to History page
delivered 1899 Old Home Day and printed in a
Dr. Andros P. Chesley
Fellow Citizens. Ladies and Gentlemen:
Tennyson has said:
"It is a beautiful belief that ever round
Are hovering on angel wings the spirits of the
And I believe today the dear old souls of Epsom's
past physicians are mingling with us in this
celebration, perhaps it is as much a home week
for the spirits of the aid as it is for us.
We can fancy them gazing at the well-remembered
hills and dales, the often travelled roads,
the ripening harvest, the green and fertile
fields, and all the old familiar scenes where
they have lived and loved and worked. And perchance
the lines of Longfellow come to them when he
says "And in thought I go up and down the
streets of that dear old town. And my lost youth
comes back to me."
It is an undisputed fact that in all ages, as
we are informed by history, tradition, and song,
that the doctor's calling is the most important
of all the vocations of man. He is looked up
to; he is appealed to on all matters as guide,
philosopher and friend. Not even the minister
gets so near the hearts of all to cheer and
comfort as the village doctor.
"He is a man to all the country dear, And
passing rich on forty pounds a year."
There was no medical organization or association
in the State for more than half a century after
the town was settled. And information in regard
to the earlier physicians is extremely limited.
Stephen Sweat was the first physician of Epsom.
He was followed by Obediah Williams, who was
active in the affairs of the town, and was one
of a committee of three to treat with the Rev.
Mr. Tucke, in 1773. He also served as a surgeon
in the Revolutionary War.
The doctor of the present time, who drives in
his carriage over our roads, rides in his automobile,
or in the electric cars, or makes his way from
place to place by railroad train, knows but
little of the hardships and dangers of these
early days. There were in most instances no
roads, and the physician on horseback, or more
frequently on foot, was obliged to make his
way by means of spotted trees.
These were indeed pioneer times but the records
show that they did not interfere with excellent
The next physician was David L. Morrill, born
in Epping, New Hampshire, 1772, June 10, son
of the Rev. Isaac Morrill and Anna Lawrence.
Few men in the State ever occupied more numerous
and important offices than Dr. Morrill did.
Educated at Washington, Mass., and Exeter Academy,
he studied medicine and began to practice in
this town in 1793, and continued to practice
till 1800, when he became so deeply imbued with
religious ideas, that he studied for the ministry,
and in 1802 was ordained pastor of a church
in Goffstown, but resigned his pastorate in
1811 and resumed the practice of medicine. He
was representative to the General Court, 1808-1816
and in 1816 was speaker of the house, and at
this session was chosen to the senate of the
United States for six years. In 1823 he was
elected State senator and was president of that
body. He was elected Governor by the legislature
and the three following years elected governor
by the people. In 1825 he had thirty thousand,
one hundred and sixty seven votes out of thirty
thousand seven hundred and seventy which were
cast. He received the honorary degrees of A.M.
and M.D. from Dartmouth college, and L.L. D.
from the University of Vermont. Various minor
offices were held by him and there are various
publications and addresses in existence. He
married for his first wife, Jane Wallace of
this town, Sept. 25, 1794, who died in December
14, 1823, leaving no children. The following
June, 1824, he married for his second wife,
Lydia Poor of Goffstown, by whom he had four
sons, three of whom survived him. In 1831, he
moved to Concord, after which time he did not
engage in public life, and at the time of his
death, June 27, 1849, was a member of the South
Church. The State claims him as an honored public
official. The ministry claims him as one of
her soundest theologians and the medical fraternity
claims him as one of her most distinguished
Samuel Morrill, brother of David Lawrence Morrill,
was born in Epping, July 12, 1779, received
his education in the public schools of the town
and in 1794 became a clerk in a general store.
Through the influence of his brother in 1796,
he entered Exeter Academy, afterward studied
medicine with his brother in Epsom, and Dr.
Josiah Bartlett of Stratham, NH. He was examined
by the censors of the New Hampshire Medical
society in 1800. He commenced the practice of
medicine in the town of Salisbury in the spring
of 1800, but in a few months, came to Epsom
and took the place of his brother, who gave
up the practice of medicine to study for the
ministry. He continued his practice here till
1819. He was town clerk during the nineteen
years of his stay in Epsom and selectman for
seven years. He was a man strong in judgment,
simple in treatment, skillful in application.
He was a member of the New Hampshire Medical
society. He moved to Concord in 1819. In 1826,
he received the honorary degree of M.D. from
Dartmouth college, was justice for the court
of sessions for the county of Rockingham 1821,
register of deeds and judge of probate for Merrimack
County 1823-1828; 1829 treasurer of New Hampshire
branch of Educational society; 1830, treasurer
New Hampshire Savings Bank. He was a deacon
of the First Congregational Church of Concord.
Josiah Crosby followed Dr. Samuel Morrill. He
received his education under the instruction
of the Rev. Mr. Hidden of Tamworth, New Hampshire,
and afterwards attended school at Fryeburg and
Amherst Academies. He attended three courses
of lectures at Hanover, being the last year
a pupil of Dr. Nathan Smith. He practiced in
Sandwich for two years, when he moved to Meredith
Bridge, and in 1818 was practicing in Deerfield.
Coming here in 1819, he remained until 1825
when he removed to Concord. In 1828 he removed
to Lowell, Mass., where he held various offices
in the town and city governments of Lowell.
He was one of the founders of the Appleton Street
church. In 1838 he again moved to Meredith Bridge,
and in a short time moved to Manchester where
he died in 1875, at the age of 81 years. He
was a member of the New Hampshire Medical Society
and its president in 1850, and 1857 was elected
vice president of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Crosby was one of New Hampshire's noted
physicians and surgeons. He invented many surgical
appliances that are still in use. The records
tell us that he did not protect these by letters
patent, but gave them freely to the profession
for the relief of human suffering, believing
with the poet in the quality of mercy.
"It is twice blessed; It blesseth him that
gives, and him that takes."
The next physician was John Proctor, born in
Rowley, Mass., in 1781, of an old and distinguished
family and a brother of Benjamin Proctor, a
noted physician of Massachusetts. The earlier
years of his professional life were spent in
Chelmsford, Mass. He came here about 1825 and
remained till he died in 1837, aged 56 years.
He was twice married, his second wife being
Catherine L. Gray of this town. He is spoken
of by the older residents of the town as an
honorable, courteous Christian physician, and
a skillful surgeon. He was a friend of the poor
and needy. Although his professional career
was not long, his patrons' who were numerous,
had confidence in his ability and he was sincerely
mourned by the people of the town at his death.
Dr. Stephen Gale was a native of East Kingston,
born in 1799. He went to Raymond in 1824 and
practiced there the most of the time till his
death in 1846. During this time he practiced
one year in East Kingston and later a short
time in Gloucester, Mass. In 1833 he joined
the New Hampshire Center District Medical society
from Epsom. His stay in Epsom was short. He
was a faithful, industrious and skillful physician,
and had an extensive practice. He married Sarah
Kimball of Gloucester, Mass., by whom he had
two children, one of whom survived him.
Dr. Babb practiced here from 1837-1840, when
he moved to Manchester, where he continued his
professional work for a long term of years.
He was a man honest of purpose, sincere in his
motives and with kindness of soul. He studied
with Dr. Josiah Crosby and at Philadelphia where
he received his degree. He married Maria Lang
of Epsom, and three children, one son and two
daughters survive him.
Hanover Dickey was born in Epsom, Sept. 14,
1809. He was educated in the town schools and
at Dartmouth College. He attended the first
course of lectures at Hanover and the second
at Boston, where he graduated. After receiving
his diploma, he returned to his native town,
and practiced successfully from 1840 till 1845,
when he went to Lowell, Mass. Here he pursued
his professional duties to the day of his death,
May 29, 1873. Dr. Dickey was a man of superior
judgment, retentive memory, well-posted in his
profession, honorable and much esteemed by acquaintances,
patrons and professional brethren.
Leonard Peabody came to this town in 1845 and
remained till 1871. He was born in Newport,
N.H., Sept. 18, 1817, the son of Ami and Sarah
(Johnson) Peabody. He studied at Kimball Union
Academy and Concord Literary Institution, studied
with Dr. Timothy Haynes of Concord, and Dr.
John L. Swett of Newport, N.H., afterwards attending
one course of lectures at Woodstock, Vt., where
he received his degree of M.D., in June, 1844.
After practicing for one year in Henniker, he
came to Epsom. He was a member of the New Hampshire
Medical Society, Center District Medical Society
and of the New Hampshire Historical Society,
a frequent contributor to periodicals, town
clerk of Epsom, postmaster for ten years, member
of the Legislature in 1885. He died at Henniker
Jan. 13, 1899. He united with the church at
the age of 16 and for sixty-five years was interested
and active in all its work. No words of mine
can add to the grandeur and simplicity of his
life. He loved these hills and valleys, and
the people that dwelt among them, never putting
himself forward, still ever in the front from
his inherent virtues, he stands as a bright
and shining light to all who would win the reward
for good and faithful services. In his professional
work and in his public and private life he won
universal respect and esteem, and he died rich
in the grateful memories of those with whom
he had come in contact.
Sullivan A. Taylor was born in Strafford, N.H.,
Jan. 19, 1839. He graduated from Bishop's College,
Lenoxville, P.Q., and in 1866 began the study
of medicine at Mt. Gill College, Montreal, where
he graduated in 1870. He practiced his profession
in Lenoxville, till 1872, when he came to Epsom
and remained here four years. He then went to
Concord, N.H., where he remained two years and
then moved to Gilmanton where he is still located.
He excelled in the practice of medicine, also
in the department of surgery. He made himself
familiar with the various improvements of the
times, and was thoroughly impressed with the
dignity and high importance of the medical profession.
He was true to his chosen occupation and cultivated
it with industry during his stay in Epsom.
Albion H. French, M.D., once a well known physician
of Epsom, was born in Gilmanton, N.H., March
27, 1849, son of Thomas H. and Mary Ann (Brown)
French. He was only three years of age when
his father and mother died. He attended the
academies in Pembroke and Pittsfield and the
Northwood seminary. He fitted for college at
the Gilmanton Academy, took a partial college
course under the tutorship of Professor Avery
of the Tilton Seminary. He graduated from the
medical department of the University of Vermont
with the class of 1875. After that he pursued
his medical studies in New York City. He was
a delegate by substitution to the National Medical
convention in New York City in 1880. The first
eight years of professional life were spent
in Epsom, N.H., from October 1875 to 1883. While
in Epsom he gained a host of friends and built
up a large practice. He was regarded as a skillful
and reliable physician, and much sought for
in all the adjoining towns. He moved to Leominster,
Mass., in 1883. In 1892 he located in Pittsfield,
N.H., and has since remained there. He has a
large and lucrative practice and is highly esteemed
Dr. M.F. Smith came to Epsom in 1883. He was
born in Weare, N.H., and was a graduate of Dartmouth
Medical College. He faithfully performed the
duties of his profession for five years when
poor health compelled him to give up his professional
work. After six months of r est he located in
Hampton, N.H., where he has acquired not only
a large practice, but the esteem and respect
of all with whom he comes into contact.
Dr. Roscoe Hill was born in Northwood, N.H.,
Oct. 9, 1856, son of Ivory B. and Eliza (Fogg)
Hill. He received his education in the district
schools and Coe's Northwood Academy and studied
medicine at Bellevue Hospital Medical College,
New York, where he graduated in 1882. He practiced
two years in Norfolk, Conn., three years in
Lynn, Mass., and in 1887 came to Epsom, where
he has since practiced. His cheerful smile,
gentile countenance and his quiet sympathy are
known to you all. I knew him as a faithful student,
you know him as a thorough and skillful physician
and as a citizen, who is always foremost in
all that tends to the well-being of the community.
Such, briefly is the history of the doctors
of Epsom. They were men of influence as well
as physicians and occupied many positions of
honor and trust, and many of them, who sought
larger fields, attained a high position in their
profession. They were men, whose duties did
not exist only in the dispensing of drugs, but
embraced a wider sphere, a broader field of
action, services actuated by patriotism, humanity,
kindness and love of all which was most ennobling
and for the best interest of the community.
These acts of kindness and love have caused
their memories to be transmitted to posterity.
Daniel Webster fully appreciated this work when
he said, "If we work upon marble it will
perish. If we work upon brass, time will efface
it, if we rear temples they will crumble to
dust, but if we work upon our immortal minds,
if we imbue them with principles, with the just
fear of God and our fellowmen, we engrave on
these tablets something that will brighten to
The old Epsom stock, it improves greatly on
acquaintance. May it retain its identity and
its integrity and continue to exert a somber
and healthful influence in the shifting population
through generations to come. No son of Epsom
is or need be ashamed of the home of his fathers.
The speakers of the day have told us of the
town as she was and as she is, but she speaks
for herself. New Hampshire has sent her sons
into every State in the Union, and everywhere
they have maintained a high standard of integrity
and ability. To this number Epsom has furnished
more than her full quota.
"Princes and lords may flourish and may
fade. A breath can make them as a breath has
But a good yeomanry, that country's pride, When
once, destroyed, can never be supplied."