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American Medical Biographies/Brock, Hugh Workman

Brock, Hugh Workham (1830–1882)

The history of the medical profession of West Virginia would be incomplete without mention of Hugh W. Brock. The formal outline of such a man's life or even biographic detail, however suggestive, can ill represent the value of his rare and gifted personality and his scientific skill. Of American parentage, English-Scotch by descent, he was born January 5, 1830, at Blacksville, Virginia, and educated at private schools and various academies. He began to study medicine with Dr. Charles McLane of Morgantown. In 1850 he entered the Jefferson Medical College and two years later received his doctor's degree. Returning to Morgantown, he became a partner of Dr. McLane, and from that time until his death, April 24, 1882, he was a leading physician and surgeon in Morgantown, becoming more and more a recognized authority not only in West Virginia but in the neighboring parts of Pennsylvania.

From his college days he was an enthusiastic student of anatomy. With him the scientific spirit once aroused, could never slumber. Chemical analysis, microscopic study of organic tissue, constant practice in dissections, busied even his lighter hours. If the material were not at hand, he ordered it from the great cities, and many a gruesome box lent skill and certainty to his surgical touch. Profoundly interested as he was in pathology and ready always to minister to the relief of the suffering, the more exact demands of scientific surgery still more strongly attracted him. As field surgeon with Sheridan at Winchester, he had gained valuable experience.

Active in the formation of the West Virginia Medical Society, he became its second president, for many years acted on its board of censors and constantly contributed to its transactions. He was one of the early promoters of the State Historical Society and succeeded in effecting an initial organization in connection with the university. From the establishment of the West Virginia University he was a special lecturer to the classes in anatomy, physiology and hygiene. For five years he was resident member of the Board of Regents and in 1878 accepted a professorship in the university with the intention of making this chair a nucleus for a future medical school. He was one of the early fellows of the American Surgical Association, and at the request of members his portrait was added to the collections of physicians and surgeons known as the Mütter Museum.

In 1878 he married Isabella, daughter of the Rev. Andrew Stevenson, D. D., of New York City, but left no children. His death was due to pneumonia contracted from physical exposure on professional duty. Hitherto no serious illness had hampered his activity.

"A useful life ended but not the memory of its beneficence."

Trans. Amer. Med. Asso., Phila., 1882, vol. xxxiii.
Trans. Med. Soc., W. Va., 14–15 Sess. 1881–2.