George Cogswell by John Crowell, M. D.

George Cogswell was born in the town of Atkinson, N. H., February 5, 1808. He came from that sturdy stock of ancestors whose history is so closely interwoven with the early life and enterprise of New England. In 1635, John Cogswell, a prosperous Englishman of good estate and standing, established a settlement in the town of Ipswich, now Essex, Mass., on a grant of three hundred acres of land, which have remained in the Cogswell name, in regular line, to the present time. His maternal ancestor was Giles Badger, who settled in Newbury, Mass., the same year. These families have been closely allied by marriage, and their descendants have been prominent in church and state, in medicine and in letters.

The father of the subject of this sketch, Dr. William Cogswell, was a medical practitioner of wide reputation, noted for his executive and judicial abilities. He was appointed chief surgeon of the military hospital at West Point during the Revolutionary war, closing his service in 1785, when he settled in Atkinson, N. H., practicing his profession until the close of his life, January 1, 1831. His mother was Judith Badger, daughter of Gen. Joseph Badger, Sen., of Gilmanton, N. H. She was a woman of great force of character, of devout piety and strong faith. When in her ninety-fourth year, after her earthly vision had become dim, the name of Jesus would light her face with a radiant glow of loving recognition. This devout woman united with the church in Atkinson in 1810, on which interesting occasion her husband and their three oldest children joined her in the act of consecration; and on the same day their six younger children were baptized by the pastor, Rev. Stephen Peabody. The youngest of these nine children died in infancy. All of the remaining eight became professors of religion, and lived to a good old age, in the enjoyment of the honors and dignities of the high official trusts committed to them. Of this large family, the subject of this sketch alone survives (1882), vigorous in his threescore years and ten, and actively engaged in the discharge of the duties of his several official trusts.

Dr. George Cogswell received his preliminary education at Atkinson Academy, where his love for scientific investigation soon became manifest. He commenced the study of medicine with his father, whose wise instruction and safe counsel did much to shape the future career of the aspiring student. In his desire for a wider culture in the line of his chosen profession, he became a private student to Reuben D. Mussey. M. D., L.L. D., and for two years enjoyed the instruction of this distinguished lecturer on anatomy and surgery. Early in 1830, he became a pupil of John D. Fisher, M. D., of Boston, who, at that time, was the most noted auscultator in New England. Dr. Fisher showed his confidence in his ambitious student by giving him the main practical charge of the House of Industry, at that time located in South Boston. The grateful pupil held the most intimate relations with his distinguished teachers during their lives.

In 1830 he was graduated Doctor of Medicine from Dartmouth College, with the honors of his class, and the same college conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts in 1865.

Dr. Cogswell at once commenced the practice of his profession in Bradford, Mass., in August, 1830, and soon entered into a large and successful business. He brought to his work the discipline of hard and intelligent study, and his great desire was to advance the standard of medical practice in Essex county. He was the first physician in "Essex North" who made intelligent use of auscultation and percussion in the diagnosis of disease.

In his desire for a wider knowledge in the range of his profession, especially in the line of surgery, he visited Europe in the fall of 1841, spending the succeeding winter in visiting the hospitals of Paris, and in attending the lectures of the distinguished men who at that time had attained a position in medical science surpassing, in point of investigation and practical analysis, that of any other city. In the following spring he visited the principal cities of Italy, and for a while studied in the hospitals of London. On his return to Bradford he at once resumed the practice of his profession. He boldly and successfully attempted capital operations in surgery, and became the leading surgical operator and consulting physician for a large circuit. He fitted up a well appointed dissecting-room, and the advantages of his instruction were sought by many students, who can attest to the thoroughness of his teaching, especially in the department of surgical anatomy. His knowledge of technical anatomy was quite remarkable, and sometimes his students would contrive a plot to "stump" the "old doctor" by an intricate quizzing upon some obscure nerve or vessel. The attempt always proved futile; but the cunning students did not enjoy the fire of questions that followed from their teacher, who all too easily perceived the "soft impeachment." The term "old doctor" was applied by the students before their preceptor was thirty years old. In 1844, Dr. Cogswell was offered a professorship in the medical department of one of the leading colleges of New England, which he declined.

He early manifested his interest in the elevation of the standard of medical practice, by suggesting to his professional brethren the importance of a local organization, and through his efforts the Essex North Medical Association was formed, composed of the leading physicians in the northern portion of the county. This society has had a vigorous growth, and is now merged into the Massachusetts Medical Society, under the title of the "Essex North District Medical Society." Although retired from active practice, he retains his membership in this society, and regularly attends the quarterly meetings, participating in the scientific and practical discussions, and manifesting a lively interest in the success of the younger members.

Dr. Cogswell has been called upon to fill many positions of responsibility and trust; and since he retired from the active duties of professional life his whole time has been absorbed in the transaction of business of a public and private nature. He was elected president of the Union Bank in Haverhill, Mass., at its organization, in 1849, and was elected to the same office when that institution became the First National Bank, in 1864, which position he still retains. For many years he has been vice-president of the Haverhill Savings Bank, and was for a time a successful railroad president.

He was an active member of the Chapman-Hall meeting in Boston, which organized the Republican party in Massachusetts, with which party he has ever been in full accord. In 1852 he was a member of the electoral college of Massachusetts, which gave the vote of the state for Gen. Winfield Scott; and also a member of the college of 1864, which gave the vote of the state for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He was a delegate from the sixth district of Massachusetts to the Chicago convention which nominated Abraham Lincoln for president in 1860. In 1858 and 1859, he was a member of the executive council of Massachusetts, with Nathaniel P. Banks as governor. In 1862 he was appointed, by President Lincoln, collector of internal revenue for the sixth district of Massachusetts. After holding this office for four years, he was removed by President Johnson, without cause; but was again appointed to the same office by President Grant, in 1870, which position he held until 1875, when this district was consolidated with two other districts. This was one of the largest and most important paying districts in the country, and under the administration of Dr. Cogswell its affairs were conducted with marked efficiency, and with absolute correctness.

Dr. Cogswell has always taken a deep interest in educational matters, and he has given some of his best service to the management of important schools. He has been, for a long time, a trustee of Atkinson Academy, and is also a trustee of the Peabody Academy of Science, in Salem, Mass. But the crowning work of his life in the department of education has been in connection with Bradford Academy. For nearly fifty years he has been a trustee of this famous school, and during most of this time has had the entire management of its financial affairs. His efficiency in this work is best illustrated by the success of the school in all its departments. The splendid appointments of this academy for the higher education of young ladies, the ample grounds, the perfection of the school edifice, the excellence of the teachers, and the scope of its curriculum, give it a prominence and a power not excelled by any similar institution in the land. It may be safely estimated that Dr. Cogswell, by his long connection with this, the oldest school for young ladies in the country, has had a wider personal experience in matters of internal management, in consultation with teachers, and in advising with reference to pupils, than any man connected with an institution of this character; and he has the pleasure, with his associate trustees, of seeing this school, by the generosity and interest of its many friends, placed upon an enduring foundation. He was elected, in 1869, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is also a member of the New England Historic-Genealogical Society.

In the great reforms that have occurred during the last half-century, Dr. Cogswell has given his influence by judicious advice and consistent example. He commenced active life with the temperance movement, and by precept and example has ever advanced the cause. He was also an ardent supporter of the anti-slavery movement from the beginning of that great controversy.

Dr. Cogswell is evangelical in his religious convictions, and has never departed from the traditions of his ancestors. In 1831 he became, by profession, a member of the First Parish Congregational church in Bradford, and has always been identified with its growth and prosperity.

In 1860 he assisted in forming the "Haverhill Monday Evening Club," a private organization limited to twenty-five members. This club is composed of gentlemen of literary tastes, residing in Haverhill and Bradford, and the meetings afford delightful recreation in the discussion of literary, scientific, and social topics. This is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in Massachusetts, and its unique character has suggested similar organizations in many neighboring cities.

In 1831 he married Abigail Parker, daughter of Peter Parker, Esq., of East Bradford, now Groveland. Her ancestors were noted for intellectual ability and force of character. She was born September 6, 1808, and died July 23, 1845. The children of this marriage are as follows:—

Abby Parker, born September 25, 1832; graduated at Bradford Academy; married Hon. George F. Choate, judge of probate and insolvency of the county of Essex, Mass., October 20, 1869.

George Badger, born September 15, 1834; fitted for college under the tuition of Benjamin Greenleaf, and at Gilmanton Academy; entered Dartmouth College in 1851; followed the sea before the mast from 1853 to 1855, sailing up the Mediterranean, and around the world. In the winter of 1855-56 he attended Harvard Medical School, and graduated as M. D. from Dartmouth College in 1857; from 1857 to 1859, was resident physician in charge of the state almshouse at Bridgewater, Mass. He settled in North Easton in 1860, where he now resides, enjoying a large and successful practice; was surgeon of the Twenty-Ninth Massachusetts regiment during the war; was on the staff of Gen. Wilcox as acting medical inspector of the ninth army corps, and for two months was incarcerated in Libby prison; medical director of Massachusetts Department, G. A. R., in 1874 and 1875. He received the honorary degree of A. M. from Dartmouth College in 1880. He married Catherine Babson Brown, of Bradford, February 18, 1858.

William Wilberforce, born January 22, 1837; died August 5, 1837.

William, born August 23, 1838. He fitted for college at Phillips (Andover) and Kimball Union academies; entered Dartmouth College in 1856; made a voyage around the world, before the mast, in 1856 and 1857, doubling Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope; graduated at Harvard Law School in 1860, and admitted to the practice of law the same year; entered the United States military service in 1861, as captain of volunteers; promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1862, to colonel in 1863, and brevet brigadier-general in 1864; discharged from service July 28, 1865; commander of the post at Atlanta during its occupation by Gen. Sherman's army; was under Banks in Shenandoah valley, Pope in Virginia, McClellan at Antietam, Hooker at Chancellorsville, Sherman at Chattanooga, Atlanta, Savannah, Raleigh, and at the final surrender; commander Massachusetts Department, G. A. R., 1870; senior vice-commander United States military order, Loyal Legion, of Massachusetts, 1870; was four times wounded, once severely. He now resides in Salem, Mass., and was mayor of that city from 1867 to 1869, and from 1872 to 1873, inclusive; member of the house of representatives in 1871 and 1872, and in 1881 and 1882. He married, June 20, 1865, Emma Thorndike Proctor, who died April 1, 1877. He was again married December 12, 1881, to Eva M. Davis, of Salem. Dartmouth College conferred on him the honorary degree of A. M. in 1878.

Sarah Parker, born March 23, 1843; graduated at Bradford Academy. In 1871 she made an extended tour in Europe, in company with her brother-in-law, Judge Choate.

In 1846, Dr. Cogswell married Elisabeth Doane, youngest daughter of Hon. Elisha Doane, of Yarmouth. Judge Doane was a man distinguished for wisdom and exactness, belonging to one of the most respected and cultivated families on Cape Cod. The following are the children of this marriage:—

Elisha Doane and Susan Doane, born September 22, 1847. Susan died November 29, 1847; Elisha died April 6, 1850.

Doane, born April 29, 1851; graduated at Phillips Academy, Andover, and at Dartmouth College in the class, of 1874; studied medicine two years at Harvard Medical School; is now extensively engaged in agriculture, on one of the largest farms in Essex County.

Caroline Doane, born August 2, 1852; graduated at Bradford Academy; and in 1878 visited the most interesting portions of England, Scotland, and the continent of Europe.

In 1878. Dr. Cogswell made his second visit to Europe, and was at the World's Fair, in Paris, during that year. He included in his travels the mountains and lakes of Switzerland, and portions of Germany, Belgium, and Holland. He also visited the rural districts of England, Scotland, and Ireland, giving much attention to the agricultural capabilities and resources of the countries through which he passed, and manifesting, at the age of seventy, the same enthusiasm in all objects of interest that characterized his former visit, thirty-six years before.

Amid his multiplied cares and duties, Dr. Cogswell has found time to devote no little attention to agriculture; and his broad acres, on the sunny slope of "Riverside," give evidence of successful labor. There, amid the rural retirement of his country home, he passes the summer months of his green old age, with his delightful family, receiving his friends with the easy, cordial grace of old-time hospitality. His interest in all that relates to the welfare of the people among whom he has lived for half a century remains unabated. The public schools, the intellectual and social life of the town, improvements in agriculture, and the dignity and proprieties of local management,—all claim his attention and enlist his co-operation; and to him belongs the noble prestige of the honored and beloved fellow-citizen.

"His prosperous labor fills
The lips of men with honest praise;
And, sun by sun, the happy days
Descend below the golden hills."