Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/148

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McDowell


bluff on tlic seacoast, a perpendicular hoijjht of some sixty feet, killing the horse, and leaving the rider in a dan- gerous spot, from which he had much difficulty in extricating himself, and only after bravely battling with the storm all night did he again reach his home; another tale relates how, on one occasion, he was nearly carried out to sea by moving ice.

His hardships were, perhaps, increased by his absent-mindedness, and his con- sequent neglect of comforts in travel- ing. It is said that on coming home from a distant part of his professional field one cold winter's day, he remark- ed to his wife, on entering the house, that one of his feet was ciuite warm while the other was almost frozen. On pulling off his boots it was found that he had put two stockings on one foot and left the other bare. This peculiarity of absent-mindedness led to much practical joking at his expense. On one occasion, some friends, finding his horse ready saddled at his office door, reversed the saddle and awaited results. Out came the doctor, and without noticing what had been done, he mounted and rode away.

But if Dr. Macdonald was absent- minded in unimportant matters, there are no stories of his being so in the treatment of his patients. In addition to a large practice, he filled many public positions. He was a justice of the peace, judge of the Court of Common Pleas, prothonotary surgeon to the Militia, etc., etc. He was a man of high professional attainment and ster- ling character, and his memory will long live in the county of Antigonish, where he died in 1859.

The well known W. H. Macdonald, M. D. (commonly known as " Dr. Bill") is a son, and Dr. W. Huntley Macdonald, a grandson of Alexander Macdonald. D. A. C.

McDowell, Ephraim (1771-1830).

Ephraim McDowell was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, on the


eleventh of March, 1771. His an- cestors removed from Scotland to the valley of Virginia in 1787. His mother was Sarah McClung and McDowell's father was prominent in political life in Virginia, a member of the Legisla- ture of that state, and in 1782 came as a land commissioner to Kentucky (then a portion of Virginia), and soon after removed his family to Danville.

Ephraim McDowell went as a lad to a school at Georgetown, Kentucky, then to Staunton, Virginia, to study with Dr. Humphreys, and in 1793 to Scotland to attend lectures at the University of Edinburgh. He remain- ed in Edinburgh during the session of 1793-94, but did not receive his M. D. As far as we know, this was not con- ferred upon him until 1832, when, entirely unsolicited on his part, the University of Maryland gave him her honorary M. D. The Medical Society of Philadelphia, at that time the most distinguished of the kind in this country, sent him its diploma in 1807, two years before he performed his first ovariotomy.

While taking the course at Edinburgh University, McDowell attended the pri- vate instructions of John Bell, the most able and eloquent of the Scottish sur- geons of his day. That portion of Bell's course in which he lectured upon the diseases of the ovaries and depicted the hopeless fate to which their victims were condemned, made a powerful impression upon his audi- tor. Indeed, McDowell afterwards stated that the principles and sugges- tions at this time enunciated by his master impelled him sixteen years afterwards to attempt what was con- sidered an impossibihty. In 1795 Mc- Dowell returned to his home in Dan- ville, then a small village in the western wilderness, and entered upon the prac- tice of his profession. Being a man of classical education, coming from the most famous medical school of the world, he easily gained the first pro- fessional position in his locality, and