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American Medical Biographies/Yandell, Lunsford Pitts

Yandell, Lunsford Pitts (1805–1878)

Briefly summed up, the professional life of Lunsford P. Yandell is that he graduated M. D. from the University of Maryland, 1825, and was professor of chemistry, Transylvania University, 1831–1837; founder of Louisville Medical Institute, 1837, which became University of Louisville, 1846; professor of chemistry, materia medica, and physiology, in the University of Louisville 1837–1858; geologist; minister of the gospel (Presbyterian), 1862; editor Transylvania Medical Journal, Lexington; editor Western Medical Journal, Louisville; president Kentucky State Medical Society, 1878.

He was born July 4, 1805, on his father's farm near Hartsville, Sumner County, Tennessee; his father, Dr. Wilson Yandell, being a native of North Carolina. Of Lunsford's childhood and early school days nothing is known. He began to study medicine under his father, attended one course of lectures at the Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky, and another at the University of Maryland. After six years' practice in Tennessee, he was called to the chair of chemistry in the Transylvania University. This chair he held until 1837, when he came to Louisville, where he was a founder of the Medical Institute which in 1846 became the University of Louisville. During the war he was for a time in the hospital service of the Confederacy. In 1862 he was licensed to preach by the Memphis Presbytery, and served as pastor of a church in Dancyville, Tennessee, but in 1867 he returned to Louisville and resumed practice, though preaching frequently, as occasion offered. He devoted much time to literary work and geological research, in these departments being a pioneer in the West. He made many valuable contributions to paleontology, preparing numerous papers and enriching the science through discoveries in fossils. As early as 1847 he published, with Dr. B. F. Shumard, "Contributions to the Geology of Kentucky." In 1848 a note by Prof. Yandell concerning the discovery of calcareous arms in Pentremites Florealis was pubilshed in the Bulletin of the Geological Society of France. In 1855 he discovered a new genus of Crinoidea, which he named Acrocrinus Shumardi.

Sir Charles Lyell, Prof. Owen, and other masters in paleontology recognized the value of his work, and his name stands memorialized and immortalized in fossils as follows: Platycrinus Yandelli (Owen and Shumard); Actinocrinus Yandelli (Shumard); Chonetes Yandellana (Prof. James Hall); Amplexus, Yandelli (Edwards and Haime); Trachonema Yandellana (James Hall); Phillips Astrea Yandelli (Dr. C. Rominger).

In all the years of his busy life, he was unresting in the labors that he loved. They were diversified, but such was the skill he displayed in each department which he adorned, that in looking at any one specimen of his work we might have supposed that one was his vocation. Whether he wrote history, essays upon geology, on medical themes, biography, the advancement of education, or the wisdom, the power and beneficence of the Creator in His works he seemed to make each theme his own, and he adorned it with life and beauty. Independently of his lectures, he wrote fully one hundred papers on the various subjects that he had studied, and they are papers of profound interest. Among his medical and general-literature papers, the best known are: "History of American Literature;" "History of Kentucky Medicine;" A Review of the Last of the "Idyls of the King," Tennyson; "The Diseases of Old Age" (completed and sent to the printer a few days before his death).

He married twice: first Susan Juliet Wendel and had six children. His second wife was Eliza Bland by whom he had no children.

His death on the fourth of February, 1878, was caused by pneumonia, after a few days' illness. Being in pain he asked his son for a portion of opium, and when laudanum was given him, in the Latin of his favorite, Sydenham, he said: "Magnum donum Dei," and these were his last words.

A list of his writings may be found in the Library of the Surgeon General's Office, Washington, D. C.

Biog., by J. M. Toner.
Trans. Amer. Med. Asso., Phila., 1878, vol. xxix. T. S. Bell.
Trans. Ky. Med. Soc., 1878, Louisville, 1879, vol. xxiii. R. O. Cowling.
Am. Prac., Louisville, 1878. vol. xvii. T. S. Bell.
Louisville Med. News, 1878, vol. v, (R. O. C.).
Nashville Jour. Med. & Surg., 1878, vol. xxi.