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A Pioneer History of Jefferson County Pennsylvania and My First Recollections of Brookville, Pennsylvania 1840-1841 When My Feet Were Bare and My Cheeks Were Brown

by W. J. McKnight, M.D., J. B. Lippencott Company, Philadelphia, 1898 pp. 393-394

Dr. William M. Bennett was married to a Miss Orilla Ralston, of Angelica, Alleghany County, New York, about the year 1818 or 1819. He lived a short time where the city of Bradford now stands. He emigrated with his family to Jefferson County early in the year 1843, and settled on the Little Toby, in Snyder township, three miles below Brockwayville, where he built a saw-mill and engaged in the practice of his profession. Dr. Bennett was not a highly educated man, but he had a wonderful fund of common sense, and in his career of physician was popular, successful, and useful. In his treatment of diseases he was far in advance of what was then called science in medicine. He died October 11, 1875, and was buried at Temple's graveyard, Warsaw township, this [Jefferson] county.

The pioneer and early doctor was a useful citizen, and his visits to the early settlers when afflicted was a great comfort. How we all long now to see the doctor when we are sick! These isolated people longed just the same for the coming of their doctor. The science of medicine then
was very crude, and the art of it very imperfect, hence the early practitioner had but limited skill, yet while exercising whatever he professed for the relief of suffering, his privations and labor while travelling by
night or day on horseback with his "old pill-bags" were hard and severe in the extreme. The extent of his circuit was usually from fifty to one hundred miles over poor roads and paths, swimming his horse through creeks and rivers as best he could. I have travelled a circuit of one hundred miles in my day. In those days every one had respect for the doctor, and every family along his circuit was delighted with an opportunity to extend free hospitality to the doctor and his horse.

In some of my long rides I have become so tired about midnight that I felt I could not go a step farther, when I would dismount from my horse, hitch him on the outside to a log of a log barn, slip the bridle around his neck, climb into the mow, throw the horse an armful of hay, and then fall asleep in the hay, only to awaken when the sun was an hour or two high. The pioneer doctor carried his pill-bags well stocked with calomel, Dover's powder, tartar emetic, blistering salve, a pair of old turnkeys for extracting teeth, and a spring and thumb lance for bleeding purposes, as everybody had to be bled, sick or well. Twenty-five cents
was the fee for bleeding, and the amount of blood drawn from the arm was from half a pint to a quart. The custom of bleeding sick or well fell into disrepute about 1850. A town visit was from twenty-five to fifty cents, a visit in the country twenty-five cents a mile, an obstetric fee five
dollars. The pioneer doctor always wore green leggings or corduroy overalls. I was no exception to this rule.

Owner/SourceEvelyn Frost Rush
Linked toOrilla Rawson

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