Franklin District Medical Society

      Dr. Samuel Church was born in Amherst, Mass., in 1756. He was a graduate of Harvard University in 1778, and studied medicine with Dr. Coleman, of Amherst, who was a man of some celebrity. He commenced the practice of his profession in Sunderland, where he continued until his death, which occurred in 1826, when he was seventy years of age. From 1816 to 1823 he was a member of the Massachusetts Medical Association. He was for many years a justice of the peace in Sunderland, and during his later years transacted more legal than medical business. Dr. Williams, in his medical biography, says of him:
      "Dr. Church was always a judicious, but rather a timid, practitioner of medicine. His judgment in relation to diseases was discriminating and very correct, but he never administered his remedies with so bold and unsparing a band as many of his professional brethren. In his manners he was affable and polite, but modest and retiring. He never sought business, but was ready to attend to calls whenever they were made."
      He was plain in his dress and manners, and was considered a good and correct writer, though he published very few of the productions of his brain. A volume of his medical notes was lost with his son and the steamer "Lexington," on Long bland Sound, in January, 1840. He was a poetical writer of more than ordinary ability, and Dr. Williams states that he left three manuscript volumes of poems of more than average merit. He had a great vein of humor and a most ready wit, as the following anecdote, related by his biographer, fully verifies:

      "Dr. Hunt, of Northampton, who kept a dreg-store, and of whom Dr. Church procured his medicine, was also a man of unbounded humor. He once called upon Dr. Church for the settlement of a bill in the following words:
      "'DR. CHURCH: Dear Sir,—I am in want of a fat hog; please send it, or _____.
      "'Ebenezer Hunt'

      "Dr. Church replied as follows:
      "`DR. Hunt: Dear Sir,—I have no fat hog; and if I had ______.
      "`Samuel Church.'"

      Dr. Samuel Prentiss.—A prominent physician and surgeon, who resided for a number of years in Franklin County was Dr. Samuel Prentiss, the father of Hon. Samuel Prentiss, United States Senator from Vermont. Dr. Prentiss was born in Stonington, New London Co., Conn., in 1759. His father was Col. Samuel Prentiss, who was a soldier, and rose to the rank of colonel, in the Revolutionary army. Dr. Prentiss received a good academical education, and studied medicine with Dr. Philip Turner, of Norwich, Conn., one of the most eminent American surgeons of his day. The young man entered the army, and acted for some time as military waiter for his father; subsequently, after studying his profession, he entered the service as assistant surgeon, and acquired a great amount of practical knowledge of his profession.
      After the war he married a daughter of Capt. Holmes, of Stonington, Conn., and soon after removed to Worcester, Mass., where he resided several years.
      About 1786 he removed to Northfield, Mass., and during the continuance of the notorious Shays rebellion was a zealous and active supporter of the State government. His practice as a surgeon while living at Northfield was very extensive, and his ride extended into all the western counties: of Massachusetts and the adjacent parts of New Hampshire and Vermont. This was largely due to the fact that he was almost the only operating surgeon then in this region.
      Dr. Prentiss was admitted a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1810, at which time he was a resident of Bernardston. This membership continued until the time of his death, which occurred at Northfield, in the year 1818, when be was fifty-nine years of age. Four sons survived him, three of whom rose to eminence at the Bar in the States of Vermont and New York and in the then Territory of Wisconsin.

These pages are © Laurel O'Donnell, 2005, all rights reserved
and cannot be reproduced in any format without permission
This page was last updated on
06 Aug 2005