Description[Abraham Lincoln]. Homeopathic Medical Student's Diary for 1861. One volume, entitled Pocket Diary for 1861 (Cambridgeport, Massachusetts: Denton & Wood, 1861), 3" x 6 7/8", 154 pages (34 blank) in black leather cover with flap, of daily entries, memoranda, and cash and cash payable accounts of D. J. Chaffee, a student at the Western Homeopathic College, Cleveland, Ohio, for the year 1861. Most notably, Chaffee records a visit president-elect Abraham Lincoln made to Cleveland in January 1861 as part of his inaugural journal to Washington, D.C. Lincoln arrived Cleveland on the afternoon of February 15, arriving by train about two miles from the center of the city and was accompanied into Cleveland's Weddell House by the Cleveland Grays (a military unit) and fire companies. On that day Chaffee recorded "Lincoln at Cleveland, O. Pleasant-A.M. Cloudy and snowed a little in P.M. The Hon. Abraham Lincoln arrived here at 4 o'clock. He spoke at Weddle House-thousands of people were assembled to see him and hear him speak." The next day, the Cleveland Grays escorted the president elect to his train and a brass band serenaded him as he departed. Chaffee got a good look at Lincoln on February 16 and described what he observed. "'Old Abe' started for Buffalo at 9 A.M. I took a good look at him. He looks much better than his picture. Thousands of people came down to the depot & the bank was lined."
Condition: The black leather cover with flap (with the words "Diary. 1861." stamped in gold) is worn but is intact. The diary internally is sound and in fine condition. Most entries are in pen and are legible. Some written in pencil are faded but readable.
Chaffee made daily entries from January 1 through October 28, when he came down with what he diagnosed as typhoid fever, which laid him up for the duration of the year. As a result there are few entries between October 28 and the end of the year. In his entry for October 28 Chaffee wrote that "Sick all the P.M. I am going to have the Typhoid Fever." On December 31 he noted that he "was taken with Fever Oct. 28th-in four weeks I began to get better-then I had a relapse caused by eating and exercising too much-this last time the Fever was mild but lasted six weeks-in the last Fever I ate nothing but gruel. I got so weak that it was difficult to make the System react again."
Chaffee's entries from January 1 through October 22, many of which are quite full, cover the weather, medical school activities, treatment of patients, and newsworthy events. His medical school entries cover the period from January 2 through February 21. From February 22 through the remainder of the year Chaffee was home in Palmyra, New York. Sample of Chaffee's entries concerning his medical education give one a sense of what a medical student learned in a homeopathic school of the period. On January 2, 1861 Chaffee recorded: "Beautiful day. Turrill demonstrated the intestines, showed us how much fat we would find in some. Ellis gave us the treatment of Small Pox, and cold in the head. Beckwith began the treatment of fractures, took the radius, bandaged Smith's arm to show us how." George F. Turrill, M.D. (1829-1891), taught General and Descriptive Anatomy; John Ellis, M.D. (circa 1813-1895), Principles and Practice of Medicine; and S.R. Beckwith, M.D. (1830-?), Surgery at the Western Homeopathic College. On January 14, Chaffee wrote this entry, which included a lecture on abortion. "Turrell on the nose and muscles of the throat. Ellis treated of Pneumonia. Sanders on Abortion. Said a childless old age was dreadful to think of-no patter of little feet, no shouts & laughs of happy voices-no little ones to stride your knee & run through their little fingers along the furrows of your cheek-none to represent you when you are gone.. Wilson gave us a phrenological lecture." John Chapin Sanders, M.D. (1825-?), taught Obstetrics and Diseases of Women, and Thomas P. Wilson, M.D. (1832-1910) Physiology and Special Pathology at the medical school. On Saturday, January 26, Chaffee witnessed his first delivery of a baby. "Went over to the Infirmary in the P.M.-good clinic-cut off a man's toe-one obstetrical case-this was the first case I ever saw, the babe I ever saw delivered. It was a bouncer-came lustily breathing & heartily crying, all good signs, as you will learn." And on February 1, he wrote of a lecture on temperance presented by Professor Ellis "on delirium tremors. He gave us a good still temperance lecture-told the Boys they were to be teachers and should not use tobacco or alcohol in any form, and should try to persuade others not to use it."
At the end of the diary are pages for cash accounts and bills payable for each month, in which Chaffee recorded his income (money from home, etc.) and expenses for such items as rent ($10 a month in Cleveland) and medical books purchased.
D. J. Chaffee (1835-?), from Palmyra, New York, graduated from the Western Homeopathic College in 1863. He later practiced homeopathic medicine in Fairport, Monroe County, New York and was one of the original members of the Homeopathic Medical Society of the County of Monroe, which was established in 1866, and a member of the Central New York Homeopathic Society
The Western Homeopathic College was formed in 1850 as the Western Homeopathic College of Cleveland. The college faculty practiced and taught at the Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital. The school underwent a series of name changes between its founding and the 1890s. It pioneered in both nursing, establishing the first nursing school west of the Alleghenies in 1884, and dentistry, forming the first homeopathic school of dentistry in the country in the 1890s.
The diary provides a glimpse of what was taught in homeopathic medical schools in the mid-19th century and offers one person's reaction to Abraham Lincoln's visit to Cleveland on his way to his inauguration in 1861.
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