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More about doctors in Pittsford


I received favorable comments from the article about doctors in Pittsford, so I decided to expand on it.

I don't know why Pittsford attracted so many physicians. Maybe it was because doctors attracted doctors, or perhaps there were more people of wealth in this community, or maybe it was just a desirable place to settle. Whatever the reason, the fact remains we seemed to have had many doctors from the years 1792 to 1877.

Dr. John Ray came from Salem, Washington County in 1792. He was probably closely related to the Stone contingency and the cousins, Simon and Israel, who were the co-founders of this community. There was a great many marriages between the Rays and the Stones. Dr. Ray was the first doctor in Northfield, which became Pittsford. He treated patients on the west side of the Genesee River and to reach them, he had to ford that river, which was a dangerous feat when it was swollen from winter storms.

The house on Church Street, which is presently the Administration Building for the Presbyterian Church, is reported to have been the Ray home and office. Dr John and his wife Sabra, resided there and raised four sons and one daughter. As an aside, this home is the oldest of the "Pittsford Style of Architecture" homes, as named by Paul Malo, an architectural historian from Syracuse University.

Dr. Ray was elected town clerk at the organizational meeting on Northfield in 1796 and continued in that position until 1819. His hand written records about the town, its politics, development, minutes, cattle marks, etc. are all carefully preserved in my office in Town Hall.

Dr. Ray and his wife, both died in the same year, she predeceasing him by a few months. They are interred in the Pioneer Cemetery. Dr Ray was the first master of the Morningstar Lodge #223, the predecessor of the Northfield Lodge still in existence in Pittsford. John Ray served as a sergeant in the Revolutionary War in Capt. Edward Mott's Company, which was raised to defend the harbor at New London in 1776. He died at age 78 in 1821. He was known for his good humor as well as his ability to treat patients. He claimed that he was in more danger from drowning while trying to cross the unbridged Genesee River, than his patients were endangered by diseases.

Dr. Jonas Sawens and Dr. Daniel Rood were the next two doctors to arrive in our community in 1793. Dr. Rood did not practice much medicine. He became a farmer and lived in the house which was the original farmhome of Mr and Mrs. Charles W. Silco and is located at the entrance to the development of Silco Farms sub-division. Dr. Sawens married Martha "Patty" Rood in 1795, the first marriage recorded in the community. He bought land for $.50 an acre, built a home and lived in it for over 50 years. He became the first constable and collector of taxes in 1796. Jonas died in 1847 and Patty 20 years later. They are buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.

The Huntingtons came in 1831. Dr. Andrew Huntington was born in Norwich, CN in 1761. He attended Dartmouth College and married Lydia Davis of Lebanon, NH. He was a surgeon in the Revolutionary War and was with General Washington at his retreat from Long Island in 1781. He and Lydia had two sons who became doctors. Andrew Huntington II was born in 1789, also attended Dartmouth, also married a woman named Lydia, who died in Pittsford in 1838. Andrew married a second time and also a third time. He began practice with Dr. John Ray with the understanding that he would teach medicine to Dr. Ray's son.

Dr. Wales Munroe Huntington, son of Andrew II was born in Pittsford in 1820. He married Dorothy Ann Hopkins, granddaughter of Brig. General Caleb Hopkins. Wales was graduated from Geneva College of medicine in 1842. Wales and his wife are buried in the Pittsford Cemetery.

There were more doctors whose names I shall just mention here. Dr. R.C. Reynolds 1831; Dr. J.E. Camp 1824; Dr. C.H. Thompson 1865; Dr. Paul Carpenter and Dr. Bruce Johnstone. 1877. At another time I will write about two women from Pittsford who became physicians and one who was the first female pharmacist in all of NY State.