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Biography: Dr. Archibald S. Todd

-from “Prominent Men of West Virginia,” Atkinson, Geo. W., 1890, pg. 651-653.


DR. A. S. TODD, the subject of this biography, was, at his death, one of Wheeling's oldest and most honored citizens. His ancestry were Scotch-Irish, of whom but meager details are known. His grand parents came to this country in 1740. Their son, John Todd, born April 18, 1756, in Washington county, New Jersey, was a prominent farmer, and married Jane Caldwell, born July 19, 1761, in the same county. In their advanced years they moved to Beaver county, Pa., where he died, at Greensburg, aged 74 years. His wife died at Smithfield, Pa., at the home of her son, Dr. S. P. Todd, September 7, 1831. Seven sons and three daughters issued from them. Of these five were regular physicians, one a mechanic, Stephen, and Hiram, the youngest, died in early manhood. Dr. M. L. Todd, with whom Dr. A. S. Todd was long associated in the practice of their profession in Wheeling, died in Bellaire in 1866, aged 84 years, Stephen died in Cleveland a little later, aged 86 years. The other brothers and sisters died in advanced life—but all are gone, leaving behind them the fragrance of honorable and distinguished lives. But two representatives of the old stock survive, numerous as it was. Just over there, almost in sight of a newly made grave in the Peninsular Cemetery at Wheeling, sits one sorrowing in the shadow of her sore bereavement and loneliness, listening for the tottering footsteps that never will return, while yet she talks of how pleasantly down from the mountain tops of earthly mutual enjoyments the 7 watched and walked together to the foot. With a devotion singularly constant and self-sacrificing the old doctor's wife sustained and soothed him till the golden bowl was broken, the silver cord was loosed and the spirit of the old patriarch passed triumphantly to the green fields beyond the river, leaving her strong in faith, while waiting, only waiting, to join the loved ones over there.

Dr. A. S. Todd, born April 10, 1798, came West in May, 1820, stopping for three years at his brother's, Dr. S. P. Todd, at Robstown, now West Newton, Pa., meanwhile assiduously applying himself to the study of medicine. He then taught school one winter, and came on to Wheeling, Virginia, and prosecuted his studies still further with his brother, Dr. M. L. Todd, who had preceded him in practice twelve years. Thence he went to Transylvania University, at Louisville, Ky., where he graduated M.D., and immediately returned to Wheeling and engaged with his brother in active professional work. February 19, 1828, he married Mary Ann E. Woods, who died October 24, 1829. June 2, 1831, Dr. Todd was again married to his now surviving widow, Mary E. Jarrett. To them were born six children. One son, Rev. Martin Luther, who died August 14, 1870, and five daughters, two only of whom survive, viz: Carrie, wife of Dr. J. C. Hupp, and Mary Ellen, a younger sister. Thus it will be seen he left no one of his family to perpetuate his name.

For more than half a century Dr. Todd was identified with all that concerned the good name and prosperity of the city of Wheeling. Up to the hour of his death he by his counsel and material aid helped her onward and upward to her present high degree of prosperity and honor. In all that pertained to his profession especially was he a diligent student, and though practically retired from its active work for years, still, he by close application and extensive critical research, kept abreast of the times. It may be doubted if West Virginia had his equal as a mineralogist and botanist. He was a careful reader, a sound reasoner, a man of keenest perceptions and calm discriminating judgment. His counsels were always regarded most favorably and were the more appreciated by those that best knew their worth.

In 1870 he was a delegate from the Medical Society of West Virginia to the American Medical Association that met in Washington City and in which he became a prominent member. He was one of the founders of every medical society ever organized in the city of Wheeling or in the State of West Virginia. He was one of the attending physicians to "The City Dispensary and Vaccine Institute," Wheeling, which was in successful operation as far back as December 10, 1845, and which was established by a city ordinance. He was also surgeon, in 1835, of a regiment of State troops, commanded by Colonel, since Major General B. F. Kelley.

He was an affiliating member of the Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons. He was also the originator and long the proprietor of that household pill known everywhere as Todd’s, and which yielded him a handsome revenue. He was prominently associated with many of the popular enterprises of Wheeling, including the Ohio river bridge, gas, street railroads, banking and other companies, and was at his death, a director of the National Bank of West Virginia, at Wheeling. All these and other interests engaged his prompt attention, bringing him profitable returns.

Dr. Todd was a man of strong religious convictions. He loved his Church, the Presbyterian, because he believed it to be a fair exponent of the truths of the Bible, and he loved and studied his Bible because he knew that in it he had the words of "eternal life." The Church was to him the hope of the world, and in the ministrations of the Church was strengthened within him the hope of immortality, in the bright anticipation of which he died. He was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church for many years, and remained steadfast to the end.

This is but a brief sketch of the life of one whose works will follow him. One of the links, of the very few, that bind the people of Wheeling to the long, long ago has been broken, and the old familiar beacon light that for upwards of sixty years has gone before the younger people of the enterprising city of his adoption has disappeared from earth forever, to shine with increased brightness in the streets of the New Jerusalem, leaving others in the great battle of life, to take their places at the head of the great caravan that moves to take its chambers in the silent halls of death.

Dr. Todd, in all the relations of life, was eminently considerate. As a husband, he was most affectionate, seeking to divide fully all the pleasures incident to life. As a father he was tender as a maiden. As a friend consistent and unswerving. To the poor he was a benefactor in and out of his profession. To all he was courteous. To the world he was an honorable man. What more?

He died at his home in Wheeling, in the bosom of relatives and friends, May 1, 1883. For sixty-three years he had adorned the State of his adoption by an exemplary life.


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