Shirer Family Genealogy Project
Person Page 20675
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|Father||Daniel F. Firestone2 b. 31 March 1797, d. 27 December 1864|
|Family||Susannah "Susan" Firestone b. 11 April 1819, d. 29 July 1894|
|Marriage*||23 August 1839||Union Twp., Wayne Co., OH, LEANDER FIRESTONE & SUSANNA FIRESTONE, 23 AUG 1837, Wayne, Ohio, Principal=Susannah "Susan" Firestone1,4,5,2|
|Children||1.||Dr. William W. Firestone b. Feb 1842, d. 25 Jan 1904|
|2.||Palitha Firestone b. c 1843, d. c 26 Oct 1855|
|3.||Dr. Melvin O. Firestone b. c 1845, d. 23 Jan 1879|
|4.||Franklin Firestone b. c 1856, d. b 1870|
|Birth*||11 April 1819||Salt Creek Twp., Wayne Co., OH1,2,3|
|Marriage*||23 August 1839||Union Twp., Wayne Co., OH, LEANDER FIRESTONE & SUSANNA FIRESTONE, 23 AUG 1837, Wayne, Ohio, Principal=Susannah "Susan" Firestone1,4,5,2|
|Census*||1840||1840 Federal Census, Ohio, Wayne County, Wooster Township, Wooster, Series: M704, Roll: 432, Page: 200|
Firestone, Leander, Line 25, 1000100000000-0000100000000-000000-000000-000000-000000-3-0100000-0-0-000-000-00-00-000000000
1 male 0-5
1 male 20-30
1 female 20-306
|Census||1850||1850 Federal Census, Ohio, Wayne County, Congress Township, Series: M432, Roll: 740, Page: 323A, September 24|
37, 334, 345, Firestone, Leander, 31, M, , Physician, 1500, O(hio), , , ,
38, 334, 345, Firestone, Susanne, 31, F, , , , O(hio), , , ,
39, 334, 345, Firestone, William W, 8, M, , , , O(hio), , 1, ,
40, 334, 345, Firestone, Telitha, 6, F, , , , O(hio), , 1, ,
41, 334, 345, Firestone, Melvin O, 4, M, , , , O(hio), , 1, ,
42, 334, 345, More, William C, 28, M, , Physician, 1500, O(hio), , , ,7
|Census||1860||1860 Federal Census, Ohio, Wayne County, Wooster Township, Series: M653, Roll: 1050, Page: 10B, June 6|
29, 133, 144, Firestone, Leander, 41, M, , MD, 2000, 575, Ohio, , , , 1,
30, 133, 144, Firestone, Susan, 41, F, , , , , Ohio, , , , ,
31, 133, 144, Firestone, William, 18, M, , , , , Ohio, , , , ,
32, 133, 144, Firestone, Melville, 13, M, , , , , Ohio, , , , ,
33, 133, 144, Firestone, Franklin, 3, M, , , , , Ohio, , , , ,
34, 133, 144, Manity, Annora, 30, F, , , , , Ireland, , , , ,
35, 133, 144, Allison, Rachel, 22, F, , , , , Ohio, , , , ,
36, 133, 144, Duffy, John, 58, M, , , , , Ohio, , , , ,8
|Census||1870||1870 Federal Census, Ohio, Wayne County, Wooster Township, Wooster, Ward 3, Series: M593, Roll: 1281, Page: 457B, September 20|
23, 229, 210, Firestone, Leander, 51, M, W, MD Alapathic, 25000, 6000, Ohio, , , , , , , , , 1,
24, 229, 210, Firestone, Susan, 51, F, W, Keeping House, , , Ohio, , , , , , , , , ,
25, 229, 210, Firestone, Melvin J, 24, F, W, Student MD, , , Ohio, , , , , 1, , , , 1,
26, 229, 210, Firestone, Elmira, 25, F, W, Boarding, , , Ohio, , , , , , , , , ,9
|Biography||1878||LEANDER FIRESTONE M.D.|
The uttered part of a man's life, let us always repeat, bears to the unuttered, unconscious part a small, unknown proportion; he himself never knows it, much less do others.
There are certain proprieties which, in obedience to a code of necessity, are uniform, will prevail and have prevailed for all time. It is proper that we should have astronomers to keep track of the planets and discover new ones; philosophers to dogmatize upon truth and discuss "the science of realities;" geologists to rake the ashes of the past, creep into the fissures of rocks, exhume mummies, ransack catacombs and announce the infancy of time; masters in the realm of ethics; discoverers in the empire of mechanics and mind, to aid muscular energy, economize time, produce wealth, reconcile fact with principle, earth with sky, creation with Creator, and elevate and ameliorate the moral and physical condition of the world.
And since all men can not be discoverers, philosophers, inventors, etc., it is refreshing to know that the world has produced a few. The trees of the forest attain not to the same hight, yet the smaller ones and the undergrowth have each their specific use and sphere. Nature was conscious of her eternal policies when she pronounced or decreed her discriminations with mankind. To each was assigned his weight of talent; to each his sphere of exercise and employment. To this primal arrangement of things she has set her fixed and endless adaptations. Every life, when properly lived out, is supposed to have filled the measure of its possible and prescribed activities, and every trade and profession has its several departments requiring separate and peculiar talents. One man may excel in a given branch of a profession and be wholly inefficient in another.
In medicine there are but few men who combine all the traits indispensable to the true physician. This fact seems to be much better understood with Europeans than in America, where the various branches of medicine are divided into separate and distinct professions. A man may practice skillfully in the materia medica and be but an indifferent surgeon, or he may excel in the science of compounding and be ill-suited to preside over the education of others. Moreover every profession has its literature and morale, and he may wield a pen with elegance, power and point who would prove but a blunderer in the dissecting room.
Dr. Firestone has not only vindicated his claim to an exalted rank in surgery, but in every department of the occult mysteries of medicine. He wields a strong and trenchant pen, talks with the freedom of the gushing brook, and presides over the studies of others with eminent success, and to the fame he has achieved with the scalpel he adds the luster of the teacher.
He was born in Saltcreek township, Wayne county, Ohio, in the year 1819. After he attained his fourteenth year his time was spent in performing such service, during the summer, as a boy of that age was competent of doing upon the farm, while during the winter he had the occasional opportunity of attending the country school. He now went to Columbiana county, near Salem, where he had some sprightly jostling with the world, and where he obtained some scant instruction in a district school from a Mr. Kingsbury and a Mr. Mills. From there he went to Portage county, Ohio, where for three months he indulged in the health-inspiring, muscle-expanding, chest-enlarging, lung-invigorating occupation of chopping cord-wood, and that for three shillings per cord, and hard beech at that.
Whether the Doctor was so successful as to acquire distinction as a cord-wood carpenter and champion of the wedge and maul, we are not at liberty to tell, but fancy, however, that with all his preconceived conceits of the dignity of labor that he did not desire to extend his knowledge of his occupation beyond an exact rudimentary limit.
Adopting the Westonic method of locomotion, he then proceeded to Chester township, Wayne county, making his home with his uncle, John Firestone, two miles north of New Pittsburg, with whom he remained until he was eighteen years of age. On the farm of his uncle he found "ample room and verge enough" for his developing and powerful muscular forces--felling grand old trees, rolling and tumbling logs, plowing among stumps and stubborn roots, an occupation sufficient indeed to test the patience and manly fortitude, not only of the youthful Firestone, but of the sternest Calvinist of the faith of Brown or good old Ebenezer Erskine. In the fields and woods the summer was spent; in the dingy school-room the winter.
He taught his first term in what is now Perry township, Ashland county, then in Wayne county, in what was called the Helman district, receiving for his services twelve dollars per month, and boarding himself. By appropriating the intervals between labor and sleep to hard study, he obtained his education, and laid the marble on which is built the superstructure of his professional name.
If he did not, like Pope, teach himself to write by copying printed books, he managed to acquire the art by other equally novel methods. He wrung the secrets from Kirkham and the Calculator by the blaze of burning brush-heaps. During this time he made weekly recitations to Rev. Thomas Beer. In addition to such studies that directly qualified him for teaching, he devoted himself to botany, philosophy, chemistry and other branches of natural science. He had no collegiate education. The farm was his academia and university; the teeming fields and valleys, the trees and brooks his tutors. Life was his school where "the clink of mind against mind" strikes out those brighter intellectual sparks which shine forever, and reflect light in endless irradiations. He studied hard, and had a clear understanding of what he read.
Industry and perseverance are stout levers when fulcrumed upon a resolute will. Possunt quia posse videntur is a maxim full of pith as in any time past. There is a marvel in earnest study. He adopted the idea of Bacon; "Read to weigh and consider"--not too many books but all good ones well. For "some books" adds he, "are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested." Under difficult and adverse conditions he studied and struggled, "unfolding himself out of nothing into something." Or as Carlyle would say, he drew continually toward himself in continual succession and variation the materials of his structure, nay his very plan of it, from the whole realm of accident, you may say, from the whole realm of free-will building his life together, a guess and a problem as yet not to others only but to himself.
On the 26th of August, 1838, he was married to Susan Firestone, and the next year, then but 20 years old, began the study of medicine with Dr. S.F. Day, an eminent practicing physician of the county at that time, and for whose great and consummate skill as a practitioner, to this day, he entertains a profound regard. With him he remained for nearly three years, during which time he took a course of lectures at the Medical College of Philadelphia.
On the 28th of March 1841, he located at Congress village, Congress township, where he began his first floatings on the abysmal sea of professional life.
His residence and office were in the first house north of the hotel, then kept by James Huston and known as the Homer Stanley property. Here he continued for 13 years, where he had an extensive and lucrative practice and acquired a signal local reputation during which more than a decade, he graduated from the medical department of the Western Reserve College, then located at Cleveland, Ohio. We have said he had now attained to a local celebrity. More than that. He had not only impressed the community that embraced his circumference of visitation of his superior ability and where he had been saving.
"Some wrecks of life from aches and ails,"
But the noise of his skill and the echo of his professional exploits had reached the ear of the broader and more scientific public. The college, from which he had but recently graduated, was in need of an occupant for one of its professional chairs, and in its survey for a suitable man to fill it, the abilities of Dr. Firestone were recognized, and in 1847 he was made Demonstrator of Anatomy in that institution. This position he held until 1853, where his reputation as an anatomist and dissecting-room instructor was established, and when it became evident that honorable distinction awaited him.
He next was appointed Superintendent of the Northern Ohio Lunatic Asylum, located at Newburg, which position he filled with conspicuous fitness until August 6, 1856, when he removed to Wooster, where he has lived ever since, and engaged in a successful and sweeping practice. In 1858 he was elected President of the State Medical Society, then holding its sessions at Columbus.
In the winter of 1864 he was made Professor of Obstetrics and the Diseases of Women in Charity Hospital Medical College at Cleveland, which position he has continuously held ever since, excepting two years, during which he occupied the Chair of Surgery in the same college. In the summer of 1870 this institution was constituted the Medical Department of Wooster University, in which he continues Professor of Obstetrics and the Medical and Surgical Diseases of Women, and Class Lecturer on Anatomy, Physiology and Hygiene to the University students at Wooster.
The title of LL.D. was conferred upon Dr. Firestone by the University of Ohio, at Athens, June 24, 1874. This honor was bestowed not simply in appreciation of his brilliant attainments in the medical profession but for his distinguished and pre-eminent achievements in the departments of science and literature, and the literature of science.
He has had eight children--three girls and five boys all--of whom are dead save, his two sons, W.W. Firestone, M.D. and M.O. Firestone M.D.
Dr. L. Firestone is now at the very zenith of his powers--standing on the mainlands of professional eminence. Being yet in the prime, the noon of his years, and considering his past progressive elevations, we have not the courage to forecast his future. We see what he has, but know not what he might have accomplished. He stands over six feet high, is massively built and solid as a forest oak. He is fleshy, but not corpulent, stout-limbed, broad-chested, and altogether well proportioned. His face is classic, his forehead is symmetrical, oval and dome-like. Causality, comparison, ideality, are as perceptible as the snow-summits of the Sierras. His countenance is expressive of thought, benignity, reflection, repose. Time has made reprisals upon his hair and what has not been pludered is slightly brushed with gray. He is accessible, sociable and communicative, yet he has the secret of secretiveness. He does nothing by proxy, not even his own thinking; has faith in himself, in his ability to decide for himself. All men do not know his thoughts; he cages them like canaries, and when he lets them out, like carrier pigeons, they perform an errand. He understands himself, and is a skillful tactician. He has perfect control of himself and never does anything in haste. Hurry, rush and run are not in his dictionary. He is cool, imperturbable, self-poised and stands solid on his feet. With him there is time enough for all things. He will amputate your arm in less time than a barber will shave you, and do it with as little concern. He has an exuberance of animal spirits and may well feel discouraged over the prospect of dying of hypochondria. He is as full of mirth as a spring rivulet is of water, and his sense of the ludicrous is as keen as Halliburton's. He can tell a story with the same ease that Tal lyrand could turn a coffee-mill or a kingdom. He believes with Sterne that "laughter, like true Shandeeism, think what you will against it, opens the heart and lungs." He is fond of music and will never die with all of it in him. "He has a strong hand at one end of his arm and a strong head at the other,"
He is a mechanic in his profession as he would have been out of it. He would have made a better lawyer than nineteen-twentieths of those already at the bar. In the pulpit he would have been a fire-kindler and segregator of sin, preaching from inspiration, and as all ministers should, without manuscript. His voice is susceptible of immense slides and modulations--is smooth enough for the evening party, strong and bellowing enough for anniversary pageant. He has many friends who are warmly attached to him. His enemies we imagine are few and he will get the best of them in the end. As a public lecturer he is popular. His addresses are eloquent and masterly productions, replete with pathos and sentiment, and chaste and sublime in imagery. His descriptive power is terse and brilliant; his analyzations methodical and thorough; the feeling, of the higher key and reflective. In this field he excels - shines for the same reason that the sun gives light. As a professional instructor few aspire even to be his equal.
He is indeed a born surgeon, enjoying peculiar adaptation to this branch of his profession. He possesses firmness and dexterity of hand, a calm, cool brain, a quick perceiving eye, a stout nerve, physical endurance and tenacity of will. In his operations he is resolute and decided, and in case of unforeseen complications he is ever guarded against surprises. Like Dr. Mott, his motto is, "Recognize the advance of science with the growth of the world," and hence Dr. Firestone welcomes all valuable discoveries in medicine and surgery.
We may imagine, with his strong and composite elements of character and hardy vigor of intellect, how he has attained to professional distinction and honor. Every power and faculty of mind and brain were subjected and made tributary to his ambition and will. He willed to succeed, and success crowned him. Laborious toil and indefatigable industry are the Doric and Corinthian pillars of the edifice he has built. Day was a host, a besetting legion, in the splendor of his manhood, but on his pupil of 30 years ago has fallen, not only his mantle, but a wider name and a richer munificence of honors.
|Census||1880||1880 Federal Census, Ohio, Franklin County, Franklin Township, ED: 7, Series: T9, Roll: 1015, Page: 148A, July 6|
Officers and Emoyees of the Insane Asylum
01, , , Firestone, Leander, W, M, 61, , , , 1, , , Physician Supt, , , , , , , , , , , Ohio, PA, Ireland
02, , , Firestone, Susana, W, F, 27, , Wife, , 1, , , Housekeeping, , , , , , , , , , , Ohio, PA, VA
03, , , Firestone, Elmira, W, F, 34, , , , , 1, , Working Woman, , , , , , , , , , , Ohio, PA, PA11
|Biography*||1880||HON. LEANDER FIRESTONE, M.D., LL.D,|
superintendent of the Hospital for the Insane near Columbus, is one of the most remarkable and successful examples in the State of the self-made man. By his own unaided efforts he has climbed triumphantly from one of the humblest to one of the most exalted walks of life. His career affords to young men everywhere a shining illustration of the possibilities inherent in energy, pluck, and persistence of character and purpose, especially in the free life and amid the abounding opportunities of this republic. Mr. Firestone is of Teutonic extraction, His father, Daniel F. Firestone, was an immigrant in 1815, from Beaver county, Pennsylvania, to Wayne counly, Ohio. In Salt Creek township, in the latter county, on the eleventh of April, 1819, the subject of this notice was born. His general education was received altogether in the country schools of that region, and at Salem academy, whither he went at the early age of fourteen, supporting himself while there by manual labor, a part of the time by chopping cord-wood at three shillings a cord. He began teaching district schools when in his sixteenth year, receiving, at times, but twelve dollars per month, and boarding himself. His first school, was in what is now Perry township, Ashland county, but he afterwards taught nearer home—in Wayne county. He continued in his profession, if such it may be called, during about four years, and also "kept school" at intervals during his study of medicine, which he began in 1838, at the age of nineteen. Toward this branch of the world's work, he showed a decided bent while still a boy; and, determining to excel in whatever he undertook, he was frequently remarked as being studiously engaged with his books, while other juveniles were at play. In 1839, he entered the office of Dr. Stephen F. Day, in Wooster, who was renowned as one of the most skilful surgeons in the State, and to whom Dr. Firestone attributes much of his own proficiency in this line of practice. During the winter of 1840-1, the young candidate for medical honors and emoluments attended lectures at the Jefferson Medical college, Philadelphia, and in 1845-6, at the Cleveland Medical college, where he was graduated in the latter year. He then located, as a practitioner, at Congress village, in Wayne county, but shortly took a vacation for special studies in practical and surgical anatomy, and the principles of operative surgery, the latter under Prof. H. A. Ashley, M.D., of Cleveland. In 1848, he was elected demonstrator of anatomy at his alma mater, the Cleveland Medical college (or medical department of the Western Reserve college). He retained this appointment until 1853, when he was called to a higher and more important duty, as the first superintendent of the Northern Ohio Insane asylum, at Newburg, now the Eighteenth ward of Cleveland. Getting this institution thoroughly organized, and well upon its feel, he retired from its superintendency, in 1856, to enter upon general practice in Wooster. In this, however, his eminent abilities and reputation did not suffer him long to remain. He was recalled to Cleveland, in 1863, by an election to the chair of midwifery in the Charity Hospital Medical college, now, in the same city, the Medical Department of the University of Wooster. In 1868, he was elected to the chair of surgery, which he held until 1872, and was then made professor of medical and surgical diseases of women, in the same institution, holding at the time, also, the position of class lecturer on anatomy, physiology, and hygiene in the University proper. In 1874, he received the honorary degree of doctor of laws, from the Ohio university, located at Athens. Four years afterwards he received from Governor Bishop, the high honor of appointment to the superintendency of the new Hospital for the Insane, occupying a picturesque and commanding site on the hills, west of Columbus. He accepted the post with much reluctance, and, after much hesitation, on account of the pecuniary and other sacrifices it made necessary; but was finally induced to take it, upon the pledge that the legislature should be influenced to increase the salary of the office by one thousand dollars. In this position he has won his crowning reputation, being now regarded as one of the first superintendents of the kind in the country.
Dr. Firestone was married August 23, 1839, when but twenty years old, to a distant relative, Miss Susannah Firestone, also of Wayne county. They have had eight children, but one of whom is now living: Dr. William W. Firestone, of Wooster — also a physician of considerable note. Another son, Melvin O., became assistant physician at the Columbus asylum, and died at his post of duty there, of apoplexy, January 23, 1879. He had previously, for some years, been a practitioner of medicine, with much success. Most of the boyhood and youth of General David S. Stanley, of the United States army, were passed in the elder Dr. Firestone's family, he having taken the boy from obscurity and poverty, out of pure goodness of heart, to rear for honorable and distinguished service, sent him to college, and secured him an appointment to the military academy.
Dr. Firestone became a mason, in 1847, and has filled many high offices in the order. He is also a member of the Ohio State Medical society, which he has served as president, and of the American, Northwestern and Wayne County Medical associations, and is an honorary member of the Gynecological society, of Boston, Massachusetts.5
|Death*||9 November 1888||Wooster, Wayne Co., OH1,2,3|
|Burial*||10 November 1888||Wooster Cemetery, Wooster, Wayne Co., OH, Interment Record: Firestone, Leander, Dr.|
Born: 11 Apr 1819
Ageat Death: 70y
Died: 9 Nov 1888
Buried: Nov 10 1888
|Biography||1889||LEANDER FIRESTONE, M. D., LL. D. (deceased). The following sketch is from the pen of Ben. Douglass, of Wooster.|
Man’s sociality of nature evinces itself in spite of all that can be said with abundant evidence, by this one fact, were there no other: The unspeakable delight he takes in biography.—Carlyie.
Lord Bacon expressed his regret that the lives of eminent men were not more frequently written; and added that, "though kings, princes and great personages be few, yet there are many excellent men who deserve better than vague reports and barren elegies."
The history of the world is principally the record of conspicuous names and the biography of illustrious characters. The history of Rome is little more than the biography of twelve men who were contemporaries, and all enclosed within the walls of the Eternal City. No marvel that the proud metropolis that , can boast of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Brutus, Cato, Atticus, Livy, Cicero, Horace, Virgil, Hortensius, Augustus and Marcus Varro, should aspire to the proud title of mistress of the world, and vaunt herself secure from all mortal wounds, save only those that might be inflicted in an evil hour by parricidal hands.
Mankind delights to register the acts and syllables of men who risk investments in the thought exchanges of the world. The standard of civilization and the advancement of human progress has been made and determined by the augmentation in the proportion of those who achieve intellectual triumphs, and by a corresponding decrease in the ratio of those who are consecrated to pleasurable pursuits, and neglect the higher moral and mental development and discipline. The principle of leadership is acknowledged and universal. It commands our respect and veneration. Among the North American Indians each tribe has its oracular leader, who summons to the camp-fire the dusky faces, and regales them with chapters from the unwritten bible of savagery.
When King Harold went westward, followed by the chosen men of Norway, to conquer France and England, though his men were distinguished for wisdom mid courage as a body, yet they recognized and rewarded the leadership of those most prominent in energy and valor. The true Briton of to-day venerates the names of Hengst and Horsa, his Saxon prototypes, for the inspiration and memory of their horsemanship is ever present at the boiling heats of Ascot and Newmarket. Through the grim galleries of the centuries, the Deity has spoken through his own chosen interpreters. It is the few indeed, who are genius-anointed. The lines of history from the first records of Grecian story to the moment when Elsinore heard the war moan along the distant sea, and, further on to later combats amidst hieroglyphic obelisks and near the shadow of the Sphynx, vividly expose the records of grand men who clenched opportunity and forced her to decree and command their triumph. In the progress of events marching, on with power and grandeur, we discover the hand of Phidias among the features of the gods; the trowel of the Egyptians; the philosophy of Socrates and Plato; the swords of Caesar and Alexander; the orations of Cicero, Burke and Webster; the speculations of Newton, Copernicus and Kant; the metaphysical wisdom of Bacon and Locke; the prowess of Charlemagne, Murat and Sheridan.; the achievements of Sir William Hunter and Sir Astley Cooper; the legal profundity of Blackstone, Erskine and Story; the religious zeal of Baxter, Hooker and Bossuet; the military skill of Wellington, Von Moltke and Grant; the statesmanship and martial grandeur of Washington; the astute and overmastering sagacity and judgment of Lincoln; the romantic intrepidity of Columbus and Hudson; the grand poetic outbursts of Sophocles, Homer, Shakespeare, Milton and Longfellow. Their lives, their thoughts and deeds have imparted stability, character, example and inspiration to humanity and civilization, and, in their individual histories, in their recorded work and the thoughts they have furnished, can almost be found the material for a history of the race.
Wherefore, it may properly and naturally be affirmed, that history may be contemplated as but the biography of a few earnest, toiling, self-reliant men.
It has been said that the hardy growths of nature are those which battle the storms; the fiercer the conflict the more robust becomes the trunk, and the deeper down do the roots descend. Man is but a segment of nature. The successful one is not he who dreams or toys with images, but he who acts, and when we see a man who has hewn his way through difficulties and endured the storms of life from childhood, he is the strong man, the man of will and genius. Such was the subject of this memoir.
DR. FIRESTONE was born in Salt Creek Township, Wayne Co., Ohio, April 11, 1819. His father, Daniel F. Firestone, removed from Beaver County, Penn., to Wayne County, in 1815. With him he remained until he was fourteen years old, performing such work as be could on the farm in the summer, and attending the country school in the winter. He then entered the academy at Salem, Columbiana County, and under the tutorship of Mr. Mills and Mr. Kingsbury, received prelibations of that education which he had an ambition to acquire, but which was beyond his power to then attain. He thence went to Portage County, Ohio, where he contracted with a farmer for three months to chop cord-wood, at three shillings per cord. His stout arms felled the forest monarchs, notwithstanding the lines of Morris:
Woodman, spare that tree,
Touch not a single bough.
Who knows but his youthful, imaginative and poetic mind, as he looked upon the prostrate oak, did not dwell on masts of navies in its ribs; of storms; of battles on the ocean; of the noble lyrics of the sea; of Robin Hood and his merry men; of old baronial halls with mellow light streaming through diamond-shaped panes upon floors of oak, and wainscoatings of carven oak? I doubt not that his boyish fancy saw all this.
At the age of sixteen he returned to Wayne County, going to Chester Township, where, with his uncle, John Firestone, a few miles north of New Pittsburgh, for two years, he made his home. He was penniless, but eager and earnest. The history of these two years could be given in a line—" The short and simple annals of the poor." Thrust upon his own resources, he became the architect of his own fortune. He toiled in the fields during the day, and after the drudgery of it was over, he devoted himself to his books by the light of the fire of kindlings carefully prepared as a substitute for lamp or candle. With him it had to be nothing, or, self-schooling, always the firm, sure substratum upon which the successful student, whether at home or school, or at the university, must erect his superstructure. In whatever he engaged, whether in contact with the products of the soil, or the resistance of the forest, or in the path of mental improvement, he was distinguished for unquailing diligence and energy. Under such circumstances and surroundings he laid the basis of his education and life, and that a man who can thus educate himself, possesses intellectual morale, no one, however captious, will deny.
During the winters of these two years spent with his uncle, he taught school, his first term being in the region now known as Perry Township, then in Wayne, but now in Ashland County. For his services he received $12 per month. He was now equipped for teaching, was a good grammarian and mathematician, exceeding, in fact, the standard of the average English scholar. By the reading of standard authors, such as Tacitus and Plutarch, Hume and Gibbon, Shakespeare and Milton, Dr. Johnson and Fielding, etc., which he had borrowed, he was introduced to the best style and thought of these brilliant writers, and in early life acquired a degree of familiarity with their language, and found sincere pleasure in the companionship of their reflections. Meantime, he had not circumscribed the area of his studies to such as merely equipped him for the service of the teacher. His range of penetration and vision was lifted to wider and higher skies. He had been making periodical recitations to Rev. Thomas Beer, a scholarly Presbyterian minister of Ashland, familiarizing himself with botany, geology, philosophy, chemistry, and natural science in other departments. His inquiring mind impelled him to make researches in germs and plant-life, and its organic and inorganic nature, and into flowers, their organs and food, and the physiology of the vegetable world; to explore Old Red Sandstone and the Cosmos; to sit with Plato in the academy, or Seneca at the Symposium of death; to wander with Silliman and Berzelius amid reactions and relations, the composition of substances and the mysterious laws of combination.
At the age of nineteen, August 26, 1838, he was married to Miss Susan Firestone, a lady of dignified and affable manner much esteemed by her acquaintances as a wife, mother, friend and Christian. The intimacy which resulted in this union was formed in early life, and his ardent attachment to his wife was evinced on all occasions to the period of his death. By this marriage eight children were born, five boys and three girls, all of whom are dead, except W. W. Firestone, M. D., who inherits many of the strong traits of his father, and under whose tutorage he studied his profession and its collateral sciences.
At the age of twenty, Dr. Leander Firestone began the study of medicine with Dr. S. F. Day, a noted practitioner and eminent surgeon, under whose care and instruction he continued for three years, when he attended a course of lectures at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. When he received his diploma, unlike many students who relinquish or abridge their reading and hours of study upon graduation, he realized that he was but an infant struggling on its mother’s lap, and that he was just in the first stages of discipline which would ultimately enable him to grapple with the broad and almost illimitable field of medical and surgical literature. His passion for these investigations was manifested in his writhings in the grip of his first clench with life, and continued until time had faintly blurred into gray background the splendid picture of his former years. His steadfast assiduity and zeal in his professional work gave him the applause of co-laborers and brothers, and won him leadership where to win it was to be crowned; won him believers and imitators, where to be imitated and to be recognized as an example, was to have attained to the eminence of humanity's benefactor.
But the time had come when he must lift his shield and bare his arm to "the sad, stern ministry of pain," and on March 28, 1841, he opened an office in the village of Congress, where he continued for thirteen years, acquiring a wide and remunerative practice, and a degree of popularity and eminence not confined to his visiting circuit. During this time, and expanding the horizon of his aims, he graduated from the Medical Department of the Western Reserve College, then located at Cleveland, Ohio, and in 1847 was summoned to that institution as demonstrator of anatomy, which position he held until 1853. Here he achieved new honor and distinction, and bore the reputation of being one of the most popular, fluent and instructive lecturers in the colleges. In the same year he was appointed first superintendent of Northern Ohio Asylum for the Insane, at Newburgh, now a part of the city of Cleveland.
In 1859, being vice-president of the Ohio Medical Convention, then in session in Columbus, Ohio, in the absence of the president he presided, appointing all the committees, and otherwise controlling its deliberations. June 7, of the same year, he was elected president of the convention, and " in remarks accepting the office tendered him, thanked the society in a brief but manly speech, and urged the members to consider carefully and earnestly the importance of the work before them. "*
* From the Medical Report.
June 13, 1860, he delivered his valedictory address to the Convention. In 1864 he was promoted to the professorship of obstetrics and diseases of women in Charity Hospital Medical College, Cleveland, Ohio. In 1868 he was elected to the chair of surgery. In 1870 the college at Cleveland was made the medical department of Wooster University, where he continued as professor of obstetrics and the medical and surgical diseases of women, and class lecturer on anatomy, physiology and hygiene, to the students at Wooster University.
June 24, 1874, the title of L.L.D. was conferred upon him, at Athens, by the University of Ohio. Gov. William Allen appointed him, February 1, 1875, one of the trustees for three years, of the Northern Ohio Hospital for the Insane. In 1878, Gov. Bishop designated him as superintendent of the Institution for the Insane at Columbus, Ohio, and during his administration of the office, he established a reputation in the public benevolent circles of the States, as being one of the successful and efficient professional and executive superintendents, of which any State might be consistently jealous.
In private life he was characterized by great benevolence of character. Other remarkable traits were his disinterestedness, his regard for the rights and enjoyments of others, his generous disposition, his gentle and forbearing temper, his plain, easy and unostentatious manner. He was an unswerving friend and a delightful companion. In social circles he charmed with the grace and full, rich naturalness of his expression. " Conversation to him was the music of the mind, an intellectual orchestra, where all the instruments should have a part, but where none should play together." He was possessed of warm and wide and ardent sympathies, and his genial nature unconsciously called for sympathy; yet, he was heroic and independent, and bore the occasional uneven frictions of circumstance with placid equanimity and stately strength. He had the ability to sustain the mind's tone under adverse environments and preserve it sensitive to work, study, meditation, nature and to God. In the relation of father and son, of husband, brother and friend, he always displayed the highest excellencies of feeling and character. Expanding our view to the comprehensive circle of his personal friends, rarely did any man win a stronger hold upon the confidence of those with whom he was associated. He has with equal propriety mingled in the free and open exchanges of private life, and sustained the dignity and honor of official station, in professional life we may speak of him in the language of eulogy employed by him on the death of Prof. Delamater, who occupied a chair in the medical college with Dr. Firestone:
He was no ordinary man. Indeed he was a great man, in possession of learning without pedantry, and skill without ostentation. He never was known to harbor hatred or had a pleasant smile of approbation and a word of encouragement and hope for every man in the faithful discharge of his duty. He was eminent as a physician, and his lectures were clear, forcible and logical. In conversation he was agreeable, instructive and illuminating, imparting pleasure and intelligence to all around him. The mementoes of his example are a rich boon to posterity, and, while benevolence, philanthropy, social order and religion survive, the virtues of this great and good man will shine in all the majesty of light.
He was not a specialist in any branch of the profession, but in all of its apartments vindicated his title to pre-eminent distinction. In surgery he particularly excelled, and to be an expert in that domain is to approximate the mastery of the profession, as in its several branches are compassed all the other departments of the healing art. In the sick room he seemed to engender and radiate health, as if he were the possessor of a superabundance of it. He was pervaded, if we may feebly reach out after a receding idea, with the mys terious odic force of the healer, which is above science and beyond experience and behind theory, and which we call magnetism, or vitality, or tact, or inspiration, according to our assimilating power in its presence, or our reverence for its mission.
As a politician he had no full defined or cherished aspirations. He was a member of the Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1850-51 which assembled at the State Capitol, May 6, 1850, and of which Hon. William Medill was president, W. H. Gill, secretary, and J. V. Smith, reporter. It was composed of 115 officers and delegates, in which there were eight physicians besides himself. In his representative capacity it will be observed that Dr. Firestone aided by his vote and voice in advancing measures which, by legislation, were crystalized into the salutary laws of the State, and under which its citizens have been happy and prosperous for nearly forty years. It was, indeed, no paltry honor to occupy a seat in such a deliberative assembly, presided over by a subsequent governor of the State, and which was composed of the Ranneys, Groesbecks, Nashes, Kennons, Stanberrys, Kirkwoods, and Peter Hitchcock, " the father of the Ohio bar," some of whom became supreme judges of the State, governors, authors in the law, United States Senators and cabinet ministers. During his membership of the convention he participated actively in the discussion of questions before it for deliberation. He was a champion of the right of petition, the purity of the ballot, economy in the administration of the affairs of the State, advocating biennial sessions of the Legislature, and antagonizing the increase of salaries of public officials. He signalized his opposition to corporations in a speech, of June 11, which brought him to prominence, and fixed his status before the convention as an extemporaneous debater and orator. He exhibited an accurate and comprehensive knowledge of public affairs and great readiness and resources in disputation. A Democrat, and yet Republican in habits and principles, depending for the maintenance of his dignity upon the esteem of others, and not upon his own assumption, his manners at once conciliated the good will of the convention. When he was elected to this position he was a young man of thirty-two summers, the age of Lord Clive when he established the British power in India, and of Hannibal, when at Cannae, he dealt an almost annihilating blow at the Roman republic. He resigned his seat before the labors of the convention terminated, on account of a pressure of professional work demanding his exclusive time, when Elzy Wilson, of Ashland County, was chosen his successor.
He kept thoroughly enlightened upon all the issues and matters of political interest before the public, and was a Democrat in his political affiliations. He was one of the best campaign orators in the Democratic organization in Ohio, and in several State and national conflicts he entered the arena with the avowed Titans of his party. In open assault he could lash his political enemies with a whip of scorpions, or punish them over a prostrate hero, as Marc Antony did Brutus over the dead body of Caesar. He was once a candidate for Congress, and came within a few votes of obtaining the nomination, when Hon. H. H. Johnson was chosen and elected from this district.
As a patriot his allegiance to his country is immutably written upon the record. When the first gun flung its iron challenge at Fort Sumter, as a true American, Dr. Firestone felt the insult. He realized that war was upon us, and with Dr. Holmes believed that "war is the surgery of crime," and that the disease of the nation was not functional but organic, and demanded the knife and not opiates and lotions. It must not be that the most beneficent of all governments must fall by the basest of all conspiracies. Better, if it must, that all should be pushed into that ocean whose astonished waves first felt the Mayflower's kiss and keel. There was no middle ground then; the conditions were for or against the Union. To be a neutralist was to have pointed against you " the stony finger of Dante's awful Muse." Dr. Firestone at once declared for the Union, in prompt, eloquent, and unmistaken tones.
On July 4, 1861, ten weeks after the red lights of war were kindled, he addressed his fellow citizens of Wooster and Wayne Counties, in a thrilling, patriotic and impassioned speech, from which we make a brief extract:
Shall the dawn of some future 4th of July find your watch-towers abandoned, your altars overlhrown, your banners forsaken, your smiling land devastated by a storm of ruin, your peaceful hamlets resounding with the maiden's shriek, your fertile hills and sunny plains scathed by havoc and death, trodden by foreign hirelings, and desolated by internal strife? Look through the world and show me a clime so proudly matured in the days of her youth. Shall the freedom won by the mightiest of nations in the days of her feebleness be lost in the hour of her might? Shall we permit the bright foliage and buds of promise to be stripped from the Tree of Liberty—its blooming beauty in the rich spring of unclouded glory, and the banner of Washington desolaled and trampled in the dust! Perish the thought forever!
That glorious banner that has waved in triumph amid the clash of arms and the din of battle, that has inspired the heart of heroes with deeds of noble daring, and been the antidote to danger at the head of charging squadrons, as they rushed with fearless tread to the field of death, must not be desecrated. That honored ensign, now the heirloom of the sons of freedom, consecrated through all coming time as a sacred memento of the dead, that has been baptized in blood, sanctified by the pure light of heaven, and wedded in undying memory with immortal names, illustrious deeds and ennobling recollections of all that true patriots deemed worthy of life or death, can never be desecrated by foreign foe, nor crushed beneath the heartless tread of a traitor's foot. Its sublime mission, its exalted destiny, is far higher and holier than this. The whirlwinds of war, of pestilence and devastation, may sweep the green earth, spreading destruction and death; proud monuments of grandeur may crumble into dust; but the glorious scintillations of living light and luster streaming from the star-lit flag, like the countless lights in the constellation of heaven, are destined to shine on and on, illumining our hillsides and valleys, lighting the halls of genius and learning, penetrating the imperious sackcloth of bigotry, the veil of fanaticism, dissipating corruption, and challenging dissolution or decay.
Let us, the heirs of hallowed birthrights, again renew our pledges here this day, that we will be faithful in the discharge of the duties entrusted to us. Let us vow that, these stately columns of American liberty, erected by our fathers, shall not be broken by the rash acts of their inconsiderate and ungrateful sons; but that they shall still tower in unparalleled grandeur, raising their heads upward, high above the loftiest summits of the world. Nor shall moss nor ivy outstrip the builderls hand, till a free, prosperous and patriotic people arise in their omnipotent mighl, and, amid the shoutings and acclamations of millions, lay the corner-stone of glory and renown.
In 1861 he was chosen Chairman of the Wayne County Military Committee, which was empowered to appoint auxiliaries in the various townships to solicit donations, in cash and articles of food and wearing apparel, for the soldiers. It was authorized, also, to urge and encourage volunteering and report the names of those who desired to enlist in the military service. In this sphere of duty he was active and energetic, and beyond the fulfillment of these functions, he supplied appointments throughout the county and made the most intense and fervid war speeches. At the banquets and reunions of the old soldiers he was frequently present, and invariably extended encouragement to such occasions. His Decoration addresses were models of earnest, burning patriotic national devotion. Surely, if eloquence is lodged in the human soul, it should be aroused on that day, so prolific of gallant deeds and the memories of immortal heroes. The, historian, Alison, relates that the statesmen of Athens, when they wished to arouse that fickle people to any great or heroic action, reminded them of the national glory of their ancestors and pointed to the Acropolis crowned with the monuments of their valor; and that the Swiss peasants, for five hundred years after the establishment of their independence, assembled on the fields of Morgarten and Laupen, and spread garlands over the graves of the fallen warriors, and prayed for the souls of those who had died for their country's freedom.
In 1882, as president of the Decoration ceremonies at the cemetery he said :
It is sorrow's day, and yet our mourning is mingled with some share of gladness in the reflection that those whom we mourn were the brave, honorable and manly, and fell with their armor on in the faithful discharge of their duty. They sleep, but their deeds remain bright. They have fallen, but left a well-earned fame that will survive, unimpaired, the revolution of time. They commingle no more with companions they loved, enjoy no longer the pleasures and sweets of home, yet it is pleasing to know they left an undivided country, a Union preserved, a flag honored, and the constitution, as given by the fathers, respected. Among the fallen we recognize those who, as patriots, were fearless and devoted ; as gentlemen, polished and graceful ; as citizens, liberal and generous ; as husbands, kind and affectionate ; as fathers, tender and instructive; as Christians, consistent and pious, and as men, honest and brave. Flowers will be strewn on the sod beneath which slumbers the soldier in gray as well as the soldier in blue. This is in accordance with the promptings of the human heart, and would seem to be Nature's plan. The light of the sun, treasures of the clouds, pearls of the star-lit night, evening's zephyr and the fragrance of the flowers are distributed to all, and afford us lessons of wisdom, not alone on this occasion, but in every day life. As on Horeb, when the tempest, the flame and the earthquake had passed away, there came a still small voice
That spake of peace, it spake of love,
It spake as angels speak above,
So here, this still small voice is pleading the cause of man, and that equal rights, under the law of love, sustained by the love of law, shall be the order throughout the federation of the world. When these things shall have been accomplished in spirit and in truth, we may walk about our political Zion, and go around about her, tell the towers thereof, mark well her bulwarks, consider her palaces.
In the domain of imagination and literary effort, genius had promised him her voice and the key to her sacred haunts, but in the rush and hurry of life he did not often court her smiles or seek her bower or wait the natural flowering of her thought. His muse was ready and sat near the Pierian waters. But, perhaps, the silence of the lover when he clasps his maiden is better than the passionate murmur of the song which celebrates her charms. He had the temper which animates the imaginative student and man. His intellect was dextrous, and, while he occasionally wrote genuine poetry, he indulged in rhyme like an apt craftsman who in different directions seeks to test his skill. His poems sort of grew and builded themselves. One of his best poetic ranges is represented in his Decoration poem of 1882, which was published and widely circulated by the press. It was contemplated at one time to make it the national song of the Grand Army of the Republic. It is here subjoined:
Amt:—" Oh, Wrap the Flag Around Me, Boys! "
'Tis sorrow's day, the noisy din
Of labor hushed to rest,
Each face portrays the heart within
With grief so deeply pressed.
We mourn the loss of those we loved,
The noble and the brave--
Our hearts in sadness deeply moved
We weep beside the grave.
Then strew sweet flowers upon the spot
Where lie the true and brave
Who dared to face the foeman's shot,
Our country's flag to save.
In battle's din their shouts were heard
Upon the bloody field;
From one to one they passed the word
"The gray-coat foe must yield!"
But 0, alas! with heaving breast
They met their dreadful doom,
And now they sleep in peaceful rest
Within the quiet tomb.
Chorus: Then strew, etc.
Let evergreens be lightly thrown
Upon their last abode,—
Fit emblems that the soul lives on,
To praise its maker, God.
Let soldiers sleep until the day
The trump shall bid them rise;
The victory sure, the batlle won,
Their home is in the skies.
CHORUS: Then strew, etc.
He possessed, in a. high degree, all the requisites for a successful and. popular platform lecturer, and in 1860, the Boston Literary Bureau requested permission to make appointments for him for the ensuing season, which was declined. His intellectual equipments would have served him grandly in such a field. He was familiar with the best thoughts of the best thinkers and writers. and believed that a book was the best anodyne for either suffering or solitude. There is always a pleasure in sympathetic propinquity to the utterances of a great author. Reading his book is but opening his grave, pressing your ear to his coffin and whispering through his dust, to his finer spiritual hearing. We do not see him, yet, through embattlements of earth and sky and space we know and hear him. We must converse with the dead in the unsealed testament of their thoughts and live among the unreal. Gibbon asserted that he would not exchange his enjoyment of books for the riches of the Indies. Montesquieu affirmed there was no annoyance or vexation he could not fly from in his library. Lessing said that, if the alternatives were offered him by the Creator, to acquire knowledge immediately by intuition, or in his usual way, by laborious study, he would choose the latter, for study is itself a felicity. His readings were extensive and varied. He studied Rembrandt to learn how to enjoy the struggles of light and darkness; Wagner to appre ciate certain musical effects; Dickens to give a whirl to his sentimentality; Mark Twain to flavor his humor; Emerson to kindle new light within; Edwards to catch glances of the spiritual world, and Chalmers and Hodge that he might touch the chain that led on to the hiding places of the soul. His public addresses, lectures and magazine publications if collected would make several volumes. At the dedication of Arcadome Hall, December 18, 1857 (destroyed by fire March 23, 1874), he responded to the toast: " Our orator—whether at driving out a fever with jalap, or a fit of the blues with a joke, tuning up a bass fiddle or a broken constitution, he is always equal to the emergency, and like a true flint (as his Dutch name indicates), strikes fire every time the steel touches him." In this hall, January 12, 1858, he delivered one of his most scholarly and scientific lectures on the completion of the laying of the Atlantic cable, entitled " The Marriage of the Old and New World." The parties were living on the two sides of an ocean, and were married by extending their hands across it, and the telegraphic cable was the wedding tie. The lecture was thoroughly scientific, and its treatment of electricity, the method of its generation by friction and chemical action, and the machinery constructed to develop and intensify the subtle agency, the galvanic battery, and the researches of Le Sage in 1774, to the triumphs of Morse in 1844, was lucid, elaborate and instructive. Among all of his public platform performances none were more popular or evinced a profounder thought, or a keener analysis of propositions and subject matter, or gave him a wider reputation, than his disquisition upon the Reciprocal Influence of Mind and Body. He had in contemplation and partially completed for publication, a work on Anatomy, Physiology and Hygiene, to be used as a textbook in colleges and schools.
He became a Free Mason, at Harrisville Lodge, Medina County, Ohio, in 1848, and was worshipful master of Ebenezer Lodge, Wooster, for eleven years, He was grand scribe of the Grand Chapter in 1860-61, and high priest of Wooster Chapter for fifteen years, and held the office until his death. In 1862 he was grand king of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. He was a member of Massillon Commandery, No. 4, Knights Templar, for a number of years. At the laying of the corner stone of Wooster City Court House, October 9, 1878, which was conducted with high ceremony by the Ancient order, he delivered the address. It was a masterly effort, opulent in its reproductions of the traditions and antiquities of the Ancient order, and, withal, diffused with the soundest patriotism and the keenest intelligence upon the legal science and the maxims of jurisprudence.
He was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; the Independent Order of Red Men; of the Knights of Pythias, Rising Star Lodge, and holding its highest office, that of Chancellor of the State; of the Royal Arcanum, and was supervising medical examiner of Ohio for six years, and died maintaining that position. Dr. Joel Seaverns, medical examiner-in-chief, Roxbury Mass., in a letter referring to his death, wrote:
The Doctor was active, earnest and faithful in his duties as supervising examiner, and thoroughly careful and scrupulous in seeing that instructions were complied with. His correspondence with me had always been brief but to the point, and I had learned to regard his opinions as conservative and valuable. It will be hard, I think, for us to select a successor as well qualified and as faithful as he had been.
He permanently settled in Wooster in 1856, where he lived and which was his home until his death, which occurred from apoplexy November 9, 1888. He was above the medium height, weighing over 200 pounds, with full projecting brows and sharp penetrating eyes. The expression of his countenance, in rest, was grave, but its serious cast was often relieved by a peculiarly pleasant smile, indicative of the geniality of his disposition, His face was plainly illustrative of the buoyancy and vivacity of his mind. He did not think the best way to become old was to let the heart grow gray. To the writer he said a few months before he died: "Yes, I am approaching seventy; the fight is on. I am over the hill-top and hurrying down the slope to the river." As he passed en the thought of the poem he so much loved flashed upon me, and I quote its first stanza:
Not yet, my soul, these friendly fields desert,
Where thou with grass, and rivers and the breeze,
And the bright face of day, thy dalliance had;
Where to thine ear first sang th' enraptured birds;
Where love and thou that lasting bargain made.
The ship rides trimmed, and from th' eternal shore,
Thou Nearest airy voices; but not yet,
Depart my soul, not yet awhile depart.
The consciousness seemed upon him then that there were but a few remaining bars of rest between the strains of his remaining life. On matters of religion and the ultimate existence, he gave the evidence of his utmost belief and faith in Christianity, a Savior, a Resurrection and a God of Redemption; and this was emphatically confirmed for many years, by his visible union with the church. Many of his reflections, reverently indulged, on matters pertaining to the soul, its infinite possibilities and eternal destiny, are remembered, and many were unexpressed, which neither takes from nor adds to the abysmal depth of the mystery which surrounds us all.
Who made the heart 'tis
He alone Decidedly can try us;
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each string, its various bias;
and it is within the sphere of the Christian gentleman to believe that he had suffered the inner martyrdom and preparation for death.2
|Last Edited||9 Jul 2009|
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