Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/158

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McKECHNIE


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McKECHNIE


ment styling liim "Doctor" McKechnie is dated at Pownalborough in 1764, and concerns the sum of twelve shillings received for services and medicine to a patient.

Some time in the j'ear 1760 he was teaching at Pemaquid, Maine, where he met Mary North the daughter of Capt. North, the commander of the Fort, and married her. Her father officiated at the wedding, although he is said not to have favored the match, either because Dr. McKechnie was too old, or had no settled profession. For the next six years the happy couple moved from place to place as the hus- band's duties as surveyor, teacher or physician called him. We find him treating a patient for small-pox at Swan's Island in 1764. He followed the usual routine of "blooding" patients, as his old diary shows, and, like other physicians of that time, supplied them wnth large quantities of drugs. He settled permanently at Bowdoinham, not far from Brunswick the seat of Bowdoin College, in 1764, and, accord- ing to all accounts, remained practising there until 1771 when he moved to Winslow, near Fort HaUfax, on the east side of the Kennebec River, opposite what is now called Water ville, Maine. At Winslow then, he built his cabin and partitioned off a room for a dis- pensary of the drugs which were so extensively dealt out to sick people in that era. His practice increased with considerable rapidity, and in four years he built a still larger home, on the other side of the local stream, the Cobossecontee. Having also put a good deal of his earnings into growing timber he enlarged the capacity of his saw mill.

When Benedict Arnold set out on his ill-fated expedition to Quebec, in 1775, his march carried him through Winslow, and some of his soldiers requiring medical care were left in charge of Dr. McKechnie. Among others mentioned in an old diary we find the following cases attended by Dr. Mc- Kechnie: Mortification of the hand.


contusion of the shin, toe cut with an axe while hewing a road through the primeval forests, jaundice, camp fever, strangury, deafness resulting from a cold in the head, and finally a bad in- jury to the hand from the bursting of a musket.

After having been a prominent man in Winslow before the Revolution, he was held in suspicion as a loyalist dur- ing that stormy period. Although a man of means (one person owed him for instance a thousand dollars on a note) he was not one of the seven citi- zens asked to buy ammunition for sol- diers enlisting from the settlement in the Revolutionary War, he is said to have had no sympathy with the "Rebels" as he called them and the Sons of Liberty kept him under con- stant surveillance. Once upon a time they called upon the good doctor to ask just what certain words of his were meant to imply. But taking down his sword which he had worn during his Lieutenancy his only answer was "Gentleman, if at any time I have said anything that you did not under- stand, I am sorry for it."

He was a faithful physician, travelled long distances for his few patients, grew aged before his time and was worn out in looking after the interests of his practice, his business, and his large family of thirteen children. None of these, however, appear to have taken up their father's practice. The cause of his death, April 14, 1782, is unknown, but he is said to have died suddenly. He was a deeply rehgious man, as these few titles of books from his library prove: "The Unbloody Sacrifice," "Justi- fication" and "The Four Fold State." Oddly enough, his widow, surviving him, married again, a curious man, who was willing that his wife should be buried beside her first husband, but as for himself he would never consent to be buried in that lot of ground, because a man whom he had hated all of his life was already buried there.

J. A. S.