Massie Bullitt, M.D.
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Henry Masiie (1817-1880)
Bullitt, founder of Louisville Medical
College and son of Cuthbert and Harriet Willit Bullitt, was born
in Shelby County, Kentucky, on February 28, 1817. His father was a direct descendant of
Benjamin Bullitt, the founder of the family in this country, who,
refusing to surrender his religious views after the revocation of the
edict of Nantes, came with his wife in 1685 from the Province of
Languedoc, France, and settled in Maryland. Originally the name was spelled
"Bullet" but, owing to the existence of an English law in this country
by which aliens were prohibited acquiring landed property, Benjamin
Bullet changed his name to Bullitt in order to hold the land which had
been granted him in America.
At the age of seventeen he studied
medicine with Dr. Coleman Rogers, Sr. (q.v.), and pursued his studies
with rare devotion, entering the University of Pennsylvania, from which
institution he graduated in 1838 with high honors. From Philadelphia he
returned to Louisville and entered upon active practice.
Bullitt passed the year 1845 in
Europe, where he availed himself of every opportunity to advance in
medical knowledge and returned home
liberally equipped with the fruits of his sojourn abroad. In 1846 he was
elected a professor in the St. Louis Medical
College, and lectured there during the sessions 1846-7 and
1847-8. In 1849 he was called to the chair of matcria mcdica in
Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky, at that time the oldest
and most renowned school in the Ohio valley.
In 1850 Dr. Bullitt organized the
Kentucky School of Medicine, which entered upon its career in the winter
of 1850-51, and in 1866 was elected to the chair of principles and
practice of medicine in the University of Louisville, the next year
occupying the chair of physiology in the same school.
In 1868 he established the Louisville
Medical College, with which he remained
and co-operated several years.
Dr. Bullitt was an able writer on
professional subjects. Prof. Charles Caldwell (q.v.) had said that:
"None but professors practically trained in the West and South could
competently lecture on western and southern diseases, hence a
medical education acquired in the
northern and eastern cities could not qualify for practice in the West
and South," Dr. Bullitt entered an eloquent and potent protest against
this heresy. His paper was published in the
Medical Examiner, Philadelphia, in 1844 or 1845. Other
papers were on the "Art of Observing in Medicine," published in the
St. Louis Medical Journal.
"Medical Organization and Reform;"
"On the Pathology of Inflammation," published in the Transylvania
Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Bullitt held chairs - in five
medical schools and in all showed great
aptitude for teaching. He was co-editor of the St. Louis
Medical Record, the
Transylvania Journal of Medicine and Louisville
Medical Record. His great
affliction, deafness, was all that prevented him from taking the
foremost position among medical
practitioners, teachers and writers. This misfortune he bore with
singular equanimity and fortitude.
On May 26, 1841, Dr. Bullitt was
married to Miss Julia Anderson and had seven children; only two lived to
their majority. She died January 16, 1853.
On September 14, 1854, he was married
to Mrs. Sarah Crow Paradise and had six children, one son and five
daughters. She died December 3, 1901.
The cause of Dr. Bullitt's death was
Bright's disease. During his long and severe illness he was always
cheerful and escaped some of the most dreadful sufferings which attend
this disease. He had led a long and useful life, and often recalled many
beautiful reminiscences of his boyhood. A short time before his death,
he read, with great joy and pleasing anticipation, Lord Lytton's
beautiful poem, "There is no Death," greatly enjoying its fine
He died on February 5, 1880.
(The personal edited research
notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or
may not be completely documented)