1858: W. A. S. Williams to Dr. Daniel W. Timms

What W. A. S. Williams might have looked like

This letter was written by University of Michigan medical student W. A. S. Williams. The school catalogue of students in 1858 lists him as a student with Dr. Daniel W. Timms of Hudson, Michigan as the practitioner sponsoring his enrollment at the college. Nothing more is known about Williams and he does not appear as a Medical School graduate in 1858, nor does he appear among the list of medical students there in 1859.

Williams wrote the letter to Dr. Daniel W. Timms (1824-1882), a native of Oxford, England. His parents, John and Ann Timms, came to the United States about 1831 and settled in Palmyra New York. They came to Michigan 5 years later (c. 1835) settling in Wheatland Twp. Hillsdale Co., Michigan. John Timms died “the next year” (c. 1836) and Ann died 30 Jul 1884.

Daniel attended Spring Arbor and Albion Seminary, and began the study of medicine under Dr. Hall of Hudson and Dr. Delavan of Moscow. He entered the medical college at Columbus OH and graduated in 1849 with a M.D. He started his career in Rollin, Lenawee Co., then came to Wheatland Twp. Hillsdale Co. After 14 years, he moved to Moscow and lived there until his death 27 Oct 1882.

Daniel married Miss Sarah A. Mallory on 3 Jun 1849. She was the daughter of Azariah & Azubah White Mallory. They had no children, but adopted a son, Frank M. Timms. After Daniel’s death, Sarah married Henry McCowen, a native of Pennsylvania, born 1820 and a pioneer of 1845 in Michigan.

[Source: Compendium of History and Biography of Hillsdale County Michigan. Elon G. Reynolds, ed Chicago: AW Bowen & Co. Part First – Hillsdale County Michigan Fully Historical 1903 – page 394-95.]

Stamped 1858 Letter

Addressed to Daniel Timms, M. D., Hudson, Lenawee County, Michigan

University of Michigan
February 14th 1858

My Dear Doc,

I received your letter yesterday & you don’t know how sorry I was to find you did not send me the $10. It would only have been for a very little while when I could then have let you have treble that amount for as long as you wished, but it can’t be helped & my watch worth at least $100 will have to go for $10 as most likely the young man will leave before I get my letters from Canada. I guess I won’t be able to be home before the 7th or 8th pros. as old Dent ¹ is very strict about granting certificates. So soon, however, as he will give me the documents, I will start for home.

Barnes & his woman ___ it considerably but I move no more till I move home. They board us mighty hard too, I tell you. We ain’t had a bit of pie or cake for a good while.

The professors are beginning to hurry along too fast altogether. [Professor Alonzo Benjamin] Palmer ² has not touched on diseases of women & children yet so you may guess he has got a considerable to tell us in the short time between this & the close [of the term]. We had two lectures this week on Tommy’s decease & the treatment they gave was warm baths & to put the patient under the immediate influence of opium for a few days until they get into the Duetus communis chloedochus formed by the union of the Cystic & Hepatic ducts which, as you know, empties into the duodenum, relax the system as much as possible. I have no doubt you will fetch him through all right, but I thought I would tell you what I have to let you know I understand what ails the Darling Tommy. ____ him up in the just style illeg____ & the owld woman will bless you Doctor dear! So she will, for you know Doctor, it would be an awful thing for Bridget if anything would ail Tommy & destroy her happiness forever. Och Doctor, you must cure up Tommy’s penis. Oh may the Devil admire me if Dr. Timm’s wasn’t after preserving my happiness forever, so he was.

S___ till Barney comes home & we will amputate the tool of Henry. I suppose old Irvin is mortally pleased. I enclose a letter to Rowly which if you can hand to him so that a letter will get here before the first, I will be ok. If not, you know the issue I would much rather not do it for I do not wish to be under any obligations to him, I assure you. I would ten thousand times rather you could have done it.

This is the first time I have troubled you to advance me any money & would not do so if I could help it or would I unless I knew I could return the compliment. Do the best you can for Barny & Barny will remember it. You know my word has been sacred with you & you will always find me dressed on the day agreed upon.

Remember me to Sarah Ann & believe me as always, — W. A. S. Williams

I would not ask Barnes if I lost fifty watches.


Samuel Denton

¹ “Old Dent” refers to Samuel Denton, M.D., who (in 1858) was a Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine, and of Pathology, as well as Dean of the Faculty at the University of Michigan.

Alonzo Palmer

² Professor Alonzo Benjamin Palmer (1815-1887) was associated with Michigan University for more than thirty-five years. In 1852 he was appointed Professor of Anatomy; in1854 he was transferred to the mixed chair of Materia Medica and Theeapeutics and the Diseases of Women and Children. And again, in 1860, he was assigned to the Professorship of Pathology and the Theory and Practice of Medicine, which position he held up to the time of his death.

Prior to his teaching career, Alonzo Palmer had become distinguished as a practicing physician and administrator. He graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York in 1839. He opened a practice in Tecumseh, southwest of Ann Arbor, and kept a general practice for 10 years. Palmer was city physician in Chicago during the 1852 outbreak of cholera among northern European immigrants. There he was head of the cholera hospital, where 1,500 patients were treated that year. Palmer received wide recognition for his services in Chicago, and one of his principal works, “A Treatise on the Epidemic of Cholera” (Ann Arbor, 1885), drew on his experience there.


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