The following is taken from "Ilion 1852-1952." We thank the Mayor and other officials of Ilion for granting us permission to provide this information to our visitors.

History of Medicine in Ilion

Village doctors have their fingers on the pulse of community life in more ways than one; inevitably present at the openings and closings of the great chapters. They are the confidants and often advisors of their patients in problems not only of health and family life, but often in business and other affairs. Their relationships are with people of all ages, all creeds, all political parties, and those relationships are not only intimate and informed, they are the subject of considerable thought and reflection on the part of the physician. The family doctor often becomes as interested in little Johnny's struggle with arithmetic as in his tonsillitis. His advice in family crises is often sought along with his prescription for whooping cough. His intimate knowledge of the lives and backgrounds of his patients and his wealth of experience in hearing their troubles and problems, plus his detached and independent outlook make him the ideal psychiatrist for all the thousand and one every day emotional upsets that plague modern society.

Ilion has been fortunate in having a long line of wise, trusted and beloved family doctors. Many of them were men who took an active part in village life; whose patients were friends and acquaintances, not merely cards alphabetically arranged in a filing case.

Not much is known about the first doctors who practiced in Ilion, but the very first, appropriately enough, hung out his shingle in the same year that the village did, 1852. He was Dr. Walter Suiter, and he remained in Ilion until 1860 when he departed for Kansas. About the same time, Dr. W. A. Hyde started practicing here but left to become a surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Meanwhile there had come a doctor who was to leave a permanent mark on the village. This was Dr. Hamblin B. Maben, still recalled by older Ilionites as a fine looking person with an endearing personality. That he was a good doctor is attested by the fact reported in the newspaper of the time that in over 2200 childbirths he had not lost a single mother, something of a record for those days. He was also prominent in village affairs, serving on the Board of Education, as village trustee and as supervisor, and that in spite of the fact that in a solidly Republican village, he was a Democrat. Dr. Maben was also interested in real estate and built the old Opera House on First Street, and also the drug store and adjoining stores at the corner of First and Otsego.

Dr. Edward Stoughton Walker was another early practitioner and was also a surgeon with the Union Army. He was succeeded by his brother Dr. D. N. Walker, who was the first village health officer, and eventually by his son Dr. D. E. Walker.

The booming days of the 1870's saw the arrival of several new men, and listed as practicing in 1879 are the names of Drs. Maben, E. M. Draper, J. T. Rasbach, R. Comstock, J. Comstock, A. J. Douglas, D. N. Walker, and Arthur Beach.

It is surprising to find the names of two women doctors who established offices about this time, Dr. Ellen Patridge and Dr. Ann Ayres, the latter an ardent temperance worker as well. A local woman, Dr. Jennie Richardson, also became an M.D., but confined her practice to humanitarian activities, concentrating on women workers in the New York area, particularly those suffering with tuberculosis. Dr. Nellie Flory was another woman doctor with a large following in Ilion.

Other early practitioners include Drs. E. J. Graves, C. E. Gilbert, R. W. Warner Goldin, A. D. Chattaway, Henry Ward, and Bert Rasbach. The turn of the century brought Dr. H. J. Hunter and Dr. H. H. Halliwell, both of whom were native sons, and a little later Dr. A. C. Douglass, son of Dr. A. J. Douglass, as well as Dr. Merton W. Brown, Dr. E. B. Manion, Dr. T. B. O'Neil and Dr. E. W. Rude. In the thirties another native son, Dr. Erwin Hollandt, began his practice and following the second World War, Dr. Richard Rebasz practiced for a short time.

Doctors practicing in 1952: Theodore Carney, Frank Conterman, Donald R. Davidson, C. J. Diss, Paul Frank, Lewis P. Jones, Arthur Leistyna, F. J. Leonard, Ladislaus Merson, Y. L. Power, C. C. Whittemore, and W. J. Wirth.

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Established: 11/5/99
Last Updated: 11/5/99
Copyright © 1999 Paul McLaughlin/ Judy Breedlove/ Martha S. Magill