Los Angeles County
PETER CHARLES REMONDINO
REMONDINO, PETER CHARLES, Physician and Surgeon, San Diego, California, was born in Turin, Italy, February 10, 1846, the son of Angelo Remondino and Carolina (Ellena) Remondino. He married Sophia Ann Earle, great grand-daughter of Sir James Earle, M. D., and grand-daughter of Henry Earle, M. D. of London, England, who had been residing for some years in San Diego, California, on September 27, 1877, and to them were born four children, Carrie (now the wife of Dr. B. V. Franklin), Frederick Earle, Louisa (now Mrs. Stahel), and Charles H. E. Remondino, M. D. The Doctor is descended from one of the oldest Italian houses, which has been noted for the scientific bend of mind and attainments of its members since the middle of the fourteenth century. The first Remondino of prominence was a professor of anatomy in the University of Bologna, wherein he performed the first dissection of a human cadaver made in Europe, in the latter part of the fourteenth century. From these dissections were made elaborate anatomical plates, the first known to have been made directly from the human body. The work, which underwent numerous editions, served as the text book on anatomy in the various European Universities for over three centuries. So celebrated was this anatomist, as related by Tiraboschi, in his history of Italian Literature, that after his death the honor of having given him birth was claimed by four different towns of Northern Italy, including Milan and Florence.
Although the first members of the family were known by the name of Remondino, this being the name given by the Dizionario Biografico, one branch of the family has since adopted the patrician Italian custom of using the plural, or Remondini; whilst another branch, following the style of the older Italians connected with either the fine arts or the profession, who Latinized their names, as happened in the case of the anatomist above named, employed the Latinized name by removing the prefix Re, leaving the name Mondinus, or its Italian synonym Mondino.
Dr. Remondino, who enjoys an international reputation as a scientist, military surgeon, author and dilettante, was brought to America by his father in the Spring of 1854. After a year in New York City, during which the Doctor attended private school, to learn the language of his new home, they moved West to Minnesota, where he received an education in the early common district schools of that Territory. At first it was his intention to enter the College of the Propaganda in Rome for the purpose of taking religious orders and devoting his life to the Church, but in 1861, guided by the natural and more instinctive propensities of his family, he relinquished his preparations for a clerical life, and engaged in the study of medicine.
In the Fall of 1862, Dr. Remondino, although only in his sixteenth year, volunteered in a Militia Company that took part against the Sioux Indian outbreak which threatened to overwhelm the State. The following year on the advice of his preceptor, Dr. Francis H. Milligan, the Doctor repaired to Philadelphia to engage in a Summer course of anatomy and surgery, and to do practical work as a medical cadet, in the Military Hospitals with which Philadelphia then abounded. That winter while continuing his hospital experience he attended his first course of medical lectures, at Jefferson Medical College. At the close of these, in company with a number of other medical students who were likewise desirous of experiencing active surgical service in the field, he obtained a position as medical cadet in the General Hospital at Annapolis, Md., from whence, after the battles of May, 1864, he was sent to do duty in the field hospitals at City Point, Va. With the opening of the winter session that year, he returned to Jefferson Medical College, and graduated in March, 1865. He returned at once to the army where, as an Acting Assistant Surgeon, he was placed in charge of wards 20 and 21, Hampton General Hospital, Virginia, until detached to serve as Surgeon to Battery F, Third Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, with which he remained until mustered out in November, 1865.
At the close of the Civil War he returned to Minnesota and engaged in private practice until the declaration of war by the Republic of France, on September 4, 1870, when he immediately sailed for France. He offered his services to the French Government, as a Volunteer Surgeon and was accepted. He served at first in the South of France, with the armies operating between Tours and Paris; but later was sent North into Normandy to join a regiment of Francs-Tireurs which had just been formed. He served with this corps throughout the campaign in Normandy and at the close of hostilities was attached to the Artillery and made Surgeon of Fort St. Addresse, the principal fortress overlooking the city of Havre.
The Doctor took part in the engagements between the retreating French from Amiens to Rouen and Havre and the advancing first Prussian army corps under Manteufel. He enjoys the distinction of being the only American citizen, who, during that war, served with a commission in the regular army of France; having been so commissioned as a Surgeon with the rank of Captain when transferred from the Francs-Tireures to the artillery of the Garde Nationale Nobilisee, and attached as Surgeon to the Artillery Legion of the Seine-Inferieure; the mistake that a foreigner had been so commissioned was not discovered until the dissolution of the Artillery at the close of the war. In October of 1911, forty years after the close of the Franco-Prussian war, the Doctor made a visit to France and went over the campaigning ground; one object of the visit being to receive a medal which the French government had voted to all the survivors in that conflict.
After the peace he went to England and spent two months visiting clinics in London hospitals. He then made a short trip to Italy and Switzerland, returning to Minnesota, where he resumed practice. In the Fall of 1873 he moved to San Diego, Cal., which has since then been his home.
Since locating in Southern California, Doctor Remondino has attained an eminence in his profession unexcelled by any of his contemporaries, and has contributed largely to the literature and progress of medical science. He has occupied many important positions amongst the professions of the State, having been Vice President of the California Medical State Society; President of the Southern California Medical Society and President of the San Diego County and Medical Society, besides having been for eight years a prominent member of the State Board of Health of California and for over thirty years prominently connected with the San Diego Board of Health, of which he was the first President, a position which he filled for many succeeding terms. The Doctor has been connected with the American Public Health Association, is a member of the American Medical Association, and the Medical Societies of his own State, and is also a member of the New York Medico-Legal Society. For the last three years he has occupied the chair of the History of Medicine and Medical Biblography(sic) in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Los Angeles, now the Medical Department of the University of Southern California.
The Doctor has long been known for his contributions to medical literature and for approximately twenty-five years has been engaged in the preparations of a comprehensive history of medicine on lines different from those usually followed by writers, who dealt generally with the different epochs and schools, leaving unmentioned the undulating and evolutionary processes through which have traveled the various subjects that go to compose the more practical parts of the science.
In his history, which will comprise about sixty separate volumes, Dr. Remondino has subdivided his subjects into a series of volumes covering the evolutionary record of the more common and important subjects of both medicine and surgery. He has devoted several volumes to the history of military surgery and medicine, having acquired in the military hospitals and on the battlefields a vast fund of knowledge on the subject.
He has made a collection of purely military weapons to be used in a volume devoted to the evolution of arms and to illustrate the wounds which they inflicted. This collection comprises the different forms of arms from implements of the stone age to the latest repeating rifles. The American collection consists of over 250 specimens that have been used in the army since the French and Indian campaigns.
One interesting weapon is an old “Brown Bess,” or British regulation musket, carried by a soldier of the Forty-second Highlanders, under the command of Colonel Bousquet when at Fort Pitt, where Pittsburg stands. Another, belonging to the Revolutionary period, formed part of a shipment which were purchased in Paris by Benjamin Franklin, Lee and Dean, the three American Commissioners.
Another relic of the Civil War is a heavy cavalry revolver which was used the Confederates. It is of the Colonel Le Mat design, with two barrels and a nine-chamber cylinder.
In addition to the hundreds of guns, the arms collection contains swords, sabers, lances, and other edged weapons from various countries. To these are added the various forms of defensive armor.
The Doctor has gathered a most comprehensive library dealing with the subject of portable arms and military history.
Among the most interesting and instructive contributions to the history of the Franco-Prussian War in Normandy, written by M. Louis Brindeau of Havre, France, a member of the French Senate, were those of Dr. Remondino. In these articles Dr. Remondino wrote a graphic and exhaustive account of the retreat of General Briand’s Army Corps, to which he was at the time attached as Surgeon of Francs-Tireures.
The Doctor has written on practically every subject in medicine, meteorology and other sciences. His earlier papers were mostly devoted to the discussion of demographic subjects, i. e., inebriety, climate, as it relates to medicine, sociologic subjects as come within the province of medicine, the vast field of hygiene and preventive medicine with relation to obscure or important cases in medicine or surgery, and sketches illustrative of the evolution of some subjects.
Among the Doctor’s best known writings are “The Imperative Need of Strict Sanitary Regulation Against the Spread of Consumption in Southern California,” and an exhaustive report of the “Suppression of Inebriety,” prepared and read before the State Board of Health of California.
Of his more important writings on climatic subjects, mention may be made of his “Mediterranean Shores of America,” which contained a dissertation with very complete tables illustrative of the physical and meterological(sic) conditions of the whole region of Southern California, published in book form, in 1892, by F. A. Davis & Co., Philadelphia.
“The Modern Climatic Treatment of Invalids with Pulmonary Consumption in Southern California,” published by George S. Davis of Detroit, in 1893, was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Thomas A. Davis, the author’s friend and a famous surgeon who served in the later Indian campaigns of the West.
The Doctor has written scores of other treatises, discussions and pamphlets on climatic and medical subjects and one of his books, “History of Circumcision,” issued 1891 by F. A. Davis & Co., was adopted in all the English-speaking countries of the world as the leading authority on the subject. The run of this book approximated half a million copies and the Doctor is preparing a new volume on the same subject.
In July, 1892, there appeared the first issue of the “National Popular Monthly Review,” from the presses of J. Harrison White (formerly publisher and manager of the Journal of the American Medical Association) of which Dr. Remondino accepted editorship. It was devoted to preventive medicine and applied Sociology, on which Dr. Remondino was then regarded an authority. During his connection with this journal Dr. Remondino contributed extensively to its pages. Among his notable special articles, was one discussing the relations of Athleticism and Pugilism to longevity, in which the Doctor reviewed the lives and deaths of the leading prize ring celebrities. The issue containing this article was immediately exhausted, so great was the interest it excited in the medical profession.
Other of his notable articles were: “The Rationale of Inebriety Cures,” “Heredity and Suicide,” “Importance of the Care of the Second and Third Decades of Life,” “Influence of the French Revolution on the State of Medicine,” “Moral and Physical Evils of Poor Ventilation,” “ Miracles and Medicine,” “ Patience and Endurance of the Human Stomach,” and many others.
Among the new works in process of being written is a history in itself of Mary of Magdala and her place in art, and for his purposes Dr. Remondino has gathered from the out-of-the-way corners of the Old World a copy of practically every Mary Magdalen ever painted or sculptured.
In furtherance of his tastes and pursuits, the Doctor’s private medical, historical and philosophical collections of books probably exceeds any one private library in the same lines in the United States. That section which deals particularly with the history of medicine is one of the largest collections on the subject in the United States, private or public, and is the result of more than forty years research in Europe and America. That part which deals with military medicine and surgery contains the works of all the older authors, and has been supplemented by the yearly reports pertaining to the army medical and surgical departments of various countries. The library, in its entirety, contains approximately fifteen thousand volumes.
Despite his attention to his private practice, literary work and other duties, the Doctor finds leisure for recreation and seeks it in the classical music of such composers as Verdi, Donizetti, Rossini, Bellini, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Tomas, Gounod, Wagner, Auber and Mascagni.
Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.
Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 581, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta. 1913.
© 2011 Joyce Rugeroni.