Sunday, January 02, 2011

Homeopathic Medicine and the Phillips

Some significane may be made of the alleged fact that Dr. George D Wilcox was the Phillips family physician. A few things need to be expalained.

Wilcox, Chrispy has uncovered, was born 28 August 1825 in West Greenwich, but later associated with Coventry - the Phillips family teritory. As discussed, he died at about age 72 on 23 July 1897. His obituaries are frequent, and visible in Google books documents.

Here is one, save the error about his age, that gives a lengthy discusion.

DR GEORGE D WILCOX Dr George D Wilcox of Providence RI died suddenly of angina pectoris July 22 The doctor had apparently been in his usual health up to the morning of his death when he was attacked immediately after breakfast by severe abdominal pain nausea and asphyxia He was attended by his associate Dr Annie W Hunt but all efforts to relieve him proved unavailing and within an hour Dr Wilcox passed away The doctor was nearly eighty two years old {sic ?? probably a typo for 72} He graduated from the University of New York in 1849 and located in Providence in 1856 At one time he served as Medical Intern at the London Homoeopathic Hospital Great Ormond Street In May 1862 he was commissioned Surgeon of the Tenth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers and served with the regiment in the field In July 1884 he was appointed by Governor Bourn one of the two medical examiners for the city of Providence for six years and was reappointed at the end of that time and resigned after serving a year He was a member of the Rhode Island Homoeopathic Medical Society honorary member of the Medical Legal Society of Rhode Island and the British Homoeopathic Medical Society of London and Corresponding Mitglied des Homceopathischen Central Vereins of Leipsic In 1854 he married Miss Mary Fry who died September 17 1857 They had one son Frank Howard His second wife was Miss Mary Caroline daughter of Rev Daniel Leach of Boston Mass By this union were two children Mary Lawton and Alice Palmer Wilcox
He was a long time figure at the Rhode Island Homeopathic Hospital, pictured here.


His office was as admitting physician. He ame to Providence in 1856, had studied in Europe for a few years, and returned in 1860. He was associated with another legend, Dr. Robert Hall.

I can't say why or how Professor McInnis came to the knowledge that Wilcox was the family physician - perhpas through the medical records of Winfield Lovecraft. There is no reason to doubt the statement, and in any event, it seems more important for the Phillips clan than for Howard Lovecraft himself, though it seems likely that the birth of HPL was attended to by Wilcox.

In many places in the United States in the mid-19th century, a raging controversy existed between allopathic medicine - the administration of medicine, drugs, or other externals. This is precisely the type of medical practice that we are very familair with today in the 21st century.

Homeopathy, however, arose in conflict with this through the German, Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). In this early day, doctors often did as much harm as good, and Hahnemann objected to this and determined to make a wholistic approach. This was keenly latched onto in Rhode Island, and due to the tolerance, and perhaps enlightenment of Rhode Island, the practitioners of both styles of medicine rarely fought. Brown University, per se, had no conflict with homeopathy according to contemporary accounts.

A notable exception was that homeopathic medicine was rejected whole cloth in the south, and only in Baltimore and Louisville, Ky (my hometown) was it accepted. Louisville is notable, in that an Abraham Flexner (a local hero) advanced a new form of medicine that took medical schools by storm at the turn of the 20th century.

Another notable diference is that homeopathic medical schools welcomed women. About 21% of the attendance in 1893 were women, compared to no more than 5-7% in regualr shcools, and slightly more in so-called eclectic schools. (Link at bottom of page)

So what do we take from this? That Whipple Phillips typically associated with old western Rhode Island professionals -thus Wilcox who one notes originally married a Fry * - and that he tended to be "modern", and embraced change and technical advances. This is seen in all of his business practices, with his daughters being somewhat enlightened toward suffrage it would seem. One must understand that Brown University and Providence were beacons of enlightenment (with the exception of integration of black minorities for some time), often far ahead of New York and Boston.

For instance the school system was graded, socially integrated as long as the community was integrated, and co-educational. There was a class system in place, but it was beginning to weaken by the early 20th century just as the Rhode Island Republicans were losing en masse to the Democratic party.

To sum this up, the Phillips chose a physician that was apparently a western Rhode Island transplant, and a homeopathic physician.

*The area that Phillips was born into, western Rhode Island, was filled by clans of Frys, Rathbones, Phillipses, Places, and Tylers. There were also Tillinghasts galore, but these were not as tight knit to them, apparently, as this intertwined clan was to each other. Much of this clan was tied by intermarriage through the Mount Vernon Bank, of which is worthy of a Masters Thesis is history, or at least a significant monograph. It became defunt late in the 19th century, but in its day it was a powerhouse and a siphon of Providence's new wealth to back home, and it seems pretty likely the source of WVP's growing power and personal wealth in the late 1850's.

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