A History of Homoeopathy in West Virginia
-From " History of Homoeopathy and Its Institutions in America: Their Founders, Benefactors, Faculties, Officers, Hospitals, Alumni, Etc., with a Record of Achievement of Its Representatives in the World of Medicine, Volume 1," William Harvey King, 1905, pg 402-404.
Homeopathy IN WEST VIRGINIA.
By Thomas Lindsley Bradford, M. D.
A Brief Chapter of Reminiscences—Dr. Alfred Hughes and His Sister—List of Practitioners in the State.
The introduction of homoeopathy in West Virginia antedates the separate organization of the state itself. West Virginia, the western portion of the old state of Virginia, was made an independent state in 1863. This is the part of the old dominion west of the Cumberland mountains and in the valley of the Monongahela river. Homoeopathy was introduced in this valley as early as 1848, and in two places at the same time; in Wheeling by Dr. Alfred Hughes and his sister, Eliza Hughes, and in Fairmount by the Rev. William Hunter.
Dr. W. L. Morgan, writing in 1904, said: "My native home was near Fairmount, West Virginia. My father's house was a home for itinerant preachers and politicians. I had never heard of homoeopathy till about the year 1848 when the Rev. William Hunter, a Methodist presiding elder, came into the district. He was a man of learning and a homceopathist. He advised me to study for a physician, so I studied at home and experimented upon myself .and my neighbors. Dr. Hunter gave me great assistance. I often treated a neighbor and sometimes got 'thanky' and sometimes 'cusses' for pay. In 1868 I went west and met a man whom I had treated years before and he persuaded me to go into practice, and after long deliberation I did so, and after a few years, to be better equipped I studied at Pulte College. I came east on account of ill health in 1861, first to Lynchburg, Va., and then to Baltimore. Dr. Hunter introduced homoeopathy into the valley of the Monongahela river, and myself, Festus Pitcher of Fairmount, and Drs. Coombs and Casselberry, of Morgantown, where his students."
Dr. W. B. McClure of Martin's Ferry wrote: "Dr. Alfred Hughes and his sister, Miss Eliza, began in 1850. They continued practice there until death. Dr. Hennig came there in 1853, and died in 1900."
Dr. Alfred Hughes must have begun practice before graduating in medicine, which he did at the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1853. He was a native of Baltimore, Md. After his graduation he located in Wheeling and upheld the truth of homoeopathy. During the cholera epidemic of 1854 he labored night and day, being the only homoeopathic physician in the city. He built up a large practice in Wheeling. In 1862 he went to Richmond, his sympathies being with the south, and practiced there until in 1865, when he removed to Baltimore.
Dr. Eliza C. Hughes commenced the study of medicine in 1855, and graduated at the Pennsylvania Medical College at Philadelphia in 1860. She was the first woman graduate who practiced medicine in Virginia.
Dr. E. H. Coombs was another early homoeopath in western Virginia. He said of himself: "I was not a pupil of Dr. Pitcher of Fairmount. I was not acquainted with him but knew that there was such a person, and I think he practiced homoeopathy to some extent between the years 1850 and 1860. William Hunter, a Methodist preacher here in Morgantown, was the first to introduce homoeopathy in this place, and I think it was through his influence that Dr. Miller, my preceptor, came here (Morgantown), which was about 1855. I do not think Dr. Hunter was an M. D., but had probably given the matter some attention. Dr. M. L. Casselberry came here between 1850 and 1860. I commenced practiced here in the spring of 1860."
Dr. Melville L. Casselberry, who is still in practice, writes of the beginnings of homoeopathy in West Virginia: "The first man to introduce homoeopathy in Morgantown was Mr. Hunter, a Methodist minister who located here about 1851 or 1852. He had a chest of medicines and would give his friends and the members of his church medicine for the headache, colds, etc. He continued this until about 1853 or 1854, when he wrote over to some one connected with the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, asking them to send a graduate here, which they did. They induced Dr. A. C. Miller to come here and locate, which I think was in 1854. He soon built up a large practice and in the spring of 1855 he wrote to my preceptor (W. A. Gardiner, M. D., of Philadelphia), then professor of anatomy in the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, for a partner. Dr. Gardiner induced me to come here, which I did in the spring of 1855, remained one year in partnership with Dr. A. C. Miller, when I left, but came back in the fall of 1859 and have been here ever since. Dr. E. H. Coombs graduated from the Homoeopathic College in 1862, located here, and in 1870 he and I entered into partnership, worked together until 1887, when Dr. Coombs gave up the practice of medicine and was elected cashier of what is now the Monongahela Valley bank, with which institution he is connected, now being president.
There was a Dr. Alfred Hughes, who practiced in Wheeling along about 1850. He attended lectures in Philadelphia and graduated the spring I did, in 1853. He had been practicing in Wheeling prior to his graduation. He died a few years after he graduated, and I think his sister practiced for a time afterward. When I came here in 1855 I think there was a man in Fairmount by the name of Pritchard, who had a medicine chest and gave out sugar pills, as they were called, to many of the citizens of Fairmount. Along in 1855 or 1856 there was a Dr. Hyde located at Fairmount for a short time. A man came there from Fayette county, Pa., who read under Dr. Bowie of Uniontown about 1860. He located at Kingwood, remained there a year, then went to Clarksburg and later to Texas, where he died."
Dr. John W. M. Appleton, writing from Charleston, says: "Homoeopathy has not much of a record in this end of the state in the forty years of my time. I came to Kenawha in August, 1865, having resigned from the army in that month. I had charge of a cannel coal mine and employed a number of people. Called upon to practice among them, I took out a U. S. license. None of the people had any knowledge of our system, and the patients getting well with no medicines but spoonfuls of clear water made some of them think it some kind of conjuring. I have never depended on practice entirely for a livelihood, but have never entirely ceased to practice when called on. Moving to Charleston from the mine and engaging in manufacturing, patients still come to me, and in 1882, moving to Salt Sulphur Springs, Munroe county, West Va., I still do what I can for the country people, and in the summer season for those of the guests at our hotels who desire homoeopathic treatment. A Dr. Kirk came to Charleston in the seventies. He did not stay long and depended more on teaching school than on medicine. A Dr. Henry came, who seemed to be efficient. He stayed longer than Dr. Kirk and then went away. Dr. George Lounsbury came down from Coalsburg mines a number of years ago and is still here."
Dr. John D. Middleton was an early practitioner in Wheeling, locating there as early as 1849. He was a student of Dr. F. R. McManus of Baltimore, and graduated in 1848 from the University of Maryland. He returned to Baltimore in 1851 and practiced there until his death, April 26, 1870. In 1877 Dr. S. C. Bosley was in practice in Clarksburgh; Dr. F. Pitcher in Fairmount; Dr. R. F. Harman in Martinsburg; Drs. Casselberry and Coombs in Morgantown; Dr. C. W. Jamison in Point Pleasant; and Drs. Eliza C. Hughes, J. W. Morris, C. J. Hennig, S. A. Muhleman, C. C. Olmstead and B. F. Turner in Wheeling.
In 1870 there were but five homoeopathic practitioners in West Virginia; thirteen in 1876; twenty-five in 1896, and thirty in 1904.
Homoeopathic physicians in West Virginia previous to 1870. The date preceding the name indicates the year the physician began the practice of homoeopathy. The character x indicates that the physician practiced medicine before the date given.
- 1865 Appleton, John W. M. - Kanawha
- 1855 Hyde, Dr. - Fairmount
- 1853 Casselberry, Melville L. - Morgantown
- 1848 Hunter, Rev. William - Fairmount
- 1848 Middleton, John D. - Wheeling
- 1860 Coombs, E. Hoffman - Morgantown
- 1853 Miller, Alexander C. - Morgantown
- 1853 Hennig, C. J. - Wheeling
- 1850 Morgan, W. L. - Fairmount
- 1870 Harman, R. F. x - Martinsburg
- 1850 Pitcher, Festus - Fairmount
- 1848 Hughes, Alfred - Wheeling
- 1860 Turner, B. F. - Wheeling
- 1850 Hughes, Miss Eliza - Wheeling
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