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Samuel M. Smith, M.D.
 

(Taken from Pinta, E.R. (1994). A History of Psychiatry at The Ohio State University, 1847-1993, pp. 3-12)

The Department of Psychiatry of The Ohio State University traces its inception to the 1847 appointment of Samuel M. Smith, M.D. (1816-1874), as "Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Insanity" at the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus.   Psychiatry at OSU can therefore be considered to have had its birth on Feb. 19, 1847.  On this date, the trustees of the Willoughby Medical College met in the Columbus law offices of Joseph R. Swan and John W Andrews and unanimously appointed Dr. Smith, a prominent Columbus physician, to this chair (33; 37).  With this appointment, the first academic department of psychiatry (or its equivalent) in this country was established (I; 4, p. 56).

In recognition of Dr. Smith's appointment, the American Journal of Insanity in October 1847 declared: "We are gratified to learn that a professorship of insanity has been established at one Medical School.  The Willoughby University, Columbus, Ohio, has appointed Samuel M. Smith, M.D., Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Insanity.  We think there should be a distinct course of Lectures on Mental Maladies at every Medical School.  Dr. Smith has some practical knowledge of Insanity, having been an Assistant Physician at the Ohio Lunatic Asylum for several years" (1).

The Willoughby Medical College of Columbus was a precursor of the College of Medicine of The Ohio State University (35, pp. 324, 51 1).  On this basis, the OSU Department of Psychiatry lays claim to being the first department of its kind in the nation.
 
History of the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus ...

The Willoughby University of Lake Erie, the forerunner of the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus, was chartered on March 3, 1834.  It was located nineteen miles east of Cleveland near the Chagrin River in what is now Willoughby.  The college trustees decided to move the University to Columbus in 1847.  This decision followed several years of competition for students with another medical school in northeastern Ohio--the Medical Department of Western Reserve College, founded in 1843.  Another factor in the decision to move was a poor relationship that developed with the townspeople of Willoughby following the school's alleged involvement in an 1843 grave-robbing incident (43).

On Jan. 14, 1847, the state legislature passed an amendment to the 1834 charter of the Willoughby University of Lake Erie, authorizing its transfer to Columbus as the "Willoughby Medical College of Columbus." Noah H. Swayne, one of Ohio's most famous jurists and a future U.S. Supreme Court justice under President Lincoln, was named President of the College.  John H. Butterfield, M.D., who had been with the school in Willoughby, was made Dean.  Besides Mr. Swayne, the members of the Board of Trustees of the relocated college included many prominent citizens of Columbus--John W. Andrews, William Armstrong, William Dennison, Jr., John Field, Samuel Medary, Robert Neil, Aaron F. Perry, S. D. Preston, Dr. C. F. Schenck, Alfred P. Stone, Joseph Sullivant, William S. Sullivant, Joseph R. Swan and Charles H. Wing (35, p. 45).  To these farsighted individuals goes the credit for establishing the country's first department of psychiatry.

The Willoughby Medical College begins its classes ...

The Ohio State Journal of Aug. 13, 1847, announced the opening series of lectures for the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus.  Classes were to begin on November 3rd and to continue for sixteen weeks (17).  To accommodate students, the Willoughby trustees purchased the Clay Club Room, a large wooden building used by the supporters of Henry Clay during his unsuccessful 1844 Whig presidential campaign.  They arranged for the building to be moved from East State Street, opposite the State Capitol Building, to the northwest corner of Gay and High streets (35, p. 143).

Lyne Starling, one of the founding-fathers of Columbus, contemplated the bestowal of a large gift to a charitable institution.  He was persuaded by his friends, including Dr. Smith, to donate $30,000 (later adding an additional $5,000) to the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus.  The gift was used for the construction of a new hospital and teaching facility (35, pp. 142-43).

The following year on Jan. 28, 1848, Willoughby Medical College became known as Starling Medical College in honor of its benefactor.  Classes continued in the same building and laboratories--with the same equipment, students, faculty and dean.  However, the school that began classes as the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus graduated its first students under its charter as Starling Medical College.  William S. Sullivant was made President of Starling Medical College.  A new Board of Trustees was chosen that included three former trustees of the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus--Mr.  Sullivant, Joseph R. Swan and John W Andrews.  Four new members of the Board--Dean Butterfield, Robert W. McCoy, Dr. Francis Carter and Dr. Smith were appointed (35, p. 94).

Dr. Smith was given the title of Professor of Materia Medica Therapeutics and Medical Jurisprudence at the reorganized college.  Upon the death of Dean Butterfield in 1849, the Starling trustees chose Dr. Smith to become the second dean of Starling Medical College.  He held this title from 1849 to 1858 and from 1860 to 1863.  He also held the title of "Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine" from 1850 until his death in 1874 (35, p. 106).  He remained a trustee of Starling Medical College throughout his life (36).

Following a merger in 1907 with the Ohio Medical University, a rival college, the school became known as Starling-Ohio Medical College.  In 1914 Starling-Ohio Medical College transferred its assets to The Ohio State University and it became The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Lectures on insanity ...

Although Dr. Smith's appointment as professor of "psychiatry" was for slightly less than one year, records demonstrate that he delivered his "lectures on insanity" for at least a six-year period, and most likely longer.  Annual catalog announcements for Starling Medical College continued to list Dr. Smith's lectures from 1847 through 1853.  After this date there is a gap in available bulletins until 1868 when William L. Peck, M.D., was appointed Professor of Insanity and Nervous Diseases (7).

Dr. Smith's lectures must have represented a comprehensive approach to the description, treatment and causes of mental illness.  The 1847 Announcement of Courses for the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus stated the following: "Professor Smith will give a series of lectures on the nature and treatment of insanity, and those diseases leading to it, for which his connection for several years with one of the best hospitals peculiarly qualifies him" (35, pp. 78-79).  It is significant that Dr. Smith's 1847 lectures were part of the required curriculum, while several other subjects were offered in a preliminary, non-required format (17).

Dr. Smith's continuing interest in PsYchiatry was demonstrated by his involvement with the Columbus Asylum for the Insane as a trustee from 1856 until his death in 1874, and by an appointment in 1870 to a special committee of the Ohio State Medical Association to examine the plea of insanity in cases of homicide (38).
 
Background of Dr. Smith ...

Samuel Mitchel Smith was born in Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio, on Nov. 28,1816.  He was the only child of Samuel and Nancy (Mitchel) Smith.  His family was a pioneer family of Highland County and his mother was one of the first white (not Native American) children born there (3).  His paternal grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, and his father operated a tannery in Greenfield, also finding time to be minister of the Presbyterian Church.  Dr. Smith's mother died of postpartum complications resulting from his birth.  She had not yet reached her twentieth birthday.  A family story told that her final words were a prayer that her son would be spared "to serve acceptably the God she trusted." This was repeated often to young Samuel and guided his decisions in life and helped shape the choice of his career (19).

Samuel M. Smith entered Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, in the fall of 1832, graduating in 1836.  Following graduation, he was placed in charge of an academy in Rising Sun, Indiana, where he studied medicine under a local physician, Dr. John Morrison.  He attended the 1837-1838 session of lectures at the Medical Department of the Cincinnati College (6).  The Medical Department of the Cincinnati College was one of several Ohio medical colleges founded by Daniel Drake, M.D., the dominant figure of early medicine in the Cincinnati area.  It had a four-year existence from 1835 to 1839 (14).

Contrary to what is recorded in some biographies of Dr. Smith (37; 38), he never received a medical degree in course from the Medical College of Ohio (now the University of Cincinnati) (5), nor is there a record of his attending lectures at this institution.  He matriculated to Philadelphia in 1838, receiving a medical degree in 1839 from the nation's first medical school--the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania (19; 35, p. 428; 36).  After a brief return to Highland County, Dr. Smith moved to Columbus.  In 1840 he accepted a position as an assistant physician at the Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum, a large facility on East Broad Street near what is now Parsons Avenue (36).  The Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum was built in 1835 and destroyed by fire in 1868.  The superintendent during the years of Dr. Smith's association was William Maclay Awl, M.D. (1799-1876).  Dr. Awl was one of the thirteen founders of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (original name of the American Psychiatric Association) and its second president from 1848 to 1851.   It was under Dr. Awl's supervision that Dr. Smith received his first experience and training in psychiatry.
In 1843 Dr. Smith resigned his position at the Central Asylum and opened an office for the practice of medicine on the corner of High and Town streets, opposite the City House (I 6).  In the same year, he married Susan Evans Anthony, daughter of General Charles Anthony of Springfield, Ohio.  Shortly afterwards he moved his office to East Rich Street near High Street.  He later relocated to 154 East State St., where his office remained until his death (28; 37).

An appointment at an early school of medical instruction ...

Dr. Smith's appointment to the Chair of Medical Jurisprudence and Insanity at the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus was not his first medical teaching experience.  Eight months earlier, the Columbus Ohio Press announced a four month series of lectures on Materia Medica and Therapeutics delivered by Dr. Smith for the Columbus Medical and Surgical Institute. These lectures began on March 10, 1847 (34).  Three of the five faculty named to this Institute--Drs.  Smith, Butterfield and Richard L. Howard were members of the first faculty of the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus.  There is no record that the Columbus Medical and Surgical Institute had a charter to confer medical degrees, and like a number of antebellum schools of medical instruction in Ohio it most likely had a brief existence.

___________________

The Department of Psychiatry of The Ohio State University traces its inception to the 1847 appointment of Samuel M. Smith, M.D. (1816-1874), as "Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Insanity" at the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus. Psychiatry at OSU can therefore be considered to have had its birth on Feb. 19, 1847. On this date, the trustees of the Willoughby Medical College met in the Columbus law offices of Joseph R. Swan and John W Andrews and unanimously appointed Dr. Smith, a prominent Columbus physician, to this chair (33; 37). With this appointment, the first academic department of psychiatry (or its equivalent) in this country was established (I; 4, p. 56).

In recognition of Dr. Smith's appointment, the American Journal of Insanity in October 1847 declared: "We are gratified to learn that a professorship of insanity has been established at one Medical School. The Willoughby University, Columbus, Ohio, has appointed Samuel M. Smith, M.D., Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Insanity. We think there should be a distinct course of Lectures on Mental Maladies at every Medical School. Dr. Smith has some practical knowledge of Insanity, having been an Assistant Physician at the Ohio Lunatic Asylum for several years" (1).

The Willoughby Medical College of Columbus was a precursor of the College of Medicine of The Ohio State University (35, pp. 324, 51 1). On this basis, the OSU Department of Psychiatry lays claim to being the first department of its kind in the nation.

History of the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus ...

The Willoughby University of Lake Erie, the forerunner of the Willoughby Medical College of Columbus, was chartered on March 3, 1834. It was located nineteen miles east of Cleveland near the Chagrin River in what is now Willoughby. The college trustees decided to move the University to Columbus in 1847. This decision followed several years of competition for students with another medical school in northeastern Ohio--the Medical Department of Western Reserve College, founded in 1843. Another factor in the decision to move was a poor relationship that developed with the townspeople of Willoughby following the school's alleged involvement in an 1843 grave-robbing incident (43).

On Jan. 14, 1847, the state legislature passed an amendment to the 1834 charter of the Willoughby University of Lake Erie, authorizing its transfer to Columbus as the "Willoughby Medical College of Columbus." Noah H. Swayne, one of Ohio's most famous jurists and a future U.S. Supreme Court justice under President Lincoln, was named President of the College. John H. Butterfield, M.D., who had been with the school in Willoughby, was made Dean. Besides Mr. Swayne, the members of the Board of Trustees of the relocated college included many prominent citizens of Columbus--John W. Andrews, William Armstrong, William Dennison, Jr., John Field, Samuel Medary, Robert Neil, Aaron F. Perry, S. D. Preston, Dr. C. F. Schenck, Alfred P. Stone, Joseph Sullivant, William S. Sullivant, Joseph R. Swan and Charles H. Wing (35, p. 45). To these farsighted individuals goes the credit for establishing the country's first department of psychiatry.

 

 

(The personal edited research notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or may not be completely documented)

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