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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Pioneer Doctor

Pioneer Doctor

GRHC - October 6th, 2010

The trials of Grand Rapids' early medical practitioners.    



The practice of medicine in Grand Rapids during the 1840s was not easy. The inhabitants were few and scattered, and the only guides to the settlements were the blazed trees marked by the settler or the surveyor.

Having occasion to visit a patient on the western borders of Walker township, and being detained until the middle of the night, the village doctor was furnished with a torch made of hickory bark to help find his way through the forest. The torch burned out before he reached the Grand River, leaving him in such darkness that he was unable to distinguish the ears of his horse.

It had rained throughout the previous day and far into the night. He found the river rising rapidly, the ferryman absent, and no place to shelter himself or his horse. A footbridge, the width of a single plank, spanned the river so the doctor dismounted and taking the line he attached it to the end of the bridle-rein. He took the other end and led his horse upon the plank. The bridge was made visible only by the ripples of water on either side. Fortunately, both doctor and horse crossed safely.

Another time, on a cold November night, the doctor traveled about 12 miles to the southern part of Byron. He arrived, cold and weary, but there was no light in the house. When he knocked a voice called,  “Who is there?” He replied, “The doctor,” the voice responded, “Your services are not now needed. I suppose you will not be charging anything?”



Full Details

TitlePioneer Doctor
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, doctor, health radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringOctober 6th, 2010

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