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DR. EDWIN HOLMES VAN DEUSEN
BY RT. REV. JOHN M. MC CORMICK
Dr. Edwin Holmes Van Deusen was a part of that notable contribution made to the living history of the State of Michigan by the State of New York as the course of immigration of the Empire State took its westward
way. He was born in Livingston, Columbia County, New York, on August 29, 1828, and was graduated from Williams College when not quite twenty years of age, in the class of 1848. Even before his graduation he had commenced his medical studies in the office of Dr. Sabine, Williamstown, N. Y., and these were continued at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the State of New York, whence he was graduated with distinction and received at once an appointment as house physician in the New York Hospital. It is recorded by one of his medical memorialists and may here be mentioned as characteristic of his attitude toward his profession and toward life itself, that he was one of those young internes who volunteered their services during the terrible epidemic of typhus fever, nearly all of whom died as martyrs of their duty and devotion. At the completion of his term of service at the New York Hospital he became assistant to Dr. John P. Gray2 in the Utica Asylum and was immediately associated with some of the most eminent men who were at that time, under many difficulties and discouragements and in spite of much public and even professional indifference or criticism, devoting themselves to the scentific care and relief of the insane. In 1848 the Legislature of Michigan had passed an act looking towards the construction of an asylum, but it was not until 1854 that plans for the buildings were made under the supervision of Dr. Gray and in 1855-56-57 Dr. Van Deusen spent much of his time in Michigan superintending the erection of the Kalamazoo Asylum and helping to create public opinion that should be favorable to the accomplishment of what seemed at that time a novel undertaking on a generous, statesmanlike and scientific scale. On July 22, 1858, he married Cynthia A. Wendover, of Stuyvesant, N. Y., who for fifty years was with him in all his labors and philanthropies. They had two children, one died in infancy, the other, Robert Thompson Van Deusen, resides in Albany, N. Y. In 1858 he removed to Kalamazoo as superintendent of the new asylum, retaining the office and carrying on the work with ever-increasing wisdom, honor and success for twenty years. During this long period of intelligent and devoted public service, at a salary for some years of only $800, he not only organized and developed the institution at Kalamazoo, but he created, controlled and directed public opinion throughout the State in regard to the proper treatment of the insane and he was largely instrumental and influential in the building of the Eastern Asylum at Pontiac and the Northern Asylum at Traverse City. He was also, for several years, a distinguished and useful member of the State Board of Corrections and Charities. Those who are competent to speak of his professional career are unanimous in declaring that it was marked with every evidence of zeal, intelligence and leadership and that it was consummated and crowned with dignity, success and honor. His unusual ability was shown not only in the mastery of equipment and administration, but on the technical and scholarly side, in his increasing mastery of the subtleties and perplexities of the psycho-physical conditions of insanity evidence among other achivements by his studies in neurasthenia. We are told by a competent authority that "his pen was the first to describe, under the name of Neurasthenia’ the symptom-complex which was noted by him as a frequent precursor of insanity” and that in his monograph upon the subject "he struck a blow for preventative medicine which has made us his debtors for all times.”
'Read at midwinter meeting, 1911.
?Dr. John Purdue Gray, American alienist, born Half Moon, Penn., 1829; died Utica, N. Y., Nov. 29. 1886; graduated from Dickinson college 1846 and took medical degree at U. of P. 1848. He was successively assistant physician and medical superintendent of N. Y. State Asylum at Utica. For many years editor of American Journal of Insanity. Brit. Ency.
Dr. Gray, Dr. Chapin. later of of Willard Hospital, Dr. Cleveland, the first superintendent of Poughkeepsie State Hospital and others, were his associates.
When Dr. Van Deusen resigned in 1878 the superintendency of the Michigan State Asylum it was not to retire to a life of indifference and detachment. He took with dignity his well earned repose, but he maintained an active and a broadminded interest in all public affairs and displayed an unselfish, a patriotic and a philanthropic attitude toward his neighbors and his fellow-citizens and towards all the concerns of church and State. Conjointly with his wife he was the donor of the splendid Public Library, which is one of the chief utilities as well as one of the chief ornaments of the city of Kalamazoo. He was the chair
'In a report written in 1862 he definitely proposed the plan later carried out by his long-time assistant and successor, Dr. George C. Palmer, known as the "colony plan.” Also the plans for the male department of Kalamazoo Asylum, and the ground plans for the Eastern Asylum at Pontiac were wholly his work and only placed in the hands of an architect when completed; the architect's drawings were returned to him for revision before being adopted. Obituary of Dr. Van Deusen by Justin E. Emerson, M. D.
*See Obituary of Edwin H. Van Deusen, M. D., written by Justin E. Emerson, M. D., in the American Journal of Insanity. Dr. Van Deusen was an associate editor of the magazine when it was in its infancy.
“This was before Dr. Beard had published his work on the same subject. Obituary of Dr. Van Deusen, Justin E. Emerson, M. D.
man of the building committee of the new St. Luke's Church, one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical edifices in Michigan. He was also a leader in interest as well as in gifts in the erection of the commodious and elegant Parish House attached to the church and he joined with Mrs. Van Deusen in large gifts to the Diocese of Western Michigan, particularly for the relief to disabled and infirm clergy and for the permanent endowment of the Episcopate.?
· These extensions and expressions of much liberality and public mindedness were coincident with innumerable evidences of private and personal kindness and charitableness, which, unknown to us, are not unrecorded in the chronicles of the Heavenly Kingdom. Thus rounding out his days, he passed away on July 6, 1909, in the 82nd year of his age. On July 28 a memorial service, which I had the honor to conduct, was held in St. Luke's Church. There was a large and devout congregation and resolutions from the Academy of Medicine were read by Dr. Ralph Balch, its president; a tribute was paid by Dr. I. A. Noble, the superintendent of the Asylum, who also read resolutions from the joint board of the Michigan Asylums; resolutions were read from the Board of Education and from the City Council and Mr. Frank H. Milham, Mayor of Kalamazoo, made appropriate remarks. An address was delivered by Dean Roger H. Peters, his former rector, and by myself as his bishop. The summary of these tributes leads us to look upon Dr. Van Deusen as an example of the highest and noblest of American citizenship.
Reference has often been made frequently to Dr. Van Deusen's modesty and quietness, his aversion to display or affectation and his desire that, if possible, even his left hand should not know the good deeds which his right hand was every busy in doing. He was a marked exception of that American disease which Dr. Henry Van Dyke has called publicomania,—the insane passion for notoriety and public recognition which taints and poisons so many gifts and so many givers, so many public deeds and so many public doers.
This leads me to refer to the intimate beauty of his private life and to the association with him throughout his whole career in all his tasks and benefactions, of his wife, that serene and gracious lady who still survives him. In these days of family division and of domestic crosspurposes, it was refreshing and uplifting to witness the close companionship of husband and wife, their identity of interests, their united accomplishments of common purposes and common desires. Such characters as apart from the meretricious, noisy and self-centered lives, so alarmingly numerous among us, are the stuff of which republics are made and by which alone they can be maintained. By such lives alone can we preserve
'He did not become an acknowledged member of any church until a few years before his retirement when he united with St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Kala
Justin E. Emerson, M. D.
“Our peace, our fearful innocence,
And pure religion breathing household laws.”
P. DEAN WARNER
BY FRED M. WARNER1
The invitation to appear before you for the purpose of paying a tribute to one of Michigan's honored pioneers is one that is thoroughly appreciated. Your organization is one that deserves the encouragement and support of the people of the State of Michigan. You are doing work of importance and of a character that will be of increasing im. portance and interest as the years go by. You are doing this from motives that are unselfish and that does you honor and the States owes this Society, and those who have built it up and maintained it a debt of gratitude.
The existence of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society is evidence of the fact that there are people who are not entirely carried away with the commercial spirit of the age we live in, but that there are those who can and do devote time, effort and money to the splendid purpose of creating and fostering a feeling of regard and reverence for the pioneers who blazed the way into the wilderness and laid the foundation for the State we honor.
Our great State is your debtor and I believe future generations will commend to an even greater degree than do we of the present generation your labors in gathering and preserving the records of our early history.
I cannot claim the honor of being a native son of Michigan but my respect and love for that splendid Oakland County citizen whose name I bear leads me to express my gratitude to you for the invitation to pay a tribute, however inadequate, as I am certain it will be, to his memory.
The life of P. Dean Warner can well be cited as an instance where a sterling ancestry and a rugged environment brought forth and developed those qualities that made him well fitted to endure the privations and perform the tasks incident to a new country. He was born in Schuyler County, New York, August 12, 1822, and he was less than three years of age when his parents, Seth A. L. and Sally Warner, removed in April, 1825, to Michigan. Their journey from New York to Michigan was not
*Ex-governor Warner read this tribute to his foster father at the annual meeting, June, 1911.
unlike those of other pioneer families of that period. The story of the trip, the planning and the preparations for it, the breaking of the old ties and associations, its many hardships and anxieties would not be new to many of you. I heard it from my father's lips who in turn learned it from his parents. It has become part of our family history and the story will be told and retold to succeeding generations. The change in our state since that time, tremendous as it has been, is more than equaled by the change in the method of getting here. The time required for the trip from Detroit to their home two miles north of the present Farmington village, was greater than that now required to make the trip from New York to Lansing. At the age of fifteen it seemed clear to the boy that it was his duty to leave the parental roof and commence his business career. Clerking in a country store was the beginning of a mercantile career that was a long and honorable one. For six years he served in that capacity in the general store at Farmington with the exception of two or three months each year spent in attending school.
Part of one year he attended the Northville school. He spent one year in Detroit clerking, with this exception his entire lifetime was spent in Farmington.
He was early called upon to serve his fellow townsmen in official station, serving as Justice of Peace, Clerk and Supervisor for many years. In 1846 he was able to purchase one-half interest in a small stock of goods and establish a store in Farmington under the name of Botsford and Warner. In 1850 he was chosen as a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Oakland County and as such he participated in the election of Lewis Cass as United States Senator from Michigan. He served but one term at this time. He was always interested in National affairs as well as State and it' was not long after his first legislative experience that he believed it to be his duty to leave the party of Cass with which he had been identified. On the other hand he could not endorse the principles of the opposition. He was therefore ready to accept membership in the new political organization born upon Michigan soil. He was one of those who voted for John C. Fremont and he remained until his death a steadfast member of the party he helped organize.
In 1864 he was again selected as a Representative and served two terms in the House. He took a prominent part in the deliberations of the Legislature and was chosen Speaker in his second term. He was deeply interested in the growth and development of the State and his vote and influence could be counted upon for any measure that sought to add to the educational resources of the State or to care for its de pendent and unfortunate. He was a friend of the University and the