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Ames, Nathaniel (22 July 1708–11 July 1764), almanac maker, physician, and innkeeper, was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the son of Captain Nathaniel Ames, an astronomer and mathematician, and Susannah Howard. Probably after an apprenticeship with a country doctor, Ames became a doctor. With the likely assistance of his father, in 1725 Ames produced the first almanac to carry his name, though he was a youth of only seventeen. The almanac soon became well known and remained a staple product in New England, appearing annually for a half century....

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Bagley, Sarah George (29 April 1806–?), millworker, reformer, and physician, was born in Candia, New Hampshire, the daughter of Nathan Bagley and Rhoda Witham, farmers.

Bagley grew up in a family whose economic situation became increasingly precarious during the course of the nineteenth century. Nathan Bagley originally farmed land in Candia, which he had inherited from his father, but he later moved on to farming land in Gilford, New Hampshire. After losing litigation in 1822, he sold his land in Gilford and eventually moved to Meredith Bridge, New Hampshire (now Laconia), where he became an incorporator of the Strafford Cotton Mill Company in 1833. However, Nathan Bagley did not own a home after 1824; it was Sarah Bagley who made the down payment on a house for her family in Meredith Bridge in the 1840s. She probably used money she had saved during her stints as a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts....

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Bayne, Thomas (1824–1889), dentist and politician, was born into slavery in North Carolina and was known as Samuel Nixon before his escape from bondage in 1855. He was sold several times before being purchased by C. F. Martin, a dentist in Norfolk, Virginia. As the slave of Martin, Bayne learned sufficient dentistry to serve as the doctor’s assistant and to make dental house calls. Bayne also developed bookkeeping skills and monitored the doctor’s accounts....

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Brandreth, Benjamin (09 January 1807–19 February 1880), proprietary medicine manufacturer and eclectic physician, was born in Leeds, England, where his father was a merchant. In the mid-eighteenth century, his physician grandfather, William Brandreth of Liverpool, had concocted and sold a Vegetable Universal Pill. Inheriting the formula, Brandreth marketed the pill in 1828. In 1829 he married Harriet Matilda Smallpage; they had five children. In 1835, sensing a larger pill market in the United States, the family migrated to New York City, where his wife died the following year....

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Cesar (1682–?), South Carolina slave and medical practitioner who developed primitive pharmaceuticals, was born possibly in Africa or the Caribbean and transported to the southern colonies as a slave, or perhaps he was born into slavery in South Carolina. (His name is often spelled Caesar.) His parents are unknown; he may have been the descendant of skilled medicine men, who transferred medical knowledge from their native cultures to the colonies, sharing drug recipes and folk remedies that used herbs and roots, or of slave midwives, who had performed Caesarian sections in Africa and taught other slaves that procedure....

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Corson, Juliet (13 January 1841?–18 June 1897), founder of the New York Cooking School and pioneer in the scientific cookery movement, was born in Mount Pleasant, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peter Ross Corson, a prosperous produce merchant, and Mary Ann Henderson. (Although most obituaries and biographical sources give Corson’s birth date as 1842, the Vital Records of Roxbury, Massachusetts, give the date as 1841.) Corson’s family moved to New York City when she was six years old. In New York her uncle, Alfred Upham, helped to raise her and provided her with a classical education. She began to support herself in her late teens after her mother’s death....

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Dorsette, Cornelius Nathaniel (1852–07 December 1897), pioneering black physician, was born into slavery at Eden in Davidson County, North Carolina, the son of David Dorsette and Lucinda (maiden name unknown). Two months after his birth, he was separated from his mother. When he was freed with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, he lived with his grandmother on a small farm and attended school in Thomasville, North Carolina....

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Durham, James (01 May 1762–?), physician, was born a slave in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His surname is sometimes spelled Derham. Despite his slave status, he learned basic reading and writing skills from his first owners, whom he described as Christians. Durham also received his medical training from his masters. At that period most American physicians acquired their medical education through the apprenticeship system. Durham began a form of apprenticeship at the age of eight, when he became the slave of John A. Kearsley, Jr., a physician who taught him to compound medicines and to perform routine medical procedures. Durham later belonged to other doctors in Philadelphia, at least one of whom was a British sympathizer. This association with a Loyalist master probably explains why Durham later became the property of George West, a surgeon in the British Sixteenth Regiment....

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Freeman, Elizabeth (1742–28 December 1829), slave, nurse, and slavery lawsuit plaintiff, was born either in New York or Massachusetts, the daughter of parents probably born in Africa. She apparently became the slave of Pieter Hogeboom of New York quite early. The only trace of her parents is Freeman’s bequest to her daughter of two articles of clothing—a black silk gown given to Freeman by her father as a gift, and another gown that supposedly belonged to Freeman’s mother. During her lifetime and even after her death, she was known as “Mum Bett” or “Mumbet,” a name derived from “Elizabeth.” Lacking a surname for most of her life, she sued for freedom under the name “Bett” and adopted the name “Elizabeth Freeman” after winning her lawsuit in 1781....

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Hartman, Samuel Brubaker (01 April 1830–30 January 1918), physician and proprietary medicine manufacturer, was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Christian Hartman and Nancy Brubaker, farmers and immigrants from Switzerland. His father died when Hartman was six months old, and the boy had a peripatetic youth. Speaking only German until the age of fourteen, Hartman learned woodchopping from an uncle, then carpentry while living with a brother in Medway, Ohio. At twenty he taught school for a year in Pennsylvania, then toured the countryside selling German-English Bibles....

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Kellogg, John Harvey (26 February 1852–14 December 1943), physician, surgeon, and health reformer, was born in rural Livingston County, Michigan, the son of John Preston Kellogg and Anne Stanley, farmers. In 1852 Kellogg’s parents accepted the religious teachings that led to the organization of the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1863. This decision had a marked influence on their son’s life. By 1856 the family had resettled in Battle Creek, Michigan. Part of the proceeds from the sale of their farm was used to relocate the infant Adventist publishing plant from Rochester, New York, to Battle Creek, where Kellogg’s father now operated a small store and broom shop....

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Kiss, Max (09 November 1882–22 June 1967), pharmacist and businessman, was born in Kisvárda, Hungary, the son of Illes Kiss, a lumber merchant, and Regina Schwartz. In 1897, after finishing high school, Kiss left home and came to the United States via Hamburg, Germany. In later years he would recount that he had heard from a cousin that “everyone in America shoveled gold right from the streets,” and Kiss wanted to shovel....

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Koch, William Frederick (06 April 1885–09 December 1967), physician and discoverer and promoter of new medications alleged to cure cancer and other diseases, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of German immigrants Martin Koch and Christina Faulstich. Koch attended the University of Michigan, receiving an A.B. in premedical studies (1909), an M.A. (1910), and a Ph.D. in biochemistry (1916). He served from 1910 to 1913 as assistant in physiology and instructor in histology at the Michigan Medical School and from 1914 to 1919 as professor of physiology at the Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery (later part of Wayne State University), from which he received an M.D. in 1918. Koch married Luella Schmidt in 1916; the couple had four children....

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Lloyd, John Uri (19 April 1849–09 April 1936), pharmacist and author, was born in West Bloomfield, New York, the son of Nelson Marvin Lloyd, an engineer, and Sophia Webster, a schoolteacher. The eldest of three sons who would become leading manufacturers of botanical medicines, Lloyd left the Genesee Valley with his parents when he was only four to settle in northern Kentucky. In this rustic environment he evinced an early interest in the flora around him and developed the habit of surreptitiously borrowing his mother’s kitchenware to fashion crude but instructive experiments with natural products....

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Mazzei, Philip (25 December 1730–19 March 1816), physician, merchant, and agent of Virginia during the American Revolution, was born Filippo Mazzei in Poggio-a-Caiano, Italy, the son of Domenico Mazzei, a tradesman, and Maria Elisabetta di Guissepe del Conte. He studied medicine in nearby Florence, and in 1755 he joined the practice of a Dr. Salinas in Smyrna, Turkey. By year’s end he took passage for England as a ship’s doctor. Shortly after his arrival in London in 1756, he began an import-export business that enjoyed moderate success for the next sixteen years....

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James McHenry. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B017691).

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McHenry, James (16 November 1753–03 May 1816), physician and merchant, was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland (present-day Northern Ireland), the son of Daniel McHenry, a merchant, and Agnes (maiden name unknown), both Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. James McHenry emigrated to America in 1771 and lived in Philadelphia with Captain William Allison, a sugar baker. In 1772 McHenry attended or was a tutor at the Newark Academy in Delaware, an institution incorporated by “Old Light” Presbyterians that had an English school offering “Merchants Accounts,” navigation, and surveying. After the academy, McHenry studied medicine privately in Philadelphia with the prominent physician ...

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Perkins, Elisha (16 January 1741–06 September 1799), physician and patent vendor, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Perkins, a physician, and Mary Bushnell. Perkins may have briefly attended Yale and studied medicine under his father. He set up practice in Plainfield, Connecticut, and in 1762 married Sarah Douglass; they had ten children. During the Revolution, he served as a regimental surgeon. Tall and muscular, Perkins possessed great energy, self-control, self-confidence, and a good bedside manner. In spite of his thriving practice, he was not able to earn enough from medicine to support his large family. To supplement his income, he engaged in the mule trade, boarded patients, and took in students from the local academy he had helped to establish. He was an incorporator of the Connecticut Medical Society (1792) and chairman of the Windham County Medical Society....

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Rains, George Washington (1817–21 March 1898), soldier, scientist, engineer, and educator, was born in Craven County, North Carolina, the son of Gabriel M. Rains and Hester Ambrose. Rains graduated third in his 1842 class of the U.S. Military Academy. He was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers but transferred to the artillery. In 1844 Rains was detached to West Point as assistant professor of chemistry, geology, and mineralogy. He served with distinction in the war with Mexico and was breveted captain for gallantry at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco and major for gallantry at Chapultepec. Following postings in the South and Northeast, he resigned his commission in 1856, the same year he married Francis Josephine Ramsdell. The number of their children, if any, is unknown. He served as president of the Washington Iron Works and then the Highland Iron Works, both in Newburgh, New York. Rains joined the ranks of soldier-inventors produced by West Point, when in 1860–1861 he patented several inventions relating to steam engines and boilers....

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Rorer, Sarah Tyson (18 October 1849–27 December 1937), cooking teacher and diet reformer, was born Sarah Tyson Heston in Richboro, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Charles Tyson Heston, a pharmacist, and Elizabeth Sagers. The family resided in Buffalo, New York, but Elizabeth Heston returned to her mother’s home for the delivery of her firstborn. “Sallie,” as she was called, grew up in the Buffalo area and attended East Aurora Academy, a female seminary. She later attributed the beginnings of her interest in cooking reform to her father’s poor health and delicate digestion resulting from service in the Civil War. Around 1869 the family returned to eastern Pennsylvania, and in 1871 Sallie Heston married William Albert Rorer, a clerk/bookkeeper, in Philadelphia’s Second Reformed Church. The couple had three children, one of whom died in early childhood....