The earliest patent medicines of American origin and production include New York products like the Seneca Oil, Ballstown waters, several salts and mineral spring waters.  The first patent medicine of American origin to claim to be patented was possibly the Tuscarora Rice of western New York and Ohio, but taws for this time were inconcise, and of course British in origin.  One century later, some pills were designed to treat the bilious fever were patented through the US government offices, Samuel H. P. Lee’s Bilious Fever Pills, and therefore best deserve recognition as the first official patent medicine in this country.

All in all, there were numerous reasons for licensure laws to be established in New York for medical and pharmacy practitioners.  However, the reasons these acts were passed had more to do with politics than anything else.  The non-local physicians passing through the Hudson Valley not only brought with them new ideologies regarding disease, but also new recipes to replace those of the local producers, new patent medicines to compete with the top marketing products at the local stores, new plants to use in place of the expensive imports being sold by the local drug store, and new methods of healing that did not even require the traditional money-earning products at all, fairly expensive items like personal wisdom and artisan skills, and less personal items like amulets, glass globes (static electric) and metalic pointers, none of which seemed as valuable to the regular physician as the lancet, mercury or the trephining tool.




The following physicians were the first to be Licensed by a Judge and presumably were amongst the 25 members attending the first meeting.  They would later be admitted as members of the local medical society:

DE LA VERGNE, BENJAMIN.  1742-1830.  Born August 18, 1742, Town of Washington.  Studies medicine under his father and began practice prior to the war.  October 7, 1775 commissioned Captain of the 7th Company of the 6th Regiment of Dutchess County Troops.  Served 7 years.  1776 Delegate to Third Provincial Congress in NY City.  Served as Presiding Officer of first meeting for Dutchess County Medical Society; elected first Vice President for group, and was its second President.  Died June 25, 1830, and buried in Washington Hollow.

DE LA VERGNE, ISAAC. 1771-1822.  cp. 1797. Lic. 1797.  Born Town of Washington, August 11th, 1771; a son of Dr. Benjamin De La Vergne. His license to practice was issued by Jacob C. Bloom, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, December 8th, 1797. Bayley: “He was of a quiet, retiring disposition, and did not take an active part in affairs, or even in his profession.” He died November 1st, 1822, and lies buried with his father at Washington Hollow.

REYNOLDS, ISRAEL. –.  [1777]-1824.  cp. Pine Plains, 1795. lic. 1797.  License to practice issued by Judge Isaac Bloom, 1797; Pine Plains, 1795; died March 28, 1824.

CROSBY, CYRENUS.  Licensed to practice in Amenia, March 23, 1797, by Gilbert Livingston, master in Chancery.

Poughkeepsie Journal, August 31, 1802




Spring 1802 — the Moshers are perhaps the first kine (cow) pox inoculation cases for the region


May 1803 Small Pox Vaccination Declaration published in The Poughkeepsie Journal. 

Higher resolution images appear at the end of this page


The discovery and subsequent acceptance of  the value of the Cow-pox for vaccinating became the first major discovery of medicine of the turn of the century.  Articles began appearing in newspapers and medical journals regularly on this topic  in the late 1790s, but took a few more years  for this news to actually impact Dutchess County medicine. 

A number of other physicians practicing locally became the first members to be admitted into the Medical Society.   Several of these were highly successful practitioners generating a substantial amount of earnings.   These highly respected individuals resided and practiced in Dutchess county for at least several years before the society was formed.  They are as follows:

HUNTING, EDWARD.  [nd, no other information].  Dr. Edward Hunting was a successful Fishkill doctor who probably received his training as part of an apprenticeship.  He was practicing medicine during the Revolutionary War years, but his involvement with the local hospital established during the war is uncertain.  His office was purchased by newly trained Bartow White around 1800.

WHITE, BARTOW. 1776.  d. 1866.  edu. 1799.  cp.  1800, rmvd Fishkill, 1804/5.  soc. Fishkill, nd.   Born in Yorktown, Westchester County, N. Y., November 7th, 1776. A student of his father. Dr. Ebenezer White. He commenced the practice of his profession at Fishkill, succeeding Dr. Edward Hunting in 1800. Dr. White was not only an active, useful practitioner of medicine for forty-five years, but also a leader in all the useful activities of the community in which he lived so long.

White’s success brought many students to his office, some of whom attained high rank in their profession. Among them were Dr. Cornelius De Pew and Stephen Rapalje, Surgeons in the Navy, and Dr. John Cooper who served as a surgeon in the War of 1812, and Isaac Van Voorhis, who served in the army. Others were scattered through various parts of the State. In 1824, Dr. White was chosen to represent this district in Congress, and in 1840 he was a Presidential Elector. He received the honorary degree of M. D. from the Regents of the University in 1845. He was a strictly temperate man, of mild manners, making and keeping many valuable friends, who cheered and brightened his last days, which were passed amid an unusually happy environment. He died December 12th, 1862. 

Dr. Bartow White is reviewed separately in another section of this website.

HOSACK, DAVID.  1769-1835.  Born in New York City, August 31, 1769.  Grad. A.B. Princeton, 1789.  Student of Dr. Richard Bayley.  Medical College, Philadelphia, 1791.  Edinburgh, 1794; Union College, LLD; FRS, London; FRS Edinburgh; Society, Honorable Member, Hyde Park.  Died Dec. 22, 1835, Hyde Park, NY.  David Hosack would play one of the most important roles in Dutchess County and perhaps Hudson Valley medical history during years of residing on Bard’s estate beginning around 1815/1820.   Hosack transferred much of his medical botany and related gardening experience to this estate and maintained the traditional garden already in place, adding to it’s inventory as time passed.  Several individuals travelling through the region during this time made mention of this garden in their published and unpublished diaries of the trip.  The first several decades of publication of Medical Repository makes mention of his work and accomplishments numerous times.  

David Hosack will be reviewed separately in another section of this website (not done as of May 2011)

THOMAS, JOHN.  1758-1819.  b. April 1, 1758, Plymouth, Mass. d.  1819.  Son of Dr. William Thomas, Surgeon of French and Indian War, Louisburgh Expedition.   Joined in Revolutionary War with father and brothers (Joshua, Joseph and Nathaniel), 1775.   In Spring 1775, William was appointed as Regimental Surgeon; John became his surgeon’s mate.  William resigned due to poor health in 1776, and John promoted to Regimental Surgeon’s rank.  January 1, 1777, see John Thomas commissioned as Surgeon of the 9th Massachusetts (Wesson’s) Regiment.  Transferred to 8th Massachusetts Regiment in 1783, working under George Washington.  Retired and settled in town of Poughkeepsie, where he died in 1819.  (bur. Poughkeepsie Cemetery).  One of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnatti, and one of the founders of the Dutchess County Medical Society in 1806.

A number of historical events assisted in the development of surgery in the United States, the most important of which were the small skirmished and wars preceding the War of 1812.   Surgery was receiving a little more recognition by 1800.  Knowledge of the human anatomy is an essential requrement for surgery, education that required direct experience operating on the human body.  There were just two ways to accomplish this–learn about surgery in the surgeon’s office, mostly by observation until your skills were more refined through the use of various objects, animal remains and the occasional lost pet living in the nearby woods.   Bartow White was one of the first surgeons to come to Dutchess County with considerable classroom, clinical and surgical theatre training.  One of his students, Van Voorhis, would later earn a position of similar responsibility at one of the forts being erected  in the midwest (Fort Dearborn, in the center of what is today the City of Chicago, Illinois).


The Dutchess County Medical Society is Formed, 1806.


NOXON, ROBERT. 1750.  edu. Fishkill appr.  Soc. Poughkeepsie, 1806.  Born Poughkeepsie, July 31st, 1750; student of Dr. Robert Thorn; lived at 83 Market street, Poughkeepsie and Society, 1806.

LATHROP, WILLIAM.  1760-1812.  cp. Washington, 1785. soc.  1806.  Born 1760; Washington about 1785; Society, 1806; died April 18th, 1812.  According to Bayley: “A well educated, successful physician, with the degree of M. D.”

THORN(E), JAMES. 1763-1816.  soc. 1806.  Born New Hackensack, N. Y., June 21st, 1763; Society, 1806. As a commentary on the changes in social customs, it may be noted that at Dr. Thorne’s funeral the best families were represented, and the bearers were leading men socially and professionally. They were so drunk that the burial was delayed two hours for them to sober up sufficiently to be able to carry the body from the house. Died New Hackensack, June 26th, 1816.

WHEELER, WILLIAM. 1753-1810.  cp. Upper Red Hook, nd.  soc. Rhinebeck, 1806.  Born August 12th, 1753; Rhinebeck and Society, 1806; Upper Red Hook; died April 14th, 1810.

BARTLETT, RICHARD.  Stanford and Society, 1806.  Pine Plains 1850.

BUCKNUM, AMASA. 1768-1856.  cp. 1806.  edu. Oxford, 1806.  soc.  1806.  Born England, 1768; graduated Oxford University; Society, 1806; Stanford; in 1854 he was attacked with gangrene of the foot; he amputated the toes himself; died June 15th, 1856, and is buried at the Bear Market.  With regards to his character, Bayley:  “A man of unusual attainments, very stout, fond of a joke, and of a cheerful disposition.”

SAFFEN, THOMAS. 1768-1810.  cp.  Beekman, soc. Beekman, 1806.  Born February 22d, 1768; Beekman and Society, 1806; died July 21st, 1810.  [Obituary and related property assessment found in PJ]

TOMLINSON, DAVID. 1772-1841.  cp. Rhinebeck, 1806.  soc. 1806. mbr. 1819. bur. Rhinebeck.   Born 1772; Rhinebeck and Society, 1806; Member of Assembly, 1819; died New York City, April 25th, 1841; buried Rhinebeck.

VAN KLEECK, BALTUS LIVINGSTON.  1774-1843. Son of Dr. Lawrence Van Kleeck, a physician from New York City.  Lawrence Van Kleeck removed to Poughkeepsie, and died there in 1783.  Baltus Livingston retained a practice in Poughkeepsie for several years before removing to Newburgh.  He joined the Medical Society in 1806, and remained in practice in Newburgh until his death on May 9, 1843.   Joined the Medical Society with his brother in 1806.

VAN KLEECK, JAMES LIVINGSTON.  [1774]-1816.  Another son of Dr. Lawrence Van Kleeck.  Became and MD, practicing in Poughkeepsie until his death.  Joined the Medical Society with his brother in 1806.  Probably the chair of the local Medical Committee.  A full review of James Van Kleeck’s life is being produced in a separate section.

GUERNSEY, EZEKIEL H. 1775- 1853.  cp. Stanford, 1806.  soc. Stanford, 1806.  Born Amenia, April 12th, 1775; Stanford and Society, 1806; Doctors Calvin P. and Peter B. were his sons; died September 17th, 1853.

JUDD, URI. 1775-1850.  cp. Northeast, 1806, soc. Northeast, 1806.  Born Waterbury, Conn., 1775. Grandson of Dr. Benjamin Judd, a noted doctor of Connecticut; Northeast and Society, 1806; Milo, Yates County, 1831; Penn Yan, N. Y., 1850. Bayley: “A very prominent man professionally.”

ROGERS, JOSEPH. 1776.  d.  1814.  cp.  Fishkill, 1806.  soc. Fishkill, 1806.  Born Connecticut, October 31st, 1776; Fishkill and Society, 1806; died March 16th, 1814.

BERRY, CYRUS. –.  Cp. nd, Pleasant Valley. soc. Pleasant Valley, 1806.  Society, 1806; Pleasant Valley after Dr. Ely.

DOWNS, JAMES. –.  [1786]  d. nd.  cp. nd.  soc. Clinton, 1806.  Clinton and Society, 1806; Pleasant Valley with and after Dr. Ely.

ELY, WILLIAM. –.  [1786]  d. nd.  cp. Nd.  soc. Clinton, 1806.  Clinton and Society, 1806. Worked as senior in business with James Downs’ drunkenness and neglect ruined his business. Had at one time a large practice, but neglected his work, and died in the alms house.

CHAMBERLAIN, JOHN–. [1786]  d. 1875.  cp. nd. Soc. Poughkeepsie, 1806.  1806.  Poughkeepsie and Society, 1806; died Millerton, 1875.

COOK, GEORGE W. –. [1786]  d.  nd.  cp.  soc. Clinton, 1806.  Clinton and Society, 1806.

DELAVAN, DAVID. –.  [1786]  d. 1824?  Cp. Pawling, nd. Soc. Pawling, 1806. Pawling and Society, 1806; Dover Plains previous to 1824.

DAYTON, DANIEL. –.  [1786]  d. nd.  soc, Poughkeepsie, 1806. Poughkeepsie and Society, 1806.

LEONARD, ALPHEUS. –.  [1786/1806?] d. 1829. cp. Amenia Union, 1806.  Amenia Union about 1806; died 1829.

DODGE, JEREMIAH.  Society, 1806.

HALSEY, ABRAHAM.  Born January 7, 1764. Died March 7, 1822.  Fishkill and Society, 1806.  Noted in association with  Bartow White.  [?Military documents demonstrate post-War foot soldier responsibilities, including work that involved Peter Osborn, second son of Cornelius, as a surgical assistant.?]

PINCKNEY, JOHN.  Low Point and Society, 1806.

QUINLAN, THOMAS.  Clinton and Society, 1806.

SMITH, JOHN W.  Amenia and Society, 1806.

WALDO, CHARLES.  Poughkeepsie and Society, 1806.



DE LAMATER, ABRAHAM.  1771-1841.  cp. Poughkeepsie, 1807.  soc. Poughkeepsie, 1807.  Born 1771; Poughkeepsie and Society, 1807; died Rhinebeck, February 16th, 1841.

WARD, JONATHAN. 1780-1813.  cp. Poughkeepsie, 1807.  soc. 1807.  Born 1780; Poughkeepsie and Society, 1807; his office was at No. 266 Main street; died typhoid fever, September 13th, 1813.


COOPER, JOHN. 1786-1863.  edu. 1808.  cp. Poughkeepsie, 1808. Born Fishkill, June 6th, 1786. Student of Dr. Bartow White; graduated P. and S., about 1808. He practiced in Poughkeepsie until the war of 1812, when he entered the service as surgeon, and was stationed at Fort Dearborn until the close of the war, when he returned to Poughkeepsie and remained in active practice until his death, which was in 1863.  He worked alongside Dr. Van Voorhis at Fort Dearborn.) He was a man of strong character, high principles, and of positive convictions. A contemporary of Dr. John Barnes; they were rivals in business. Dr. Barnes, giving undivided attention to his work, had the advantage. Dr. Cooper had a strain of sporting blood, which led him to keep a stable of thoroughbred horses, which he ran on the old Dutchess track, at East Poughkeepsie, with considerable success in winnings, though they proved an expensive amusement.

THOMAS, WILLIAM.  1786-1860.  cp. 1808 (military surgeon).  Born Plymouth, Mass., 1786. He came to Poughkeepsie to study medicine with his uncle. Dr. John Thomas, about 1804. He was licensed to practice by the Society in 1808. Dr. Thomas entered the army about 1810 as a surgeon, and served through the war, resigning about 1816. After the close of the war, the troops with which he was serving were ordered from Baton Rouge to Buffalo, and were marched on foot that distance, proceding along the coast to New York, and from there via. the Post Road through Poughkeepsie. Died December 18th, 1860.

DODGE, JOHN.  Society, 1808.

MARVIN, JONATHAN D.  Society, 1808.



SHERRILL, HUNTING. 1783. d. 1866. cp.  Clinton, Hyde Park, 1809.  Soc. Clinton, 1809, New York State, 1809.  rmvd? Hyde Park?  Born April 3d, 1783; licensed State Society, 1809; Clinton and Society, 1809; Hyde Park. Author of “A Review of the Diseases of Dutchess County from 1809-1825,” published 1826. Also “An Essay on Epidemics as they Appeared in Dutchess County,” 1809-1825, published 1832. Died New York City, January 16th, 1866.  Dr. Hunting’s most important contribution to the region probably realted to his decision  to begin practicing homeopathy around 1837-40. (Note: the first official spelling and later traditional European, or traditional homeopathic spelling was with the silent ‘o’ – homoeopathy; this was dropped by American physicians and may have been retained by those traditional homeopaths willing only to practice just that manner of treatment.)  By 1842 Dr. Sherrill was deeply involved with the state/region’s decision to form a Homeopathic Society, and became a major contributor to this movement, which was initiated in Allentown, Pa, around 1837 when the first homoeopathic medical school was opened.  Sherrill wrote a book about his interpretation of this practice and its value as an additional to regular medicine in 1845.  [Sherrill is to be reviewed on a separate page.]

MANEY, JAMES.  Licensed by the State Society, 1809; Fishkill and Society, 1809. 

WRIGHT, AMAZIAH.  Poughkeepsie and Society, 1809.



RING, LEWIS. 1785. d. 1867.  cp. Pleasant Valley, 1810. soc. Pleasant Valley, 1810.   Born 1785; Pleasant Valley and Society, 1810; died Hyde Park, August 30th, 1867.

VAN DERBURGH, FEDERAL BEEKMAN. 1788.  d. 1868.  soc. Beekman, 1810.  Born May 11th, 1788; Beekman and Society, 1810; removed, 1812; died January 23d, 1868.

CARY, EGBERT. 1789.  d. 1862.  edu. Coll Phys Surg.  Lic. 1810., Surg. Mate. War of 1812, 1818 NYS Cavalry Surgeon.  Born Beekman, April 12th, 1789; a son of Dr. Ebenezer Cary. He studied medicine with his father and attended lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and was licensed to practice by the Dutchess County Medical Society in 1810. In 1812 he was commissioned Surgeon’s Mate of the Fourth Regiment, New York State Cavalry, and in 1818 Surgeon of the same. He served in civil offices in his town, and in 1827 as a member of the State Legislature. Dr. Cary died May 1st, 1862, and is buried in the Rural Cemetery at Poughkeepsie.

GILBERT, WHEELER. 1791.  d. 1847.  cp. 1811, Beekman.  Soc. Beekman, 1810. Born 1791; Beekman and Society, 1811; a Member of the Legislature and a County Judge; died June 10th, 1847.

SCHOFIELD, PETER.  Pawling and Society, 1810.

SCOVEL, JAMES.  Pawling and Society, 1810.

SLEIGHT, HENRY D.  Born April 24, 1780; died July 8, 1839.  Beekman and Society, 1810.


COOK, JAMES S. 1788-1869.  Soc. Clinton, 1811.  Born March 17th, 1788; Clinton and Society, 1811; died July 23d, 1869, at Verbank. Deranged for several years before his death from an injury to his head.

GILBERT, WHEELER.  1791-1847.  Soc. 1811.  Born 1791; Beekman AND Society, 1811.  Member of the Legislature and a County Judge.  Died June 10, 1847.

Poughkeepsie Journal Evidence

The following describes the clippings taken from the Poughkeepsie Journal, which began its publication in 1794.   This newspaper is provided as microfilm form at the Adriance Library, Poughkeepsie, NY.  The viewer that is use is a photocopier style with a flat viewing screen, which in itself has some lighting and focus issues.  Since these photographs were taken using a cell phone camera, they can appear even more out of focus.  Since the newspaper images are on microfilm, the amount of wear and scratching of the film is very evident, and at times obscures to legibility of the text.  When possible, the best example of the image is found if the publication of this item repeats, such as for advertisements. 

Some of the clippings will be found in the above section if they pertain to the event or individual discussed.

The dates provided are based upon my note-taking regarding dates.  In general, postings and advertisements are published on numerous days.  Many have the date the typographic unit was compiled included in the lower corner of the item being published.  Often an item may be dated for when it was first requested, meaning the date precedes the initial publication by a bout a week.  Some items are dated for publication a year or more prior to the year they are found in the paper and photographed.  This is often because I try to find and use the most legible form of this advertisement or writing piece, rather than only document the first for this site.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to precisely keep track of the page and column in which a particular item can be found.  So for those into tracing my steps, rely upon the advertised date, the date I give for the weekly issue in which the advertisement was found, then go to the actual paper on microfilm and hunt the item down.  In general, page 1 is purely advertising, page 4 is purely land deed or property related information (usually deed/plot descriptions), with a few lingering ads found on the right edge or lower right corner, and pages 2 and 3 are where the bulk of this information is obtained, with page two usually devoted to world news features, but occasionally with nationally important articles on medicine and health, leaving page 3 as the primary source for most of my information.  

These items [a work in progress] are pulled from the Poughkeepsie Journal newspaper are presented on various pages throughout this site on pages covering the following section headings. 

  • Doctors (Cards, ads, moving announcements, apprentice requests)
  • Medical Committee meetings and politics
  • Local medical authors’s writings, commentaries, etc.
  • Patent Medicines
  • Kine Pox and Inoculation
  • Yellow Fever, Spotted Fever, other epidemic fevers
  • Diseases and Disease Theory
  • Other

Research notes

  • DUE TO THE EXTENT OF THE IMAGES PULLED, A NUMBER OF PHOTOS ARE PROVIDED ON PAGES FOR EACH YEAR OR RANGE OF YEARS, filed as a sub-section to this page seen on the Table of Contents listing to the right (a very long list). 
  • Only the above mentioned images related to the Medical Society appear on this page.
  • The date of the newspaper from which the image came appears below
  • Other dates notes for the same image are in parentheses
  • Sometimes a few personal notations are added just beneath the images.
  • Topics reviewed extensively elsewhere are not included on this page, or have a single clip with notes for cross-referencing.


Text for Medical Society announcement

Livingston Van Kleeck

For the Poughkeepsie Journal

THE Physicians of Dutchess who are not incorporated into the above society * are invited to associate with its members at its ensuing meeting.  The invitation is extended to those Physicians who reside on the western limit of Connecticut. 

It is believed that the object of this society has been sufficiently explained.  No remarks are necessary to prove that the gentlemen who compose it are influenced entirely by a motive of public good.  They have united in an instructive & a friendly research into the principles of their protection.  To restore the bloom of health in the faded cheek of disease—the relume the languid eye of sickness-to afford, at least, an unstable prop to sinking humanity—these incitements have been esteemed essential to the exercise of a few of those relative duties which obligate them as men and as citizens.  Shall their exertions be solitary in a cause so praise-worthy?  Fellow practitioners, you will do well to emulate their example.  And they, solicit you to join them in the good work in which they are engaged.  The expense of time which will accrue to you will be striking.  The stated meetings of the society are only twice a year.





Jennerian Society Pages from The Poughkeepsie Journal, ca. May 17, 1803