Calling Dr. Green . . .

A recently discovered photo of a grand old house that once stood in Dunraven has shed a bit of light on 19th-century doctoring.

Was this the George Green house?

Was this the George Green house?

When this photo was taken by the NYC Board of Water Supply in the late 1940s, the house was part of the Bruce and Cora Kelly farm. The buildings and 18 acres of the 128-acre farm were claimed for the tailwaters of the Pepacton Reservoir and the site is now a vacant lot where Delaware County Route 3 and NYS Route 28 intersect just west of the Route 28-30 divide.

clarks-factory-area

The 1869 Beers Atlas shows a house in that location (look beneath the large Clarks Factory PO) belonging to Dr. G. H. Green. We think this could be the Kelly house – it certainly looked like the home of a prominent person.

Dr. Green was born in 1808 in Franklin to Solomon Green, Jr., a physician who by 1840 was practicing with John Ferguson, Jr.  in Bovina. That’s about the time his son began practicing in Middletown, in an area then called Clark’s Factory. This was a booming locale with a big tannery that employed many people. The good doctor was a busy man.

The Dec. 14, 1951 issue of the Catskill Mountain News ran excerpts from his account book from 1858-61 (the book was then in the hands of Hillis Judd of Fleischmanns – does anyone know the whereabouts of this book?) Dr. Green did everything from deliver babies (a girl, to the wife of Abram Wilson, for a fee of $1.50), to extract teeth (Hannah Owen paid 13 cents for his services, Philo Dickson was charged a quarter for two teeth pulled.) Treatments included ‘bleeding,” castor oil, and “acid for teeth” given to Ransom Sanford. Warren Dimmick was treated with “sugar of lead,” or lead acetate: It was once prescribed for intestinal troubles, sore nipples and poison ivy. It was eventually shown to be toxic, so essentially Mr. Dimmick and others thus treated had been poisoned!

Then as now there was the spectre of malpractice. In 1856, George Green’s father and partner were taken to court by Thomas L. Scott of Bovina 15 years after Scott fell off a horse as a child and broke his arm. He claimed the physicians didn’t set or treat his arm correctly. The court deliberated from Saturday morning to Monday night before finding the defendants guilty of malpractice and ordering them to pay their former patient $450 in damages.

Indeed, even doctors cannot cure everything. Dr. George and wife Nancy Roberts Green outlived all three of their children. They lost an infant, Warren, in 1849; a teenage son, also named George H., in 1870; and a daughter, Mary Amanda, who was 32 when she died in 1881. Nancy passed away in 1886.

Dr. Green, who had served two terms as Town Supervisor, lived to the ripe old age of 87, passing on in 1896.