The Descendants of John Heywood

Dr. Abner Hartwell Brown


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From A necrology of the physicians of Lowell and vicinity, 1826-1898
by David Nelson Patterson, Courier-Citizen Co., Lowell MA, 1899

Page 88

Dr. Abner H. Brown

The subject of this sketch was born in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, July 6, 1816.

Through the courtesy of our highly respected citizen, Mr. C.C. Chase, Principal of the Lowell High School, who was a classmate and intimate friend of Dr. Brown's, the following sketch of his early life is here given as furnished by him in a letter received a few days ago:

At the age of eight years he lost his father by death, and in six or seven years after this event, his mother, for the better support and education of her three children, removed to the city of Lowell.

It was the good fortune of Dr. Brown to be a member of the first class of boys who entered our High School, and to become a scholar of the Rev. Dr. Clark, afterwards the distinguished Bishop of Rhode Island. Dr. Clark, when chosen Principal of the High School, was only nineteen years of age, but his pupils saw in him so much to admire, such enthusiasm, such hearty sympathy, such personal magnetism, that he found it easy to inspire them with a high ambition.

The admiration was mutual, for more than thirty years afterward the Bishop declared that he used firmly to believe at the time that there never was such a splendid set of scholars as he had. Of those boys I will mention only four.

First was Benjamin F. Butler, now Governor of the State, whose active, vigorous mind already gave promise of his renown.

Next was Edward F. Sherman, a fine scholar, who afterwards became the Mayor of our city.

Next was Marshall H. Brown, brother of Dr. Brown and two years his junior, a boy of great promise, who died before entering college.

The fourth was Abner Hartwell Brown, the subject of this article, a delicate boy of such quiet, gentle ways, so full of love and tenderness and yet so coy in the expression of his feelings, so refined in his taste and language, such a natural gentleman, though but a country boy, that his mates could not help respecting and loving him.

After his graduation in 1835 Dr. Brown entered Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1839. "As a studen of Dartmouth he stood in the front rank. As a scholar he was diligent and thorough, and as a man he was a favorite."

Upon finishing his collegiate course he was appointed as a tutor int he college, where he remained two years.

In 1841 he was elected as Principal of our Lowell High School. But before entering upon his active duties he was attacked with a dangerous hemorrhage of the lungs which prostrated him for several weeks. On account of this he returned to the School Board the commission with which they had honored him.

At length, after somewhat recovering from his illness, he chose the profession of medicine, influenced, it is supposed, by his intimate friend, Dr. John Butterfield, the subject of the preceding sketch. He attended medical lectures at Dartmouth Medical College and at New Haven, graduating at the latter and delivering the valedictory address on that occasion. Subsequently he was appointed professor of chemistry in the Willoughby Medical College of Lake Erie, where he gave several courses of lectures with acknowledged ability and success. When that school was removed to Columbus, Ohio, he still continued to occupy his position of professor.

In 1847 he received the appointment of professor of materia medica and medical jurisprudence in the Berkshire Medical School at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. This office he retained until his death.

Of his practice in this city, which was, of course, more or less interrupted by his courses and lectures, it is only necessary to say that by his good judgment, kind feelings and courteous deportment he acquired and retained, in an eminent degree, the confidence and good will of all who knew him. Brilliant as were the qualities of his mind, the qualities of his heart still eclipsed them. As a physician he was esteemed as a safe and skilful practitioner. He was thorough in his investigations, and careful in his methods of treatment. He was city physician for several years, and in that capacity his kindness of heart and gentleness of manner were ever prominent in his dealings with suffering humanity. Such were the high attainments of Dr. Brown that had his life been spared he would doubtless have stood among the first in his profession, and have been an honor to the community as an upright Christian physician. His death occurred at Hanover, New Hampshire, April 21, 1851.

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