1838: Isaac Newton Gard to William VanHorn Gard

This letter was written by Dr. Isaac Newton Gard (1811-1905), the son of Baptist preacher Rev. Stephen Gard (1776-1839) and Rachel Pierce (1780-1816). Isaac graduated [1831] from the Miami Medical College in Cincinnati and married Lucy Todd in January 1835.

Isaac wrote the letter from Greenville, Darke County, Ohio, to his half-brother, William VanHorn Gard (1820-1860), who was at the time residing in Cincinnati studying medicine. William’s mother was  Mary VanHorn (1779-1845), Stephen’s second wife. William was married to Lucretia Williamson.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. W. VH. Gard, Cincinnati, Ohio

Greenville [Ohio]
December 11th 1838

Dear Van,

Yours of the 30th ultimo. was duly received on Saturday last and together with one I received on the same evening from Uncle Yaylor has filled me with the deepest solicitude for the situation of Vanpelt. The information contained in Uncle Taylor’s was received from Joseph Gard who had just returned from Cincinnati, but whether before or after yours was written, I am unable to ascertain. Uncle Taylor wished me to go down and see him which request I should have complied with immediately but such is the situation of my business that I find I could not with any propriety leave. And knowing that he has the best possible Medical attendance and that you will nurse him as a brother, I feel entirely satisfied that he will have every attention that medical skill can devise or friendship suggest for his comfort.

I shall expect to hear from him immediately upon the receipt of this, if you have not written before, and in the meantime I shall hope for the best. You inform me too that your own health has been bad. I hope as your fever has left you that it has been but a slight attack & you will soon recover your accustomed health. I would advise you to take as much exercise sayly as your engagements will permit.

The interruption to your studies is rather unfortunate for you at this time, but less so than it would have been later in the session, and diligence when you shall be enabled to resume your attendance upon the lectures will enable you to fill up the vacuum that will be left in the course by your absence. I should advise you in your absence from the lectures to devote the time you can spare from Vanpelt to reading the textbooks upon the subjects that the professors shall be lecturing.

Business here has been more brisk for the last two months than at any time before during the season. The town, however, has remained unusually healthy. The sickness has been mostly along the creek above and below Greenville. The cases have mostly of congestive fever and “milk sickness.” Of the latter disease, there has been more the last month than I have ever seen in any season before. But if they have been more numerous, they have been more manageable. Of the numerous cases I have treated, I have lost but three, and all of them had been neglected so long or were so badly managed that I pronounced them hopeless upon the first visit. I treated them on my old plan of large doses of colomel and large epispastics over the epigastrium. The fever has been more fatal and has prevailed extensively 6 or 7 miles below Greenville. I am at this time treating 3 or 4 cases in Twinshire and neighborhood. The physicians of Louisburg have been very unsuccessful in the management of it. I have succeeded in curing one case that they pronounced incurable in the town of Twinshire and hence they have concluded that in that region that I am “Master of the Disease” — a reputation that may do me an injury if I should be unsuccessful in the management of a few cases.

As it respects the others of the profession of this place, Dr. [John] Briggs — as you know — is making laws for the commonwealth; by the by, a very new way of spending a winter season. Dr. [Stephen] Perrine is crazy as usual, and Dr. [Alfred] Ayres is cursing the people for the want of sufficient discernment to discover his superior merit.

I took time the week before last to make a business visit to Trenton. Found Father in better health than he has had for the last year, I think, but still somewhat low spirited. Other friends all well and nothing in the line of news.

I think if the weather should continue as fine as it now is that myself & family may make a visit to Cincinnati next month. Dr. Ayres starts down next week and thinks he will go down on a short visit to Cincinnati.

I believe I must close for the present. I will take the time I think next week to write you a more detailed account of things here. This is written in much haste and without any regard to manners. Give Vanpelt the warmest wishes of Lucy and myself for his restoration to health. And Lucy also joins me in the best wishes for yourself.

Your brother, — I. N. Gard

P. S. Persevere. One of these days ride in carriage M. D. and so on.


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