Open main menu

American Medical Biographies/Jackson, Abraham Reeves

Jackson, Abraham Reeves (1827–1892)

Abraham Reeves Jackson, one of the older members and ex-presidents of the American Gynecological Society, died November 12, 1892, of a stroke of paralysis, due to cerebral hemorrhage. His appearance and work showed him as in the fulness of his powers. But the finger of Providence had touched him two years before, and although the touch was a light one, he knew its meaning. Yet he strode on cheerfully, and said nothing of it, except to a friend. The fatal touch came while still on duty.

He was born June 17, 1827, in Philadelphia. His early education was obtained in the public and high schools. After graduating at the Central High School of Philadelphia, in 1846, he began the study of marine engineering, but soon decided that medicine would offer a more congenial career. His admiration in early boyhood for the character and personality of his family physician had much to do with his partiality for the profession. He graduated from the Pennsylvania Medical College in 1848, and forthwith began his life's work at Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Here he practised for twenty years, with the exception of two spent in the service of his country— 1862 to 1864—as assistant medical director of the Army of Virginia. In 1870 he moved from Stroudsburg to Chicago, and immediately assumed the position in the profession for which his natural endowments and careful preparation had fitted him. In 1871 the character of the man was displayed in the successful establishment of the Woman's Hospital of Illinois, of which he was the first surgeon-in-chief. After this he limited his practice entirely to gynecology.

In 1872 he was elected lecturer on gynecology at Rush Medical College, and held the position until 1877, when he resigned. In 1882 he established and incorporated, with the aid of two colleagues, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago, and was its president and professor of gynecology until removed by death.

He was a charter member of the Chicago Gynecological Society, and its president in 1883. From 1889 until his death he occupied the position of president of the Association of Acting Assistant Surgeons of the United States Army; honorary member of the Detroit Gynecological Society, and corresponding member of the Boston Gynecological Society.

His writings were numerous, and always conservative in tone and original in thought.

It is pleasant to remember that, in addition to his labors and honors and responsibilities, his life contained much that was enjoyable. He was the companion of Mark Twain in the famous trip made by the "Innocents Abroad," and was the original of the very original doctor, whose jokes are the best in the book. He was funny, but never vulgar; witty, but never sarcastic and personal.

He married in 1850 Harriet Hollinshead, of Stroudsburg, by whom he had two daughters. He was left a widower by her death in 1865, and in 1871 married Julia Newell, of Janesville, Wisconsin, who survived him. With her he made a trip around the world in 1890, which constituted their last romance, preserved in the memory of one who was capable of enjoying such talented companionship.

In 1877, while operating upon an infected patient, he inoculated his finger, and never fully recovered from the effects of the disease. In 1889 new symptoms made their appearance in the form of an attack of aphasia. November 1, 1892, symptoms again appeared, and were followed the next day by the attack of apoplexy from which he died.

Among his writings are:

"Remarks on Intrauterine Polypi," 1876; "The Ovulation Theory of Menstruation," 1876; "Vascular Tumors of the Female Urethra," 1878; "The Treatment of Sterility," 1879.

Trans. Amer, Gyn. Soc., 1893, vol. xxviii. Portrait.