the Grosse Pointe Historical Society has a picture of Morse Stewart and a story about him and his neighbors.
Isabella "Belle" was a Duffield and a descendent of the Grahams and Bethunes. Learn about them here.
Dr. Morse Stewart (1818-1906) divides with few the honor of being at the head of the medical profession in Detroit.Dr. Stewart
was very active during the epidemics of Asiatic cholera, 1849-1854, and recognized the first case of cerebro-spinal meningitis
occurring in Detroit. Dr. Stewart was about five feet, nine inches tall, of spare and slender build, large head covered with
abundant hair, high forehead, prominent nose, firm, sensitive mouth and chin, always a smooth shaven face, fine blue eyes
protected by projecting bone and eyebrows. His carriage and manner were characteristics of an old-time educated gentleman.
He was crippled in many ways by deafness, and a temper which occasionally got the best of him. Dr. Stewart was married twice;
first to Miss Hastings, by whom he had no children; second to Isabella, daughter of Reverend George Duffield. She died in
1888 leaving three sons and two daughters. Two of the sons, Morse, Jr., and Duffield, became physicians. Dr. Stewart and his
second wife were large factors in the founding and conduct of the Detroit Home for the [p.240] Friendless; the Thompson Home
for Old Ladies; and Harper Hospital (Detroit). Except for them the money for Harper Hospital would have gone to endow the
First Presbyterian Church. Dr. Morse Stewart practiced till October 3, 1906, when feeling weary he lay down to rest; and on
October 9, quietly passed to the unknown. Most of his papers and addresses were never published, for in the period of his
greatest productiveness, the facilities for publication were meager and he had an extreme modesty
Mrs. Stewart's maiden name was Isabella Graham Bethune Duffield [1830-1888].She came to Detroit in 1838 at the age of nine
and later established the Woman Christian Association and worked with the W.C.T.U. She is the daughter of Rev. George Duffield,
Medicine in Detroit
Medical Reminiscences of the Nineteenth Century
BY Morse Stewart M. D.
Office and Residence
204 Jefferson Ave.
The writer of this paper took his degree in medicine after attending three courses of lectures in eastern medical colleges,
in the summer of 1841. He then took a post graduate course and in the autumn of 1842 settled in Detroit, a city of ten thousand
inhabitants. The physicians then resident were twelve in number, all men of fine attainments, prominent in social life. Two
had been professors in eastern colleges and one an army surgeon, who resigned after twenty years of distinguished service
to engage in civil practice.
Michigan had recently emerged from a territory into a state. The transaction had effaced old territorial laws with the
result of putting out of existence the medical society of the territory. To meet this deficiency the physicians of the city,
feeling the need of organization, united in forming a medical club to be known as the Sydenham Medical Society of Detroit.
Later the State Legislature passed an act authorizing the organization of a State medical society with County societies adjunct
there to. Thereupon the physicians of Detroit and Wayne County came together and united in forming the first Wayne County
Medical Society, its place of meeting to be in the city. This society has continued in existence with an interval of one year
until the present time.
At its writing Detroit has increased in population to three hundred thousand souls. The advance in medicine has been commensurate
In 1842 the requirements for a diploma were attendance upon two courses of lectures and three years of study under a preceptor.
Today three, and in some of the colleges, four courses of six months duration each are requisites. The field of study has
greatly wide, embracing a number of branches which in the early days had no place in the college curriculi. At that time their
were few medical colleges in the United States. Today the number is largely increased, the State of Michigan alone having
five, two of which are in the city of Detroit. The greatest in all respects is the medical department of the Michigan University
which takes rank among best medical schools of the country. The faculties of all comprise men of high standing in the profession.
Detroit has five hospitals. In two of these by reason of their connection with medical colleges there are daily clinics
held for the benefit of students.
Since 1842 six medical societies have been in existence in the city, three only of which, viz. the Wayne County Medical
Society, Detroit Medical Society and the Detroit Academy of Medicine survive.
The Century now drawing to a close has witnessed a notable advance in medical attainment. In no other sphere of human
activity has there been greater progress. By means of instruments of precision of modern devise eg. the clinical thermometer,
the improved microscope, the stethoscope the centrifuge, and many others of great value, a more exact diagnosis is now attainable
than under former methods. The advance made in physiological chemistry, especially in bacteriological research has proved
a material help in diagnosis and treatment of obscure and intractable diseases. A better acquaintance with electricity and
a knowledge of the laws governing has brought that power into special service in medicine, an example of which is seen in
the X-ray, so called, now being found so useful both in diagnosis and therapeutics. The advance in chemistry has led to a
more thorough investigation of diseases by analyses of the organic secretions leading to an earlier and more efficient treatment
of ailments having their origin or manifestation through the various glandular organs of the body. In therapeutics the use
of animal serums and the exsiccated ductless glands has been a marked advance in the treatment of diphtheria, erysiplas bubonic
plague and other maladies of the like intractability.
A careful study of the physiology of the nervous system has resulted in a greatly improved treatment of nervous diseases,
one outcome of which is the so-called "Treatment by Suggestion".
Chemistry has also added largely to modern therapeutics by developing new remedies and extracting from the old more efficient
agents. The synthetic medicines are examples of the former and the alkaloids and the salts extracted from crude drugs, of
the latter. This field is susceptible of great enlargement.
The physiological laboratory is a result of modern investigation in biology. Through it and the use of the microscope
the science of bacteriology has evolved. This field of research has brought into view germs of disease and suggested methods
of treatment better adapted for their extinction then were previously used, still larger benefits are anticipated from continued
research in this field. In this connection it is appropriate to call attention to a great bacteriological achievement in the
discovery of tuberculin, which though of no special use as a remedial agent, yet as a diagnostic measure has proven a great
value; by its means the physician can diagnosis tuberculosis in the early stages in which it is more susceptible of cure,
it is also of great use for cutting off one of the chief sources of the disease by slaughtering tuberculous cows.
Anesthetics in medicine as particeps principiis is worthy of special mention among the great achievements of the nineteenth
century. Perhaps no use of all modern methods has done more if as much toward alleviating pain and suffering and the prolongation
of human life as this.
In this category Preventive medicine should not be overlooked. This includes ventilation, drainage, improved plumbing,
kind and quality of food use, together with all other methods of general sanitation and the supervision and oversight of all
It is believed that the physicians of the coming century will have given them a wider scope in the supervision and construction
of buildings, building of sewers than is now permitted.
Only a limited number of many examples of the many advances made in medicine are given above, sufficient however to show
the wonderful changes for the better since the century came in. Medicine as an art has achieved greater triumphs than in the
entire history of the world preceding. It is only reasonable to expect that the enthusiasm which has characterized the labors
of achievements of this century will lead to equal if not greater activity on the part of their successors thus giving promise
that by the opening of anno domini 2001 medicine will have achieved a position among the exact sciences.
In closing this paper it is appropriate to add that the writer is well advanced in his eighty-third year and still in
practice, endeavoring by regular perusal of current literature to keep abreast of all progress in medicine.