Dr. Daniel A. Wilson (~1865 - 1934)
Dr. Wilson was the first black physician in Montgomery County. He received his degree in homeopathic medicines from Hahnemann Hospital in 1890. Established in 1885, Hahnemann Hospital was a major education center for homeopathy. Using minimal substances that encouraged the body to heal itself, homeopathy was one of the leading methods of medical care during Dr. Wilson's lifetime.
After graduation from Hahnemann, Dr. Wilson moved to Norristown. Despite the challenges of segregation, Dr. Wilson was a successful physician who provided care for the residents in the Norristown area. He lived on Elm Street in Norristown until his death in 1934 and is buried at Tremont Cemetery.
Dr. Louis W. Read (1828-1900)
Born in Upper Merion, Dr. Louis Wernag Read attended medical school at the University of Pensylvania from 1845 to 1849. After graduation, Dr. Read served as a doctor and surgeon for the U.S. Army. After the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, other doctors tried unsuccessfully to remove a bullet from General Winfield Scott Hancock's thigh. Dr. Read decided to place General Hacock into a position similar to how he sat in the saddle at the time of his injury. This allowed Dr. Read to quickly remove the bullet.
Bullet Removed from General Hancock
After the Civil War, Dr. Read continued to provide his medical expertise to the community. He helped establish Norristown State Hospital and served as Surgeon General of PA from 1874 to 1899.
Photo Credit: Bennett Estate
Dr. Alice Bennett (1851-1925)
Born in Wrentham, Massachusetts, Dr. Alice Bennett came to Philadelphia to study at the Women's Medical College of Philadelphia, the first women's medical school in the nation. She became the first female superintendent for the female patients at Norristown State Hospital in 1880, the first woman to hold this position in Pennsylvania. That same year, Dr. Bennett earned her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1890, she was elected the first woman president of the Montgomery County Medical Society.
Dr. Bennett paved the way for progress at Norristown State Hospital by limiting restraints and promoting respect for patients. She explained, "We aim in this hospital to carry the principle of the least possible restrictions - the treatment and daily life of the patients under our charge." Dr. Bennett introduced new exercises, such as reading and writing, to help patients find new ways to cope with their mental illness. Her revolutionary methods for treating the mentally ill made her famous throughout the region. Dr. Bennett eventually returned to Wrentham to maintain a private practice. She died in Manhatan in 1925.