Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/285

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are you stopping the horse for?" "Well," said the man, "I just thought I'd stop at the undertaker's and order a coflBn, for your cases never get well."

During the small-pox epidemic in the country, the lone women would often close the doors and windows of their houses, facing the road, opening only the door occasionally to let in a little air. One time Dr. Parsons was passing the house of a friend. As he came near he saw a woman with spectacles and a poke bonnet who had her face close to the window to see who was passing. When she saw it was Dr. Parsons coming from a small-pox case, she closed the shutters and hurried back into the room. Later on when the doctor asked why she had done such a thing, she replied, " Why, I was afraid I would catch the small-pox from you."

Dr. Parsons lived a good life, and did good work as a country physician, and was capable and trustworthy. Hardly a great man, he certainly was a good one, and one of whom one heard more stories than any other physician in Maine.

He practised nearly fifty years, and died after a short illness, June 8, 1886.

J. A. S.

Family Papers.

Parsons, Usher (1788-1868).

niustrious for his extraordinary medi- cal services on the United States Steam- ship "Lawrence," at the Battle of Lake Erie under Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, Dr. Usher Parsons deserves perpetual re-discovery by the medical profession of the LTnited States. For many years after that battle, people talked of "Usher" Parsons, and cheers were given for him whenever he attended a medical meeting. "Who is that"? "Why, that is Dr. Parsons." "What! Usher! Let me know him at once," was another way in which he was mentioned.

He was born in Alfred, District of Maine, August 18, 1788, the youngest of the nine children of William and Abigail (Frost Blunt) Parsons. His father was descended from Joseph Parsons, who came

from England and was living in Spring- fi e 1 d, Massachusetts, in 16-16. His mother was a daughter of the Rev. John Blunt, of New Castle, New Hampshire, and was connected with the celebrated Sir William Pepperell, who captured Louisburg in 1745.

Young Usher was named for a relative, the Hon. John Usher, once lieutenant- governor of the province of New Hamp- shire. He had an ordinary country school education, and was clerk for a while in shops in Portland and Kenne- bunk, Maine. It was at the latter place when about twenty years of age that he printed his first literary effort, in the shape of some verses entitled "A Petti- fogger's Soliloquy." Having accumu- lated a little money he began to study medicine with Dr. Abiel Hall, of Alfred, and attended a course of lectures at Fryeburg under the direction of that eccentric yet talented anatomist, Alex- ander Ramsay. After a few months his funds were so depleted that he was com- pelled to return home, to discover one night when tramping on the highway that he was an ignoramus and that without general knowledge he could not proceed in the study of medicine.

He therefore devoted the next two years to Greek and Latin with the Rev. Moses Sweat, of Sanford, and then graduated at Berwick Academy. Hav- ing now obtained a better understanding of the classics, he resumed medicine with Dr. Hall, continued with Dr. Joseph Kittredge, of Andover, Massachusetts, and finished his medical apprenticeship with Dr. John Warren, of Boston. The catalogue of the Massachusetts Medical Society dates Dr. Usher Parsons as a fellow in 1818, but license for him to practise medicine and surgery issued by this society, February 7, 1812, is still extant.

Leaving Boston he tried for an opening at Exeter, and Dover, New Hampshire. Then he applied for service in the navy, for the War of 1812, declared on the eigh- teenth of June, and received notice that if he hastened back to Boston he could