Dr. William Hobson Heath and the Public Health Service

Genealogy for the Heath family's of Saffordshire and surrounding areas.

Dr. William Hobson Heath and the Public Health Service

Postby Donna Tunison » Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:59 pm

Dr. William Hobson Heath (6) <William Henry (5) <Charles Pettit (4) <David (3) <Andrew II (2) <Andrew I (1)


Brother: The Trouble with Harry — From Riches to Rags http://www.heathfamilystaffordshire.co.uk/hfsforum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=253
Third cousin who moved to Buffalo in 1899: William Raphael Heath http://www.heathfamilystaffordshire.co.uk/hfsforum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=220
Grandfather: Charles Pettit Heath http://www.heathfamilystaffordshire.co.uk/hfsforum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=219

Some of Hobson’s fellow students at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School called him a saint, but events in his personal life would seem to contradict that he was pious or virtuous. Hobson’s birth year is elusive and as the years pass, he appears to get younger. He is not mentioned on the 1860 census with his parents, and siblings, Virginia, 5 and Harry, 2; but first appears on the 1870 census, age, 17; and in the 1880 census he appears twice, (1) Philadelphia with his parents and siblings, age 26, occupation: surgeon, USN; and (2) Bedloe’s Island [1], New York City, age 25, (thus making his approximate birth year 1853-1854) surgeon at the U.S. Marine Hospital [2]. General Joshua L. Chamberlain’s [3] book, “Universities and their Sons, University of Pennsylvania” (1888) gives his birth year as 1858, and most of his classmates were born between 1853-4, a few are older, and one is younger by two years. It is also curious that the 1874 Philadelphia Directory lists his address as 531 Chestnut (his father’s business address) but his home as Andalusia. [4]
Other records:
1892 NY Census: Age 36, born abt 1856
1900 census, age 43, born abt March 1857
1905 NY Census: age 45, born abt 1860
1910 census as being 50 years old (born abt. 1860)
1908 Hobson and Madeline Dehlinger’s marriage license states his age as 48 (born abt 1860)
1913 marriage license to Ora Pearl Caldwell, lists his age as 51 (born abt 1862).
1920 census, age, 53 (born abt. 1857)
1930 census, age, 63 (born abt. 1857).
If Hobson was born in 1857, let alone 1860, he would have been the Doogie Howser (an 1989-1993 unbelievable American TV series about a teenager who is a practicing M.D.) of the 19th century.

According to the Medical School’s directory, Hobson’s home state is Chili (sic), and his preceptor, Isaac T. Coates, [5] graduating on 12 Mar 1877. Hobson’s name appears the following month in the Philadelphia Times, regarding the suicide of Dr. H. Crouse who jumped from a window at the University Hospital and his testimony at the inquest tells the events leading to Crouse’s suicide According to Hobson’s biography, upon graduation he worked at the University Hospital and was connected with Blockley [6].

Hobson appears in the June 1879 Official Register of the U.S. Officers and Employees Civil, Military and Naval Service Directory, living in Washington, D.C., working for the U.S. Marine Hospital service and a later newspaper article said he was working for the Surgeon-General (newly appointed, Dr. John B. Hamilton, and second person to hold the position). A 12 Aug 1879 New York Times article about old Fort Wood [7] on Bedloe’s Island and the War Department refusing to relinquish until the location site of Bartholdi’s gift was determined, but gave orders for the island to be turned over to the Marine Service to be used as a hospital for seamen, naming Hobson as one of the three doctors assigned to run it. His name next appears in a 01 Jan 1880 New York Sun article about the difficulties of transferring patients in inclement weather and threats of danger from exposure from the Battery to Bedloe’s Island and how Hobson handles patients.

The following December, Hobson is sent to Buffalo as a temporary physician to relieve the doctor in charge of the U.S. Marine Hospital who was being transferred to Galveston, Texas. Buffalo, New York was one of the fastest growing cities in commerce, transportation and manufacturing after the Civil War, and became a railroad hub. Between 1880 - 1900, its population almost doubled, from 155,134 to 352,000, having repercussions including public health. These figures reflected immigrants primarily from Poland with a smaller number from Italy.

Hobson’s first paper, “The Heatonian Method for the Radical Cure of Hernia” was published in the April 1881 Buffalo Medical Journal. On 04 Nov 1882, Hobson was one of the Buffalo dignitaries who greeted the Binghamton (NY) officials, and attended a party given by the newly elected governor [8]. Hobson married Kate Adams [9] on 03 Jan 1883 in Buffalo and his only child, Jesse was born the following 27 October. In addition to being Assistant Surgeon of the U.S. Marine Hospital, Hobson was also working at the Buffalo Hospital of the Sisters of Charity [10]. The following year was busy for Hobson, in addition to his work at the Marine Hospital, he was on staff at the Good Samaritan Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Professor of Descriptive and Surgical Anatomy at Niagara University, but this schedule took a toll on his health and by September he took a leave of absence and with Kate, sailed to Europe the end of September. Upon their return two months later, it appears he resigned from the U.S. Marine Hospital as the 1885 city directory lists him only on staff at the medical department of Niagara University. A 22 Nov 1885 Buffalo Sunday Morning News article “The Wicked Men Who are Going to Roast Us When We are Dead and Gone,” names Hobson as one of the stockholders of the Buffalo Cremation Company, Ltd.” Cremation began to take hold in America nine years before when Dr. Julius LeMoyne built the first crematory in Washington, Pennsylvania.

In 1880s and 90s, there was a movement in Buffalo to work on issues of general and special interests, and one was the reorganization of its Health Department, and in 1891 a new position was created with the title, health commissioner. Dr. Ernest Wende was named its first commissioner, with Hobson as Inspector of Food and Drugs, a post he held for 24 years. In his first year in the department, Hobson worked with Wende’s in his attacking the city’s water and sewage problems with the goal to eradicate cholera. They also organized inspection of milk supplies, with taking daily samples to analyze and ending the practice of refilling used milk bottles. The department set goals to clean-up of the slum areas, oversee inspections at packing houses (and meat inspection), dairies, dairy farms, groceries, restaurants, bars, soda fountains, bakeries, barbers, and drug stores; and research hydrophobia/rabies, and infantile paralysis/polio.

In 1893, with the approval of the U.S. Congress, the United States Department of State hosted the first Pan America Medical Congress in Washington, D.C., held September 5-8, with invitations sent by the President to the medical profession in the Western Hemisphere. Hobson was one of ten Assistant Secretaries-General and secretaries of the General and Orthopedic Surgery section.

In 1894 & 5, Hobson served as Vice-President of his father-in-law’s firm, The Buffalo Mortar & Fibre Company. But by 1896, Hobson and Kate’s marriage was in trouble Kate filed for divorce, which was “secured” on 19 March. A month and a half later, Hobson was a medical expert in the Sammon trial, having examined the accused who was believed to have faked insanity. He would be a medical expert in future trials. On 17 Aug 1896 Hobson was appointed brigade surgeon in the U.S. Army and was to go to Puerto Rico.

1896-01-06 Buffalo Commercial.jpg
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Hobson’s name appears periodically in Buffalo newspapers through the years, but the most dramatic was in May 1902, Hobson and fellow Health Department doctor, W. H. May were reportedly drunk when vaccinating children at P.S. #44. A hearing was held, and testimony of parents and teachers were taken, and the doctors were suspended for 60 days, although Health Commissioner Green said the charges were declared unfounded.

Hobson married the second time in Toronto, Canada to Madeline Dehlinger on 22 January 1908, and she filed for divorce with the final judgment on 11 Feb 1909. He appears in the 1910 census as a widower, and marries for the third time to Ora Caldwell on 25 Jan 1913, stating that he was previously married once. This marriage would last until his death in 1930.

1913-07-14 Buffalo Evening News.jpg
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In July 1915, Hobson was named the head of a newly created department, the publicity bureau. With the Rockefeller Institute’s [11] recommendation, in early November 1915, Hobson was appointed as Siam’s (Thailand) executive medical adviser and sanitarian to the eastern empire, with the purpose of modernizing the country’s sanitation methods. Bangkok’s population at the time was about one million people. He and Ora were scheduled to move the following month, but the Buffalo Morning Express reported on November 19th that their trip had been postponed due to lack of transportation facilities. In 1916, Hobson oversaw the clean-up of Buffalo to reduce the fly and mosquito problem which were believed causing health issues.

In June 1918, Hobson was appointed director of hygiene and education of Buffalo, the position he held until his retirement. He died the 17 December at Buffalo General Hospital and his obituary consists of four lines, only mentioning Ora as family member. His body was cremated and interred in at Philadelphia’s Woodland Cemetery in the Heath plot a year later.

Kate Adams Heath never remarried and moved to Dutchess County, New York where she died in 1949; his daughter Jessie Heath married Edward Arthur Bredt in 1910 and they had three daughters. Kate, Jessie and Edward are buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo. Madeline Dehlinger remarried and died in 1962; Ora Caldwell Heath (1875-1954), a trained nurse, appears in the 1940 census working as a maid in a private home in Niagara Falls, Erie County, New York.

1. On 03 Mar 1877, by an Act of Congress, Bedloe’s Island was designated to be the site for the Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s gift to America “Liberty Enlighting the World,” and in 1886 was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland. By and Act of Congress, in 1956, Bedloe’s Island, became Liberty Island. Emma Lazarus penned the poem that is associated with the statue, “Give me your tired. . .”

2. After a severe outbreak of yellow fever, U.S. President John Adams signed “An Act for the relief of sick and disabled Seaman” on 16 Jul 1798, the first Federal health law. Hospitals for mariners were built and operated privately at the major seaports on the Atlantic coast and sailor paid a fee of 40 cents per day. Kentucky Senator Henry Clay led a movement to build hospitals on American inland rivers and lakes and by the time of the of the Civil War, 27 hospitals existed. The administration of the marine hospitals became the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Treasury, who were responsible for collecting customs and provide funding for the hospital. In 1870 President Ulysses S. Grant created the Bureau of U.S. Marine Hospitals which operated as a military department and raised the sailor’s monthly fee to 60 cents per day. Dr. John M. Woodworth, was named as the first Supervising-Surgeon General in March 1871, died in March 1879 and succeeded by Dr. John B. Hamilton. In the first years under Dr. Hamilton they developed quarantine polices. The bureau would go on to adopt standardized medication and nutrition, strict hygiene standards, and decontamination procedures. In 1887 a one room “laboratory of hygiene” was created in the Marine Hospital at Stapleton, Staten Island, that would evolve into the present day National Institute of Health. President Franklin D. Roosevelt consolidated the Bureau into the Public Health Services in 1939.

3. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was one of the heroes at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. He became the 32nd Governor of Maine serving 1867-1871; and president of his alma mater, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine from 1871-1883.

4. In the old Spanish Empire, New Andalusia/Andalucia was one of six governates, which included Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

5. Dr. Isaac T. Coates was married to Hobson’s cousin, Mary Gaskell-Penn (her mother, Louisa, was sister of Hobson’s father) on 23 Mar 1865. After graduation from University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1859, Coates worked as a surgeon on the Black Ball Line’s packet ship “Great Western and on his return to U.S. in 1860 he lived in Trinity, Louisiana. When the war erupted in 1861, Coates enlisted in the U.S. Navy, reporting for duty on the U.S. Steamer Bienville (a paddlewheel) at the New York Naval Yard, as a surgeon, where it was part of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Isaac transferred to the frigate “St. Lawrence in 1864 and, then the gunboat “Peosta” used on the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers. Coates enlisted in Victoria, Texas in Companies F&G, 77th Pennsylvania Infantry on 23 Mar 1865 as Assistant Surgeon. In Feb 1867, Isaac wrote to U.S. Army Surgeon General Joseph Barnes, offering his services for two years in the territories. He served in the 7th U.S. Cavalry under General Winfield Scott Hancock, and Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, making an arduous tour of the Southwest returning home through Arizona and California. In 1873, while working in Peru, he made the first ascent of the Misti volcano and explored the cone, incorrectly believing that the volcano was extinct (the volcano erupted after being dormant for centuries in 1985). Isaac’s friend, Lieutenant Cochrane reported Coates’ trek and findings of Misti to the New York Geographical Society, which was published in 1875. Coates was inducted into the Society the year before. Isaac return to the U.S., crossing the Andes to the navigable head-waters of the Amazon to Para (sic) then sailed home, practicing medicine in Chester, PA, his hometown until after his wife’s death in 1877. In 1878, Isaac returned to Brazil, working as a surgeon for the Collins’ expedition, who was exploring a route to build a railroad around the rapids of the Maderia River. Several people from Delaware County, Pennsylvania accompanied Coates, but the living situation proved to be difficult affecting their health, including Isaac’s. He moved with his only surviving son, Harold to Denver in 1879. In 1883, Isaac committed suicide, overdosing on morphine in Socorro, New Mexico. A Los Angeles newspaper at the time of his death, said he was the best doctor the town ever had.

6. Blockley was a charity hospital built on land purchased from the estate of Alexander Hamilton (President Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, and founder of the Federal Reserve), and in 1919 renamed Philadelphia General Hospital.

7. Fort Wood. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/forgot ... -ny.91800/

8. In November 1881, Grover Cleveland was elected mayor of Buffalo by a wide margin and took office on 02 Jan 1882, but only served 10 months when he was elected governor of New York. Cleveland served as governor of New York for two years, when he was elected for the first of two non-consecutive terms as President of the United States.

9. Kate’s father James Adams, a wealthy businessman was one of Buffalo’s first Police Commissioners; president of the Buffalo, New York and Pennsylvania Railroad; president of the Buffalo & Jamestown railroad; built the Buffalo Creek Railroad (also its president and superintendent of operations), and a senior member of Adams & Moulton, a Buffalo heavy lumber dealer. Adams was one of the three men who formed an organization to bring electric light to Buffalo in 1882, using the Brush Arc dynamo. They demonstrated on Buffalo Creek, and built another establishment near the freight house of the New York Central Railroad. The Brush Electric Light Company and The United States Electric Company were granted a franchise by the Common Council and after a few years, the company had about three hundred lights to maintain. In 1886 a third company, Thomson-Houston Electric light began operating in 1886, and in 1892, the three companies were consolidated and renamed Buffalo General Electric Company.

10. The Sisters of Charity Hospital of Buffalo was opened in 1848 (with six sailors as their first patients) and in operation until 2014, when its doors were closed.

11. The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was created by John D. Rockefeller in 1901, initially awarding grants to study public health problems in New York City. In 1906 a temporary laboratory was opened and researchers worked to understand and cure diseases and following the lead of Koch and Pasteur Institutes in Europe, became a biomedical research center. The institute
Donna Tunison
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