Franklin District Medical Society

      Dr. Ebenezer Barnard was born at Deerfield, Mass., in 1745. His father was Joseph Barnard, whose ancestors settled on the shores of Massachusetts Bay about the year 1630. A branch of the family came to Deerfield soon after the first settlement of the place, in 1672. Joseph Barnard, grandfather of Dr. Ebenezer, was killed by the savages in Deerfield South Meadows in 1695.
      Dr. Barnard belonged to a comparatively wealthy family, and received an excellent education, graduating at Harvard University in 1765, when twenty years of age. He subsequently studied medicine two years with Dr. Lemuel Barnard, a relative, of Sheffield, Mass. About 1767-68 he established himself in practice at Deerfield, and remained until his death, which occurred in 1790, when be was only forty-five years of age. He stood high in his profession, and was one of the most noted surgeons of his time in Western Massachusetts. He possessed a very fine library, and his business was extensive.

      Dr. Henry Wells.—Among the eminent physicians who have been citizens of Franklin County may, with great propriety, be mentioned the name of Dr. Henry Wells, who was born in the city of New York in 1742. At the remarkably early age of ten years he entered Princeton College, New Jersey, from which he graduated at the age of fourteen. Subsequently he studied medicine for four years with Dr. Hull, of Connecticut, and afterward studied for three years in New York City. It is also stated by some of his biographers that he studied divinity for a short time.
      His father was an adherent of the royal cause during the Revolution, and as a consequence had his property confiscated.
      Dr. Wells, about the time of the war, removed to Brattleboro', Vt., where he practiced for several years. The duties of a physician in such a rough country were very severe, and he accordingly removed to Montague, in Franklin Co., Mass., where he supposed his labors would be somewhat easier. Here his practice assumed important proportions, and he often visited Albany, N. Y., Hanover, N. H., and many parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. He possessed in a marked degree the confidence of his professional brethren, and was much extolled by Dr. Nathan Smith, Dr. Twitchell, and other eminent medical men. He became a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1785, and continued his fellowship until his death, in 1814. During a considerable portion of the time he occupied the position of counselor. In 1806 be received the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from Dartmouth College.
      Dr. Wells belonged to the old school of gentlemen, and was wont to be called, by those who knew him intimately, one of "Nature's noblemen." His dress usually consisted of velvet or buckskin breeches, long jacket, or waistcoat, with flapped pockets, and a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat, giving him much the appearance of a Quaker. He was a heavy, broad-chested man, inclined to corpulency, and is said to have greatly resembled Dr. Franklin, and also the Rev. Dr. Smith, of Princeton, N. J. He was urbane, cheerful, and gentlemanly in the presence of his patients, many of whom almost worshiped him.
      A most remarkable and deplorable accident many years after his death deprived the world of the results of his experience. All his manuscripts and account-books were in the possession of his son, Dr. Richard Wells, of Canandaigua, N. Y. A crazy man entered his office one morning, when presumably no one was in, where he stripped himself and burned his own clothing, and proceeded to commit to the flames the wearing apparel of Dr. Wells' hired man, the office furniture, books, manuscript, etc., including Dr. Henry Wells' day books and ledgers from 1824 to 1832, destroying completely nearly all the doctor's writings.
      Dr. Wells' death occurred on the 24th of August, 1814, at the age of seventy-two years.

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06 Aug 2005