In Memoriam, Martin Deschere, July 21, 1902 [cover title of a manuscript memorial album for a New York Homeopathic Physician].
Tributes and letters from New York City medical organizations and letters of condolence for a medical editor & staff physician at New York’s Flower Hospital
Memorial or mourning album commemorating the life and death of German-American homeopathic physician Martin Deschere (1848–1902) of New York City.
The album includes tributes and letters from New York City medical organizations and letters of condolence from leading homeopaths and other physicians.
Martin Deschere was a native of Hamburg, Germany and emigrated to America as a child. He was guided by the German-American homeopathic physician Dr. Samuel Lilienthal (1815–1891) and, in 1875, graduated from the New York Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital. In 1881, he was appointed Professor of Pediatrics at his alma mater, a position he held until just before his death.
He served as a staff physician at New York’s Flower Hospital and the Laura Franklin Free Hospital for Children and was an editor of the North American Journal of Homoeopathy. He was a member of the Homoeopathic Medical Society of the State of New York, serving as its president in 1894, and was the founder of the Materia Medica Society as well as a pediatric medical society.
Dr. Deschere’s memorial album appears to have been created by his widow Olga as a tribute to her husband. The bulk of the album is comprised of over 100 tipped in or mounted autograph letters signed (approx. 205 manuscript pages including some telegrams) from family, friends, and professional colleagues of Dr. Deschere sent to Olga Deschere in sympathy for her loss. A few of these letters are in German.
The album also includes over 70 tipped in printed obituaries (including some in German) from newspapers throughout the U. S. as well as from medical journals, several of which included portraits of the late homeopathic physician. There are also over 150 tipped in black bordered calling cards, almost all of which bear a brief autograph sentiment.
There are at least 15 letters of tribute to Dr. Deschere from his professional medical colleagues. These include Willard Ide Pierce of the New York Medical Club and author of Plain Talks on Materia Medica with Comparisons (Philadelphia, 1911); Henry M. Dearborn (1846–1904), professor at the New York College and Hospital for Women and New York Homœopathic Medical College and Hospital and author of Diseases of the Skin (New York, 1903); Frederick M. Dearborn (b.1876), lecturer on dermatology at the New York Homœopathic Medical College and Hospital and the New York College and Hospital for Women; Willis A. Dewey (b.1858), professor of anatomy at Hahnemann Medical College of the Pacific and chair of materia medica and editor of the California Homoeopath and The Medical Century; and Loomis L. Danforth (b.1849), professor of obstetrics, New York Homœopathic Medical College and Hospital and chief of maternity staff at Hahnemann Hospital.
Other memorialists include George W. Roberts (b.1866), professor of surgery at the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women and author of the pamphlet Cancer of the Rectum Treated by Sigmoido-Protectomy (1905); John W. Dowling (b.1837), Registrar of the New York Homœopathic Medical College and a founder of its surgical hospital; H. Everett Russell (b.1863), graduate of the New York Homœopathic Medical College and Hospital and member of American Institute of Homœopathy and the National Society of Electro-Therapeutists; Walter Sands Mills (b.1865), physician to the department of the heart and lungs, New York Homœopathic Medical College Dispensary, secretary of the Connecticut State Homœopathic Medical Society, and president of the Academy of Pathological Science and of the New York Homœopathic Materia Medica Society; and C. A. Weirick of Chicago, co-editor of the Journal of Orificial Surgery and official of the the American Institute of Homœopathy.
Some of the letters refer to Deschere’s homeopathic practice, to Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), founder of homeopathy, and even to “our peculiar system.”
William Francis Honan, later director of the surgical department of the New York Homœopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital recalls Deschere as a professor:
I try to offer my condolences and sincere sympathies in your present great sorrow… It was my good fortune to come under his personal instruction in 1889 & subsequently to enjoy a continued acquaintanceship with him. I’ve soon learned to admire the steadfast character of the man and appreciate his very unusual scientific attainments. Your loss will be that of the entire medical profession and suffering humanity, an earnest self sacrificing worker. (f, July 23, 1902)
Byron George Clark (b.1847), a member of the American Institute of Homœopathy writes:
I read this morning the notice of Dr. Deschere’s death and I hasten to offer you my deepest sympathy. I have not called upon the Doctor for some time, chiefly because he always wanted I should go carefully over his case and seemed disappointed at my not offering suggestions when I felt he was under better care than I could give him. … I feel I have lost a friend that will be hard to replace. We were in close sympathy in our ideas of homeopathy and our faith in its work that we felt an honesty that was healthful in each others work, and as I have been expecting to move downtown further for some time…I have anticipated quite some pleasure in being near him that we could work together more; but a greater power has decided otherwise and we must bow to his will, however hard. (f, July 24, 1902)
Also present in the album are manuscript resolutions in honor of Dr. Deschere from the staff of the Laura Franklin Free Hospital for Children of New York City and the Homoeopathic Medical Society of the County of New York. For example:
At the regular Annual Meeting of the Staff of the Laura Franklin Free Hospital for Children, held October 29th, 1902, the following resolution was read and unanimously adopted — Whereas: — From the time of its foundation and until his ill-health and death prevented, this Hospital has enjoyed the devoted labors of Dr. Martin Deschere, and Whereas: — The bountiful store of his professional learning, keen observation and innate genius, has been freely imparted to the ailing young in this Hospital and elsewhere… be it Resolved: — That the Medical Staff of the Laura Franklin Free Hospital for Children feels deeply the loss of an associate whom we loved; a consultant whose advice we valued; and a consistant [sic] and steadfast Homoeopath whose example we would emulate.
There are also two typed manuscripts within the album: a German-language poetical funeral address and “[w]ords spoken…at the grave of…Dr. Martin Deschere on the occasion of the burial of his ashes…” On the final leaf of the album there is a small tipped on photograph of the Deschere’s grave stone.
Laid into the album is a retained copy of Dr. Deschere’s letter to the Alumni Association of the New York Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his graduation:
It is a sore disappointment to me that I am prevented by illness from appearing before you to-night and addressing you as my pleasant duty demands. … Although unable to address you personally, I am with you heart and soul and in this spirit of congeniality I desire to express to you my ideas of how our Association may work to the best interests of our College. …let us always remember that as graduates of the N. Y. Hom. Med. Coll. & Hosp. we remain thoroughly homoeopathic in our professional work no matter what special field this may cover. The more thoroughly we understand the philosophy of the Law of Similars, the closer we adhere to it in our professional duties, the more logically we practice according to it at the bedside, the more satisfactory will be our results and consequently the higher will be our standard is homoeopathic physicians and the higher will that school be valued that has educated such men. … All our pioneers from [Samuel] Hahnemann down had added a knowledge of homoeopathic therapeutics to their general knowledge of medicine, but only the utilization over this knowledge in their practice stamped them homoeopathic physicians. … Again I know of physicians who have made special studies of homoeopathic therapeutics partly out of curiosity and partly for their own instruction to a degree that they become well versed in that field of science, but they never thought of becoming or being considered homoeopathic physicians even though they utilized some of this acquired knowledge in their practice. Therefore, I herewith openly protest again the definition of a homoeopathic physician as accepted by the American Institute for if we shall be judged by our works we can only by [be] judged as homoeopathic physicians by working as such. (May 1900)
Memorialized by his own words. Deschere was proud to be a homeopath.
Description: In Memoriam, Martin Deschere, July 21, 1902 [cover title of a manuscript memorial album for a New York Homeopathic Physician].
[New York, 1902–1904]. ff. Album. 12½ x 9½ inches. Leather covered padded boards titled in gilt; post bound with cord tie; black bordered leaves reinforced with cloth along spine edge. Tipped in letters (approx. 205 manuscript pages) and other manuscripts, clippings, and ephemera.
Ref. Cleave, Biographical Cyclopaedia of Homeopathic Physicians and Surgeons (Philadelphia, 1873).