PETER WILHELM POULSON,
COUNT FAGERSTJERNA, M. D., Ph. D.
Peter Wilhelm Poulson, Count Fagerstjerna, M. D., Ph. D., Captain of Infantry, and First Lieutenant of Artillery, and General-in-chief for the Order of the Golden Cross, was born at Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1841. His mother’s family was sent to Norway from Germany, by Dr. Martin Luther, as Lutheran priests, to carry out his reformation, and continued a line of priests for more than 300 years. His father’s family is of old Swedish lineage, the Counts Fagerstjerna. Sven Nelson Fagerstjerna was governor of Skaane, Sweden, and his son, Count Paul Svenson Fagerstjerna, married a lady from Halland, Sweden, and emigrated to Denmark, where he bought large estates, but at his death left the children as minors. The Countess, a very beautiful woman, married again, and the children were sent out in the world.
The Doctor’s father, Count Ole Poulson-Fagerstjerna, received a military education, and became a distinguished engineer, architect and inventor, and a well-known manager of large manufactories and enterprises. When Count Peter Wilhelm was five years old he was made a pupil of the Royal Military School, where he remained to his eleventh year, when his mother died, and he was transferred to the Royal College of Literary Education, and graduated there when fifteen years old. About a year later he entered the Royal Military Academy of Commands, and after the regular term passed examination as a brevetted Lieutenant in the army. Two years later he entered the Royal Theological Seminary, and after three years’ study, graduated there with the first degree. He entered in the law department at the University of Copenhagen for about one year, but not being satisfied he changed over to the medical department, and studied for three years, and was for two years a volunteer surgeon to the common hospital, and received the testimonium of the faculty. He entered then Military High School of Artillery, at Copenhagen, and after the regular course graduated there and received a commission as Lieutenant of Artillery. During the war with Germany he served in the army and received from the king the war medal. Being of ill-health from excessive studies, the government granted him two years’ leave-of-absence to go to the United States of America for military observations, at a period when the war between the North and South was approaching its end.
At the conclusion of the war he presented his medical credentials before the New York Medical Society, and after having passed examination was accorded a license and diploma to practice medicine and surgery. From New York he went, however, very soon to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he was engaged in his profession for a short time, and returned to New York. There he entered the Homeopathic Medical College, and graduated and received its diploma in 1866.
His health, however, did not improve, and he concluded to return home to Copenhagen, when he was recommended to try the climate of California. Accordingly he came on a sea voyage via Panama to San Francisco; but his health continued to be poor, and, his nerves prostrated, and his diseased condition threatening to become chronic, he wrote to the king of Denmark and requested his resignation from active service in the army. This was granted him with royal grace as a First-Lieutenant in the Artillery, and as a Captain of Infantry. At the same time he commenced a vigorous water-cure and sea bathing, and recovered slowly, and did considerable medical practice; but as soon as the Union Pacific railroad went into operation with the Central Pacific railroad he crossed the continent and returned to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The changeable climate of Iowa proved to be more beneficial to him than the Pacific coast, and especially horseback riding. He improved gradually and the most lucrative practice soon greeted him. In 1874 a railroad accident disabled his knee for a short time, and he took a long needed rest for a few months at Salt Lake City. There he did some practice, but devoted himself to lecturing at the Liberal Institute, and organized, February 14, the first club of the Liberal party, and became the founder of the political Liberals, who now controls Salt Lake City and Ogden, and the greatest part of Utah Territory.
In 1876 he made a visit to California, where he had printed a dramatical work, “Kay Lykke,” in the Danish language, a play for which King Oscar II., of Sweden, sent him a complimentary letter. He also published two diplomatic works concerning the past and present Danish diplomacy; the Diplomacy of Germany and the Duchies; and another, the Diplomacy of Scandinavia and Russia. Shortly after his return to Iowa, he attended the American Health College at Cincinnati and graduated, and received the diploma from that institution.
In 1881, at a meeting of the National Convention of the American Institute of Homeopathy, the Doctor was elected a delegate from the United States to the International Convention held in London that year, but a sudden illness prevented him from leaving New York when the steamer sailed. In Iowa the Doctor bought two farms, with intention to build a sanitarium, but came to the conclusion that California could better answer the purpose. Mistaken or not in his idea, he gave up practice at Council Bluffs and Omaha, where he previously had resigned his position as a County Physician, and came to Oakland, where in 1886 he bought four acres of land at Fruitvale, planted them with choice fruit-trees and built the Fruitvale Hospital for the treatment of mental, nervous and chronic diseases. The hospital had its severe drawbacks for want of proper help to assist the Doctor’s effort, but can count some very successful cures.
In 1888 he published a series of articles on mental philosophy and messages of a spiritual-religious composition called the “Light of Messiah.” This work is now continued, and we [sic] be continued for about two years.
The year after he was created a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) by the S. S. University of Chicago, Illinois.
The Doctor belongs to numerous secret societies, and to numerous medical societies, and we mention only a few prominent ones, as the American Institute of Homeopathy, Northwestern Academy of Medicine, Iowa Hahnemannian Association, etc.
The Doctor married Miss Alice Staples, of Elba, New York, and has by her a daughter named Deborah Fagerstjerna, who is the pride of the Countess.
The Doctor is longing seriously to greet his native soil and take a rest at home, but does not think the moist and cold sea-climate can be endured for a long time; yet he hopes to make the trial.
The Doctor is at present working in his San Francisco office, where he makes chronic diseases a specialty, and divides his time between the hospital and his office and family practice.
Transcribed by Donna L. Becker.Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 2, pages 91-93, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.
© 2005 Donna L. Becker.