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Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt

Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt


These Are My Jewels
These My Weapons Are

Ogan Gurel, MD (P&S ’96) August 14, 2008


Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt

Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt

This My Weapons Are or


These are My Ornaments or
These Reflect Well Upon Us

Names of students (on left)

STUDENTS
OF THE
COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS & SURGEONS
DIED OF PESTILENTIAL DISEASE
WHILE SERVING IN THE
PUBLIC HOSPITALS OF NEW YORK
Who were these THIS TABLET
Fourteen Individuals? IS ERECTED BY THE FACULTY
THAT THE MEMORY OF THESE
Gorham Beales MARTYRS OF HUMANITY
MAY NOT DIE;
William W. Cahoon
AND THAT TAUGHT BY THEIR EXAMPLE,
Henry H. Curtiss THE GRADUATES OF THE COLLEGE
MAY NEVER HESITATE TO HAZARD LIFE
Howard W. Gridley IN THE PERFORMANCE OF
PROFESSIONAL DUTY.
Henry W. Porter
Lefroy Ravenhill
Information about these martyrs is exceedingly sparse.
John Snowden
Francis Bullock Dr. Gorham Beales
The book Catalogue of the Alumni, Officers and Fellows, 1807-18801 by the Columbia University College of
Francis P. Colton Physicians and Surgeons compiled by Alfred E. M. Purdy and published by Bradstreet Press in 1880 has an
entry on Dr. Beales and several of the others - though not all - listed in the tablet. Dr. Beales died of typhus
Enoch Green
fever in 1848 at the age of 29, presumably while serving at the New York Dispensary.
Elihu T. Hedges
A. Judson Rand
David Seligman
Sidney B. Worth William C. Calhoon
There is an entry in the Vermont Historical Magazine, No XI, October 1867, pp. 349 – 350 (see also the
Rootsweb) which reads:
William W. CAHOON graduated at Dartmouth in 1845, and at the Medical College of Woodstock in
1848, and subsequently at a medical college in New York, where he was afterwards connected with
the institution, under Doctor MOTT, as assistant physician, where he made good progress in science
and made himself useful about a year, when he contracted a pestilential disease and died. None had
better abilities and higher aspirations for excellence and professional usefulness than he had. Having
studied with able and skillful physicians and surgeons, attended the best lectures in the state, and
received his diploma, in pursuit of still higher attainments, he sought the foundation heads of the
profession in New York, resolved to never unskillfully tamper with human life in the practice of his
profession, if adequate knowledge could be attained, and in his laudable endeavors to make himself
more useful by garnering from the purlieus of the hospital, he became a martyr to the cause of
humanity. The following tribute erected in New York City to him and thirteen others speaks for itself:
Haec mea ornamenta sunt (these are my jewels). Gorham BEALS, William W. CAHOON [and twelve
others whose names are not given], students of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, died of
pestilential disease while serving in the Public Hospitals of New York. This Tablet is erected by the
Faculty that the memory of these Martyrs of Humanity may not die, and that taught by their example,

1
Referred to herein as the 1880 P&S Catalogue.

Ogan Gurel, MD (P&S ’96) August 14, 2008


Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt

the graduates of the College may never hesitate to hazard life in the performance of professional
duty." The editor of the newspaper from which the foregoing is taken adds: "Many of our readers will
remember one whose name is given above, W. W. CAHOON, of Lyndon, a young man of much
promise, whose sun went out ere it had reached the meridian." He was the son of the late William
CAHOON, and died 31 August 1848, aged twenty three years and six months. He was a favorite of the
family, and wherever known was appreciated. [The name or date of the newspaper is not given, and
the editor is not named.]
There is no mention of William Cahoon in the 1880 P&S Catalogue and this would seem to indicate that he was
a student at the time of his death. He is also listed here as an ‘assistant physician’ which when reading the
obituary for Sidney Worth (below) would also substantiate Calhoon’s position as a student.

Henry H. Curtiss
Not listed in the 1880 P&S Catalogue; presumably died as a student. No other information available.

Howard W. Gridley
Not listed in the 1880 P&S Catalogue; presumably died as a student. No other information available.

Henry W. Porter
Not listed in the 1880 P&S Catalogue; presumably died as a student. No other information available.

Dr. Lefroy Ravenhill


One account of Dr. Lefroy Ravenhill was found in the book “An Account of Bellevue Hospital with a Catalogue of
the Medical and Surgical Staff from 1736 to 18942” edited by Robert J. Carlisle, MD and published by the
Society of the Alumni of Bellevue Hospital, New York, 1893. Dr. Ravenhill apparently died of typhus fever in
1851 “contracted while on duty in the hospital” apparently as a “house physician” – the equivalent of a medical
resident. If one interprets the dates correctly, he died at the age of 26. Of interest, he was librarian of Columbia
College while a medical student (and afterwards) from the age of 22 to 26. He was a precocious individual
indeed, although it would appear that he graduated from college (Columbia) at the age of 24. Perhaps he was
too busy with other things to have graduated early.

He was also listed A compendium of houses and inhabitants in Brooklyn Heights indicates that Dr. Ravenhill
lived at 116 State Street n. Court in 1848. The 1880 P&S Catalogue lists Dr. Ravenhill as follows:

Dr. John Snowden


The 1880 P&S Catalogue has an entry on Dr. Snowden.

He apparently also died of typhus fever in 1848. æt stands for Anno Aetatis Suae (Latin: In the Year of His/Her
Age). Hence, Dr. Snowden died at the age of 32 while on duty at the Emigrant’s Hospital on Ward’s Island.

Francis Bullock
The 1880 P&S Catalogue has an entry on Dr. Bullock:

2
Herein referred to as the Account of Bellevue Hospital.

Ogan Gurel, MD (P&S ’96) August 14, 2008


Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt

This would place the timing of the tablet until after 1853.

Dr. Francis P. Colton


The 1880 P&S Catalogue has an entry on Dr. Colton:

Enoch Green
Not listed in the 1880 P&S Catalogue. He is, however, listed in the Account of Bellevue Hospital and the entry
below seems to indicate that he was a student.

Elihu T. Hedges
Not listed in the 1880 P&S Catalogue; presumably died as a student. He is, however, listed in the Account of
Bellevue Hospital and this would seem to indicate that he was a student.

Dr. A. Judson Rand


Not listed in the 1880 P&S Catalogue. However the front page of the New York Times from Wednesday, March
11, 1852 writes the following:

Note that ‘Ship Fever” is an archaic term for epidemic typhus.

David Seligman
Not listed in the 1880 P&S Catalogue; presumably died as a student. No other information available.

Sidney B. Worth
Not listed in the 1880 P&S Catalogue. However, there is an obituary in the New York Journal of Medicine, Vol II
(May 1849) stating that he died on March 18th of Typhus fever. The text below clearly indicates that he died as a
student.

Other interesting facts:


The following alumni are also listed as having died around the same time.

Ogan Gurel, MD (P&S ’96) August 14, 2008


Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt

Dr. Edward Delafield was Vice President of the College from 1855 – 1858 and President of the College from
1858 to 1875. Edward H. Delafield may have been his son although a brief review of the Delafield family
genealogy seems to indicate no such connection. In any case, for some reason, Edward Delafield is not
included in the tablet; perhaps he did not die of ‘pestilential disease.’ There is likely an interesting story here.
The following two alumni also died in the same year of 1849 but are not listed. The most likely to have died of
typhoid is Dr. Ravaud Kearny who would have succumbed as the tragic winter of 1848-49 was coming to a close
– around the same time as Dr. Sidney Worth (see above) Dr. Josiah Dwight Stickney may have died of other
causes, albeit at a relatively young age.

Of the fourteen individuals, seven were students at the time of their deaths while the other seven were graduates of the college.

Gorham Beales, MD Physician


William W. Cahoon Student
Henry H. Curtiss Student
Howard W. Gridley Student
Henry W. Porter Student
Were all fourteen Lefroy Ravenhill, MD Physician
individuals listed in the Physician
John Snowden, MD
Ornamenta tablet
students? Francis Bullock, MD Physician
Francis P. Colton, MD Physician
Enoch Green Student
Elihu T. Hedges Student
A. Judson Rand, MD Physician
David Seligman Student
Sidney B. Worth, MD Physician

Of the fourteen listed on the tablet, there are only seven for whom a definitive date of death could be obtained. Three others
have a year of death and the remaining four are unknown.

Enoch Green 1848


Elihu T. Hedges 1848
Dr. Gorham Beales 1-9-1848
Dr. John Snowden 1-22-1848
What is the date
of the Ornamenta tablet? Dr. Sidney B. Worth 3-18-1849
Dr. William W. Cahoon 8-31-1848
Dr. Lefroy Ravenhill 5-24-1851
Dr. Francis P. Colton 2-24-1852
Dr. A. Judson Rand 3-11-1852
Dr. Francis Bullock 1853

Ogan Gurel, MD (P&S ’96) August 14, 2008


Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt

typhoid epidemic of the winter of 1847 – 1848.

A graph of the graduates of the college would seem to indicate that a number of students died in the class of
1849. The arrow in the graph below points to a clear decrease in the graduating class of 1849.

Graduates of the College of Physicians & Surgeons (1845 -


1858)

75

70

65

60

55

50

45

40

35

30
1845 1846 1847 1848 1849 1850 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858

Given Dr. Bullock’s death in 1853, this would date the tablet no earlier than 1853. This was also during a period
of declining enrollments and perhaps the stigma (and fear) of dying dissuaded many from applying to the school.
The tablet would have been a way to honor those who had die and at least clear the stigma of dying of typhoid
which (see below) was a regarded as a poor man’s disease and hence a pauper’s death.

Of the fourteen, seven are listed in the historical record as having died of typhus. William W. Cahoon is described as having
died of ‘pestilential disease.’

Enoch Green 1848 Typhus


Elihu T. Hedges 1848 Typhus
Dr. Gorham Beales 1-9-1848 Typhus
Dr. John Snowden 1-22-1848 Typhus
What was the
‘pestilential disease’ Dr. Sidney B. Worth 3-18-1849 Typhus
described in the William W. Cahoon 8-31-1848 Pestilential Disease
Ornamenta tablet? Dr. Lefroy Ravenhill 5-24-1851 Typhus
Dr. Francis P. Colton 2-24-1852 Typhus
Dr. A. Judson Rand 3-11-1852 Typhus
Dr. Francis Bullock 1853
It would seem, then, that most of the deaths occurred during the New York City typhoid epidemic of the winter of
1848 – 1849.

Of the fourteen listed, only seven have information pertaining to where they died.

Elihu T. Hedges Bellevue Hospital


Enoch Green Bellevue Hospital
Dr. Lefroy Ravenhill Bellevue Hospital
Dr. Sidney B. Worth Bellevue Hospital
Where did those listed in Dr. John Snowden Emigrant’s Hospital, Ward’s Island
the Ornamenta tablet Dr. Gorham Beales New York Dispensary
die?
Dr. A. Judson Rand Physicians at Quarantine
An article in the Journal of Infectious Diseases describes the typhoid epidemic in New York City in 1847. It was associated with
the massive immigrations from Ireland at that time and the fact that Dr. Snowden died at Emigrant’s Hospital on Ward’s Island
would support that concept. See: Gelston, AL, Jones TC, “Typhus fever: report of an epidemic in New York City in 1847,” J
Infect Dis. 1977 Dec; 136(6):813-21.

Abstract

An epidemic of thyphus [sic] fever in New York City in 1847 that was associated with massive immigrations from

Ogan Gurel, MD (P&S ’96) August 14, 2008


Haec Mea Ornamenta Sunt

Ireland is described by review of the records of 138 cases admitted to The New York Hospital during a seven-
week period. Medical understanding of epidemic diseases, of typhus, and of therapeutics is examined. Most
patients (80%) acquired the disease during passage, but 20% of the cases resulted from secondary spread in
New York. The illness was characterized by high fever, headache, myalgias, and loss of appetite.
Complications, most commonly central nervous system dysfunction and secondary bacterial infections, occurred
in 29% of the cases. The mortality rate was 11%. Therapy was directed at cleansing the bowel and diaphoresis.
Bleeding was not employed. In spite of mistaken concepts about epidemic diseases, measures were employed
that controlled spread of the disease.

Also of interest, the 1847 typhoid epidemic was described by Charlotte Bronté’s Jane Eyre. This is actually quite significant as
the use of disease in the novel had thematic significance. In particular, typhoid – requiring unsanitary conditions for its
transmission - is associated with the lower classes. See Prof. Jonathan Smith’s discussion (University of Michigan).

Ogan Gurel, MD (P&S ’96) August 14, 2008