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SKETCH OF DR. A. B. WRIGHT, OF OSHKOSH.
BY DR. B. C. GUDDEN, OF OSHKOSH.
After the sun has set the crimson of evening still gilds the dark forest; thus when a good man dies the vivid recollections of his noble deeds and words yet live among his friends,
The late Dr. A. B. Wright, of Oshkosh, who died April 2d, 1886, was a man who owed a great deal of his success in life to the harmonious combination of medical knowledge and experience with the character of a philanthropist. One might as well endeavor to sever light from warmth as to attempt to separate his personal attraction from his professional career, The science of medicine was the sunbeam of his life and in its practice was always accompanied by his warm and generous heart.
Dr. Wright was born in Huntington County, Pa., in 1820. At Willoughby and Cleveland, Ohio, he pursued his medical studies and in the bloom of his life, a young man of about 26 years, came to Winnebago County, while the Indian canoe still floated on the Fox River, and while the moccasin left its tracks on the virgin ground. He was a permanent inhabitant of Oshkosh, before it became a city. During that time of pioneer life he was freque obliged to travel on his pony to Green Bay, to supply himself with the requisite drugs and surgical instruments.
He witnessed the withdrawal of the red man, whom he advised in sickness; he was personally acquainted with,and had great admiration for the gifted Indian chief, Oshkosh, who is the God-father of this city. He beheld the city of his choice grow and prosper, saw generations follow generations and was widely known and generally beloved.
The best proof of his individuality is the fact that he had the most extensive practice among children in the city, for he possessed in his kind and patient disposition the talisman to subdue their timid and rebellious spirits.
During four decades he devoted his life to the public welfare and to charity, neither regarding his own personal comfort nor seeking a partner among the gentler sex to embellish his maturer years.
“Sit tibi terra levis."
OBITUARY NOTICE OF DR. HARMON VAN DUSEN, OF
BY DR. S. MARKS, OF MILWAUKEE.
Dr. Harmon Van Dusen was born at Salisbury, Conn., July 23, 1803, and his early education was acquired chiefly in the common school, supplemented by a year's attendance at Middlebury Academy, New York.
His medical studies were pursued at Bethany and at Delphi, in New York, and at Castleton Medical College, Vermont; but the diploma by which he received entrance into the medical profession was granted him by the Onondaga Court, Medical society of New York, December ist, 1826, a diploma which he ever afterwards most highly cherished, though he subsequently attended another course of medical lectures at Jefferson Medical College, graduating from that institution in 1836.
Early identifying himself with medical societies his recognized merits soon brought him professional honors. In 1836 he was the President of the Onondaga County Medical Society. In 1844 he was elected President of the New York State Medical Society. The next year he was one of its censors and in the year following he was made one of its permanent members.
In 1847 he came to Milwaukee where he remained for a few months only, and then removed to Mineral Point. He was one of the charter members of the Territorial Medical Society and his name appears in its records as a delegate in 1850. In the year following he was elected vice-president of the society and then president. In 1854 he became a permanent member and was elected censor. During the war the society became disorganized and in 1867, after the war had closed, Dr. Van Dusen with two or three others, called the special meeting which led to its reorganization. He held the office of President of the society in 1868 and 1869; was a censor in 1870 and 1871; and again president in 1873. He was also a member of the American Medical Association.
He was stricken with paralysis in 1881, but in the course of a year and a half partially regained the use of his limbs. During the nine months preceding his death he was feeble and confined to his house much of the time. He died at Mineral Point July 18, 1885, at the age of 82 years, more than 50 of which had been devoted to the active practice of medicine. He left a wife and two sons, one of whom, Dr. W. H. Van Dusen, of Monfort, Wis., is a practicing physician.
There are a few simple facts in the life of Dr. Van Dusen which should make his memory well worth preserving. In his early days a medical education was not easy to obtain. We find him admitted to practice in 1826 and an active member of one of the most honorable medical societies; yet for ten years after he bent all his energies to the better mastery of his profession and in 1836 he emerges from what was then the best medical school in America with the highest degree it could confer. A man who in his time and under his conditions, graduates from an honorable institution ten years after he has been admitted to practice, shows that complete respect for his profession which dominated his whole life, for it was no small effort to prepare himself in the midst of active practice for the exactions of the school. To him the practice of medicine was a mission and there was no drudgery in it. He lived to practice medicine and did not practice medicine to live.
But his best work is not summed up in the record of his faithful service to his patients, his hard labors in a new country, his ready response to all the exactions of such a practice, or his high indifter. ence to financial rewards.
From the time when Dr. Van Dusen received his medical education, the practice of medicine demanded, more than anything else the organization of its legitimate followers. To cement these to. gether, to maintain a code of ethics that would hold the profession to its highest mission, to resist pretentious charlatans, was an ambition far more important than it is easy to understand to-day. The man who aided at no small sacrifice to himself, to maintain the highest standard of professional excellence, performed a work the good results of which did not die with him. Into this work of re-organization Dr. Van Dusen threw the best energies of his long life. It is in this capacity that the profession owes him a larger debt than if he had been a discoverer in the field of medical science. He had an intensity of conviction which made him a staunch churchman and faithful Mason as well as the inveterate toe of medical practititioners who practiced without authority. He believed with all the fervor of an intense nature that a charlatan was an abomination, and he carried this belief severely into practice. It was his professional conviction that in the organization of legitimate practitioners rested the future of medicine and the destruction of calamitous charlatanism.
Twice only was he absent from the meetings of the State Medical Society during his many years of membership. In its earlier days he would drive the long distance from Mineral Point to Milwaukee no matter what the weather or what the demands of his practice. It was in this spirit of complete devotion that the organization was upheld.
But if he was indignant toward unauthorized pretenders, he was none the less exacting toward legitimate practitioners. A resolution introduced by him in the State Medical Society in 1851 shows the aggressive honesty of the man. It reads:
Resolved, “That it is the duty of the members of the State Medical Society to discourage suits for malpractice; but when testifying in a court of justice on a question of this kind, it is their duty, respectively, as the conservators of the public health and the honor of the medical profession, to give unqualified, decided and direct opinions, whether in favor of or against the medical or surgical practitioner who may be interested in the result of the suit.”
Whatever of high tribute can be paid to the unselfish devotion of the country practitioners who form so important an element of the profession, must include this conscientious physician who for more than 50 years exposed himself to the beating storms in a region then thinly settled; who never refused a call or imposed a condition to spare himself. As a matter of course he lived and died a poor man, if we can account that man poor who is rich in the sense of having done his duty in the world. He was as well fitted as any man to enjoy the ease and luxuries of life, but better was it in his eyes, to live like an honest man, and add something of honor to the profession to which he belonged.
With Dr. Van Dusen the question of this life was, as Carlyle puts it, not what we gain but what we do.