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American Medical Biographies/Cheever, Henry Sylvester

Cheever, Henry Sylvester (1837–1877)

Henry S. Cheever was born on August 8, 1837, at Exeter, Otsego County, New York, but in 1844 his family moved to Geneva, Illinois; in 1856 to Tecumseh, Michigan, and in 1859 to Ann Arbor. The lad prepared for college at Tecumseh and graduated A. B. from Michigan University in 1863 and M. D. in 1866, beginning practice in Ann Arbor, and quickly gaining a large clientele. In 1867 he was appointed demonstrator of anatomy at the University; in 1868, lecturer on materia medica and therapeutics; in 1869, professor of materia medica and therapeutics and in 1872, elected professor of physiology at Ann Arbor and also in the Long Island College Hospital, Brooklyn, New York. During these years he continued his ever-increasing medical practice, but under pressure of superhuman work his health gave way with phthisis pulmonalis, and he went to Colorado, returning, however, in 1875 and essaying to resume the broken thread but soon went to pieces and resigned himself to his fate. He joined the Michigan State Medical Society in 1869 and remained a member till his death. He was an original worker and sought to verify book statements by experiment. His graduation thesis of "Catalysis" was based on his own experiments and brought out points not previously made. Later he conducted a series of experiments to demonstrate the influence of alcohol in modifying body temperature.

Dr. Cheever was about five feet ten inches tall, spare build with long limbs. His face was long and thin, covered by a scanty close-trimmed beard of iron-gray color. Entirely wrapped up in his work, he gave to the uttermost to others. He was one of the best products of Michigan, and all who knew him never ceased to regret his early death. In 1863 he married Sarah E. Bissell of Tecumseh, who with two children survived him when he died at Ann Arbor, March 31, 1877, from phthisis pulmonalis.

His papers included: "An Anomalous Case of Ovarian Cyst" (Detroit Review of Medicine and Pharmacy, vol. ii); "Abscess of the Brain" (Detroit Review of Medicine and Pharmacy, vol. iii); "Puerperal Convulsion, (Michigan University Medical Journal, vol. i); "Effects of Alcohol on the Animal Temperature" (Michigan University Medical Journal, vol. i); "Colorado as a Sanitarium" (The Peninsular Medical Journal, vol. ii).

Hist. of Mich. Univ., Ann Arbor, 1906.
Trans. Mich. State Med. Soc., 1877, vol. vii, 152–154.
Trans. Amer. Med. Assoc., 1878.