On a pleasant evening in the fall of 1820, a young man of fair countenance, dark eyes, black hair, very erect and plainly habited, seated in a one-horse wagon, with a wooden box for a trunk, drove to the front of what was then known as the "Sheets' tavern," located on the lot now occupied by Jacob Weisentine, in Uniontown, now Ashland, and asked permission to lodge for the night. It was granted, and the young man was soon seated for supper, while his jaded horse was carefully stabled and fed by the landlord, Mr. Joseph Sheets, who was also the principal, tailor and merchant of the village. The new guest appeared to be a quiet, self-possessed, intelligent young gentleman, and Mrs. Sheets soon had him engaged in a lively conversation. Supper being over, the routine of finding out the birth-place, the financial resources, the destination, and the personal peculiarities of the stranger, was gone into in a systematic manner.
During this ordeal it was learned that the stranger was a native of Berkshire countyMassachusetts, was born about the year 1794, had attended a neighborhood school until he was of age, and then, like a true son of New England, had come west to seek his fortune, his parents being unable to extend further aid. It further transpired that he had gone to Troy, New York, about the year 1816, where he earnestly engaged in the vocation of teaching school, in the meantime studying medicine under a leading practitioner of that place, where, at the conclusion of his studies, he had been licensed to practice, and located, for a short time, at a place called Red Post, in the vicinity of Troy, but, finally, preferred to go further west, and that, with one hundred dollars in money, and his horse and wagon, he had reached Uniontown in the hopes of finding a new home.
Mr. and Mrs. Sheets gave it as their opinion that a physician might soon obtain a lively practice in this region, as there was no doctor nearer than Mansfield (Dr. Miller), which was about sixteen miles away. The young gentleman whom they addressed was Dr. Joel Luther, Berkshire, of Massachusetts.
The new doctor retired to bed feeling much encouraged over the idea of having found a good location and a pleasant home. About daylight the next morning the occupants of the Sheets house were aroused by loud knocking at the door. Mr. Sheets hastily opened it and asked what wanted. The man, who resided some three miles in the country, inquired if there was not a doctor in town, stating that a member of his family was very sick. Mr. Sheets replied that a young doctor had arrived the night before, was in the house, and had about concluded to locate in the village. Dr. Luther was urged to accompany the pioneer to his cabin. He was but too happy to do so. He was soon ready, mounted his horse and threaded his way along paths through the forest to the presence of his new patient. This was the first case of the first doctor; and having been successfully treated, the new physician soon obtained an extensive practice. The prevailing diseases of those days were autumnal fevers, bilious, bilious remittent, and the process of treatment was generally such as kills the modern bullock-copious bloodletting. Strongmen required vigorous treatment, and they got it without stint. The lancet was an indispensable instrument; and when a physician could not be had, many private persons proffered their services as phlebotomists, and human blood was abstracted freely. Time change, and men change. The sanguinary theory is now almost a dream.
The doctor erected an office a short distance above the present location of the McNulty house, where he continued to do business until about the year 1831, when he retired from the practice, owing to failing health, and soon after opened a dry goods establishment in which he was engaged until his decease in 1834. As a physician he had an extended and successful practice, and drew around him a large circle of friends. As a businessman he was shrewd and exact and careful in all his dealings, and accumulated a fine property. He was genial and pleasant among his patients and friends, and not averse to a good practical joke.
In 1824 he was married to Miss Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Mykrantz, who died April 19, 1880, aged seventy-two years, two months and twelve days, born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. At his death he left one daughter who married Dr. J. F. Sampsell, and is now deceased.
Diploma of Dr. Joel Luther
Be it known, that on the twenty-fifth day of September, A.D. 1817, Joel Luther was examined by the censors of Rensellaer medical society in the various branches of medical science, and received their approbation. Now, know ye, therefore, that by virtue of the powers in me vested, I do hereby authorize and license the said Joel Luther to practice physics and surgery, in the State of New York. In testimony whereof, I have set my hand to these presents, and caused the seal of the society to be hereunto affixed. Done at Troy this twenty-fifth day of September, A. D. 1817 Hezekiah F. Dray. President
J. M. Hall, Secretary.
Stechen County Clerk's Office,} ss. October 13, 1818.} A copy of the within diploma has been duly filed in the office of the clerk of the aforesaid county. C. Howell, Clerk.