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American Medical Biographies/Brinton, Jeremiah Bernard

Brinton, Jeremiah Bernard (1835–1894)

J. Bernard Brinton, physician and botanist, was born on August 16, 1835, near Waynesburg, Chester County, Pennsylvania; his parents were members of the Society of Friends, his father being Jacob Lindley Brinton and his mother Annie Bernard. He lived for a short time in Philadelphia, where he attended the Philadelphia High School, and then moved to a farm in Maryland. In 1857 he began to study medicine and graduated at Jefferson Medical College in 1859. He practised and was lecturer on practical anatomy at the Philadelphia School of Anatomy and Operative Surgery

Soon after the Civil war broke out he applied for a position as assistant surgeon and was commissioned in 1862; in 1863 he was appointed medical purveyor to the Army of the Potomac and held this position until the close of the war, when he was mustered out with the rank of major. During this time he kept up his interest in botany and continued collecting plants; his collections were captured by Colonel Mosby, the guerilla in the Confederate Army, who burned them.

He returned to Philadelphia and after a few years' practice retired from medicine and engaged in business. He joined the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1878, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1884, when the Association met in Philadelphia and Brinton acted as guide to the visiting botanists to the pine barren region of New Jersey; it was on this occasion that he showed the Schicaea pusilla (Pursh) to Asa Gray and to Carruthers, president of the Linnaean Society. He became an active member of the Torrey Botanical Club and was its president until his death.

Brinton made a study of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, in which he was an authority; although he published little, he made many exchanges and corresponded with American botanists. He was a large collector and dexterous in dissecting botanical specimens; his skill as a cabinet-maker made it possible for him to make his herbarium cases, cabinets and stands, excellent examples of amateur work. He was noted for great accuracy and painstaking work; he had a remarkable memory for names and persons.

In 1862 Dr. Brinton married Sallie W. Clemens of Philadelphia; his wife died before him, but a daughter and two sons survived him.

He died suddenly in Philadelphia December 6, 1894.

Bull. Torrey Botanical Club, 1895, vol. xxii, 93–97. Portrait.
Information from Ewing Jordan, M.D.