Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby: The Dean of Early Cache Valley Doctors
By Larry D. Christiansen
Oliver Cromwell Ormsby was born the second child of John S. Ormsby and wife Jane Hindman Ormsby on July 24, 1843, in Westmoreland County in western Pennsylvania. His birth came at Bunker Hill borough which was incorporated into Greensburg in the 1890s. His father was a doctor and although orphaned early and left with no money, by his own initiative, he attended school in his native state and then an academic degree at Pittsburgh and a medical degree at University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. Apparently, according to his oldest son, he received further medically training at another institute. The same source had the father, John S. Ormsby, trained in the homeopathic school of medicine. He practiced this method for a period of time, and then undertook study in the allopathic school which he followed for the remainder of his life. He married in the late 1830s and lived in Westmoreland County where his first children were born and he established his medical practice at Greensburg.1 Reacting to the official word of the gold discovery in California, early in 1849 Dr. Ormsby and his younger brother William (most often called Major Ormsby) and probably two other brothers and a friend or two decided to leave their Pennsylvania homes and families for the golden hopes of California. Whether by river transportation and/or otherwise they reached St. Joseph, Missouri, where they outfitted for overland travel by wagon train and started on their westward journey on April 14, 1849. They traveled with six wagons each pulled by six mules and joined another small company along the way. Traveling as fast as they could they made their way to California, arriving in late July and settled at Sacramento in early August to find the place had mushroomed by the Gold Rush into a settlement of about 5,000 people. We do not know if they initially tried their hands at finding gold or dealt in mining claims, but they soon chose to make their living by providing auxiliary services for the expanding population. According to his oldest son, here his father Dr. James S. Ormsby also set up for business as a doctor. The Ormsby brothers established an early stage line between the major mining locations and business centers, and they secured a contract to carry the U.S. mail in the area. In addition they set up an assay office and soon established the first private mint in Sacramento where they struck five and ten dollar gold coins by a primitive sledge hammer method from unalloyed native gold. Their gold coins (mostly undated) had the “United States of America” stamped around the outer edge with a much larger “JSO” in the center of the coin with the other side having a series of stars and the dollar amount of the coin. Initially the people accepted them as legal tender but the very profitable coining of money did not last long as the quality of the product was poor and badly debased and did not circulate past the early months of 1850.2
The Ormsbys’ various successful and profitable enterprises convinced them that California was the place for them and their families. Therefore in 1852, according Dr. Ormsby’s oldest son, but more likely in 1851, William Ormsby returned to Pennsylvania to bring his and his brother’s families to California. William settled whatever personal and business affairs remained in Pennsylvania and prepared a sizeable group of about one hundred for the journey westward. In this group was Doctor Ormsby’s family, including his son Oliver who would turn nine years old that summer. Probably the company traveled by river steamer to the jumping off point along the Missouri River. Here they outfitted in the “finest” fashion with some fifty rockaway carriages pulled by over a hundred “splendid Kentucky horses” and along with the necessary equipment and supplies. Their intention was to make a fast crossing of the plains, mountains and deserts to California. They “traveled at great speed, passing all other conveyances on the route,” but it cost them dearly and by the time they reached Salt Lake City in mid-summer, their draft animals were worn out. They had to spend two weeks to rest and recruit. They purchased a number of mule teams and resumed their journey westward. A short time and distance after leaving Salt Lake a daughter of William Ormsby died at Sessions, Utah (now Bountiful), and was buried there. They looped northward around the Great Salt Lake on the cutoff road and struck the main trail to California and finally arrived at their destination in late July of 1852. Nine months later the Doctor and Mrs. Ormsby’s next child came into the family on April 30, 1853, the first born in California.3
By the time of his family’s arrival in Sacramento, most of the early Ormsby enterprises such as the stage line and mail contract had ceased. The Doctor continued his medical profession and purchased a large ranch on the Russian River that he stocked with horses, cattle, sheep, cows and cultivated much of the land with “profitable results.” He moved his family to the ranch in the fall of 1852, and here young Oliver, his mother and a hired hand performed much labor in milking cows, caring for their garden and orchard. However, all was not work at the farm as there was time for schooling. Oliver and his siblings attended a nearby school, fostering the foundation of their education. In 1857 Dr. Ormsby was elected as an assemblyman in the California Legislature serving Sonoma and Mendocino countries. A year later he moved his family to Healdsburg, the first town founded on the Russian River, where the Russian River Academy, a private school charging tuition had taken over an earlier Russian River Institute. Here Oliver continued his education in the best school available in his locale. It was a grammar school with his courses oriented to a “high English education”—with high regard for mathematics, Greek and Latin languages—along with the other basics of education at the time. In his latter teens Oliver began to spend much time with his father in his medical practice and acquired much knowledge of medicines and the ways and means of a physician. He showed much aptitude in this realm and his father desired that his son should study for the profession of a doctor. Oliver was not quite sure this was what he wanted; he nevertheless consented. He spent one year in his father’s office as an apprentice studying and observing his father. In the meantime, William Ormsby had moved outside the boundary of California into an area technically in the Territory of Utah (present day western Nevada) where the latest mineral bonanza along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada was in full swing. A series of incidents occurred involving miners, a few settlers and the Northern Paiute Indians in the region of Pyramid Lake (present day southern Washoe County about 40 miles northeast of Reno) and affecting the mail service to California that culminated in two small pitched battles. The first came in mid-May of 1860 when a poorly organized and armed group of volunteers composed of miners and settlers were led by Major William Ormsby with intentions of punishing the Indians. Instead the Paiutes ambushed this force at the Big Bend in the Truckee River killing Major Ormsby and seventy-five white men. In June a larger and better organized force returned to the area to either push out the Indians or destroy them. On June 2, 1860, the white men clashed with the Paiutes and were victorious in killing many and driving them from their reservation around Pyramid Lake and removed the threat to the mail service. In the last engagement Doctor James S. Ormsby was with the armed force and helped find the mutilated remains of his brother, Major Ormsby. It is not clear if Dr. Ormsby went to this area to find his brother’s body or if he was first in the area looking over the prospects for business, mining or even to relocate his family there. In 1862 Dr. James S. Ormsby moved to Maryville, California, and continued his profession at his new residence.4
Shortly thereafter, Oliver at age twenty-one was caught up in the excitement of the Comstock Lode and surrounding mining frontier in the new Nevada Territory created on March 2, 1861. In the spring of 1864 he left his parental home, leaving the tutorage of his father’s profession, and went east to the gold fields of Virginia City. Like his father and uncle, he did not search for the mineral but speculated in mining property and was successful in making quite a sum of money. He relocated to the Humboldt field that appeared to be the most promising. In this new area he searched for gold to a considerable degree and located a number of promising mines just to the point of garnering some return on his field efforts. At this point he formed an acquaintanceship with a “cute Yankee” from Massachusetts who swindled him out of his money, leaving him “poorer but much wiser.” He moved on to Carson City but remained there a short time as the prospects of Nevada faded in his mind due to the hype and hope of the new prospects reported coming from the mines in Montana. He started for his new destination but never arrived there.5
Late in the traveling season of 1864 he left Carson City in the newly formed State of Nevada in a roundabout way bound for Montana. We are not informed as to his mode of travel, whether by public conveyance now available to and from central California or if he struck out on his own. Traveling eastward he arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he had visited twelve years earlier when he initially moved to California. He spent the winter in Utah with the intention of journeying north over the trail established just a few year earlier into Montana. The only thing we know of his time in Salt Lake was that he met “an old St. Louis friend,” which leaves many questions unanswered as to who and how this could be. Nevertheless, in the spring of 1865 young Ormsby and his friend seemed to move away from the objective of the Montana mines and instead went to Manti in Sanpete County over a hundred miles south in the opposite direction. They took with them a stock of various medicines which they intended to sell, and, according to Oliver’s biographer probably citing the source of the subject matter, not to initiate a physician’s practice at that time. Whether by way of selling these medicines shortly after arriving or some other way, the daughter of Mrs. George Peacock sought the seller of the medicines to visit and prescribe treatment for her mother who was suffering critically with hemorrhaging. Oliver C. Ormsby declined to make a diagnostician visit, but more requests were made by the sick woman’s daughter, Miss Sarah Peacock. He explained to her that he came to sell the medicines but not to practice medicine. Finally, after her urgent insistence that he come and look at her suffering mother even if he did nothing more, he yielded to her earnest request. He visited the patient and prescribed a treatment, and Mrs. Peacock recovered.6
In short order Oliver secured an establishment where he was better able to sell his medicines and added general merchandise to his offerings. Almost as quickly, a mutual affection developed between Sarah and Oliver, and before long the young couple desired to be married. However, the father, Judge George Peacock refused to give his consent to the marriage of his daughter to a gentile unless the suitor was baptized and became a Mormon. Ormsby refused to do this on the grounds that he did not sufficiently know and understand the principles and doctrines of the Mormon faith to enable him to adopt them; and he had no intention of being a hypocrite just to obtain the wife of his choice. Meanwhile the courtship continued and the attachment became stronger, but the father would not budge. After various mediations failed to solve the dilemma, someone proposed that the entire matter be referred to President Brigham Young for resolution, and all concerned parties, including non-Mormon Ormsby, agreed and stated they would abide by that decision. President Young, after hearing the particulars of the situation, advised that the couple be married. On December 17, 1865, Oliver C. Ormsby and Sarah Peacock were married in Salt Lake City. There was full reconciliation with the Judge Peacock, and the Ormsbys continued living in Manti until July of 1866 when they relocated to Springville, some sixty miles to the north where they intended to make their new home. Here Ormsby rented rooms to carry on his business, which, by this point, included selling medicines and general merchandise with possibly some efforts into doctoring. Soon after reaching Springville his wife became sick and did not get better. On August 21st she gave birth to a son named Oliver Cromwell Ormsby, but the mother did not survive the sickness and birthing. Three months later, the apparently healthy baby suddenly died as an aunt cared for him. Ormsby’s season of loneliness and misery began with the loss of his beloved wife and was compounded by the death of his son; he developed into a despair from which he knew not how to extricate himself. Evidently, from the beginning tragedy he had sought solace in religion, specifically in studying and investigating the tenants of Mormonism more seriously while experiencing opposing ideas and influences to resist to some degree the new concepts. After the death of his son, while experiencing a sleepless night, he had a visitation in which he saw his wife with clear instructions and pleadings that he must obey the gospel to reap the reward. He reacted almost immediately and went to the residence of Dr. Jeter Clinton in Salt Lake City arriving near daybreak on November 11, 1866. After rousing the doctor from his sleep, Ormsby requested of him baptism for remission of sins. The pioneer physician cheerfully acceded to his friend’s request and they went to City Creek, and after breaking a little ice on the stream, Oliver C. Ormsby was baptized, which set his mind at peace after almost three months of anguish. He was confirmed a member of the LDS Church the following Sunday and shortly was ordained an elder in the Church.7
He moved to Salt Lake City and resided with Dr. Clinton during the winter of 1866-1867. Back into the story came Dr. John S. Ormsby, the father and tutor of Oliver C. Ormsby, who moved to Salt Lake City and established a medical practice and became “favorably known as a physician of experience.” He had left his wife and several sons and daughters in California “all well situated and respectfully connected.” Perhaps among his reasons for moving to Utah was some personal unfinished business connected with his first son. It can be surmised that father and son had communicated by letters since they parted personal company in 1862. Therefore, the father knew of the successes and hard times of his son in Nevada and Utah. Perhaps personal contact resumed a little before or during the difficult times of losing a wife and son by death. Furthermore, there may have been much more than just meetings of father and son, but renewed encouragement to become a doctor and actual training by the senior Ormsby. This apprenticeship under his father probably did not end until the son left Salt Lake City. Dr. John S. Ormsby had connections with Doctors Jeter Clinton, Washington F. Anderson and others, and the Church newspaper and its hated rival (Tribune) were aware of the two Ormsby doctors and referred to the younger as “Dr. Ormsby, jun.” By the time the younger man left Salt Lake City in 1868, there was no doubt in his mind that he now wanted to practice medicine, and maybe he was fully satisfied that he had enough training to be entitled to the title of doctor. At his father’s death the newspaper article mentioned the father had relocated to Logan in connection with his son, “whose preceptor in medicine he had been for many years, and who is now reaping the advantages of his excellent tutelage and extended experience.”8
TO BRIGHAM CITY
Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby recalled to Edward W. Tullidge in the late 1880s that he left Salt Lake City in 1868 to go out on his own in his new profession. He went north to Ogden and spent a few days looking over the situation, and proceeded further north to Brigham City which suited him better.9 He moved to the county seat of Box Elder County that had been founded in the mid-1850s just fifty-one miles from Salt Lake City where his father and mentor continued his medical practice. Now at the age of twenty-five, and in training, word and deed he was Doctor O. C. Ormsby at Brigham City and surrounding settlements. Along with his medical practice, he established a drug store when he dispensed medicines and sold some general merchandise.
He was setting up his practice in a land and among a people who had little to no regard for doctors and most medicines. Being reared in a family with a physician father, his outlook was very different and as he saw first hand the efforts of his father, he knew that this doctor worked hard and accomplished much good for many of his patients. Granted the frontier medicine of the time was primitive and more art than a science with a wide range of practitioners. While an attempt to cover the various angles of the early Mormon view of medicine and doctors would be far beyond the scope of this article, a few facts and statements will set the tone of the time when Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby, convert to the Mormon faith, started his long career as a doctor. In 1850 a report by the U.S. Census showed the death rate in Utah was one death in every forty-eight persons, the highest rate for all the states and territories except Louisiana. Three years later the Church newspaper in an editorial on September 18, 1852, proudly announced that recently two physicians had relocated to one of the distant settlements and taken up farming, three had taken up traveling and exploring the country, three more had departed for California to search for gold or some other purpose and one had gone into distilling. Then the editorial concluded: “Those physicians who remained have very little practice and will soon have less (we hope).” President Brigham Young declared in 1861 that the orthodox doctors did not understand “the systems of men” and in his opinion “A worse set of ignoramuses do not walk the earth,” and he could place all the doctors’ knowledge in a nut shell and place it in his vest pocket and then have to hunt for it. Furthermore he stated: “I see no use for them [doctors] unless it is to raise grain and go to mechanical work.” In regard to the few gentile doctors who came to Utah, he thought they were a “set of ignoramuses” and too lazy to work like others but “made people ill in order to get a living by doctoring them.” At the Salt Lake Tabernacle on July 11, 1869, President Young told the gathering of Saints that he was happy to say that for forty years he had never been under the necessity to calling a doctor and “there are no circumstances under which I think them necessary except in case of a broken bone, or where skillful mechanical or surgical aid is necessary.” Then Young stated: “When we first came here we had no sickness, and we had no sickness until we had doctors.” That extraordinary claim was outlandish, and he concluded this portion of his discourse with a terse suggestion he could not personally follow, when he said, “Perhaps I have said enough about doctors.” He was back on the doctors’ case again in September of 1871 when he declared: “We do not know what to do for the sick, and if we send for a doctor he does not know any more than anybody else. No person knows what to do for the sick without revelation.” At the semi-annual conference of the LDS Church at Salt Lake City on October 9, 1872, he asked the congregation a couple of rhetorical questions which he answered: “Would you want doctors? Yes, to set bones. We should need a good surgeon for that, or to cut off a limb. But do you want doctors? For not much of anything else . . . .” Then he told of a “growing evil in our midst” inasmuch as the people wanted the services of doctors.10
The Mormons were to rely on home care and faith healing with a little tolerance for Thomsonian doctors who used mild herbs and folk medicine. Quite late in his life President Young used the familiar practice of asking a question and then answering his question. At an 1872 Church conference he asked, “Do you think it is necessary to give medicine sometimes? Yes, but I would rather have a wife of mine that knows what medicine to give me when I am sick, than all the professional doctors in the world.” Then he gave this advice to have the sick do without eating, “take a little something to cleanse the stomach, bowels and blood, and wait patiently, and let Nature have time to gain the advantage over the disease.” But he couldn’t close without the standard feeling that the “real doctor” was the man who knew by the “Spirit of revelation” what the ailment was and what was the best medicine. “That is the real doctor, the others are quacks.”11 Some latter day writers think they detect a softening of Young’s outlook in his last years with his embracing a more scientific outlook toward medicine. But his actions in calling or not opposing Saints going East for medical instruction was in part yielding to reality and heeding some of the criticism and pressure from a number of the followers. The Mormon official bias toward doctors did not totally stifle the practice of medicine in Utah because the official church way did not prove sufficient or more effectual than the way they condemned. In the final analysis the germ theory, benefits of vaccinations, causes for contagious diseases worms, and cancers down to “milk sickness” came not via revelation but years of observation and finally doctors discovering the cause and finding a solution. To cite just one example using “milk sickness”—doctors traced the link to poisonous weeds eaten by the cows. A similar example cannot be found wherein President Young’s “real doctor” (guided by “Spirit of Revelation”) discovered a cause and found a solution to a disease.
One other item should be noted before launching into Dr. Ormsby’s medical practice. Prior to the coming of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, Utah and its Mormons were largely isolated from all improvements and advances in medicine. They had what knowledge they possessed when they arrived and a little from new converts as they came in and the U.S. army brought quinine in the late 1850s. Otherwise, important advances such as the anesthetic effects of ether (definitely demonstrated in 1846), the introduction of chloroform (in 1847), the development of the germ theory during the same period and antiseptic surgery (1865) had to wait until after the completion of the railroad in 1869. Of course the arrival of the knowledge was just the first part with gaining acceptance coming later, sometimes much later and with what to do about smallpox unbelievably late not until the 1930s and 1940s.
Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby set up his medical practice in Brigham City, serving the surrounding Mormon settlements in Box Elder County and some in Cache County. The first known case he treated that made the Salt Lake newspaper (there were no newspapers north of Salt Lake) came in late January of 1869. John Nicholson from Salt Lake was in Cache Valley on a business trip for the Deseret News and the Instructor, and while at Wellsville he met with an accident on a Thursday. The horse he was riding slipped and fell, injuring the rider’s right leg. Nicholson was placed in a sleigh and taken to Brigham City where medical assistance was procured with “Dr. Ormsby, jun.,” who determined the man had suffered a fracture with a severe wrenching of the knee joint. The injured man was cared for and counseled to remain inactive for a few days which he spent at the local bishop’s home through the following Tuesday and then taken home to Salt Lake City. Here Dr. Washington F. Anderson attended to the injured man who was reported doing well.12 About a month later in mid-February a couple from the settlement at the old crossing of Bear River chose to get married and went to Brigham City to be married. A resident driver from the local hotel was hired to drive them back to the Bear River settlement where a party was held with much whisky available and the driver drank more than his share. As the driver started back to Brigham City that night he drove off the road and overturned the carriage with the driver injured and trapped by the overturned carriage. He was not discovered until the following morning and brought to Brigham City where Dr. Ormsby was called to render assistance. But the cold weather, injury and time were too much and the man died the next day.13 The last case was not reported in the distance Salt Lake paper until almost three weeks after the accident.
The vast majority of the doctor’s cases in 1868 and 1869 were treatments for sickness, accidents or other problems with no newspaper to record the details. However, before the year was out the new doctor would garner newspaper coverage. After relocating to Brigham City he became acquainted with “an estimable young lady, Miss Maretta Smith,” the daughter of Judge Samuel Smith. She had been born in Utah on the day the area became a territory, and with the approbation of her family the new couple were married in Salt Lake City on October 11, 1869, by Elder Wilford Woodruff. Ormsby’s first marriage was cut short by early death, but this marriage would last until the doctor died some forty-seven years later. The newspaper announcement carried the courtesy of “We wish them much and increasing joy.”14 The new couple may have planned their wedding day well in advance and for that particular Monday, October 11th, but other factors might have created another scenario.
In those early days of Mormonism frequently both settlers to new areas and missionaries were called without prior notice at sessions of general conferences of the Church. We cannot prove whether this was the case in the following occasion at the thirty-ninth semi-annual conference held in the New Tabernacle at Salt Lake City in October of 1869. The conference convened on Wednesday, October 6th and ran through Sunday, October 10th. At the morning session on Thursday, October 7th, Elder George Q. Cannon, of the Council of the Twelve, read a long list of names of men presenting them to the conference having “been called to go on short missions to the Eastern States.” On this list of 143 men was the name of “Oliver E. Ormsby, Brigham City.” After three men were called for foreign missions, the conference was asked to sustain all of the brethren in their mission assignments, which was unanimously carried. While they had his middle initial wrong, they had chosen the right man. A little over three months later the missionary Ormsby in a letter to the Deseret News wrote: “At our October Conference I was designated as one of a large number of missionaries who were called to carry the gospel to the nations of the earth. I cheerfully made the necessary arrangements for performing said mission to the best of my ability, (although very young in Mormonism).” To so serve he would have to leave his medical practice, but his drug store business could and did continue with his wife Maretta, who he married the day after the conference ended. He was far from being wealthy and had to bear all his expenses for lodging, eating and travel while on his mission plus care for his wife at home, so the income from the Brigham City business was essential. While taking care of all arrangements preparatory to going on his mission a change in the overall plans took place. He explained this in his letter to the newspaper from the medical college: “However, about ten days previous to my departure I was informed of a change in my mission from one exclusively for preaching the gospel to one of attending Medical Lectures, not however of debarring me of the privilege of talking Mormonism whenever the opportunity afforded.”15
Bidding goodbye to his wife and father (who also joined the Mormon faith in the spring of 1869, the junior Dr. Ormsby boarded a train in either late October or the first couple of days in November of 1869, bound for Chicago, Illinois where he enrolled in a medical course at the Rush Medical College founded in 1837, the first medical school in Chicago and one of the first in the Midwest. A missionary serving in the Chicago area in a letter written back to Utah dated at Christmas of 1869 wrote, “Young Dr. Ormsby is also here, a student at the medical college.” In mid-January of 1870 Ormsby addressed a letter to the Church newspaper stating he was highly satisfied and enlightened with his studies and praised the eleven professors, saying they would honor and give credit to any medical institution in the world. His only stated disappointment was that the highly educated and cultivated instructors and other medical students were little caring for religion with their primary interest in making money. Still he tried to teach the Mormon gospel to any who would listen while fulfilling his medical mission. Another missionary who met him was Elder W. W. Riter (who later would buy his drug store in Logan) and after traveling from Chicago to New York, the missionary wrote a letter to the Utah newspaper saying: “I met Dr. Crockwell and Dr. Ormsby. The latter is at the medical college there, and is studying hard to obtain a knowledge of his profession. He thinks he will be able to graduate at the termination of this term.” Edward W. Tullidge in his biography of Dr. O.C. Ormsby using the doctor as his primary source and wrote: “. . . he entered the Rush Medical College and took a full course of instruction in medicine and surgery.” As a result of his several years of study under his doctor father and two years as a physician “he was enabled to complete his course, graduate and received his diploma all in one winter—something that is very unusual with students of the medical profession.” While at the home front, his wife did equally as well in managing the drug store as she made enough money to take care of all demands and kept the store completely free of debt.16
In late March of 1870 with the completion of his medical studies, Dr. Ormsby was back in Utah visiting his father and/or others in Salt Lake City. At that time a young school boy in the Nineteenth Ward had an accident and severely fractured the bones in one of his legs, and for whatever reason the visiting “Dr. Ormsby, jun., was sent for,” and he went and attended the boy and set his broken limb. Returning to Brigham City he resumed his medical practice with few hitches and was busily engaged in his profession. On the 7th of September of 1870, Jonah Mathias of Brigham City had the misfortune to have one of his feet badly injured in a threshing machine. “Dr. Ormsby, Jr.,” cared for the man and concluded that the damaged foot should be amputated, but strong solicitation by the man’s many friends caused the foot to be spared under the faint hope that it could be saved. As the young doctor continued to care for the injured man, he felt his judgment had been correct, but for confirmation he sent for Dr. Washington F. Anderson (a friend of his father’s and one of Salt Lake’s finest physicians). The two doctors, after thoroughly examining the foot, concluded that not only the foot but the leg a little above the knee had to be amputated. On September 20th Dr. Ormsby successfully performed the amputation, and a week later it was reported the man was progressing favorably.17 Dr. Anderson, a gentile, was well schooled in medical education first at University of Virginia and then University of Maryland with experience in hospitals and the Mexican War plus medical practice in California before coming to Utah in 1857. At his new location he became a surgeon in the Nauvoo Legion, then in 1868 surgeon in the Utah Militia and in 1870 elected president of the first Medical Society of Utah. This very studious doctor was always a natural student and clinician with the lofty goal of improving medical practice and to that end he urged the physicians to use a more exact system of clinical observation and records. Realizing the limited opportunities for professional improvement in the thinly populated region of Utah, he advocated sharing of information and techniques by the doctors. He urged them to periodically meet and share with each other their observations and patients’ records.18 Dr. O. C. Ormsby was a strong advocate of the same philosophy and carried it to the joining with other doctors in operations and having others to assist him.
Dr. Ormsby drew patients from throughout Box Elder County and when situations called for his attendance at a bedside or accident site, he traveled over the same area. He drew some patients from Cache County, and one such patient was John Jenkins from Newton. John had trouble with dyspepsia (difficult digestion) in 1871 and 1872 and this was followed by trouble with his liver, consumption and “other things.” En route through Brigham City one day he stopped at Dr. Ormsby’s to see if he could find a solution and relief. Many years later when Jenkins wrote his personal history, he observed about the doctor—“He did not discover the real trouble.” Sometime later Jenkins was with another man going or coming from Salt Lake by wagon when he experienced a fainting spell and so stopped at the doctor’s again, and only recorded that the doctor gave him a glass to get a drink.19 An impatient sufferer with multiple complaints was difficult to diagnosis and treat with hasty visits. Injuries were often easier to identify and required skill to treat. An example of this came at Brigham City in late October of 1870 when the two and a half year old son of Mr. M. C. Jensen was playing in a corral where there was an old and “very gentle cow,” but somehow one of the cow’s horns got into the young child’s mouth and tore a T-shaped cut in his cheek. The little sufferer had some bleeding and much pain until “Dr. Ormsby, Jr.,” placed him under the influence of chloroform and skillfully cleaned the wound, sewed it up and dressed it. A report in early November had the little fellow doing well.20
Beginning with the March 15, 1871 issue, an advertisement was placed in the weekly edition of the Deseret News published in Salt Lake City that was designed and formatted for the outlying Mormon settlements, containing a mix of general news, important Salt Lake happenings plus news and letters from the smaller outlying communities. The page ten advertisement stated: “O. C. Ormsby, M.D. / Physician, Surgeon & Druggist / Main Street Brigham City.” The ad continued weekly at least through September of 1871.21 In his rounds of sickness, accidents, broken bones, etc., there were some more terrible than others. At nearby Willard a twelve-year-old boy took his gun out shooting, and while near the railroad tracks he dropped the gun with the butt end striking the ground first and discharged sending its load into the side of the boy’s head and coming out the top. The wounded boy was conveyed home with “his brains oozing out of his head,” and “Dr. Ormsby, Jun., of Brigham City” was sent for; he came and did all he could for the boy. After an examination the doctor declared the case hopeless from the first, but when the boy lived into the next day, he called for “Dr. Ormsby, Sen., of Salt Lake City” who came and used “his skills to the utmost.” However, the boy was beyond help and he died early the next morning. In early June at Brigham City a little girl had followed her mother to the corral at milking time and while the mother milked, the little girl climbed up on a milk pail and placed her head between some horizontal boards when the pail she was standing on tipped over hanging the little girl. “Dr. Ormsby, jr., was summoned to attend, but life was extinct.”22
Interestingly there was a Democratic Convention held in Utah in July of 1872 and O. C. Ormsby was one of three from Box Elder County entitled to a seat. The hybrid party contending to be representatives of “the Democrats and Liberal Republicans of Utah in convention” was a vain attempt to bridge the differences between the People’s Party of the Mormons and the Liberal Party of the anti-Mormons. Thereafter, O.C. Ormsby would work in the Peoples’ Party until the 1890s. Earlier in January of 1872 the Corinne newspaper noted that Dr. Ormsby of Brigham City had been in their “commercial metropolis” with no indication as to why he was there. He may have been called there for medical service even though there were doctors in residence, or maybe he was looking over the prospects in the anti-Mormon boom town striving at the time to be the transfer point on the railroad for all goods destined by wagon train to Idaho and Montana. One of the last newspaper reported cases involving Dr. Ormsby came in August of 1872 when two fifteen-year-old boys were found near the Brigham City railroad depot sick and in a “pitiable condition.” It was later discovered the boys had traveled on the railroad from Memphis, Tennessee bound for California where their father was living. They had run out of money and suffered from hunger and cold nights plus hitching rides in railroad cars. Dr. Ormsby was called to attend to them, and they revived fast with one of them disappearing without notice. The officials sent off letters to the boys’ relatives in California.23
By the fall of 1872 Dr. Ormsby at Brigham City had a good medical practice and a money-making drug store business and appeared to have settled in for a long time. The winds of change were working and it related to Box Elder County and neighboring Cache County that both began settlements in the mid-1850s and by 1870 the latter had almost twice the population (4,855 to 8,229) and although smaller in physical size was recognized as having the better agricultural potential. In addition some of the leading citizens of Cache County had started the Utah Northern Railroad to bring the first railroad to their area, connecting with Ogden and the transcontinental route and with aspirations of taking that line into Idaho and possibly Montana with Logan playing a major role as headquarters and hub for the new railroad. Two of the leading men with this railroad and among the most important business, religious and civic leaders of Cache County were convinced that they needed Dr. O.C. Ormsby of Brigham City to be their county’s primary physician. The railroad was in the process of constructing track north from Brigham City in mid-summer of 1872 and would cross the mountains into Cache County. Therefore William B. Preston and Moses Thatcher earnestly invited Ormsby to remove to Logan and in the fall of 1872 (between August 14 and September 20th) he closed his medical practice and drug store at Brigham City and moved into Cache County where he would spend the next three decades.24
TO LOGAN AND CACHE VALLEY
When he came to this new area there were “doctors” of a loosely applied designation applying their trade in several ways, but few, if any, involved training or study. They and some parents applied their folk medicine or home remedies, before or after faith healing left the ailment unsolved. Some used a wide variety of common or natural substances ranging from axle grease to vinegar; others used various chemical compounds, plasters, salves, and homemade potent or patent medicine in seeking to cure the long list of ills. Most of these early practitioners had other jobs supplementing their income. In the 1860s in Cache Valley, Dr. Henry Hughes at Mendon used simple herb cures as well as farmed and served as bishop. At Hyde Park “Doc” James Hancey also worked as a veterinarian, dentist and made caskets. In Logan Dr. H. K. Cranney served as county attorney, coroner, surgeon of the militia company and sometimes as a local physician. Some moved on to better opportunities, such as Dr. David Dilley who, after dispensing his pills in Logan for three years, moved on to Ogden. Other known doctors were Wisemen in Logan, and Williams and Bain in Smithfield along with others whose stay or service was not noted in records and journals of the time. None of these had the training and professional education that Dr. O. C. Ormsby had. Illness and injury were ever present in Cache Valley. Even death, especially for the young, was all to frequent. The cause of death report for the Salt Lake area for September and October of 1872 (when Dr. Ormsby enter Cache Valley) revealed that of 152 deaths in the period three-fourth were children.25
Dr. Ormsby set up his medical practice and established a drug store on Fourth Street. In most histories this establishment is given the credit of being the first such business in Logan. However, that wasn’t the case. At least a dozen years earlier James H. Martineau had set up the “Cache Valley Drug Store” by at least September 26, 1860, when an advertisement was placed in the weekly Church newspaper published at Salt Lake City. The advertisement “respectfully” informed the public of the new drug store at Logan which carried a “choice assortment of drugs and medicines” plus a great variety of staple and dry goods along with tea, coffee, sugar, tobacco, liquors, guns and ammunition. The ad appeared periodically through the end of 1860 with the issue of January 2, 1861, and thereafter no longer carrying it.26 Apparently this drug store did not continue operations more than a few months. Interestingly in the 1880s Dr. Ormsby sold his interest in the drug store and a few years later re-entered the business in partnership with the son of the first drug store owner.
The drug business on Logan’s Fourth Street was described as “a small drug store,” and the following spring Dr. Ormsby built a larger facility on Main Street into which he moved his business. The closest newspaper published at Corinne, Utah in Box Elder County, in the fall of 1873 described the store and situation as follows: “Drug Store of Dr. Ormsby, which presents a fresh, inviting appearance. It has lately been fitted up in modern style, the counters handsomely finished, and the shelves arranged with neatly labeled bottles. The Doctor is the leading physician of the place, and his large business extends to every town in the valley.” Latter listings in the same newspaper under Logan business district named the establishment—“DR. ORMSBY’S DRUG STORE” with the following information “Prescriptions, Carefully compounded, A full stock of Choicest Liquors.” Sometime later the store was renamed the
Pioneer Drug Store and it became the premier drug store in northern Utah and southern Idaho. While Dr. Ormsby’s office was in the same building, he couldn’t maintain his medical practice and keep the business by himself. He remained the druggist and was assisted by his wife and possibly others until January of 1874 when he hired Cyrus Napper as his assistant and clerk where he remained for over twenty years. By the summer of 1874, Dr. Ormsby had a branch of his drug store functioning in Franklin, Idaho.27 Almost five years later the Ogden newspaper gave the following description of this drug store:
THE DRUG STORE of Dr. Ormsby on Main Street, Logan, is one of the
best kept businesses in the city. Though the store is not large, it is ample
enough for the demands, and is filled with nearly everything in the drug line.
The stock is always well arranged to make a good display that is attractive in such
places; and includes full line of drugs, chemicals, patent medicines, perfumery,
toilet articles, trusses, supporters, shoulder braces and other surgical appliances,
tobacco, cigars, pipes, pocketbooks, pocket-knives, brushes, combs, druggists’
sundries, etc. There is perhaps no better assorted stock north of Salt Lake, and,
as wholesale trade is a prominent feature, the attention of the dealers in Cache
Valley is called to the advantages offered them so near at home. Prescriptions of
all kinds are carefully compounded any hour of day or night. The Dr. makes a
specialty of his Compound Cough Syrup and Rheumatic Liniment, and also puts
up oils, essences, etc., for retail trade.28
Late in 1879 Logan finally had its own newspaper and it carried large advertisements for the drug store listing some of the goods carried. In addition to those listed in the Ogden paper, it reported the store selling a “selected stock of paints, oils, turbs, varnishes, and painters’ tools. It advised potential customers that the store would accept “Grain of all kinds” in exchange for the store’s goods. In addition the Logan newspaper had a supplemental article on “The Drug Establishment,” claiming there was not a better selection of goods available “in this part of the country,” and Mr. Cyrus Napper was in charge of the prescriptions, drugs and chemicals. It also advised doctors in the north to purchase their supplies from Doctor Ormsbly.29 The drug store will be mentioned again later.
Before delving into Dr. Ormsby’s medical practice, it would be well to state that while busily engaged in his profession and drug store he was very much active in Church, civic and political matters with interests in raising and improving livestock, hunting and shooting contests to mention those noted the most frequently. He was active in the Fortieth Quorum of Seventies and in time became one of the seven presidents of this group. Possibly he was most involved with the Sunday school when the LDS Church undertook a revitalization of this organization in the late 1860s. By 1872 a plan was developed with Apostle George Q. Cannon becoming the General Superintendent of the Deseret Sunday School Union with goals in increasing membership in the organization and to improve the instruction within it, and Dr. Ormsby was called as a Sunday School missionary. In Cache Valley Moses Thatcher was called as the stake leader of Sunday schools with Dr. Ormsby as one of his assistants in September of 1878. Shortly after Elder Thatcher was made a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Dr. Ormsby replaced Thatcher as the superintendent of Sunday Schools in the Cache Stake. The number of meetings, announcements in the newspaper, addresses he gave, position on the stand at conference time, and great amount of travel in this calling, etc., revealed his calling was almost full time for this auxiliary in which he as stake leader called the various ward Sunday School leaders, led in the planning of celebrations, jubilees and separate Sunday School conferences at stake, ward, district levels to a degree quite unimaginable by today’s standards. By the early 1920s this entity had mushroomed into a huge organization when the First Presidency of the Mormon Church sent out letters to the stakes that no longer was the Sunday school to function as a separate entity but were to hereafter operate under the direct supervision of stake and ward authorities. He was also involved with one other business, the United Order Foundry, Wagon and Machine Manufacturing Company. He served initially as a director and in 1879 became a vice president in this business. Covering the above activities would expand this paper well beyond the scope of its intended objective of the doctor’s medical practice.
Dr. O. C. Ormsby’s (by the time of coming to Cache Valley his initials were used instead of his given and middle names) welcome into his new area of practice was fast and quite overwhelming. His coming by way of invitation from the most prominent and important men was a factor in his favor, and it was known that he was the first Cache Valley physician with professional training. Shortly after his arrival the area experienced a series of accidents and much sickness that even the hated Salt Lake Tribune announced that “Dr. Ormsby, jr., is so crowded with applicants that he has had to seek the assistance of his father, who will probably move from Salt Lake City to Logan.”30 Prior to his father’s coming he had his first reported accident case from a newspaper account dated September 20, 1872, at Logan, when a man erecting a large frame house fell from the top breaking a joist and winding up in the cellar with a terrible cut over his right eye where a penetration of the skull had been made, causing a skull fracture with part of the brains oozing out of the head wound. Dr. Ormsby was called to attend the unconscious man and after examination said the recovery was doubtful, and the man died the following day. On October 11th “Dr. Ormsby, Jr.,” received a telegraph calling him back into Box Elder County where Andrew Allen had been injured while oiling a threshing machine. The man’s hand or arm has been caught in the machine and drawn between the gearing cogs up to above his elbow. When the doctor arrived and examined the mangled arm, he found that amputation was necessary. He performed this operation between the shoulder and elbow with assistance of two doctors from Corinne—Drs. Graham and McKinney. Five days later the man was reported to being doing well. This was not his first amputation, only the earliest known to have been performed after moving to Logan, howbeit the operation took place back in his old county. Later in the following month he was called to Hyde Park where a five-year-old girl had gotten too close to a stove and her clothing caught fire and she was badly burned. She died two hours later, perhaps shortly before or after the doctor arrived.31
The vast majority of the doctor’s cases from not feeling good to specific complaint, minor injuries, etc., where never recorded except in the doctor’s records. Even those known were too numerous to chronicle, so while several cases will be mentioned only a few significant ones will be covered in detail of his first decade in Cache Valley from 1872 through 1882. Early in July of 1873 and after the senior Ormsby had moved to Logan, the ten-month-old child of C. H. Lundberg of Logan was examined by the father and son doctors. Shortly the “Doctors Ormsby” performed a successful hare-lip operation on the child. The report on the recovery included that the child’s appearance was “wonderful improved.” The father of the child told of two of his other children with the same problem had been operated on in Salt Lake City and both of them had died from the operations.32 This was probably young Ormsby’s first harelip operation, and it is unknown how many the senior Ormsby had experienced in his forty years as a physician, but it would not be the last for Dr. O. C. Ormsby.
A more serious operation came on January 19, 1874, when Dr. Ormsby, Jr., operated on a tumor in Alfred J. Atkinson’s breast. The man from Newton had experienced an accident in which he was thrown or fell from his loaded wagon with the wheels crossing his chest. For two years he put up with the pain and affliction and many times passed Dr. Ormsby’s office in Brigham City as he hauled goods for the Newton Co-op store without stopping for a physical check. Time had made things worse when he finally went to Logan to see the doctor whose diagnosis was a tumor. The operation was difficult due to the size and position of the tumor being so close to the right lung, and further complicated when after the incision it was discovered that the ribs underneath the tumor had been almost completed decomposed. Upon removal of the tumor only a thin membrane covered the lung, which allowed the doctor to see the movement of the lung plainly. According to the report, the doctor termed the tumor to be “osteosarcomatosis” or malignant growth and upon removal was found to be ten inches around and weighed three pounds. After “all abnormal substances” were removed, the internal area was thorough cleansed and carefully dressed. However, with the loss of blood and aggravated by the associated damage in the chest cavity, the patient was in a critical condition. The operation was performed in a nearby room, possibly at a local hotel, where the patient was constantly monitored for three days when he was thorough examined and re-dressed. The evaluation was that Atkinson was in “an excellent condition” and this continued for two more weeks with the hope of a speedy recovery. He survived the operation and lived another twenty-two months before dying on September 11, 1875.33
Dr. Ormsby had another amputation on June 29, 1874, on the leg of “C. Larson,” who had emigrated from Scandinavia the previous fall. Fifteen year earlier Larson had injured this leg by some timbers falling on it and had been bothered by it from that time on. Then two months previous he had bruised the same leg, increasing the pain; he went and was treated by Dr. Ormsby with no satisfactory result. This caused the doctor to decide to make an open examination of the bone itself, and with the assistance of Drs. H. K. Cranny and David B. Lamereaux, he made an incision on the lower leg. Then they took a three inch strip of the shin bone that disclosed the bone down to the ankle was filled with ulcerations with disintegration of the bone. The situation with the lower leg left no alternatives than to amputate it between the knee and ankle. After the operation the upper portion of the leg was dressed and the patient cared for. A report four days later had him doing well, “especially for one of his age.” Because the elderly man was poor, Dr. Ormsby and his assistants decided to not charge the man for their services, which the newspaper thought spoke well for them. Apparently there were further complications requiring medical attention and medicines before the patient finally died. After his death Dr. Ormsby filed a claim with the county court on September 7th for medical expenses and medicines required after the amputation, and the court allowed $36.60 for this indigent man’s care. Another atypical venture came in late May of 1875, when an immigrant from Sweden, Ingra Ostland, experienced an accident while preparing to make starch at her home in Logan. She finished grinding potatoes and moved to the edge of the nearby Logan River to clean her sieve and other utensils when the bank caved in and she fell into the raging swollen stream. Her children saw this and alerted the father and husband who was unable to rescue her and lost sight of her body. Eventually her body was found and recovered over a half-mile downstream lodged among the willows. The newspaper concluded its story on the drowning by stating: “Much credit is due O. C. Ormsby, M.D., for the prompt and energetic manner with which he procured grappling irons and forwarded men to the spot, with the view to effect her rescue and in rendering aid necessary in such cases.” 34
In the course of his practice he had patients who came to see him at his office and cases in which the injured were rushed to Logan to see the doctor, and there were a great number of emergency calls usually via telegraph and then telephone for his services elsewhere. Doctoring involved a great deal of travel and came at all hours, and he experienced the heat of summer, rain, fog, snow and the cold. The railroad into Cache Valley and tracks leading northward greatly facilitated some of his traveling needs, and Dr. Ormsby had a good horse and buggy available to respond to calls where the railroad did not go. Several of his calls had him going back into his old area in Box Elder County to Willard, Brigham City and Hampton Station, and it soon became apparent that in regard to Dr. Ormsby’s practice that Box Elder County’s loss was Cache Valley’s gain. Via the railroad he could travel to Salt Lake City, Ogden, Box Elder County, Mendon, Hyde Park, Smithfield, Richmond and Franklin fast and easily. South of the railroad tracks running east to Logan his trips had to be by horse and buggy as it was to the western settlements of Cache Valley. In addition he made many trips to Salt Lake City for “business.”35 Most of Dr. Ormsby’s known medical cases come from newspaper reports with the reservation that before the latter part of 1879 when Cache Valley first had their own newspaper that information came from distant Salt Lake City papers. Newspapers were inclined to cover accidents or cases with some notable particular. Whether reported or not he had a great number of cases and they covered a wide range of problems including various diseases, abscesses, tumors, knifing and gunshot wounds, burns, falls or being thrown from horses and wheeled vehicles, sawmill and threshing machine injuries, frozen hands and feet, animal kicks, eating concentrated lye, accidents from storms, railroad, axes and an injury from falling rocks while a man was digging a well. A few more specific cases will be mentioned in this regard.
In the middle of March 1876 Dr. Ormsby arrived in Ogden with personal news of “a most terrible storm” in the far north of Utah which had even blocked the railroad. He had been forced to travel by sleigh from Logan to Deweyville where he caught a train to Ogden. He guessed it would take several days to clear the snow in the blockade. Besides the heavy snow, the winter had been bitterly cold and he had attended to 125 cases of diphtheria being most prevalent in Logan and the nearby settlements. Over two years later a correspondent wrote the Salt Lake paper concerning a new “bloodless surgical operation” which Dr. Ormsby had performed on the twelve-year-old son of Jonathan Bower of Providence. Six months earlier the boy’s left leg became afflicted between the ankle and knee, causing him “great pain.” It was decided to perform exploratory surgery to find the problem and attempt to correct it. The boy was placed under the influence of chloroform and an incision made on the leg below the knee joint, employing the new technique of “bloodless surgery” that was not explained in detail. It was found the leg bone exposed was “much diseased, and pronounced, in surgical parlance, as instance of necrosis.” The operation continued for an hour with five and one-half inches of the diseased bone cut out. After the operation was finished, the reporter stated that the new method was “entirely satisfactory to the practitioner and those who assisted and witnessed it.” He also stated that later that day the patient was doing well. Fifteen months later in August of 1879, Dr. Ormsby traveled to Salt Lake City to join a colleague in an eye operation. A few days earlier a Mr. Murphy had one of his eyes injured in a blast at Beaverhead, Idaho and had been sent by train to Salt Lake City for an operation. His initial examination in Salt Lake City showed that the man’s eye would have to be removed. Therefore, according to the newspaper, “Dr. J. M. Benedict, of this city [Salt Lake City], and Dr. O. C. Ormsby, of Logan, went to St. Mary’s Hospital” in Salt Lake City and performed an operation, removing the man’s eye. Dr. Joseph M. Benedict was from New York and came to Utah to practice medicine after the Civil War. In 1877 as President Brigham Young’s health began to fail, his family physician, Dr. Seymour B. Young, in direct charge of the case had Dr. Joseph Benedict and Denton Benedict assist him. Again Dr. Ormsby’s knowledge and medical experiences were increased by this joint effort.36
In August of 1879 Dr. Ormsby learned for the first time, by way of another Salt Lake newspaper, that a suit for malpractice was going to be brought against him. In response to reporters’ questions regarding the upcoming suit, he stated strongly that he would defend himself against charges which he considered “unjust and malicious.” He asserted he would obtain the best legal counsel and he was confident that the “leading medical professors” in the area would support him. The Ogden paper reacted to the initial report in the Salt Lake Herald and a follow-up by the Tribune adding that the suit sought $5,000 by one Peter Nelson of Logan. The alleged malpractice came as a result of the doctor’s operation on Nelson a year earlier in April for a fractured thigh. In the story from Ogden they had the doctor saying he had heard “no syllable of dissatisfaction from the complainant” until the newspaper report of the impending suit. Subsequently the formal suit was presented to Dr. Ormsby and the case went to trial in the Third District Court at Salt Lake in February of 1880. The suit charged the defendant with not adequately caring for his patient’s injury received in April of 1878, but before the plaintiff’s case could be presented and the defendant’s response, the court made a technical decision. The Third District Court dismissed the case because the plaintiff was not of age when the suit was made. With this decision, the new Logan newspaper (started in late 1879) weighed in on the case and situation. The paper explained that it had thought advisable not to comment on the case until some decision was made, but with the court’s actions to forego the merits of the case which had not been made public, the paper thought it should now tell about the situation. In so doing it told how young Nelson [also spelled as “Nielson” and “Neilson”] had been working at logging in Logan Canyon when in April of 1878 he sustained a severe injury to his left leg. He was placed in Dr. Ormsby’s care and an examination found the femur had suffered an “oblique comminute fracture—in other words that the thigh bone had been broken in two places.” After being treated by the doctor the boy was discharged from the doctor’s care, and, although the injured leg was not as good as the other, those who knew of the accident and injury thought he was very fortunate to come out of it as well as he had. Furthermore, the company he had been working for paid all the expenses and “everything was supposed to be satisfactory.” While stated that the paper did not know if the suit was ended forever or would be pursued further, it believed that due to the widespread interest in this case that some remarks should be made. Declaring, “We are not acting as champion for anybody in this matter, but must state that our sympathies are with Dr. Ormsby.” From the doctor’s standing as a citizen and credentials as a physician, the paper thought it reasonable and fair to think the doctor did everything possible for his patient; however, the manner in which the suit was initiated against the doctor was “questionable.” Then the newspaper posed a “grave question” for the consideration of the public which had not been settled in this suit and case—“What recourse has a professional who is unjustly prosecuted for malpractice?” Continuing, the paper said that in nine cases out of ten the plaintiff was impecunious (poor) and had nothing to lose by bringing the suit. On the other hand the defendant was faced with the expenses of hiring counsel and other costs with his professional reputation in jeopardy; and even if the suit is dismissed he was still the injured party. The paper concluded with the question—“Will our law makers do anything to rectify them?”37 Nothing more has been found on this incident.
Meanwhile between the time of learning of this suit and going to court a little episode played out on a Logan lot near Dr. Ormsby’s office in which an eyewitness wrote about under the title “A Frightful Fight,” and his words tell it best:
On Saturday afternoon last, a most shameful fight occurred in a lot near the
Main street of this city. Two little boys—not more than seven or eight years of
age, were induced by their older companions to engage in a combat; and both
being possessed of considerable grit, the affair became serious. They struck,
scratched and kicked each other; pulled hair and swore, while larger boys—among
them brothers of the two young pugilists, instead of preventing their encounter,
seemed rather to cheer them on. Finally the weaker of the two succumbed, and
without making any effort to prolong the contest, laid quite motionless upon the
ground receiving the blows of his opponent. At this juncture a boy in the service
of Dr. Ormsby discovered the situation and immediately went to the rescue. He
lifted the prostrate child; and finding that he was badly hurt and unable to walk,
carried him into the doctor’s office. There he presented a shocking spectacle—
being bruised, and his face and hands being covered with blood. So utter was his
exhaustion, that during the few minutes he remained at the drug store, he swooned
three times. 38
While the doctor helped the beaten and worn out boy in the above knock-down drag-out fight, almost a year later he had his own scuffle with blows struck and blood flowed. On Wednesday evening November 10, 1880, according to a newspaper story gleaned from the testimonies at an earlier court hearing, William Buder, a watchmaker in Logan, came into the Ormsby’s drug store and asked the clerk for a bottle of Jamica ginger. A clerk gave Buder the bottle and he placed it in his overcoat pocket and attempted to leave the store without paying for it. Dr. Ormsby saw this and realized the man was drunk, probably from drinking the liquid Jamica ginger. The doctor tried to persuade Buder to give the bottle back, and when he refused to do this, he was asked to pay for it, which he also refused to do and tried to leave the store. At this juncture Dr. Ormsby seized Buder by the collar to prevent his leaving, and at this the man took the bottle out of his pocket and threw it on the floor smashing it at the same time threatening to blow the doctor’s brains out. While uttering his loud threat, Buder placed his hand in his pocket, and the doctor supposing he was reaching for a gun, grabbed an iron poker and struck man twice on the shoulder and two additional blows on his head, which slightly cut the scalp allowing bleeding. There were two customers in the store who witnessed the incident with one seeking cover behind the soda fountain when Buder made his shooting threats. Buder, after going to another doctor for his scalp wound, went before the local justice and swore out a warrant against Dr. Ormsby charging assault. A few days later the court heard the evidence of the case and then acquitted the defendant saying that under the circumstances he was justified in taking the measures he did. The local newspaper reported the court’s decision and then addressed the issue of Mr. Buder and his drinking, saying that when sober he was a skilled watchmaker with gentlemanly manners, but when drunk he changed greatly in the negative. Then getting specific, the paper claimed that Buder had been on a “spree” for several days being thoroughly intoxicated by drinking Jamica ginger and acting “beside himself.” His injuries from the incident, so the paper wrote, were not serious since they required only “sticking plaster” to cover, and the article concluded by declaring: “If Buder would keep sober he would be a useful and respected citizen.” Case closed? No, not yet as Buder wrote a letter to the newspaper in which he claimed he was slandered by false statements in the newspaper and gave his view of the incident as the “truth of the affray.” He denied making any threats to the doctor and charged that the doctor’s using a poker on him was a “cowardly and womanly act,” and if one of the witnesses crawled behind the soda fountain, it was not for fear of bullets but “perhaps the doctor’s poker.” However, it was not the watchmaker’s time for the last word but the newspaper’s. It focused on Buder’s charge of the paper making falsehoods stating it only reported the sworn statements that the three witnesses gave in court, and his state of intoxication affected his recollection and later testimony of the incident.39
With the establishment of a local newspaper published at Logan, the coverage and details of Dr. Ormsby’s medical practice were greatly enhanced. Starting at least as early at October 9, 1879, and each subsequent weekly issue for many years the front paper of the paper had a business card type advertisement for the various doctors such as: “O. C. Ormsby, M. D. / Surgeon and Physician / Logan, Cache County / Office at Drug Store, Main Street.” Furthermore there were large advertisements for Ormsby’s drug store with mention of the proprietor and “Druggist” Dr. Ormsby. The newspaper had their own informational articles on “The Drug Establishment,” praising it and suggesting all should visit the drug store to see for themselves the wide selections and suggesting that “Doctors in the north” would be well advised to get their supplies there. Also there were small ads for various patent medicines carried at the drug store. A news article in the October 9th issue told of a fair sponsored by the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society of Cache County and a listing of diplomas and prizes awarded to various contestants; under “Class P – Medicines, &c.” O. C. Ormsby received a diploma for “best display of manufactured medicines, camphores and toilet articles.” By November of 1879 the business cards included Dr. Ormsby, J. B. Groesbeck, Physician and Surgeon, W. S. Norcross, Homeopathic Physician and Surgeon, and J. W. Hitchcock, Dentist. The doctor and his activities were prime material in whatever sphere, even to the visit of Dr. Joseph Benedict, “the skilled physician and surgeon” from Salt Lake City to Dr. Ormsby. From the newspaper advertisements it would appear the drug store was formally named the “Pioneer Drug Store” on January 1, 1880, when the first ads by this name were published. In July of 1880 the paper told of the renovation and enlargement of the drug store with the newspaper claiming: “The ‘Pioneer’ is now one of the best appointed drug stores in Utah; and is quite equal to any in the inter-mountains.”40
One of the first accident cases reported by the Logan newspaper came in late November of 1879 when two young men from Mendon went duck hunting and met with an accident. On this cold day a flock of ducks flew up and both fellows turned to fire but one’s hands, being “benumbed with cold or the excitement of the moment” caused his gun to fire passing the full charge of the shot through the left leg of his companion near the ankle joint and tearing the flesh to the bone in a “frightful wound.” The accident happened at one o’clock in the afternoon and it took the men three hours to get back to Mendon and for whatever reason Dr. Ormsby was not sent for until about 8:30 p.m. When the doctor arrived and examined the extent of the injury he concluded that it was impossible to save the boy’s leg. The young man’s family (James H. Hill) made a desperate plea for the doctor to save the leg if possible, which pleading the doctor had experienced before. To support his judgment and to convince the family he knew his business, the doctor had the family view the wounded area and showed them that “two inches of the bone gone leaving only the skin and portion of the muscle.” With this graphic view and probably with the doctor’s telling of other bad consequences, the family consented to the amputation, which the paper reported, the doctor performed “in a manner which proved him to be a surgeon of undoubted skill.” The paper had a couple of follow-up articles mentioning “Young Hill” and how he was doing with the last report on New Year’s Day having him getting about on crutches. Several months later Dr. Ormsby had the case of Aquilla Noble of Smithfield, who had been suffering from several abscesses on his right side and hip with the pain and discharge of pus leaving him in constant pain and exhausted to the point of prostration. He went to Dr. Ormsby and after a thorough examination the doctor decided he could help the patient. The doctor operated by cutting open the sinuses (or narrow tract through which the pus discharged) of the abscesses hoping to tap the source of the pus and then cleanse the affected parts. The newspaper reported there was an immediate “beneficial result” and the prognosis for the patient’s recovery “from his long prostration” looked good.41
In the sources researched little is found concerning Dr. Ormsby’ family. After the marriage of Dr. Ormsby and Maretta in October of 1869 there are big gaps in the family story. The 1900 Census had Maretta listed as “mother” to eight children with five surviving. Research so far has found the names of only five children born to this couple with the first known child, Oliver S. Ormsby, born in March of 1874 some four years and four months after the marriage. The next known child, Mabel, was born in January of 1880, some five years and nine months after the birth of the first known son. Apparently there were three other children born during these gaps who didn’t survive. Starting with Mabel’s birth the local newspaper (started in 1879) heralded the birth of the four known daughters born between January of 1880 and January of 1892. In addition his father, Dr. John S. Ormsby, moved to Logan and assisted in his son’s medical practice for a period of time. On October 1, 1875, father John S. died at his son’s home in Logan. Then on January 5, 1880, a baby daughter was born to Maretta and Dr. O. C. Ormsby. The new addition to the family was named Mabel. Just over five months later the 1880 census was taken and for the Ormsby residence in Logan; it recorded the head of the household as Oliver C. Ormsby at age thirty-six as a surgeon, his wife Maretta at age twenty-nine keeping house, with son Oliver S. at age six and daughter Mabel as five and one-half months. Also living in the same household were Maretta’s sister, Sarah Smith at age twenty and single; and Charles Hibbard, a sixteen year old listed as a “servant” and “Laborer,” or a hired hand. In August of 1879 the Salt Lake and Ogden papers noted that Dr. Ormsby was in Salt Lake City making “arrangements and purchases to furnish his residence in Logan.” It hasn’t been ascertain if this was for a new residence or an upgrade of the one the family had been living in.42
The first decade of Dr. Ormsby’s life and practice in Cache Valley centered and closed on another milestone in his career. Because all of the details are not known, it will be unfolded as it developed piecemeal primarily in the newspapers. The Logan paper announced to its readers in late November of 1880 that Dr. Ormsby had travel south (presumably to Salt Lake City) to find some competent individual to take charge of “his business and practice” as he “expects to leave for Europe on a mission in the spring.” His name was not included among the missionaries called at the October semi-annual conference, making this mission call somewhat different from the usual procedure. Approximately a month later in mid-December the announcement was made that the doctor had accomplished a major objective in his “preparations for his departure” on a mission in the spring by entering into a partnership with a man competent to conduct the drug business in his absence. The new partner was Benjamin F. Riter of Salt Lake City who was a graduate in pharmacy, and he moved to Logan. Henceforth the new firm would be Ormsby & Riter operating the Pioneer Drug Store. While on his first mission over a decade earlier wife Maretta ran the small drug store and business during the absence of her husband, now she had more important business to attend to in her family. Besides the business was now much larger and needed someone trained in make prescriptions and other drug store matters plus there was competition with D. R. Lamoreaux’s People Drug Store and advertisement in the Logan newspaper for “Wm. Driver & Son the Leading Druggists of Ogden” showing some of their offerings with the notation of “Send in your orders and they will receive prompt attention.”
With the new partnership Dr. Ormsby needed to get the business’s books in order and he started placing the following in the newspaper: “NOTICE.—All parties knowing themselves indebted to me will confer a favor by calling and settling the same at once; also those to whom I am indebted, will present their
claimed for settlement. O. C. ORMSBY.” Starting in January this notice was published frequently until the doctor left on his mission. In mid-March the newspaper published a news article on this collection of debts. It stated the doctor’s time for leaving was fast approaching and it was “highly necessary” to collect the accounts due him before his departure. It further stated that the doctor had taken to notifying his debtors by mail, but this and notices in the columns of the paper had not produced the desired result “in many instances.” Stating that Dr. Ormsby was reluctant to proceed to more urgent measures there was a hint that such could happen. Then the newspaper tried to rally those who haven’t resolved their debt problem by recalling the “inestimable service” this doctor had given to so many, and now there should be a tangible way of showing appreciation back before his departure so “we would be glad to see him bear away only the most pleasant recollection of his friends and acquaintances.” It is not known how this situation came out in the end. The doctor had one other known item to take care of and he placed an advertisement in the local paper: “FOR SALE CHEAP! A good Horse and Buggy [,] Single and Double Harness. Apply early to O. C. Ormsby.” This was undoubtedly his animal and vehicle used in his medical practice, and most likely this offer was snapped up early for the doctor was known for having the best horses and buggy.43
Since at least late November of 1880 the residents of Cache Valley were aware of Dr. Ormsby’s intended mission to Europe the following spring. In mid-March there were published further details about this mission as he was going on “a double errand, to labor in the mission field, and to further perfect himself in the science of surgery.” Tullidge in his biographical sketch of Dr. Ormsby wrote that the First Presidency of the Church called the doctor on this mission “in the spring of 1881.” However, the long-established call of missionaries at general conference did not include his name in the oral presentation from the pulpit, but he and another elder were included in the written list published in the Deseret News after the conference with the notation that these two names were being added to the list of missionaries to Europe.44 The length of time between the calling and going and the unusual nature of the mission leads to wondering if there weren’t other aspects to his call as unusual as the mission. Possibly Dr. Ormsby, either before or after any discussion of a foreign mission, had suggested that possibly the Church should lift its medical horizons beyond having members going to the eastern states to gain medical knowledge and find ways to check out the medical institutions of Europe. We do know that while on this mission Dr. Ormsby addressed at least one letter to President John Taylor of the Church. On June 14, 1882, Elder Ormsby wrote a long letter to his mission president with most of it dealing with his missionary activities and the state of the various churches in his area. It also included the following: “When I left home, it was understood by the Presidency of the Church, that my mission was to be of a two-fold character, i.e., some of the time to be devoted to the acquirement of professional knowledge.”45 However, it happened it wasn’t the standard one-way mission call and assignment of a missionary.
In late March of 1881 there was a farewell party at the doctor’s residence for him and attended by many friends, patients and at least one newspaper reporter with the guests wishing the esteemed doctor the very best and “God speed” on his mission. On Tuesday April 19th nine or ten missionaries (one of whom was Wm. H. Applerly) from Cache Valley departed from their home areas on the train bound for their fields of missionary labor. Connecting with a transcontinental line the missionaries traveled eastward on the train and then encountered a delay in Missouri which caused them to arrive late in New York City so they missed the ship they hoped to travel on. This information comes from a letter by William H. Applerley written from England to the head of an educational institute in Cache County with the local newspaper copying the letter in their columns. In reporting the unforeseen delay in Missouri which changed the missionaries traveling plans, Applerly saw it as an “opportunity of spending a few days in New York.” He spent his time in visiting places of interest which included the city’s water works, Central Park and the Greenwood Cemetery plus some grammar schools since he, by profession, was in education. Dr. Ormsby had over interests which will be alluded to shortly. After the delay, the missionaries were booked on Guion Line steamship Wyoming and sailed for Europe. Their arrival at Liverpool, England was duly reported by the mission with the notation: “The voyage across the ocean was excellent, and the health of the company was good on their arrival in Liverpool.” Elder Applerley was more eloquent writing: “The crossing of the wide Atlantic was an instructive lesson. The beauties of the sea must be seen to be appreciated. The undulating waves or the tranquil ocean, the moans of a coming storm, and the terrific burst of the roaring tempest tell in language clear and plain that there is a God.”46
The details of his mission to preach the Latter-day Saint’s gospel is beyond the scope of this article so only a few remarks will be made concerning it. He was assigned to be a traveling elder in the London Conference where he served for four months. Then in early October of 1881 he was appointed the president of the Birmingham Conference. He had many opportunities to speak in public and private with baptizing of some converts and further instruction to the English members of the Church plus giving guidance to the missionaries who served in his area. When an English newspaper published a long article hostile to the Mormons, he responded with a reply which the paper rejected “on the grounds that it supported the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, and they could not publish anything that would tend to that end.” In his letters to mission headquarters a couple of times he commented on all the walking he was doing. One district he and his companion had was 300 miles around and they made the circuit of it every three weeks. He wrote: “I found the manner of travel somewhat different to what I had been accustomed to, having much walking to do; yet I had little difficulty in learning the lesson.”47 In his mission of fourteen months he preached the gospel to thousands and baptized forty-two and made hundreds of English friends.
Then on February 1, 1882, he began the second part of his double purpose mission. Granted a leave of absence by his mission president, he took a boat across the English Channel to France, suffering sea sickness on the water crossing. He went on to Paris where he visited several French hospitals having the “privilege of witnessing considerable French surgery,” some by their ablest physicians. Later he stated that he was not impressed with the French surgery as he had anticipated, yet admitted they were “clever” in their efforts. He came away believing the French, especially their medical fraternity, were obsessed with manifestly showing the dislike for all foreigners, especially Americans; there were several Americans visiting the same hospitals at the same time. He went to Germany and visited some Berlin hospitals only to find that he was handicapped by not understanding the language, and apparently with no able translator available. The stay in Germany was short and he made a “hasty tour of France, Italy and Switzerland, visiting the places of interest, historical and cultural sites in all three countries with no focus in the medical profession. He returned to London, England and resumed his medical mission, visiting five of the principal hospitals for about a month. He found the English professional men more polite, attentive and willing to show whatever they had or respond to what the visitors sought to see. He witnessed first-hand more surgery than he had hoped to see, and Dr. Ormsby was extremely pleased with this and “the clinical advantages that were afforded him.” He had the pleasure to “paying very particular attention” to the method of surgery of the celebrated Joseph Lister, founder of the “Listerian Anti-septic” system of surgery. From London he proceeded to Edinburgh, Scotland where he watched more surgery or “manipulation of the knife” by some of Scotland’s celebrated surgeons of the time. He felt that the Scots were “whole-souled men” with much knowledge. On May 7, 1882, from Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr. Ormsby sent a letter to the Logan newspaper describing his dual mission saying his “professional mission” would conclude with the visit to Scotland. This letter is one of the best sources on the medical portion of his time in Europe. Another good source came in a talk he made in Logan shortly after returning from his mission.48
In the address after returning home to Logan he said he “found that American physicians were more proficient in their profession than those of the older countries.” Claiming he was “not prejudiced,” he went on to state that no person had to leave America to learn the knowledge and methods of the medical profession. Then he gave his rather surprising evaluation of his medical mission. Dr. Ormsby stated that he had obtained his “greatest information” not in Paris, Berlin, London nor Scotland, but in New York City. How could this be? Well, the train delay that caused the missionaries bound for Europe the extra time in New York, gave him the opportunity to visit this city’s hospitals and/or medical institutions to learn of their more advanced knowledge, techniques and methods in surgery and medicine in general. Furthermore, when the emigration company he came back to the United States with reach New York and were processed through Castle Garden, Dr. Ormsby did not go with the large company in the two trains bound for Utah. Instead he “remained in New York for a few days,” where he most likely once again visited the hospitals and talked with the leading physicians and surgeons, possibly was comparing the American ways with what he observed in the European hospitals.49 It will be shown later that this wasn’t his last learning visit to the New York hospitals.
After visiting hospitals of Scotland, Elder Ormsby returned to England and finished some business as president of the Birmingham Conference, including turning over the position to his replacement. On June 19th the church members held a “tea-party and concert” in “honor of President Ormsby” as he prepared to leave for home. “A hundred and fifty sat down to tea,” and for the concert there was not a vacant seat in the chapel. The spokesman recorded on this occasion: “We shall miss brother Ormsby very much; he has been a kind-hearted gentleman, and the Saints loved to obey his kind, fatherly counsels.” Then he joined the third company of emigrants that year being one of thirty-three returning missionaries in the largest Mormon company to leave England since 1873 with their numbers being 933. They sailed on the ship Nevada, leaving Liverpool of June 21st. They reached New York City on Sunday, July 2, 1882, with word of their coming preceding them by telegraph.50 The company was met by the Mormon agent handling their passing through Castle Garden and transportation arrangements to Utah and reporters from the New York newspapers. The size of the company plus a rising tide of anti-Mormon sentiment made the new immigrants newsworthy. The reporter of the leading newspaper wrote an article published the following day and gave a fairly accurate account, saying the newcomers looked as well and intelligent as ordinary immigrants, and this company did not have more women than men as critics were charging. After giving the basic facts as to numbers, a death and an accident on the voyage and some information on the further travel plans, then interjected: “Among the returning missionaries is Dr. Ormsby, a prominent Mormon. The Mormons send out as missionaries their doctors, lawyers, farmers, and mechanics—whoever seems best suited to the work.”51 Apparently the reporter did not speak directly with Dr. Ormsby, but the missionary leader of the company singled him out for mention as this returning missionary was indeed “prominent” in the company leader’s mind and that standing was growing in northern Utah and had not reached its zenith as his first decade as the leading physician and surgeon in Cache Valley came to a close.
SECOND DECADE IN CACHE VALLEY – 1882-1891
After a fifteen months absence Dr. O. C. Ormsby returned to Utah and found a hearty welcome by family and friends. An article dated at Logan and published in the Ogden newspaper the following day recorded on July 14, 1882: “Last night Dr. O. C. Ormsby also returned, having successfully filled his mission.” “To-day, Dr. Ormsby was called to attend a child, 8 years old, of G. Barber, who received a very dangerous kick in the forehead while playing near some horses in the yard.” On the following day of the 15th the Barber’s little girl underwent an operation by Dr. Ormsby wherein he took out a piece of the fractured skull, two and a quarter inches long and about three-quarters of an inch wide, and “inserted a silver plate in its place.” The reporter praised the doctor on his skillful operation, and related that the child was acting very comfortable ever since.52 He quickly resumed his medical practice, and most of that practice established before his mission returned to their old doctor. The drug store was also doing well, and even with competition it was the biggest and best in Logan. When the thirty-nine-year-old Dr. Ormsby returned to Logan, its population was around 3,500 with Cache County having about 13,000 people plus the settlements in southern Idaho. There were more doctors listing their services via business cards in the local newspaper. The listing in the August 1, 1882, issue included the following: “O. C. Ormsby, Physician and Surgeon, office at Pioneer Drug Store, Logan City, Utah; J. B. Groebeck, Physician and Surgeon, office at the City Drug Store; Wm. H. Behle, M.D., Physician and Surgeon, Office at residence, Second Street. . . ; Mrs. J. Bearby, M.D, Homeopathic, Physician and Surgeon, Diseases of Women and Children a specialty
. . . ; W. S Norcross, M.D., Surgeon & Physician, office Logan House, Special attention to diseases of women and children; W. H. Olsten, Ph. G.M., Surgeon and Physician, Richmond, Utah.” There were at least two drug stores. There could have been more doctors and drug establishments that did not advertise their services via the newspaper.53
Settling into his medical practice his calls and cases were numerous and varied. They included the diseases of diphtheria, smallpox, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, measles, mumps, whooping cough, dropsy, bronchitis and pneumonia being the most troublesome and common in the area. In addition there were heart attacks, cancer, tumors, appendix, tonsils, ruptures, harelips and other deformities, frozen fingers, hands, toes and feet and accidents. Among the latter were specific cases caused by axes, explosions, falls, cave-ins, shootings, railroad related mishaps and fights, and accidents involving mechanical mills such as sawmills, flourmill, shingle mill, molasses mill and farm machinery such as mowing machines and threshers, animal kicks, dog bites, uncontrollable animals and runaways, lightning, and even children beaten near death by a lunatic or abused in other ways. In short if anything moved, turned or was high or low or otherwise existed, it was possible that some misfortune or accident could and did occur. The doctor was called or visited with the ever-growing expectation that he could relieve, fix, set or solve the problems. Only a few of these will be reported, and again only passing mention will be made of his Church work, political and civic activities, other business dealings, family and personal interests. His travels for his medical practice still was primarily in Cache Valley with some into Box Elder County and more and more trips to Pocatello and Eagle Rock (Idaho Falls).
For the first six weeks after returning from his mission, Dr. Ormsby’s cases reported in the newspaper included setting broken bones, taking care of cuts and dislocations until an early September call to Smithfield took him to a sawmill accident where a young man fell or stumbled into the saw cutting his hand and as he drew his hand away his sleeve was caught in the saw drawing his arm into it being “dreadfully mangled,” and then the young man’s body was thrown into the saw cutting his lower back. The doctor rushed to the scene but found there was little or nothing could be done as the fellow died shortly thereafter. A day or two later on Thursday evening July 7th near midnight the doctor received an urgent telegraph message that his assistance was needed at Richmond in what the newspaper later called a “Shocking Accident.” The Logan doctor rushed to Richmond and found the victim of a mowing machine and runaway horses’ accident and began his examination before the dark morning hours gave way to dawn.54
Christian Peterson, a farmer with a wife and six children, was mowing grass south of Richmond near the railroad tracks when, according to the newspaper account, about four in the afternoon he accidentally “dropped a line, jumped off the machine to recover it, failing in his attempt, he made for the horse’s head, which frightened the animal, causing it to move faster, at the same time kicking him. He finally got to the collar of one of the horses, missed his hold and was caught in the knives of the mower.” A family account added some additional details to the story from Christian’s brother Peter Petersen (the two Danish brothers used different endings on their surnames). Both brothers were mowing on this Thursday and Peter quit to cleanup and attend the afternoon fast and testimony meeting at Church, while his brother decided to continue mowing. While mowing, a thunderstorm came up and a loud clash of thunder caused the horses to stop momentarily and reared up which threw Christian onto or slightly in front of the cutter bar of the mowing machine, and when the horses bolted he was severely cut by the mower knives. He was found and transported to either his home or Dr. W. H. Olsten’s place of business. Here the Richmond doctor examined Christian and decided he needed the best doctor in the area to see this patient and telegraphed for Dr. Ormsby. According to the newspaper with their source being Dr. Ormsby upon his return from Richmond, Mr. Peterson’s right hand was nearly cut off above the wrist and his other arm partly cut in two and mashed and contused. His left leg from the groin to the knee was badly lacerated and torn open to the bone with a piece of fresh the size of a hand and two inches thick had been cut out of the left hip. Besides all this there were a number of smaller cuts and wounds in other parts of the body. Dr. Ormsby, assisted by Dr. Olsten, amputate both hands and lower arms, one above the wrist and the other below the elbow. Upon completion of these amputations, the doctors were set to cut off the left leg when the patient’s brother Peter interceded with the objection that it would be better if his brother died than to live with one leg and no hands. In his years of medical practice Dr. Ormsby had experienced pleas of a similar sort when amputations were considered. At Richmond in early September of 1882, possibly the brother’s objection to adding a leg to both arms being amputated plus the practitioner’s knowledge and skills produced a situation where on second thought it was decided to take the chance to save the badly injured leg.
With Dr. Ormsby in the lead, the injured leg was cared for with cutting away injured tissue, cleansing and the wounds sewed up and bandaged. Still early on Friday morning of Sept. 8th the doctors knew they still had a “precarious case.” Mr. Peterson remained in the care of Dr. Olsten and was kept in the doctor’s office in Richmond where he could be watched and cared for until he became sufficiently recovered for removal to his home. A follow up report from September 26th had him “doing much better than expected.” Nearly two months later in late November, he was apparently in his own home and publicly thanked his friends for their concern and kind feelings to him. His left leg did mend and he delivered the mail for many years, driving his horse or horses, and used the combination of his arm stumps and his teeth to tie and untie his animals.55 This case typifies how many doctors in the area brought Dr. Ormsby in to evaluate some of their cases and/or to take over the more challenging ones.
About two and a half weeks later on Sunday, September 24th, John Anderson with two of his young daughters and three other men took a railroad hand car from Arimo to Pocatello, Idaho. They traveled easily until they reached a bridge near Harkness where the hand car jumped the track and all the occupants were dumped off and fell from the trestle to the ground some fifteen feet below. A telegraphed dispatch was sent to Dr. Ormsby stressing serious injuries, which caused the doctor to rush up by a special train to the patients. The news report of the accident noted the telegraphic message had made the injuries “to be much worse than they were.” Anderson had his face scratched and no serious internal injuries, one daughter’s face was skinned and one elbow bruised, the second daughter had a finger dislocated and broken. One of the other men had a bad cut on the head. The injured were cared for and then the doctor caught another train back to Logan, a long quick trip for minor injuries.56 This quick trip came on the heels of one of the doctor’s private racing interests. He and others had organized the Logan Driving Park organization and a race course with the primary stated objective to improve the stock in Cache Valley, plus the competition and entertainment of racing horses. Three days of racing scheduled for the fall started Wednesday, September 20 and continued through the 22nd with a matched race on the last day between Dr. Ormsby’s horse “Pacer” and Squire’s “Romeo.” At the Friday race “Pacer” won easily in two straight heats.57
In mid-October of 1882 the doctor had, according to the local newspaper, an “Interesting Operation,” which the reporter was permitted to witness. The patient was the young seven-years-old son of Mr. Thomas of Wellsville, and afflicted with spinal disease that caused both lateral and anterior curvature of the spine. The boy was badly deformed and “crooked” with one of his vertebrae almost entirely gone. The treatment that the Logan doctor used was after the system of the “celebrated Professor Louis A Savers of Bellevue hospital, New York.” The reporter’s story commenced: “A suspensory apparatus had been prepared and attached to the ceiling. By means of this contrivance the child was suspended by straps passing under the armpits and chin, in such a way as to allow the trunk and whole body to hang straight. The weight was suspended by the head principally, so as to straighten the spine more perfectly.” Then the trunk of the body from the armpits to the hips was wrapped with plaster of Paris bandages with interlaced strips of perforated tin placed perpendicularly. When this wrapping had set the trunk of the body was encased in a stiff form or jacket which caused the weight of the head and shoulder to rest upon the hips, removing the heretofore pressure upon the vertebrae, hopefully allowing them to heal and become functional and sound. This jacket placed the spinal column into an upright position. After referring to the procedure as an “Interesting Operation” and a “surgical operation,” the reporter finally concluded it was “almost a purely mechanical with the exception of such medicines as may be given to build up the general constitution” of the patient, and appeared to common sense to be a “most scientific” and “most excellent method” of treating certain spinal problems.58 No further information was found on this patient, but a similar method was later tried on another patient with a spinal difficulty. Dr. Ormsby probably saw or learned of this procedure during his hospital visits in New York or Europe, or he could have learned about it in literature such as medical journals or paper. If so he probably checked further into it from the creator or physicians who tried it.
This was followed shortly by one of Dr. Ormsby’s most trying medical periods with “The Logan Small Pox Cases.” Just after the New Year of 1883 rumors began to circulate that there were several cases of smallpox in Logan, but the majority of the public doubted these loose words; city officials and doctors knew nothing concerning this and the reports were considered to be without substance. Just to make sure Dr. Ormsby, the quarantine physician, began investigating the various reports and narrowed it down to one house, and when he visited them on January 4th he discovered three people with the disease and another in a nearby house. The doctor tried to trace the disease’s entrance and path once in town. He learned that about three weeks earlier, Sern Petersen, a young man now in this house had come from working on the Northern Pacific Railroad and became sick two days after arrival. His parents thought he had a bad cold and then guessed it might be the measles, and although advised by friends to check with a doctor, they did nothing. By the time of Dr. Ormsby’s visit, Sern was convalescing and about over the disease, but two younger siblings in the house had it. As soon as the mayor and marshal learned of the smallpox, precautionary measures were started. The two houses were quarantine with yellow flags put up and a guard stationed to prevent contact. Orders were given to erect fences across the street in the infected district, and consideration was given to closing the third and fourth ward schools for a period. City officials talked about erecting a “pest house” if a suitable place could be found for one. By the late afternoon two more possible cases of smallpox were reported, one a man thought to be an “abortive attack” from which he was rapidly recovering, and the other a widow who was nervous with a fever but with no particular indication of the disease. Soon thereafter, Dr. Ormsby was finding some of his regular patients nervous about visiting him since he had been in and amidst the smallpox victims, and he requested the newspaper to notify his other patients to have no fears in consulting him as he changed his clothing and “took all other necessary precaution to avoid carrying the disease.”59
Seven days later the local newspaper reported that the “quarantine hospital” was being rushed with carpenters working night and day, but to the vast majority it was more candidly the “pest house.” The rumors began to circulate with some in the northern part of the valley believing there were some sixty cases with Logan fenced off all around to keep people out. At Millville the reports had eighty cases with many more expected. Smithfield officials sent notices to its citizens who worked in Logan not to come back until the smallpox disappeared, and residents of Wellsville were advised not to visit Logan. A lady from Logan and not close to the infected district went to Mendon and, with great reluctance, was allowed in the town but compelled to stand in the middle of the street and explain what she wanted and encouraged to say it fast. From Hyde Park came a report that a gentleman who was familiar with the symptoms of the disease was requested to describe them in a church meeting, and before the meeting closed one woman became sick and others soon imagined they had been afflicted. Seeing what the rumor scare was doing to Logan and what it could do if not somehow restrained, the newspaper decided to take direct action in its columns. Stating that the five cases reported were all that had been found, it thought by listing the afflicted by name and their condition would settle the people’s mind. The newspaper listed the individuals by name and had them all either better or nearly well. Then it optimistically predicted on January 12th —“Everything is favorable to prevent any further spread of the disease, and the same care for a week or so more will likely see the quarantine raised.” Four days later in the next issue, the newspaper had to eat its cheery words on the fate of the disease in Logan, using the old saying, “Don’t halloo ‘till you get out of the woods’” Then it related the story that by the day following its gratifying news that the worse was over, another series of rumors swept the town asserting the discovery of many more cases of smallpox, and while these tales were wildly exaggerated, it was found that there were at least six new cases.
At least three of these cases had initially been diagnosed as chicken pox only later to be found to be the more virulent smallpox. The paper tried to allay the fear of a contagion in Logan, saying that the new cases added to the others only added up to a total of eleven, with most in the same area and all those sick had been directly exposed to the disease. It complained that a considerable number of people in the community were making efforts to nullify the actions of the quarantine board, and some were trying to persuade the public there was no smallpox in the area. Dr. Ormsby, to put an end to this “senseless talk,” took Dr. Behle, who had seen and treated many cases before, to see his cases, and then telegraphed an Ogden doctor that had much experience with smallpox; both confirmed that Logan had smallpox. At this point the newspaper took issue with the critics and “croakers” who were “very much incensed to think that Dr. Ormsby could not tell the difference between small and chicken pox.” The paper explained that it was regrettable that the doctor did not know for sure at first, this uncertainty was no criminal offense, and “The Doctor regrets the error more than any one else, but mistakes will occur.” However, the paper posed, if the doctor had cried smallpox and it had proven the lesser pox, the grumblers would have made a bigger fuss. No attempt was made to explain the difficulty in determining a correct diagnosis at first as the disease could range from a severe to a mild form.60
Two weeks after the first cases were reported there still were mixed signals in Logan. Two men who were known to be directly exposed to smallpox and were ordered into quarantine were highly incensed and threatening to sue the city. The scare had hurt the trade and commerce of Logan and the merchants were as much afraid of the economic straits as the disease. Two new cases were found in the infected district within ten rods of the first case and both were directly exposed, and each new case increased the chances of others. On January 19th the newspaper declared: “Vaccinating is the only lively business in Logan,” and within a week the Pioneer Drug Store was advertising that “Fresh Vaccine Virus” could be obtained there. So far the old cases were doing well except the Sonne’s boy who remained seriously sick. The individuals were either in their quarantined homes or removed to the “hospital” or pest house built at the mouth of Green Canyon. The paper summarized the situation by saying that Dr. Ormsby felt “much encouraged at the progress of the disease,” and he and other officials thought the disease had been confined to the present quarantined quarters. Therefore, feeling that all persons in the infected area now understood the necessity of strictly obeying the quarantine regulation and now with all fear from former exposure past that the situation was well under control with the hope “to have no cases outside the guarded section.” In the closing days of January the newspaper, in a very short note, expressed its opinion: “We have said so much on this subject lately, that probably our readers would like a change. We, therefore, spare them this week, more especially since there is nothing to report. There are no new cases, and the old ones are progressing favorably.”61
Then a disclosure came on Saturday, January 27th with the report of a case of smallpox outside the quarantined district with a lady who visited the Sonne’s children when first taken sick. Since she lived in the northern part of the city, not far from the first cases, and her family claimed they had personally quarantined her for the past two weeks, the officials believed if this assertion were true that there was no danger from contact with her now. Three or four days later came shocking information of possible smallpox with the keeper of the second toll gate in Logan Canyon, some eight miles from the city. Immediately quarantine physician Dr. Ormsby drove up to the toll-keeper’s house, and found that Mr. Rasmussen had had smallpox and was convalescing, but his half-grown daughter was down with it and his wife expected to get it as well. It was crucial to discover, if possibly, how this family became exposed because to this point every other case had been traced back to the single original case. The doctor began a “diligent investigation” as to how Rasmussen contracted the disease but was “at first misled by statements and denials.” Because others inflicted had not been forthright in their information, Dr. Ormsby persisted in his questioning of Rasmussen and finally obtained the information he sought. Rasmussen explained that he and Mr. Petersen, the father of the young man who first brought the smallpox to Logan, were partners in getting a Danish paper, and while his partner’s son was sick, he called at the house to get the paper. In addition the tollgate keeper admitted that while coming down with the disease during the first part of the previous week, he went into town and called on three different families. Furthermore, two young brothers from one of these families had lived at the toll-keeper’s house up to the previous Friday before returning home and this family had visited him last Sunday while his daughter was breaking out with smallpox. With this information the exposed families were placed under a rigid quarantine, Rasmussen’s wife and daughter were moved to the quarantine hospital, Rasmussen was given a new suit of clothing and the toll house disinfected. An old man living alone a mile down from the toll gate had been exposed and he was taken care of and Logan Canyon was closed. Finally, one family in Providence came down with smallpox and was the only ones affected outside Logan and Logan Canyon. It was determined they were exposed by toll-keeper Rasmussen and were placed under quarantine.62
In the meantime while the various loose ends of the quarantine campaign were being worked out, the newspaper took its own tact in the struggle against the smallpox scare. It had Dr. Ormsby detail the symptoms and various stages of the disease which were printed in the columns of the paper. Then it took a stronger stand promoting vaccinations as the only known prevention. In urging this precaution it declared that “we think cannot be too strongly urge citizens . . . . Get vaccinated by all means and have the operation performed on all children that have not received it.” But it would take a more serious smallpox breakout in 1900 to bring vaccination to the forefront and in a bitter exchange of ideas the old folk ways carried the day. The newspaper in 1883 wrote on the new “Small Pox Hospital” near Green Canyon, describing its size, features as “well lighted, well ventilated and well warmed” with a nearby kitchen. It maintained that those staying here had good care and few, if any, had better care. Thus smallpox sufferers should “show better judgment by choosing rather than objecting to go there.” The paper told of a Logan man so shaken by the smallpox that he was making inquiries concerning renting a house in one of the other settlements in the valley with the intention of moving his family out of Logan until the disease disappeared. In a chiding manner the paper thought this was a foolish measure and advised the people to remain “calm and cool” until there was a real and tangible cause for alarm. Lastly, the newspaper condemned in a severe manner the actions of Rasmussen and other persons involved in the earliest cases for not revealing their situations and telling the complete truth of their contacts after being exposed. It related that when Dr. Ormsby asked
Rasmussen why he had not made it known that he had smallpox at his house; the man replied that if he had done this, it would have stopped travel through the canyon. To this the paper stated: “No language is too strong for denouncing such wicked imbecility, which, if not discovered in time, might have resulted in the exposure to the contagion of scores of persons.” For a period of time both the paper and members of the community writing to the newspaper blasted away at the families of the early cases and those who on the sly hid away their contact with the disease in a “reckless num-skull” manner and “then dealt it out to us without a license, not even telling us what it was—funny isn’t it.”63
With a bit of good luck and much diligent work by the city officials in the quarantine with Dr. Ormsby playing a leading role, Logan was able to control the spread of the disease. Although over two dozen persons would bear the physical marks of smallpox, only two persons died—the Sonne boy and Mrs. James Jensen, whose widowed mother had smallpox early and concealed it until she was convalescent, but her daughter in caring for her contracted the disease and died. After the first week in February there were no new cases, and by mid-February most of those not yet recovered were removed to the quarantine hospital. Normal-like life was slowly returning but caution was in the air; Mrs. W. C. Cole and her children, who had been among the first inflicted with smallpox, went out on the streets of town and caused enough stir that she placed a “liberated” notice in the newspaper the following day letting the people know the quarantine had been lifted from her place. She explained that the excitement around her and her children’s appearance must have been because the people “were not aware of the fact, or else they have very little confidence in our quarantine physician. Hoping this will be sufficient explanation.” Dr. Ormsby was in the thick of it from beginning to end, his word started the quarantines and he ended them, both on an individual basis and the general one. At the last of February city officials directed that the schools of Logan which had been closed for several weeks could resume classes on March 1st. On the same day the quarantine in general would be lifted, ending “The ‘Cloud’ that has hung over Logan for two months,” allowing the first public meeting in many weeks with a Thursday, March 1st fast meeting in the basement of the Logan Tabernacle in the afternoon.64
While the doctor’s practice continued under all circumstances and with the smallpox scare over, his work went back to a more normal routine such as removing a cancer from the lip of a Coveville man, fixing up his medical office over the Pioneer Drug Store with an outside entrance via a staircase on the outside south wall of the building, and he saw the successful conclusion to a case he had been engaged with for ten months. This involved young fatherless “little Erza Christiansen,” who was in an accident in the summer of 1882 being thrown from a load of lumber in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. His thigh was broken in two places and at the time of the accident he was in a weak condition. It appeared at the time that amputation was the only course, but Dr. Ormsby chose to try and save his limb and it was a slow process over many months. In the course of time the boy was able to get along with crutches, and then in the last week of May of 1883 he threw the crutches away and was able to go about on his own. After telling the account the newspaper injected the following: “A few years ago medical men would have cut the leg off in a hurry, but our doctor believes in saving limbs of his patients if there is a chance of doing so.” Two months later in early August Dr. Ormsby had to care for his ten-year-old son Oliver, who in a fall broke both bones in his left forearm, which his father set.65
In 1884 the doctor was involved in two interesting and revealing cases. In early June of 1884 Dr. Behle’s sixteen-year-old daughter died suddenly from no apparent cause, and he was not satisfied as to why she died. He asked his fellow physician, Dr. Ormsby, to make a post mortem examination with Drs. Behle and Stover and Pharmacist B. F. Riter present and assisting. It revealed the cause as inflammation of the membrane enclosing the bowels. Perhaps this reveals as clearly as anything that Dr. Ormsby was considered the dean of Cache Valley doctors when the Presbyterian doctor asked this favor of his Mormon colleague under the circumstances in Cache Valley at the time. In October Dr. Ormsby was in Salt Lake City on one of his recurring trips to the big city. Whether the reason for the trip or an adjunct to it, he was involved in consultation of the case of “Col. H. P. Kimball,” who had suffered from dropsy for a long time. For some time physicians had differed in their opinions as to what could be done or the nature of the case. Then two of Salt Lake City’s leading doctors, Dr. Benedicts and Dr. Anderson, with Dr. Ormsby held a consultation on Kimball’s case and afterward advanced the theory that the patient should be tapped. When this was presented to the Colonel and his family, they all expressly wished it to be performed. The tapping was performed and fourteen quarts of fluids were taken from Kimball, and the doctors were encouraged as to his prospects. After the operation the patient, while still weak and emaciated, felt much relieved. Very likely many of Dr. Ormsby’s trips to Salt Lake City had medical objectives such as the above case and to meet and discuss other cases with new and improved information concerning his profession.66
He was involved in another community scare as diphtheria appeared in Smithfield in August of 1885. Following rumors of the disease in Smithfield an investigation found it true and revealed the source was when two daughters of Joseph Hill, while residing in Salt Lake City, stayed in a house where a person affected with diphtheria had recently died. Unknown to the daughters at the time, they returned to their father’s home in Smithfield conveying the disease which ravaged the Hill family with three children between the ages of eighteen months and eight years dying and another near death’s door. As quarantine physician of the county, Dr. Ormsby made several official visits and diagnosed the disease at the dreaded diphtheria and ordered the Hill family and participants in funeral ceremonies be quarantined. Quickly all church meetings, schools and public gatherings were suspended, and the quarantine was so complete that only one person outside the Hill family was afflicted.67
The remainder of 1885 produced changes, both private and communal. In August the doctor had a “steam heating apparatus” installed in his Logan home, which was located at the “corner of Second and Washington.” In mid-September Dr. Ormsby sold his interest in the drug store and business he had created back in 1872 and known as “Ormsby & Riter” to Mr. W. W. Riter with the new firm being the “Riter Brothers” with B. F. Riter still in charge at the store which would retain the Pioneer Drug Store name with its advertisement frequently mentioning Dr. Ormsby to make the most of his name and good will he had built up. Tullidge in his account on the doctor had him, after selling the drug store, turning his attention to raising blooded stock and summarized it in words written in the late 1880s as follows: “He has a large number of fine horses and horned stock; also a herd of several thousand excellent sheep, which, in summer are pastured on the range, and in winter, they are taken into quarters.” The only other reference to the sheep was a short notice in the summer of 1888 in the Logan paper stating: “Dr. Ormsby returned on Sunday morning from the north where he went to look after his sheep herd. He found the sheep interests in a fairly good condition.” The community change came in the fall of 1885 when the city council of Logan of which O. C. Ormsby was a councilor, decided that Logan City take one-half interest in a company to be formed to bring “electric lights and motor system” to the city. The mayor, city attorney and councilmen Ormsby and Aaron Farr were appointed to represent the city in the organization of said company and to report back to the council. It this Dr. Ormsby played a key role even to putting forth personal money, but only passing references will be made on this.68
Many times the need for the doctor’s care came in bunches and in varied circumstances as experienced in early January of 1886. On Friday, January 8th, a man working at the railroad yard at Pocatello while turning an engine on the turntable had his foot caught between the fixed rail on the ground and the pilot of the engine being turned; after being extricated from his painful predicament, he was taken to a nearby house where he remained until early Saturday morning when he left by train for Logan to see Dr. Ormsby. The doctor was in the process of examining the severely crushed foot, and had made the preliminary judgment that no major bones were broken, when an emergency telegram arrived from Franklin calling him to a serious accident where he was needed. He left Saturday afternoon by train and upon reaching Franklin found that a man and his son driving a team of horses at a railroad crossing had run into the moving train. It wasn’t as serious as the telegram made out, but the injured were cared for by the doctor before he returned home to Logan. On the following day, Sunday the 11th, in the afternoon a Dr. Richlings of Rockford, Illinois, arrived in Logan. He had been the personal doctor of Mrs. Barratt before she went to Utah to teach school in “this neighborhood” (not necessarily Logan) for some time. She had been afflicted with cancer of the breast and had requested her former physician come and perform the operation. On Monday, January 11th, Dr. Richings, assisted by Dr. Ormsby, etherized the lady and removed the entire afflicted breast. Perhaps Mrs. Barratt had previously gone to Dr. Ormsby for treatments until the breast operation was necessary. Later on that Monday afternoon, Dr. Ormsby removed the small toe of young lady who had it “frosted four years” previous. She was placed under influence of ether for the operation.69
He formed a partnership with Dr. W. B. Parkinson around the first of June of 1886, which joined the long establish doctor with a relative newcomer who had been in the area a few months. They established their medical offices over the United Order Store on Main Street in rooms fitted up appropriately. The new firm of “Ormsby & Parkinson” was short lived as the partnership was terminated in mid-October by mutual consent. The notice of dissolution was accompanied by one requesting all indebted to the firm to settle immediately with the added detail that in the settlement “Good clean grain taken at the highest market price.” At this date this indicated that cash money was scarce in the Cache Valley area and the fall harvest had the farmers with ready grain for sale. Meanwhile before breaking the partnership, Dr. Ormsby, as president of the Logan Driving Park Association was busy in planning and arranging the big July 24th races and contest at the race track for all the classifications, “running, trotting, Trotting and Pacing” with rules, distances and purses. In October Dr. L. W. Snow, son of Apostle Lorenzo Snow, relocated his practice from Brigham City to Logan much like Dr. Ormsby had done fourteen years earlier. Dr. Snow’s office and residence were in the People Hotel. In December in the new Riter Brothers’ drug store building there were five upstairs “fine rooms” set aside for officers, and the “two foremost” were fitted up for Dr. Ormsby’s medical office. By January 5th of 1887 Dr. Ormsby was in his office in the new “Riter Bros. Pioneer Drug” store. Dr. Snow moved his office from the hotel to one of the rooms formerly used by Dr. Ormsby in the United Order Store.70
However, a more important and significant event had transpired in the life of Dr. O. C. Ormsby, known only to a few close friends and Church leaders. At the age of forty-six he had chosen to take a second living wife in his religion’s practice of plural marriage, called polygamy by others. His second wife was Rebecca Jane Langton of Smithfield and twenty years younger than her husband. On November 14, 1886, the sacred vows and secret marriage took place at the point in time when the U.S. government’s actions against the Mormons practice of plural marriage had recently moved into its most intense and serious mode. His wife retained in public her maiden name of Langton. Whether completely on his own or under strong pressure from his Church superiors, local and general, Dr. Ormsby, a president in the Fortieth Quorum of Seventies, joined the ranks of the polygamous in its last stand. Knowing the likely consequences of his actions, it took courage to make this momentous decision, whether for good or ill. Without complaint he paid the price. He couldn’t take to the underground as so many leading polygamous Mormons had done and would do, and the only thing approaching hiding was the various locations of his second wife as the times of more than one wife in a house had past.
In 1887 the good doctor participated with the Logan gun club in shooting matches. On the last Saturday of January they defeated the Providence club by a score of 210 to 187 with O. C. Ormsby’s personal score of twenty just two points below his new father-in-law, Seth Langton. In late March he became involved in another contest of wills and wants. He had ordered the quarantine of a home in Hyrum due to a contagious disease and after the yellow flag was removed ending the quarantine period; a controversy erupted over the cause of death of a couple of youngsters when the local newspaper wrote that diphtheria was the reason. The family responded angrily in a letter to the paper stating the children died of a “membranous croup,” and involved Dr. Ormsby in the affair by having him state that he never told the mayor or anyone anything about diphtheria. The letter asked the newspaper to insert their letter in the paper and to be more careful in stating facts so they don’t add “sorrow to the load” the grieving family had to bear. For whatever reason in this incident and others, the dreaded diphtheria carried some extra negative connotations for the resident of Cache Valley.71
In 1887 Dr. Ormsby’s two wives each bore a child; for Maretta a daughter, Vera; for Rebecca Jane Langton, her first child a daughter named after the mother, Rebecca Langton, perhaps surprisingly born at Logan on August 13, 1887. With this birth the secret marriage was not as secure as before. The reaction came the following year on a late Saturday night June 9, 1888, when Deputy Edward W. Exum of Ogden, arrested Dr. O. C. Ormsby at his residence in Logan. The charges were unlawful cohabitation and adultery, and the doctor was placed under $5,000 bond to appear before Commissioner Norrell in Salt Lake City on
the following Monday. On the same Saturday evening near midnight at Salt Lake City, Rebecca Langton, the alleged second wife of Dr. Ormsby, was also arrested at the home of Mr. Felt in the Seventeen Ward and placed under bond to appear before the same judge. They both appeared before Commission Norrell on Monday, and the doctor entered a plea of not guilty to both charges and waived examination. He was held on $1,500 bond on adultery with his plural wife and the same amount for the unlawful cohabitation with more than one wife accusation. Rebecca Langton was held under $500 bond on each charge with the order to appear when wanted. After his court appearance, the doctor took the train back to Logan.72 The coordinated arrests had followed much surveillance, reports of spies, informants, rewards and assorted intrigues.
While the wheels of justice slowly spun their way, Dr. Ormsby was back in Logan carrying on his medical practice and auxiliary work as superintendent of the Sunday school, holding meetings and a conference at Richmond in late June. In the early days of July he made a trip north into Idaho to check on his sheep herd returning to his home a few days later to plan and work for a community celebration of the Twenty-fourth of July—Pioneer Day. In addition he had some diphtheria cases in Wellsville that required his attention plus he became involved in a long-term accident case. Mr. C. M. Goldberry of Paradise along with a young son was returning home after a trip to Logan. He stopped to give his team a drink in the Logan River when his team was frightened and went on a wild runaway. The father was thrown off the wagon, and it was later guessed that the wagon wheels ran over him, while his young son held on until the horses were stopped by another man. Mr. Goldberry was taken to Dr. Ormsby’s officer where an examination revealed serious injuries with a seven inch gash on the back of his head with two inches of the skull cracked and his nose mangled with all the bones being broken. He also had a cut on his forehead and some internal injuries revealed by his vomiting “black blood.” After the doctor cleaned up his wounds and cared for him, he was placed in the nearby Blanchard Hotel where he received many visits with care from the doctor to alleviate his sufferings from the severe injuries. This care continued until August 16th when Dr. Ormsby accompanied the injured man to Salt Lake City where an operation of last resort was performed by a team of doctors—Dr. Pinkerson, Dr. Fowler and Dr. Ormsby. Their hope was to remove a broken bone fragment in his skull that might save the patient. Their operation disclosed the extensive fracture of Goldberry’s skull. He died the following day August 18th. Later the doctor began his return trip home; after changing trains in Ogden, he took the evening passenger train northward for Logan. When the train reached the Mendon depot, there was an urgent call for the doctor to attend a nine-year-old boy with a gunshot injury. Dr. Ormsby stopped off but had to send word to Logan for his medical instruments to be rushed to him. In the meantime the doctor examined the young boy, who had taken a gun while going to get the cows and in coming home hitched a ride on a hayrack, and while climbing on the gun caught on something and discharged its full load into his left arm just below the elbow “terribly shattering it.” The arm was beyond saving and after his instruments arrived around midnight, the arm was amputated below the elbow.73
While there were cases of typhoid fever in Wellsville and Richmond and accidents to care for throughout Cache Valley, to the south at Salt Lake City the next session of the Third District Court set to work empanelling a grand jury and subpoenaing witnesses. The witnesses in the case against Dr. Ormsby were notified to be present when called on. The doctor’s day before the court came on Monday afternoon of October 1st. The Church newspaper carried the story in its Tuesday daily edition, but didn’t included it in the weekly edition that went to Cache Valley until the following week in the edition of October 10th which simply stated: “Yesterday afternoon Dr. O. C. Ormsby of Logan, was arraigned in the Third District Court on the charge of unlawful cohabitation, and entered a plea of guilty. He will be sentenced October 19th.”74 The highly anti-Mormon paper in Salt Lake had a bit more detail and fun with the case, saying in an article entitled “BOUND OVER” the following:
The famous Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby, of Logan was arraigned upon the charge
of unlawful cohabitation with Mrs. O. Ormsby and Rebecca Langton. The
indictment embraced a period of several years, ending on September 1st, 1888.
The Doctor and his attorney, Mr. Pierce, were in court, and the former pleaded
guilty in the charge as indicted. He desired that pronunciation of sentence be
postponed for a few weeks to give him an opportunity of arranging business
matters at his home in Logan. Judge Sanford granted his mild desire and set
October 19th as the day upon which he will receive his sentence.75
Dr. Ormsby returned to Logan and made what arrangements were needed in regard to his family and medical practice. Because he had pleaded guilty, it was almost certain he would be sentenced to prison for a period of time, usually for six months. On or about October 19th Dr. Ormsby traveled to Salt Lake City for his sentencing, and in the afternoon he appeared before Judge Elliot Sandford to receive his sentence. The most detailed description of this was in the anti-Mormon paper in an article on the doctor being “In the Grip of the Law.” It related how the doctor and his attorney, a Mr. Richards, went before the judge. The attorney “called the attention of the Court to the fact that the defendant was a leading physician in the northern part of the Territory, and had been regarded as almost indispensable because of his medical skill. It was his first offense and he had put the Government to no expense or trouble, and in view of these facts he thought the lenity of the Court might be extended to him.” Mr. Richards suggested to the court that a simple fine should be sufficient punishment and would have the same effect as imprisonment. Judge Sandford responded by stating that if he knew the defendant would not come before him again, he might do as the attorney suggested. Then the judge mused, “I don’t know that your practice as a physician should be taken into consideration.” Then he asked the defendant when he graduated, and after being told inquired if the defendant had anything to say before sentencing was passed. After Dr. Ormsby’s negative reply, Judge Sanford gave forth the court’s final words: “The object of punishment is to educate violators of the law so that they will not again lay themselves liable. The question with me is what punishment would do that in your case. You admit the supremacy of the law—well you will be fined $200 and imprisoned in the penitentiary seventy-five days.”76
A couple of days after the sentencing, the same newspaper had a humorous tale in its columns about a “good brother up at Logan” with a problem because the scheduled train was late and he was anxious because he had to get to Salt Lake City that very day to receive his sentence from Judge “Sanford;” otherwise, he would have to go before another judge he didn’t want to go before. He took his worries before a deputy marshal and said the “only way to get there was by a special.” The story concluded with “The name of the gentleman was Ormsby, and as he got down to the city, it is supposed he hired the special.”77 It is supposed that the tale must have had some elements of fact in it and was not completely made up. Logan was on the north-south rail line to Montana and through it ran two passenger trains northbound and two southbound, the latter scheduled at 6:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. There was a scheduled freight train going north in the morning and a freight train southbound in the afternoon. If the morning passenger train was delayed to such an extent that the court date couldn’t be met, the doctor had built up enough good will with both the railroad and the people of Logan that they would have taken extraordinary measures to help him out if needed.
After sentencing Dr. Ormsby was taken to the Utah Territorial Penitentiary also known as the old “Castle Prison” and by Mormons as “Uncle Sam’s boarding house” located at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon with turret guard towers at each corner, giving it the castle-like appearance. The prison was built in the late 1850s and had been added on two or three times. A huge adobe wall twenty feet high and four feet thick enclosed the prison buildings and an acre of prison yard. The primary housing facility was a windowless rectangle with three levels or tiers to the structure with the Mormon “cohabs” usually on the upper levels and the “toughs” or other criminals on the lower level. The cells were small with more than one occupant, and the cells and corridors were dim to dark. Both “cohabs” and “toughs” wore horizontally stripped uniforms. The most noted and important Mormon “cohab” was George Q. Cannon, in the first presidency of the Mormon Church, and in his diary for Friday, October 19th he mentioned “Dr. O. C.” and two others by name committed to the institution on that day. The reference was without a doubt to Dr. O. C. Ormsby. The “cohabs” were allowed more visitors and privileges than the “toughs.” What the doctor did during his two and one-half months of confinement can only be guessed, but presumably he had visitors and devoted time to reading and writing with a little attention spent on some aspect of medicine.78
After serving his sentence Dr. Ormsby was released on or about New Year’s Day of 1889. A letter to the editor of an Ogden newspaper dated at Logan on January 7, 1889, stated: “Dr. O. C. Ormsby has emerged from confinement in the Utah Penitentiary; he feels first rate but is not particularly anxious about having the dose repeated.” The Logan newspaper surprisingly made no comments on his return home other than state on January 9th that “Elder O. C. Ormsby was the speaker at the Tabernacle on Sunday afternoon,” 6th of January. Two weeks later he was in Hyrum attending a Seventies Conference and he offered the benediction at one session. While here a lady from Mendon arrived with a broken arm, she had suffered an accident in Mendon and went to Logan to see the doctor only to learn that Dr. Ormsby was in Hyrum. She insisted on being taken to Hyrum, and here the doctor used the tithing office to set her arm. In February Dr. Ormsby was called to Pocatello, Idaho, “several times” in a two week period. Thereafter for the next couple of months, he was associated with Dr. Parkinson in a series of cases with specific reference to “the office of Drs. Ormsby and Parkinson,” whom he had an earlier partnership with in 1886. It would appear that in arranging for his medical practice in early October of 1888 before being sentenced to prison, he reformed the partnership with Dr. Parkinson again so the latter could take care of Dr. Ormsby’s cases. This last partnership with Parkinson was dissolved in May of 1889.79
On May 4th, a Saturday, Dr. Ormsby, with his horse and buggy, was en route to a patient in the island area of Logan when he experienced an accident. It was later guessed that the buggy had earlier been damaged, as on the present trip the front wheels and attachments suddenly separated from the back portion of the buggy and the doctor was thrown out. He was taken to Dr. Parkinson where the patient was found to have a three inch cut in his right cheek and another in the lower right eyelid, scratches on his forehead and right knee injured. Dr. Parkinson attended to his injuries and four days later it was reported his condition was rapidly improving. However, the doctor’s bad luck was to continue but in another field. The following Saturday, the 11th, he attended an accident victim in Millville. The man’s horse reared and fell backward throwing the rider to the ground with such force that the man suffered a concussion and other injuries. Observers thought it was remarkable that the man had not been killed. Dr. Ormsby spent much time in attending the injured man. It was late when he finished his long day of medical services and started for home for some rest especially as he had not recovered from his recent accident a week earlier.80
At about half past ten on this Saturday evening the doctor was about to enter his home when he was “accosted by one or two men” out on the sidewalk. He went to or was taken to his gate where Deputy Marshal Henry Whetstone informed the doctor they had a warrant for his arrest on the charge of adultery. The doctor was forced to give a $1,000 bond for his appearance before the commissioner on the following Saturday, and asked to give bonds for $200 for the appearance of his second wife which the doctor complied with. The Church newspaper gave a slightly different version in regard to the incident, having the charge to be “unlawful cohabitation” and on the bonds declaring the doctor gave the bond for his appearance as soon as he was “able to be out,” which meant that the doctor was arrested and taken before some official who set the bonds. This paper noted that during this arrest “The doctor had not yet recovered from his recent accident.” The Logan paper concluded its first article on the arrest by writing: “The Doctor and his family have been justly annoyed at the untruthful reports which have been circulated regarding the arrest.” The local Saturday paper on May 18th stated the examination of the doctor would take place on that day. The next issue on Wednesday had the examination of Dr. Ormsby commencing before Commissioner Goodwin in Logan on the charge of adultery but was continued until Tuesday, May 28th. The case had a second continuance and finally on the evening of June 4th the examination of Dr. Ormsby on the latest charge was considered for the last time, some three and a half weeks after being arrested. Then came the interesting, if not mysterious, denouement which the local paper described: “The examination of Dr. Ormsby was continued a week ago was taken up last evening. The full report of the Supreme Court decision in the Neilson [Nielsen] Case having been received it was decided that the Dr. having served a term for unlawful cohabitation could not be held on the charge of adultery. Attorney Maughan moved his discharge and the motion was granted.”81
The Hans Nielson appeal from the actions of the First Judicial District Court of Utah that was argued in mid-April of 1889 and decided by the high court on May 13, 1889. While it had many similarities to Dr. Ormsby’s case and was the stated cause for its dismissal, there may have been other factors involved. The First District Court had recently been assigned to Cache County, replacing the Third District Court which had arrested and tried Dr. Ormsby the previous year. The new court, some time previous to the doctor’s arrest in mid-May of 1889, had given a warrant for his arrest to the deputy marshals possibly with no specific incident or evidence, although second wife Rebecca Jane Langton had given birth to her second child Lula Ettie by the doctor on April 9, 1889, at Smithfield, Utah. When the initial examination of Dr. Ormsby was held and through the first continuance the result of the Nielsen case was not known in Utah, but the case was shaky from the blanket warrant to no evidence or witnesses yet it spurred ahead when the catching of polygamists became a contest or business for gain between competing deputies. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Nielsen case was revealed in the same paper as Dr. Ormsby’s dismissal so possibly the Commissioner’s court took the easy way out of a bind and used the court’s decision to get rid of the embarrassing case. Whether this scenario was right, the commissioner’s court would continue trying to ensnare Dr. Ormsby.
After the partnership of Ormsby and Parkinson dissolved, Dr. Parkinson relocated to Franklin and established his practice and a drug store in the latter part of 1889. He brought in another physician and left in early 1890 to attend a short term at New York Post Graduate Medical School and Hospital. Returning to Utah the first week of June of 1890, he set up a medical office in the United Order Store in Logan. A considerable number of doctors worked in Cache Valley, primarily working from their offices at Logan, and many like Dr. Parkinson went back East to gain more professional training following the precedent and encouragement of Dr. Ormsby. Not only was he the leading physician by reputation, but he had the most extensive medical practice in Cache Valley. He ranged far north to Pocatello and Eagle Rock, not for want of business in his main area in Cache Valley, but he went on special calls from the railroad, prominent community leaders or influential Cache people who were either working at these location or had relatives there. For instance in July of 1889 Pocatello had “quite a number of typhoid fever cases” and they asked specifically for Dr. Ormsby who had been up to this new Idaho railroad center several times previously. In his home area, after his term in prison, he had a malignant form of diphtheria at Hyde Park starting in June that involved some deaths; serious scarlet fever at Paradise in December of1889 which extended into the following January before the quarantine was lifted. Immediately Richmond had deaths and Dr. Ormsby was busy there with an outbreak of diphtheria. In each incident with a contagious disease the quarantines were imposed until the threat subsided. Most of his cases that found their way into the newspapers involved accidents. In early October of 1889 a “Swed” [Swede] in the island section of Logan was thrown from his mowing machine, alighting in front of the cutter bar and was badly lacerated. The doctor cleaned up the bloody injured man and found he had to amputate two fingers on one hand and he sewed the other two together in the hope that he could save them.82
From the numerous accidents three cases will be mentioned. In early May of 1890 twenty-year-old May Baker was walking to the Benson Ward post office when struck by lightning. She was found fallen insensible along the road, and a call place for Dr. Ormsby. When he arrived he confirmed that she had been struck by lightning, and as he checked the victim he found her cheeks were burned as was her back with a severe area at the small of her back. The tracing of the burned area led to the conclusion that the lightning has struck her on the upper body and went down her back where it divided and descended both legs where it moved to the front of the legs and continued to her toes. Her clothing has been split open in the back, her stockings had large burned out places in them, and her shoes were “literally torn into shreds” where they could not be recognized as footwear. The doctor attended to her physical injuries and then unexpectedly said he didn’t think the injury left her dangerously injured. Two months later at Lewiston a small boy playing where carpenters were working slipped and fell upon a sharp tool cutting his nose almost off. The boy was taken to Logan “as fast as horses could carrying him” to see Dr. Ormsby. After cleaning the boy’s bloodied face, the doctor found the nose had been left hanging “by about one-third of an inch of skin.” With particular care the doctor did what he could and there stitched the cut nose back into place, hoping it could be saved. Within a month the doctor was called to treat an elderly Johannes Hansen who had fallen from a wagon on July 24th and his recovery was slow. The local newspaper noted that the doctor was caring for the injured man for free, as he had with several other cases, but suggested that any who wished to aid the aged sufferer should make this known to the leaders in the “first ward.”83
He was re-called to be the superintendent of the Cache Stake Sunday Schools and stayed busy visiting the various wards and holding stake meeting to improve the overall program. He continued his civic work in Logan, especially active in getting the city into the business of providing electric power throughout the community. He was active in the politics in Logan with some efforts out in the county. In September of 1889 Sidney Kent of Lewiston was arrested on charges of adultery and unlawful cohabitation and was bound over in the Commissioner’s Court on $1,000 bond to await the action of the grand jury. Dr. Ormsby and another man came forward and went the man’s bond.84 However, by this time and shortly thereafter there was a big change coming which was shocking but held the hope that such episodes at Mr. Kent’s, Dr. Ormsby’s and many others would soon end. It played out over a lengthy period and was complex, contorted and confusing, filled with would-be revelations and plans, schemes, possible arrangements and deals with political parties and severe punitive actions by the federal government that culminated in the publicly issuance of the Manifesto wherein the Mormon Church in September of 1890 abandoned its practice of plural marriage or polygamy. Devout Mormons were split on his issue and their opponents believed that the Manifesto was a ploy to gain statehood without giving up the principle. Beyond saying that it did remove the stumbling block preventing statehood to Utah and provided for that long sought goal in 1896 restoring some property and rights lost by the Church and its members, this paper will not go further into what is an intriguing story by itself.
Even in the turmoil surrounding the political and economic activities of the above, Dr. Ormsby always sought opportunities to expand his medical knowledge. An example of this came in May of 1888 when Dr. Joseph Richards of Salt Lake City came to Logan to consult with Dr. L. W. Snow concerning the amputation of W. G. Farrell’s leg. The detailed examination and the amputation took place on a Sunday morning. While Drs. Richards and Snow operated, Dr. Ormsby was present, apparently there to observe and learn from the experience. In the early months of 1891 he traveled to New York City to visit the hospitals as he had done previously in the early 1880s. The local paper welcomed him back from his hospital visiting trip and observed that he had experienced some personal sickness while away; he was now well and as “busy as ever.” Apparently he had shed one of his outside interests some time previously, as in early November of 1890 an operator of a livery stable placed a notice in the columns of the newspaper that he moved his business “over to the stables on Second Street lately owned by Dr. Ormsby.” Other professionally trained physicians in Cache County began going back to the eastern medical schools and hospitals to learn the latest developments in their profession; these scientifically oriented doctors gave talks in the areas of their practices on medical topics.85 The winds of change were blowing in an assortment of good ideas, improved practices and helpful medicines, and Cache Valley’s dean of medicine led the way.
However, that didn’t eliminate some of the old ways when it came to getting the doctor to the site of an accident victim. In the summer of 1890 a man from Preston had an accident at a sawmill on Birch Creek. some seventeen miles from his home. He was carried by wagon to his home and a telegraph sent to Dr. Ormsby to come quickly. The doctor left immediately for Preston by buggy with a team of horses for speed and endurance. According to the newspaper—“The impervious gloom of Saturday night rendered it very difficult to travel by team, and it was near midnight when the doctor reached the sufferer.” His examination found that the saw blade had torn a “horrible hole or gash some ten inches long” and some six inches wide in the back of the man’s left leg. The doctor decided that Lorenzo Peterson was too weak to withstand an amputation at that time, so he worked on caring for the wounds. He administered chloroform then set to work on the long wound and then dressed it. Then he gave the man brandy hypodermically to strength him. The doctor remained with the man through Sunday morning, and considering what he had been through the man felt “quite well.” The doctor returned home by buggy and a couple of days later returned to Preston, probably traveling most of the way by train, and visited his patient and checked the wound. He found the patient progressing favorably and there was hope for his recovery. Five months earlier the doctor had an emergency call from Oxford, Idaho, in the far north of Cache Valley, to another accident victim who had been thrown from his wagon and fell on his head and shoulders. It was a long ways to travel but Dr. Ormsby went and found the man partially paralyzed. He did what he could to ease the man’s pain and remained with him until the paralysis became complete before dawn. The doctor left when there was no hope of the man’s recovery.86
In the doctor’s personal life and family there were significant events. A business directory for Logan had the doctor living in early 1890 at the “Corner of ‘F’ and Second.” In July of 1890 he moved his first family, consisting of wife Maretta and children Oliver S. (b. 1874), Mabel (b. 1880), Sybil (b. 1883) and Vera (b. 1887), to another home. He purchased the place of businessman and inventor, Christian Garff, on First Street next to George W. Thatcher’s place. The location was where many of Logan’s elite and well-to-do lived. The doctor’s son attended Brigham Young College to finish his secondary education and the boy’s mother also took some classes. On commencement day, May 22, 1891, among those receiving certificates as “Special Graduates” were Mrs. O.C. Ormsby in “French – Penelon and Souvestre” and Oliver S. Ormsby in Physics, Chemistry and Physiology. The leading student from the second generation showed aptitude for learning as had his parents. Young Oliver would be the third generation to choose the medical profession and he continued and built upon that family tradition. In the political realm there was a change as well, for in the arrangement between the government and the Mormon Church was an agreement to abandon the highly religious oriented People’s Party with the Mormons joining the ranks of the two political parties. In June of 1891 there went out a call for a meeting to organize a “Democratic Club,” and shortly thereafter the meeting was held in which Dr. Ormsby and four others spoke as to their objectives and plans for this club, with the next step being connection with the national Democratic Party. They started a roll of members and continuously added to the listing which was frequently printed in the columns of the Logan newspaper. Dr. Ormsby was on the first enrollment and he was a leader in creating the club and thereafter was a stanch Democrat. At the same time elements of the old anti-Mormon Liberal Party were making this change primarily to the Republican ranks. In the latter half of the 1880s Cache County, particularly the southern end experienced a short-lived mining boom. The newspapers in Logan, Ogden and even Salt Lake City circulated highly optimistic accounts of this mineral treasure as additional discoveries were made and ore shipped out. Dr. Ormsby and many others, including leading Mormon authorities, invested in the various mining companies. But in 1890 and 1891 the hoped-for boom didn’t live up to the hype and some of the mining properties were not developed or the mines closed. In December of 1891 the county tax assessment of these mining companies came due and remained unpaid. The county had the local newspaper print the delinquent taxes lists, and among the long list was the name of Dr. Ormsby who had invested in several of the mining companies.87 One thing didn’t change as the Manifesto on polygamy did not end the Church’s problems as viewed by society at large, and this was particularly troublesome to those individuals who had entered the practice of plural marriage. These polygamists where still being hunted and, if caught, were usually sent to prison.
THE LAST DECADE IN CACHE VALLEY
Some very general information on Dr. Ormsby’s living wives during this period may be in order. His first wife Maretta was considered his legal spouse by the laws of the land and she lived in the home occupied by her husband and children, first at Brigham City and after 1872 in Logan where her five known children were born. By 1892 she was identified as Mrs. O. C. Ormsby, Mrs. Ormsby and even “Mrs. Dr. Ormsby,” but more and more she was known by her given name and by an abbreviated form as “Retta” and sometimes as “Rettie.”88 The doctor’s plural wife Rebecca Jane Langton initially retained her maiden name up through her arrest in 1888, and possibly thereafter for a short time as her plural marriage went from semi-secret to generally well known. Thereafter she was referred to almost exclusively as Mrs. Ray Ormsby or Ray L. Ormsby, and it remains to be guessed as to the origin of the new first name as whether it was an alias, a nickname or whatever.89 In late January of 1892 the Logan newspaper announced that “Dr. Ormsby believes that life is a howling success,” as an eleven pound girl had been born to the doctor’s wife Maretta, and added a bit of true humor that “Mother and child doing better than the Doctor.” The baby was named Ruby and she was the last of Maretta’s known children born over an eighteen year period.90 By the plural wife the doctor had at this time two children, the first born at Logan in 1887 and a second daughter born at Smithfield in spring of 1889. Except for periods of time when it was thought advisable to have the plural wife and family reside elsewhere for short periods of time, both wives and families resided in Logan most of the time and always at different locations.
Just over two months later another young daughter of Dr. Ormsby was involved in an incident at the Logan house of the doctor’s plural wife late on Saturday night of April 9, 1892. However, the story was not covered by the Logan, Ogden and Church newspaper at Salt Lake City until after other newspapers made their scoops of breaking the big story some eight days after the incident with the arrest and charges against Logan’s leading physician. Two anti-Mormons papers broke the story in Utah and wired it to other major papers in the country. The more important of these papers related its account as follows:
“Dr. Ormsby, a prominent Mormon of Logan, a teacher in the Sunday school
there, and who was one of the first to declare that the will of President Woodruff
as announced in the anti-polygamy manifesto was the will of god, has been proven
to be like many others, a rattling good preacher but a failure as a practitioner, and
will appear before Judge Miner at the next term of the First District Court of Ogden
in the role of an unlawful cohab. He was arrested by Deputy Marshall Corey of
Ogden in the apartment of his plural wife at Logan and as the doctor was scantily
clad, the officers are of the opinion that no difficulty will be experienced in securing
a conviction. The accused is not a stranger to the inner walls of the Territorial
penitentiary, for . . . he pleaded guilty to the same offense (and was in a great
hurry to do it) for which he is now under arrest, but on his promising fealty to the laws
in the future his sentence was a light one . . . . Ormsby’s arrest will, on account of his prominence in church circles, prove a crushing blow to the pretensions of the leaders
and the assertion of their dupes that polygamy no longer exists in Utah.91
According to an Ogden paper, the Salt Lake Times account read like an article in the Police Gazette and it denied the assertion that Ormsby had preached a “sermon on the death of polygamy,” and deriding the “infamous” coverage without a “scintilla of evidence.” The preliminary examination came before Commissioner Mark Fletcher on Monday, April 18th with Dr. Ormsby, his plural wife and witnesses in attendance. This hearing was to determine whether or not there was sufficient evidence to bind them over to await the action of the grand jury on a charge of adultery. The first witness for the prosecution was young Joseph E. Fletcher, son of the trying commissioner, who claimed he saw the doctor and “Mrs. Ray Ormsby” walking together on Main Street in the evening of the day of the arrest. The other witness was Deputy George L. Corey of Ogden, who took the stand and stated the he went to the house of Mrs. Ray Ormsby, two blocks east of the co-op corner, on the night of April 9th. He arrived about 11:30 p.m. and knocked on the door and heard a female voice respond, and he tried the door and since it was not locked he walked into the house. He could see into the room with a light burning where the lady he heard had gone. Immediately Dr. Ormsby came forward to meet him, and told him he was attending a sick child. Corey responded that he didn’t want to disturb him and would leave and the doctor could post bond in the morning. However, the doctor told the deputy that he was just leaving and would accompany him, and the deputy and arrested doctor did so at once. In his testimony Corey recalled as best he could that the doctor was dressed and had on a coat, probably an overcoat thrown loosely upon his shoulders, and couldn’t remember if he had on boots or shoes on his feet. According to the Ogden paper, the deputy thought while he was still outside the he heard the doctor say he was going upstairs to lie down. All this was given by the arresting officer as the reasons for his arrest of the doctor on the charge of adultery. Not quite the same as the first newspapers inflammatory scoops.
Then the defense had its turn with Dr. Ormsby taking the stand to tell his account. One of his children had been sick for a week and the mother had called at his office in the afternoon and requested he call and prescribes for the sick child, which he promised to do after taking care of his other patients. He did not get through with his other commitments until 10 p.m. and he went to the house on a purely professional call. Checking his small child he diagnosed the problem and prescribed the medicine to be used. Since it was late he went to the drug store, awakened the clerks and obtained the medicine and returned to the house and administered one dose to the child. To this point he had only removed his hat and gloves, which he now picked up preparing to leave when the knock came at the door. Thereafter his story corroborated that of the deputy’s except he emphatically reaffirmed that he was dressed in his street clothing with his hat and gloves in his hand. College student A. B. Chambers, who was boarding in Mrs. Ray Ormsby house, testified positively that he had been at the house all evening and had seen the lady of the house at various intervals and there was no way she could have gone outside without his knowing it. He was absolutely positive she could not have been out walking on the street with anyone. Then Cyrus Napper and Mr. Dalton, employees at the drug store, told of being awaken by the doctor and making a prescription of medicine for him in the same manner and time frame as the doctor’s account. The last witness was Mrs. Ray Ormsby testifying that her youngest child (not named but was Lula Ettie who turned three on the day of her father’s arrest) had been sick for several days and she had obtained medicine for her child previously but the sickness became worse, so about six o’clock she went to the doctor’s office and requested he see the child. The doctor came a quarter past ten and examined the child for perhaps twenty to twenty-five minutes and left to get the medicine since the drug store was closed. He returned about half an hour later and administered the medicine since the small child fought the mother in giving it. The doctor had finished and was about to leave when the deputy made his appearance. She testified the doctor was fully dressed with an overcoat on. Both she and the doctor testified that student Chambers had been in the same room with them all evening and he had started to retire as the doctor was leaving.92
At the end Messrs. Maughan and Hammond for the defense made eloquent pleas for their client. In summing up the case the commissioner admitted that the prosecution witness (his son) only swore to the best of his belief or knowledge and was not positive about there being any suspicious activities, and the evidence by the defense was “very positive and plain.” This, plus the lack of evidence, led many present in the room to believe that the commissioner rated the prosecution’s case weak and seemed to favor the defense. Instead, he delivered “the surprise,” according to one of the newspapers, as the commissioner turned to lecturing the doctor, saying he thought it “indiscreet” to have not called an officer to accompany him to the sick child’s bed. The commissioner concluded by deciding to bind the doctor over on a $1,000 bond and the lady on a $500 bond to appear before the grand jury. There was immediate criticism of the commissioner’s decision to let the case go to the next level, citing the “exceedingly slim” with “not a scintilla of evidence” case of the prosecution, and contending that no court outside of Utah could have made such a biased decision from the evidence and testimony introduced. Then came forward a few facts not earlier exposed such as the warrant for the doctor’s arrested was dated April 1st yet the alleged offense came on April 9th, and in effect the doctor had been set up “dogging his foot-steps for some excuse to arrest him?” Then the officers pounced when a physician and father went to the bedside of his sick child and played to full emotional effect.
The longest and loudest outcry was against those “Liberal organs of Salt Lake” or vocal anti-Mormon newspapers who were so vindictive in denunciating Dr. Ormsby in their first articles filled with scurrilous libels, distortions and falsehoods “that a newspaper could be guilty of publishing.” Then the Logan, Ogden and Church newspapers made their counter charge that it was to make political capital of the whole thing in the interest of the anti-Mormon elements “to defeat the Home rule measure now in Congress.” The Logan paper asserted that since the preliminary examination when the facts, evidence and testimony were published that those papers that exposed and exploited the arrest of Dr. Ormsby have had “nothing to say upon the subject.” The anti’s didn’t stop completely but did move from the salacious comments to more germane aspects such as what a policeman should be allowed to do on making arrests. A Salt Lake councilman, reacting to the apparent uninvited entry of Deputy Corey into Mrs. Ray Ormsby’s home to see the doctor, had secured a resolution or order as to what was allowable. According to the Tribune citing an analogy of a policeman entering a saloon on his law enforcement business and he came out without his man he would be suspected of going in for drinks and thus—“Like the pious Doctor Ormsby of Logan, be in a h_ _l [sic hell] of a fix.” A week before the grand jury would decide what kind of fix the doctor was in, the above paper came out with a long article entitled “Lectures the Mormons.” The title and some of the content of the piece came from a long editorial from a small newspaper published at Malad, Idaho, in reaction to the first newspaper articles on Dr. Ormsby which had him caught red-handed in open defiance of the law, the Manifesto and almost everything else evil. Accepting what had been printed as true, the Malad paper stated the Mormons were not sincere in their utterance of loyalty to the government and its laws and had not abandoned its old and repulsive practices connected to polygamy. Using this source from “the very hot-bed of Idaho Mormonism” and other claimed Mormon sources, the article declared that unlawful cohabitation was a common and popular practice among the Mormons with second and third wives continuing to multiply and replenish the earth with the same vigor of old. From Franklin, a Mormon gave the newspaper the names of persons commonly known to be living or cohabiting with plural wives and dates of recent births. After reciting some rumors of discussions and possible deals between Mormon leaders and political parties, the article closed by warning the Mormons against duplicity and tricks in the course they pursue. They were being watched, and if they do the improper “they may expect, with Dr. Ormsby, to be caught some day flagrante delicto—in the commission of crime—when their cases will be as bad as his.”93
The “United States vs. O. C. Ormsby, adultery” case was given to the grand jury called by the First District Court at Ogden in May of 1892, and on May 13th the grand jury came into court and reported several indictments under Territorial laws and three cases which it would not consider that included Dr. Ormsby’s case. “On motion of E. M. Allison, Jr., it was ordered that the . . . defendants be released and their bonds exonerated.” When the local paper announced this action, it bemoaned that still the vile actions of certain officials to create this unjust case had achieved their “desired end” by creating an impression that polygamy had not been abandoned and the doctor had been “caught in the very act.” Finally the Church newspaper from Salt Lake added its comment on what it called “A Shameful Case,” in which “unnecessary and vindictive” efforts were made by the prosecution. The paper never expected the case to proceed as far as it did and in the end nothing was learned “except an intention . . . of certain persons to trap the Doctor.” The initial coverage of the case was sensational and vulgar full of “salacious comments” showing the mind of “the dastardly manufacture of scandal for the press.” Then it queried if the local sheets who had lied and libeled on Dr. Ormsby would give as much space to publishing the facts as they did to the falsehoods, including dispatching truth to the papers in the east to replace their lying dispatches?94
All through the period from arrest to dismissal, Dr. Ormsby pursued his medical practice, worked with the Sunday schools and other interests. On Sunday, May 15, 1892, he and his stake associates were conducting a “District Sabbath School Union meeting” at Mendon, involving people also from Wellsville and Petersboro. The morning session went according to plans and in the afternoon session the doctor received a telegram calling for his medical attention in Smithfield. He excused himself and went to Smithfield. This was not the only time this happened, and apparently there had developed some way or system wherein the doctor’s emergency calls would be directed to the location he was at when they came for him. Most likely in this case a telegram was sent from Smithfield to Logan seeking the doctor, and here the telegram was forwarded to Mendon and delivered to the meeting house for the doctor. At those locations without direct communication via telegraph or telephone, the situation was more complicated and took longer. A week and a half later on May 26th an emergency call came from Clarkston concerning two persons struck by lightning. Clarkston was six miles from the railroad depot and telegraph at Cache Junction and it is unclear how the message was sent for medical assistance. When the doctor arrived at Clarkston he saw the Samuel Stewart home where the lightning struck with the whole southeast corner badly damaged with a later report stating: “The studding and lumber on the end of the building was literally twister into shreds.” The owner had just returned from a trip and upon reaching his home experienced a hard thunderstorm, and he went out onto a porch to await his wife’s return from town. While here he was struck by lightning which knocked him down and he remained unconscious for about two hours until his wife’s return; she thought he was dead until he came to again. The doctor found Stewart badly burned across the bowels and sick from the shock. The other victim was little Alice Dahle, who had gone there on an errand for her mother, and due to the storm she and three Steward children were in another room. According to one report, she was standing by a big “looking glass” or mirror when the lightning struck which slivered the glass into “ten thousand” pieces many of which were driven into the youngster’s face and body, while another report had a window shattering with glass flying. When the doctor arrived she was crying and saying she could not see, with blood oozing from her many wounds. She had “great gashes” in her head and arms with a large number of punctures from smaller fragments. The doctor removed a great number of pieces of glass from her face and body. Later Dr. Ormsby told a reporter “that there were not less than two hundred wounds or cuts on her body, some of the scalp wounds being from an inch and a half to three inches in length. A piece of glass penetrated one of the eyelids and destroyed the sight.” In the letter from Clarkston written on Friday the correspondent wrote in regard to Alice’s condition—“It is now thought she will recover.” A week later a report had the lightning patients at Clarkson slightly improving, and a few days later Dr. Ormsby in an “extremely difficult operation” removed the damaged eye of Alice Dahle.95
Dr. Ormsby on Thursday, August 11th had another unusual procedure to perform on thirteen-year-old Sarah Kidd of Logan. She had been experiencing spine difficulties since a bad fall many years before. The doctor’s several examinations convinced him that the problem had progressed to a bad curvature of the spine that he called “Potts’ disease of the spine.” In preparation for the procedure, which the paper called an “operation,” the doctor sent to the East for an apparatus with which to suspend the patient from the ceiling. This devise consisted of a semi-circular shaped metal attached to the ceiling by hooks and two block and tackles to raise or lower the patient to any required height or position. Padded straps attached to the devise went under the patient’s arms with another strap with a chin mask tied the patient to the apparatus, and when all was ready the patient was raised so her toes just touched the floor with her trunk and upper body in a vertical position. When the patient was thus positioned the doctor commenced the process of wrapping her body from hips to arm pits with linen bandages filled with plaster of Paris. When cured this encasement allowed all the weight of the upper body to be taken from her spine and transferred to her hips. At the conclusion of this procedure young Sarah stood up straight and felt “perfectly easy.” Ten years earlier Dr. Ormsby had performed a similar procedure on another patient as previously discussed. The reporter praised the doctor for allowing him to witness and record the particulars of this procedure, and thought it would be well for all doctors to be more open in letting the public in on these medical practices rather than “being so chary of information.”96
In the meantime, the doctor and wife Maretta decided to build a new home after residing in the Garff place on First Street for a little over a year. They acquired property on east Second Street below Temple Hill in what one source described as “the most important real estate transaction” closed in Logan in some time, and began construction of a two-story brick home. For whatever reasons, whether construction delays or otherwise, in early June of 1892 the doctor and first family moved from their First Street home to the new house on east Second Street when the structure was not ready for occupancy. A news report for the first week in June had the Ormsby family “comfortably located in three large tents pitched under the trees in the rear of the lot. Camping out is a most enjoyable way to live during the Summer months, and the doctor generally spends the warm season that way up in the mountains. His house when completed will be one of the neatest places in the city.” A report on August 20th had the construction still progressing. When completed a Salt Lake newspaper reported it cost $7,000 when most of the other reported homes were at or below $2,500 in cost97. The local paper was cautious and careful not to go into details of the living arrangement of plural wives, and it is not known if this move changed Mrs. Ray Ormsby and family’s situation. However, the Tribune in Salt Lake wrote that in the three years since the “manifesto” things had changed for the “Worse.” While it had produced a division on political party lines, and the amnesty proclamation now permitted “every old polygamist to vote,” things had changed where men with several wives were living openly with them and numerous children were born in polygamy. Then it focused on Logan as a good place to see what was going on. Several men had gone to Mexico leaving their first wives in Logan, and others were in Canada with the first wives still in Logan. Then it listed ten men who it claimed had their first families in Logan and their plurals in Idaho so near as to be frequently visited with children born to all. On this listing of prominent citizens and polygamists was Dr. Ormsby. If the report and listing was correct, then the doctor must have relocated his plural wife north into Idaho for a period of time. This “Notorious Nest of ‘Cached’ Women” was in Star Valley according to the paper.98 Mrs. Ray Ormsby (Rebecca Jane) gave birth to Leila Cain on October 3, 1895, at Logan and Cromwell Langton on September 8, 1897, in the same location, so the stay in Idaho was short if it did happen.
Some mention as has been made concerning the doctor’s traveling to get to accident victims or sickness in particular the 1889 occasion when his buggy came apart and the night travel to Preston the following year. A few more instances of his traveling which were beyond the normal will be cited. On Friday, September 30, 1892, the doctor was called to attend a patient on the west side of Cache Valley. He went and did what was necessary and his return came well in the night, which was “unusually dark” because of a storm and he couldn’t see the road and had to trust his horse to find the way. Between Mendon and Logan his horse got off the established road and took a track through a couple of sloughs. Finally the doctor realized they were off the road and somewhat lost so he concluded to stop and wait out the storm. At four o’clock in the morning the storm lessened and he could see his trusty horse, and the storm clouds cleared away and he saw that he was only about a hundred yards from the road he needed to travel. The following summer Dr. Ormsby arrived at his office at the corner of Main and Third streets on Friday, August 14th ready to care for any patients. Shortly an excited gentleman came rushing in saying his wife was ill and needed emergency treatment. He insisted that the doctor come with him that very moment and be carried there in the anxious man’s vehicle. The man and the doctor climbed in the man’s cart pulled by a horse and started westward from the office with the driver whipping the animal into a “gallop” which observers guessed reached the gait of two miles per hour. With further urging the horse was brought down to a trot which increased the overall speed to about three miles per hour, but when this proved unsatisfactory, the animal was then put at a walking pace in the hope of increasing the speed of travel. Finally the horse was moved up to trotting as it was its fastest speed, and at last the doctor reached the destination “almost as soon as could have reached it by walking.” On Wednesday, June 5, 1895, the twelve-year-old son of J. W. Cobly of Mendon was playing and ran into a barbed wire fence cutting his throat. Between falling and struggling in his ensnarement the barbs made a sawing cut on his throat from ear to ear. Dr. Ormsby received an emergency call, probably by telegram to Logan. There was no train scheduled so the doctor would have to go by buggy or find another way. We are not informed how it came about, but the railroad section men took the doctor to Mendon on his rushed trip with a hand car which took twenty-two minutes. The doctor found the call for him had not been exaggerated and the serious ear to ear cut on the boy’s throat had missed the carotid artery by an eighth of an inch. Under the skilled hands of the doctor the lacerated neck was cared for and bandaged, and three days later the boy was observed as being on his way to recovery. In addition, Dr. Ormsby had a request for his professional care for his furthest distance when in May of 1894 he responded to a telegram from Manassa, Colorado, the Mormon colony. He went by train and returned ten days later.99
In the spring of 1893, Dr. Ormsby had been out of the drug store business since September of 1885, and his old Pioneer Drug Store was still the premier store of this type in Logan and had branches elsewhere. A number of other drugs stores came in and some soon faded and left the business. In this latter category was the Phoenix Pharmacy, then in the process of closing down, Dr. Ormsby and a new partner Lyman R. Martineau, the son of the man who probably had the first drug store in Logan, purchased the entire stock of the pharmacy with the intention of establishing their own drug store. In a week there was a space in the local newspaper saying it was “Reserved for Ormsby & Matineau’s new Drug Store on the corner of Main and Second Streets” in Logan. They took the old company’s building and refurbished it at the choice location on the corner opposite Thatcher Bros. Bank. With much advertisement and the fact that Dr. Ormsby moved his office in June to over the store gave them a good standing in the community and they set up a soda fountain and sold a wide variety of goods besides medicines. They probably became the second best drug store in Logan, and remained in business until February of 1897 when it sold out to the “Co-op Grocery and Drug Co.” The doctor was not out of the drug store business entirely, just a bit removed as both he and L. R. Martineau were among the seven incorporators of the new business that added groceries to its line of merchandise.100
Little will be related in the field of entertainment since most of it was conducted for and by the Church organizations primarily at the ward level. Some of this was conducted by the various auxiliaries and covered a wide range from music, plays, dinners and dances. Celebrations were conducted for important days especially Pioneer Day and then Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day and even Columbus Day. Occasionally the Sunday School or other church group would form and parade to a park or Johnson’s Grove for special music, talks, games and other amusements. Apart from the Church there were theatricals, music and balls at Reese Opera House and the Thatcher Opera House, and some at the Logan Tabernacle. On Thursday, December 29, 1892, a grand masquerade ball was held at the Thatcher Opera House. The music was furnished by the Opera House Orchestra in this “Grand Social Success” with much consideration given for spectators. Entrance to the affair came only by invitation with caution exercised in allowing only those the management could vouch for on the floor in mask. Participants were to enter by the stage entrance and the door keeper had a list of those allowed to enter. Long before the scheduled grand entrance, the spectators filled the gallery to overflowing with some allowed to occupy seats in the lower portion of the house. The newspaper named a long list of prominent people among the spectators. Then came the entrance march of those in costume and masks—male and female. Among a long list of men were Melvin Ballard, J. E. Carlisle, J. Golden Kimball and Dr. L. W. Snow. Among the ladies in mask were “Mesdames L. C. Farr, J. G. Kimball, Ida Langton, Victor Crockett, Ray Ormsby. . . .” After the entrance, according to the paper, an able floor manager “handled the odd looking dancers with the skill of a Napoleon and the grace of a Chesterfield.” Dr. Ormsby was not listed as either a spectator or a participant, but could have been there as the newspaper acknowledged there were others in attendance that they could not remember. In mid-January of 1894 the First Ward of Logan had a feast in the basement of the Logan Tabernacle for the superintendency and teachers of its Sunday School. Stake Superintendent Ormsby was there and was asked to say a blessing on the food. Among the ladies providing and preparing the food were “Mesdames Ray Ormsby and B. G. Thatcher. . . .”101
A year later on a Saturday night in 1895 the First Ward scored another success at the opera house in a talent show entertainment from their ward. The opening presentation was a tableau on Christmas with Santa distributing presents to children between the ages of two and six in the scene, and among the children were “Lula, Radie and Vera Ormsby” “Radie” may have been a nickname for Ruby, but whether correct or not, a child from both wives was in the scene. A ward chorus that included “Mesdames Thatcher, Thomas and Ormsby,” showed “careful training” in their selections. The difficulty today is to determine which Mrs. Ormsby sang with the chorus, probably Maretta. The next presentations ranged from a recitation to a soliloquy with the program ending with a roaring farce entitled “My Neighbor’s Wife.” The newspaper praised the efforts of Miss Scholes, “Miss Hattie Carter and Mrs. Ray Ormsby in their respective characters,” and added “Mrs. Ormsby has a fine stage presence and would make a first class actress.” On Thanksgiving night of 1896 a “Leap Year Ball” was held at Logan in which the “Society Ladies Escort Their Husbands, Friends, or ‘Beaux’ to the Nichol’s Academy.” The newspaper cited some of those taking part in the exercises of the evening, giving some detail of the ladies’ apparel which was thought to be neatly and “stylishly” along the line of “. . .Winnie Kimball, street dress; Mrs. Dr. Ormsby, street dress; Miss Mabel Ormsby, street dress. . . .” Once again the name of Dr. O. C. Ormsby was not included in the written account of the event. In late February of 1897 the “Logan Social Club” held “The Farewell Ball” at the Nichol Academy, and according to the paper, the closing ball was “a grand success.” The write-up had both the single and married attendees having an enjoyable evening and the notables mentioned included George W. Thatcher, Judge Hart, S. A. Langton and four professors (not identified by institution but probably from the academy) with “Dr. O. S. Ormsby,” son of Dr. O. C. Ormsby. Many factors could have been involved in Dr. O. C. Ormsby’s not was being listed at the various social and entertainment events, such as the press of business in his medical practice, he could have come in late for some of them, and he may have stayed away as he was a prime target for those seeking the polygamists. Perhaps it was much less complicated to not attend and find other occasions to find relaxation such as in hunting. In mid-September of 1897 the doctor and two professors went on a hunting trip up Green Canyon and returned in the evening “laden with a goodly number of feathered victims.”102
In the mid-1890s Dr. Ormsby had another bout with mining investments that didn’t prove out and the delinquent assessment notices carried his and other investors’ names. In June of 1895 the notices were for the Sundown and LaPlata Mining Company with its principal place of business at Logan and the mining properties at the southeastern tip of Cache County. The doctor had invested some money early (stock certificate #21) and periodically thereafter until he owned 12,560 shares. The names of these stock holders were a variable who’s who with two members of the First Presidency of the LDS Church holding considerable shares—George Q. Cannon 37,500 shares and Joseph F. Smith 22,500 shares. But quicker than expected the mining boom went sour and then bust and most of the mining stopped with the stock almost worthless. The doctor’s assessment of this company’s stock only amounted to $34.00 but the investment had failed. A month later the delinquent notices for the Bevan Mining Company showed the doctor owning 250 shares with an assessment of thirty-seven cents due. In late July the board of directors of the Sundown and LaPlata Mining Company held a meeting and gave reassurance that its stock was valuable and predicted the “speedy reopening of the once lively mining camp.” However, this never happened and the great hope for a mining bonanza quickly faded. As to how significant these investment losses were to Dr. Ormsby it has not been determined. In this same period of time the doctor had a delinquent tax notice on two acres of real estate in the Logan area.103 Subsequent events such as his next two housing moves give leave to some questions concerning this but no answers.
Probably one of the most time consuming and difficult parts of Dr. Ormsby’s medical practice was dealing with contagious diseases and trying to prevent their spread. He was directly involved both as a personal doctor and the county quarantine physician in the following incidents or scares: typhoid fever cases at Swan Lake in March of 1892 and diphtheria at Hyrum in July of 1893. The quarantines had been imposed enough times with mixed public reaction that in early February County Quarantine Physician Dr. Ormsby recommended to the Cache County authorities that the quarantine law be printed on cards and distributed, and they took the suggestion under advisement and eventually had this printed. He was involved in a series of health scares with diphtheria in Blacksmith Fork Canyon beginning in March of 1894, diphtheria in Benson Ward in April of 1894, scarlet fever in Cache County starting in Novemver of 1894, “scarletina” in Newton in February of 1895, all with quarantines and some deaths. In early 1896 attention was called to Logan in January and February that it was filled with disease with some districts quarantined and many stories in the newspaper on the diseases. As with the smallpox difficulties in 1883 there were some who tried to bypass or ignore the quarantine regulations. One irate citizen and businessman wrote a strong letter to the local newspaper protesting the quarantines and even challenging the idea that there was any serious contagious disease in the area. He objected to the bad advertising of the city as having the “Prevalence of Contagious Diseases.” According to this person, at the worst Logan may have had a few cases of measles or hives, and he had it from “the best medical authority in the city,” and that Logan was the healthiest place in Utah and they didn’t need the “scare-crow” of quarantine, negative publicity and calls for “heroic measures” to check the spread of disease that didn’t exist. Furthermore, he suggested “the Quarantine Board be ‘disinfected’ and the circulars they are printing be used as kindling.” In conclusion he asked who paid the quarantine physician when he was called to decide whether a patient had a serious disease or not.104 While not expressed explicitly, the businessman (who signed his letter “X”) was alarmed over what this was doing to his business, and he was afraid it could get worse it people failed to shop in Logan. In the end the letter and the attitude expressed made it more difficult to make the quarantine measures effective and complied with by those affected.
The wide range of Dr. Ormsby’s cases went from a blasting powder explosion at Richmond in which two men were killed and others injured in January of 1893 to a man receiving a scorpion sting and a snow slide injury. Mixed in were more and more sanity hearings, a post mortem on a body found buried beside the railroad tracks near Trenton, an examination of body of a baby buried in the back yard by the mother and questions as to whether buried before or after death. There were amputations and attempts to save various body parts such as the tip of a finger sewed back on, a thumb and a portion of a foot, plus an almost endless string of accident victims.105
Perhaps one of Dr. Ormsby’s most unusual cases came at Smithfield in January of 1895 with the “Blackberry King.” The title referred to a churn-maker by the name of Walker, a patentee of a new churn. He had a sordid reputation dating back two years when he was part of “a little comedy” at the People’s Hotel, while not explained it had to do with the man’s susceptibility to the charms of enchanting women. He disappeared from Cache Valley for at least and year and half, and then returned and sallied forth in “Cupid’s field,” and was successful in marrying a lady from Benson Ward. According to the newspaper reports, the marriage was not an object of envy by neighbors and the new wife quickly discovered she had married a very difficult, demanding and abusive man. On a Sunday morning in early January the wife was preparing biscuits for breakfast when her “lord” and husband came into the kitchen with his hands pressed against his jaw as he howled about having a toothache. This turned worse when the wife closed the oven door to do her baking while the husband screamed that he needed the heat to ease his aching tooth. The exchange of words between the two became heated and Mrs. Wilson called her spouse a brute and mean man. The man of the house flew into a rage and went into another room and destroyed a new churn that he had just made. After more words he convinced her to go to the Church meeting with the hope that time apart would ease the situation. She went to church and upon returning home she found Mr. Wilson “rolling and writhing in pain.” She inquired as what was the cause for his agony, and he told her he was tired of life and wanted to end his life. He said he had crushed a small glass bottle into small pieces and had swallowed a teaspoon full of the broken glass. The neighbors were called in and shortly a request was sent to Logan for a physician. Upon Dr. Ormsby’s arrival, he learned the details and set about to prepare a “decoction” or concoction to hopefully relieve the man’s pain and help get rid of the swallowed glass. Mr. Wilson very noisily refused to take the prepared mixture or any medicine, and stated he would rather take a dose of strychnine, perhaps punctuating his declaration with strong swear words. “The M.D. was very obliging and offered to fix him up a dose of that,” but he clinched his teeth and refused to take anything. By this time with the man showing no symptoms of swallowing glass or being near death’s door, Dr. Ormsby and others acquainted with the situation began openly to express their belief that Mr. Walker had faked the whole thing concerning the ground-up glass in an attempt “to work upon the feelings and sympathies of his wife and friends.” The faker had caused the doctor to make the trip to Smithfield for no real purpose except to help expose the man. Monday evening Mr. Walker was at the People’s Hotel doing his old song and dance. Perhaps his other Logan escapades were revealed together with some he pulled at Kaysville and Ogden in 1894 and 1893which made him to decide that other places might be more hospitable as he disappeared from Cache Valley.106
In the summer of 1890 the Salt Lake City Council passed an ordinance to “Regulate the Practice of Medicine and to Banish Fakirs.” It established an examining board where all who wished to practice medicine in the city had to appear before the board to get a license to practice medicine and surgery. In 1892 the Utah Territorial Legislature began considering a similar move for all of Utah and by April of 1892 “The Medical Statute” passed, empowering the governor to appoint a board of medical examiners to pass on the application of physicians for licenses to practice in the territory. Quickly a host of objections and problems developed in implementing the various provisions of the statute. Finally the statute was amended and revised as “The New Medical Law” and was put into operation throughout Utah. At the beginning of October of 1894, the Territorial Board of Examiners reviewed many applicants for licenses and issued several for “regular physicians” among which was that of Dr. O. C. Ormsby of Logan, who after being passed by the examiners and paying a fee of five dollars was issued his license. A similar metamorphous took place in the medical society organized initially as a Salt Lake Medical Society in the 1880s, and grew into a territorial society which held annual meetings where essays and papers on medical information were presented and discussed to broaden the knowledge of physicians. At the two day medical society’s conference in early October of 1895, the meeting drew a large number of doctors and other people interested in medicine in which medical papers were read and discussed to further the “advancement of medical science.” In the morning session the matter of “incorporating the society was taken up,” and at the close of the meetings several doctors were admitted to membership in the more formally organized medical society, and Dr. O. C. Ormsby was one of them. These two moves illustrated that the practice of medicine had come a long ways in Utah, becoming more knowledgeable and scientific.107
Utah finally received statehood in early January of 1896, and among its actions was the establishment of the State Board of Medical Examiners with the governor giving his choice of doctors for this board with three from Salt Lake, two from Weber County, one from Utah County and from Cache County, Dr. O. C. Ormsby. The nominations were immediately confirmed, and Dr. Ormsby would be active in carrying out his duties on this board for several years. In early October of 1897 at the annual meeting of the Utah State Medical Society, the members met for two days and heard papers read on a wide range of topics from “Scarlet Fever,” and “Nasal Reflect” to “The Value of Microscopic Examination in the Diagnosis of Uterine Disease” with discussions of each presentation. At the conclusion of the conference the society elected its officers for the ensuing year with Dr. Salathiel Ewing of Salt Lake as president and Dr. O. C. Ormsby of Logan as first vice-president. Two weeks later in Cache Valley Dr. Ormsby preferred charges on a Dr. George F. Phillips for practicing medicine without a state license. Phillips pleaded guilty and paid his fine and continued as he had in the past. Dr. Ormsby had him arrested “on several occasions” for the same offense. The last known time came on March 9, 1899, when Phillips appeared in court on the charge of practicing medicine without a license. This time the case was decided on the technical grounds that the prosecution failed to establish that Dr. Phillips had received any fees for his emergency rendering of medical aid, and the case was dismissed. The Utah State Medical Society sent twenty delegates (14 from Salt Lake, 2 from Provo, one each from Logan, Ogden, Nephi and Heber) to a larger regional medical convention held in Denver, Colorado in June of 1898 with Dr. Ormsby among the attendees. The following year the Rocky Mountain Interstate Medical Association met in Salt Lake City with articles and papers read on eyes, gall stones, appendix, etc. At the close of the meetings it was “pointed out that no medical association ever started under such favorable auspices,” with a listing of officially recognized personnel at the convention with O. C. Ormsby among those named. At the fifth annual meeting of the Utah State Medical Society held in Salt Lake City in early October of 1899, the papers read covered many diseases and the role and future of doctors. Thereupon Dr. O. C. Ormsby and A. C. Maclean of Salt Lake led discussions upon several of the papers. In addition to electing officers for the coming year, the society elected Ormsby and four others to a “board of five censors” for the ensuing year.108
Possibly it would be remiss to not mention something on Dr. Ormsby and his son Oliver S. Ormsby. As a youngster in Cache Valley the boy was known as “Ollie,” then after completing his education at home he was among seven young men going East to attend colleges. In its listing the local newspaper mistakenly listed him as “O. C. Ormsby, Jr.,” but his name was not identical with his fathers as his second name was “Samuel” not Cromwell. It took a while before his home town paper corrected the name to O. S. Ormsby. The young Oliver enrolled in the Rush Medical College in Chicago, where his father had attended for one term. As his first year of medical studies came to an end, his mother Retta and sister Sybil went back to Chicago to see him and enjoy the World’s Fair and then accompany him home to Logan in late May of 1893. Upon his arrival at Logan he told the newspaper this former education and “observance of his father’s practice” had been “of the greatest assistance to him” in his medical studies. He returned to Chicago in September of 1893 and returned to Logan for Christmas then back to Rush Medical College. He came back to Logan for the summer of 1894 and returned to the college in September. The following spring in mid-April of 1895, word was received in Logan that twenty-one-year-old Oliver S. Ormsby had finished his four year course at Rush Medical College after only three years of attendance from the fall of 1892 to the spring of 1895, and in addition to graduating he had entered and won a competitive examination for an internship at the college, placing him in the position as second physician at the Presbyterian Hospital, the largest in Chicago. If he accepted this he would return to Chicago for a year and a half. On May 25th young Dr. Oliver S. Ormsby arrived in Logan and on his third or fourth day in Logan a “Delicate Operation” was “performed by Drs. O. C. and O. S. Ormsby” on patient Andrew Graham. According to the newspaper account, the operation “consisted in removing two inches of one rib and withdrawing three pints of pus and instituting drainage.” To accomplish this the doctors had to move some organs in the right side of the chest and the left lung was compressed into a small area on the upper pleural cavity, and it was hoped that the lung would expand and full up the chest cavity. Two weeks later the patient was reported as recovering rapidly. The father and son doctor team immediately had another “Delicate Operation” involving a pregnant lady from Benson Ward, who had a fast growing tumor in her right breast. The local doctors believed the rapidly growing tumor had grown to six pounds and that to postpone the operation until after the birth of her child would place the woman’s life in greater danger than to take it at once. They had a consultation with the patient and her relatives, they laid the case out and added they had contacted one of the most celebrated tumor doctors in the United States about her case and confirmed their belief to operate at once. They used ether and operated about an hour to remove the “morbid growth, owing to the great number of blood vessels to be tied.”109
Through the summer of 1895 the two doctors, O. C. and O. S. Ormsby, removed a cancerous growth from a Hyrum man’s cheek, and operated on a Logan man with a strangulated hernia. In the latter operation it was noted that they used “Bassmi’s operation for radical cure of hernia.” In late August they examined an elderly lady from Hyrum, whom her relatives claimed was insane. After the examination the two Ormsby doctors sent their report to the asylum authorities in Provo, stating that although she was “undoubtedly somewhat imbecile, but the affliction was not of a character that would justify sending her to the asylum.” After the summer of practicing medicine with his father, in September of 1895 young Dr. Ormsby returned to Chicago to spend a year and a half in his internship. In mid-December of 1896 word was received in Logan that Dr. Oliver S. Ormsby and his new bride would arrive shortly. The newspaper expressed its hope that the young couple would conclude to remain in Utah and the young doctor would settle in Logan or a nearby place and build up a practice. Within a week of his arrival, Dr. O. S. Ormsby decided to open an office in connection with his father. Just over a month later in late January of 1897 came this announcement: “Dr. O. C. Ormsby, and son, the leading physicians of Logan, Utah, on account of their large practice in this section, have decided to establish a branch office in Preston and the firm will be here every Monday for consultations and can be found on that day at the residence of W. C. Parkinson.”
By March of 1897 “Drs. Ormsby and Ormsby” had set up their offices over the Co-op Drug & Grocery Co. in the Z.C.M.I. block in Logan. A classmate of young Dr. Ormsby at the medical college by the name of Dr. Kettlestring came to Preston and established his practice. In late June Dr. Kettlestring of Preston and Dr. L. W. Snow of Salt Lake City came to Logan to assist “Ormsby and Ormsby” in “some very important operations. The father and son medical practice continued for about three years and eight months. One of the most significant cases for Dr. O. S. Ormsby came at Preston, Idaho in October and November of 1898 with a serious outbreak of Typhoid Fever which could not seem to be controlled. On October 31st Drs. W. B. Parkinson, O. S. Ormsby and E. G. Gowans of Logan, together with Drs. Adamson of Richmond and Canfield and Montrose of Preston, met with a mass meeting of Preston citizens to discuss the best means to resolve the situation. The doctors reported that an analysis of the drinking water in the surface wells showed the presence of “poisonous germs.” In another way science was aiding in the prevention of epidemics by finding the basic cause. In mid-August of 1900, the Logan paper announced that “Dr. Oliver S. Ormsby” would leave Logan the following day to go to Europe where he would visit the hospitals of London, then spend a month doing the same thing in Berlin and then on to Vienna where he would work in a hospital for a year. He would continue to have a long and distinguished career in medicine.110
Dr. O. C. Ormsby had his last bout with smallpox in Cache Valley in starting in 1900. Previous to this time for over a year the Utah newspapers carried stories of smallpox scares creeping ever closer to the new state. Then in 1899 the smallpox was in Utah with outbreaks in many locations including Salt Lake City. In 1900 it reached Cache Valley and much like the smallpox scare back in 1883 there was some difficulty in correctly identifying the malady. In the second week of August the county physician, Dr. W. B. Parkinson, was urged to enforce the quarantine regulations, but he initially refused, claiming the affliction to be the “Manila itch” before leaving on a trip to the East. Shortly two Logan cases were under Dr. O. S. Ormsby’s care and he diagnosed them as smallpox and immediately quarantined them. The complaint spread alarmingly and on August 16th Drs. Ormsby, Gowans, Croxall and Budge held a consultation and decided the disease to be “genuine smallpox,” and recommended urgent quarantine measures. In the absence of the county physician, the county commissioners imposed quarantines upon the settlements of Wellsville and Paradise, due to each having at least “a score of cases, and setting forth to impose the same measures on Lewiston. Luckily the disease was in a mild form but some deaths resulted from it in Cache Valley.111
The 1900-1901outbreak of smallpox was broad enough to be designated an epidemic and it prompted more pointed discussions and debate on what could or should be done. This became a major issue in Utah, and the controversy centered on the smallpox vaccination, the only known preventive of the disease. For many years the Woman’s Exponent, the official magazine for the Church’s Relief Society, had advocated vaccination to avoid smallpox. Late in its efforts in 1888 it took note of the local prejudice against its advisements and tried to counter the false impression that by way of vaccination the disease could be transmitted to others. Many Utah physicians, like Dr. O. C. Ormsby, had advocated vaccinations from at least 1880. But a bigger and louder voice stepped forth to foster and lead the opposition in the Church’s newspaper the Deseret News. It launched a lengthy campaign that became a veritable crusade with many facets to its approach, including saying it was not “antagonizing vaccination” merely pointing out it was not free from danger, or in other words not safe and not needed under the existing circumstances. In the fall of 1898 the newspaper heralded with “joy” the abolition of the “compulsory clause of the vaccination law of England (which was far from the truth) and predicted that unless dire consequence should follow that idea of compulsory vaccination was “doomed for ever.” As the smallpox spread through Utah with quarantines, school closings and prohibition of public gatherings the debate intensified. In early January of 1900 the Utah State Board of Health met to discuss the situation but because a quorum was not present no formal action was taken. Dr. Pike of Provo “took strong grounds in favor of compulsory vaccination,” and he maintained that what they were experiencing now was smallpox in a mild form, but it could develop into the virulent form and vaccination was the best and only safeguard against the danger. Furthermore, he explained the “scientific vaccination of the present day” was greatly different from the old form used many years ago. Dr. Wilcox confirmed Pike’s claims but he was not in favor of compulsory vaccination of school children. Within a few days the Salt Lake Medical Society unanimously voted in a special session favoring the vaccination as efficacious as a “preventive of smallpox.” Then it expressed its view on the Deseret News and its anti-vaccination campaign: “Every member of the society was severe in his condemnation of the Deseret News policy inveighing the doctrine of vaccination, and all attributed present unwelcome conditions to the influence the paper wields among prejudiced people throughout the state.” The society further “roasted” the paper, citing some of the paper’s “untruthful assertions” including the claim that the compulsory vaccination law in England had been repealed. They debated over how to get their full report into the Church newspaper, even to buying advertisement space for it, then concluded to give it to the Church paper sure that “Editor Penrose feels equal to the task of demolishing this report on vaccination in a minute.” One doctor declared: “The Deseret News’ policy is and will be most unfortunate to the state.”112 A prediction that proved all to correct.
Finally the Utah State Board of Health took the position that they must approach the growing smallpox problem more vigorously, focusing on prevention rather than just isolating smallpox patients.
They acted in stages (first in smallpox infested districts) by pronouncing that vaccination was compulsory for school children and teachers in the schools. Some school districts implement it, other neglected it, in another the school board rejected it and the city counsel then ordered it to comply. The reaction was swift and sharp led by the editorial writers of the Deseret News and gathering opposition statewide. The anti-vaccinationists took the State Board of Health’s policy to the Utah Supreme Court. Eventually the court agreed with the State Board of Health in barring unvaccinated students from school. Then the opponents took their case to the state legislature where petitions and letters poured in with the vast majority opposed to the vaccination position. In the lengthy debate and because of the Church’s newspaper’s leading stand and actions, the First Presidency of the Church issued a letter advising that the Latter-day Saint College would be closed until the prevailing smallpox distress receded, and they recommended voluntary vaccinations. Only complete silence would have been more weak-kneed, as its response was like saying they favored quarantines if they were voluntary. But this was significant in as much as in Utah at this time if the First Presidency had taken a clear forceful stand for compulsory vaccination, it would most likely carried the issue. Instead they played it safe and watched from the sidelines while the Church newspaper carried on with it inflammatory anti-vaccination crusade with help from several General Authorities of the Church using the pulpit. Dr. Theodore B. Beatty, the health commissioner appointed in 1898, went before the legislature asking for a state vaccination law, using statistics on the state’s abysmal smallpox record. Instead of listening the legislators wanted to talk and called the state board of health a “the bastard child of state government,” and a “useless agency” expensive and “wholly incompetent” and led by a “dictatorial” commissioner. Then to cap off their tirade the legislature passed the McMillian Bill which repealed the compulsory vaccination ordinance. Governor Heber M. Wells vetoed the bill but the legislature quickly passed it over his veto. Most Utahans rejoiced and celebrated it as a great triumph. In February of 1901 Apostle Brigham Young, Jr., took a note from his famous father and wrote that the idea of vaccinating Utah’s school children was: “Gentile doctors trying to force Babylon into the people and some of them are willing to disease the blood of our children if they can do so, and they think they are doing God’s service.”113
Even the best scientific medical knowledge, statistics, rational argument and procedure couldn’t stand under the glare of such unfeigned thinking with so little wisdom, insight or understanding; so, in Cache Valley and the rest of Utah, science lost out to faith. Death and suffering from smallpox in Utah would continue for many more years before Utah saw the light and joined the mainstream on smallpox vaccinations. Elder Brigham Young, Jr., never saw it as he died in April of 1903 just as Emery County had a quick recurrence of smallpox. Editor Charles W. Penrose went on to become an apostle in 1904 and advanced into the First Presidency in 1911 and died in 1925. He would have seen many more outbreaks of smallpox before his passing and belatedly observed that Utah was still in the pioneer age in regard to smallpox and still held a strong negative view of doctors and scientific medicine. The smallpox epidemic of 1899 to 1901 had over 3,000 cases of smallpox in Utah with at least another 1,000 unreported. It left over twenty-six dead and put the pox marks on thousands with over a hundred towns suffering from the disease and it being in all but four counties in the state.
The sad postscript to this account showed itself more clearly during the 1920s and 1930s when smallpox was almost eradicated in most of the states due primarily to laws for compulsory vaccination of students. In Utah for 1920 there were 1,131 cases of smallpox per 100,000 population while two compulsory vaccination states did unbelievably better with New York having only 2.9 cases per 100,000 people and Massachusetts (the first state to require smallpox vaccination in 1855 for school attendance) having a mere 0.7 cases. Thus, the toll on Utahans continued and the state was frequently criticized for its inability to control smallpox well into the 1930s. Finally in 1931 the federal government passed a compulsory vaccination law for schools which forced Utah to vaccinate school children. In the meantime as Utahans continued with smallpox, they also helped spread the disease to other states and abroad. Citing just two known examples from possibly a great number will illustrate this. In the spring of 1901 the leading British medical journal reported several cases of smallpox at the Mormon headquarters at Nottingham, England, which it believed came via “letters or other formites” from Utah. While not pinpointed at the time, more likely the source came via a Mormon missionary from Utah who carried the disease to England where at a Nottingham conference on March 24, 1901, it was spread around as infected members carried it to Leicester, Longborough, Derby, Sheffield and Liverpool when they returned home from conference. A more serious and direct link can trace a smallpox outbreak in New Zealand in 1913 to a missionary from Utah. This outbreak lasted for nearly a year with 1,892 Europeans and Maoris afflicted by smallpox with fifty-five Maoris dying. Until 1940 Utah was a chief suspect as the source for smallpox outbreaks in the United States and where the Mormon missionaries went. This was brought out by neighboring states, medical societies and journals. In addition in Utah, Dr. Beatty and State Board of Health had a hard row to hoe in the days after the shellacking on the vaccination issue in 1900-01, but he stayed in the fray and continued as health commissioner until 1935, having accomplished much for Utah public health. He died in 1948 and for at least once his old arch-enemy the Deseret News rose to the occasion by praising his great efforts in “promoting sanitation and quarantines, to which at the time there was widespread opposition,” and the people, both state and nation, had to be “educated up” to the importance of measures of public health.114 Dr. Ormsby had long been deeply involved in the educating up process in Cache Valley, and he won some and lost others; the vaccination struggle probably was his toughest defeat.
Dr. O. C. Ormsby moved one more time in Logan in June of 1896, relocating from the Fifth Ward to the former residence of John Price, “one block north and a half block west of Z.C.M.I.,” the premier business and community locator point. The newspaper mentioned his move and location of his residence four additional times, as people seeking medical attention went to his office and his home besides using the telegraph and telephone. This relocation came just four years after moving into the new home he had built in 1892 and was his third home since 1890. In July of 1896 the doctor went to Salt Lake City for the funeral of Dr. Joseph M. Benedict and served as a pall-bearer at a ceremony that included a large number of physicians paying their last respects to one of Utah’s best early doctors.115 This was the calm before a brewing storm in which the wicked-witch of politics came to the fore-front.
Among the concessions that the Mormons made to the federal government beginning in 1890 was the abandoning the old Mormon versus anti-Mormon political system, the Mormons in Utah moved into the two parties of Democrats and Republicans. In that restructuring more people joined the Democratic ranks but many of the leading Church authorities became Republicans. In October of 1892 President Wilford Woodruff stated that the consensus of the First Presidency was that “none of the Presidency, Twelve or Presidents of Seventies should take the stump to make political speeches.” However, that would be much easier said than done. It quickly became apparent that Church leaders wanted to retain or regain as much control as they could, and used the old line that opponents were “out of favor” with Church leaders and other whispering tactics to gain their ends which Mormons of a differing political view thought was “meddling” by their Church leaders. In Cache County Dr. Ormsby had been active in the People’s Party and helped organize and lead the Democrats in Cache County. At their meetings and conventions he played key roles as chairman, speaker, host or leading a political parade as “marshal of the day.” Back in the 1892 when Joseph L. Rawlins, the Democratic candidate for Congress, came to Logan, he was royally received by a crowd of eight to ten thousand people filling the street and sidewalk area around the bank and opera house corner. Led by Dr. O. C. Ormsby the grand political procession moved on “North Main and marched and countermarched in four directions” carrying torches and many flags. In their meeting the Cache County Democrats “Upon the motion of Dr. Ormsby the nomination of Joseph L. Rawlins was ratified by three cheers and a tiger.” Before the next important election in 1895, the politics in Utah got dirty and churchy and not strictly along the line of the old People’s Party and Liberal Party divisions. The new problems came when certain Church leaders used their positions and pulpits for political ends and set Mormons against Mormons in some cases. Not long after the local Democrats held their “Convention of Harmony” in September of 1895 in Cache County a harsh report was printed in the Logan newspaper about the activities of three Church leaders—a member of the First Presidency and two apostles. It related how President George Q. Cannon had denied “emphatically and unequivocally” that he made extremely negative comments about Judge Power, leader of the Democratic Party of Utah, while at the Box Elder Conference. Cannon denied making the statements and to bolster his position Cannon appealed to Brigham Young, Jr. and Rulon S. Wells and others to corroborate his denial. When they refused, Cannon finally admitted using the very words he had been charged with expressing. Elder Francis M. Lyman, after being accused of doing improper work for the Republican Party, denied it and appealed to Riley G. Clark of Panquitch to “bear him out,” but Mr. Clark refused and instead supported the accusers. Elder John Henry Smith denied that he personally attacked Judge Powers in a church meeting in Willard, and his lack of support came in the form of a notarized statement by several men telling what John Henry had said about the Judge. This article was followed by another long article citing the Church leaders with “Undue Influence” to mislead the people. After citing several examples of this, it focused on one of the worse violators saying: “Apostle Lyman’s career in politics since the division movement is not an enviable one, for no one has sought to bring about political results through the use of church influence more than he. Such work as his can only bring trouble. Let it cease.” But it didn’t as in November of 1896 President Joseph F. Smith, counselor in the First Presidency, appeared at the Cache Stake Conference in the Logan Tabernacle on Sunday to preach while wearing a McKinley campaign button.116
There ensued a rather warm cold war of religious-political orientation between Church leaders who were Republican and used their Church positions to advantage against slightly lower-ranked Mormon leaders with Democratic connections such as the Moses Thatcher and B. H. Roberts cases in 1895 and 1896. The focus of this paper will stick with Dr. Ormsby and Cache and how it was affected. Dr Ormsby had a long and close association with Apostle Moses Thatcher dating back to when the Doctor replaced Thatcher as superintendent of the stake Sunday Schools, and they continued that relationship in their church service and as Democrats. In the Democratic Party county convention in September of 1895 Dr. Ormsby and Thatcher were assigned to lead various committees in their gathering called “A Convention of Harmony,” thus named in the hope of bringing about Mormon unity in the party. These Democrat divisions, according to the Cache Democrats, were being caused by the meddling and whispering campaigns by local and general Church leaders. Three months before the 1896 Cache County Democratic convention, the Cache Stake held their annual Sunday School convention on Saturday, June 14th, with stake superintendent Ormsby calling the meeting of Sunday school workers and children to order and later he addressed the audience in the morning session where the roll call showed sixteen ward Sunday schools represented with most giving reports on their groups. In the afternoon session there were a series of speakers whose remarks were “well received and a good spirit prevailed” until Cache Stake President Isaac Smith rose to address the audience, composed mostly of youngsters with their adult leaders. Smith erupted into a political harangue in which he defended President George Q. Cannon from, what the newspaper called, “imaginary attacks,” which were in large part the ones cited in the above paragraph and related by the Logan newspaper. Then President Smith turned his wrath on the “gentile editor” of the terrible Logan newspaper, who was not present to hear it or defend himself. He charged that this man didn’t know anything about liberty and was not willing to grant the people the freedom provided by the Constitution. In his continuing rage he “appealed to the Sunday school children” not to tolerate this “gentile editor” in their area. According to this newspaper, President Smith continued “on at a great rate till overcome and exhausted by his rage at the editor he sank into a seat.” The next two speakers, L. R. Martineau and President Orson Smith, a counselor in the stake presidency, tried their best to restore the previous good feeling “but it was all in vain.” After a closing song Superintendent Ormsby gave the benediction, an unusual procedure by the person conducting the conference, but most likely because he wanted the final words in a Sunday school conference “spoiled” by his immediate ecclesiastical superior. The paper concluded that Smith’s performance was a “very cowardly act,” and left dozens blushing in shame at his actions, and all “in order to get revenge on a political opponent in last fall’s campaign.”117
The 1896 Democratic convention in Cache County came off smoothly with Dr. Ormsby named the temporary chairman while the convention organized itself and attended to business. Perhaps the next one was an omen for what was to come for in October of 1897 the Cache Democrats met in convention as “The party of the people, the un-terrified Democracy of Logan, met in battle array on Saturday at the Court House.” Possibly the phrasing was just colorful with little meaning, but probably they were indicative of pressures being applied from within and without of a bitter struggle building in the party. Once again Dr. Ormsby was appointed temporary chairman as the convention organized and set about its business. One of the items on the agenda was selecting the party’s nomination for the office of mayor of Logan with five men chosen. After two votes Mr. Anthon Anderson was chosen with forty-six votes and coming in second was Dr. Ormsby with thirty-nine votes and a third nominee getting two votes. Among the resolutions passed was this: “We are convinced, as far as Logan City is concerned, that the division on party lines had been beneficial, and that strict adherence to original Democratic doctrine will result in the greatest good to the people.” The following year on September 10, 1898, the Cache County Democrats met at Logan in their convention with the primary objective to elect delegates to the state convention for the party, which would chose the candidates for office including the Utah representative to the United States Congress. At the meeting in Logan, before the name of B. H. Roberts had been directly mentioned, there was a “strong undercurrent which was visible” ready to erupt on the surface. “When Dr. Ormsby, a man strongly suspected of sympathy with the Roberts candidacy, was nominated for the temporary chairmanship, the fight began,” with an opposing faction nominating I. C. Thoresen, “an anti-Roberts man. The Roberts faction succeeded in electing Ormsby by a vote of 42 to 41.” Similar bruising fights came in choosing the temporary secretary, over proxies, credentials and other minor issues with the same one vote margin deciding each issue. Dr. Ormsby went on to become the permanent chairman and delegates to the state convention were chosen, but in the afternoon the anti-Roberts faction gained the upper hand, selecting seven antis, five for Roberts and five doubtful. Among the delegates selected was Mrs. O. C. Ormsby. The delegates went to Salt Lake City and B. H. Roberts became the Democratic Party’s candidate running for the representative seat in Congress on September 14th.118
Over two weeks after the state convention the Cache Democrats met again on October 1st at Logan as an early snowstorm fell which couldn’t compete with the political storm that broke out in the court house meeting. There were two choices for temporary chairman but the anti-Roberts force won easily. Moses Thatcher addressed the meeting saying it was well to have opposing candidates prior to nomination but denied it after the party’s choice had been made. He paid tribute to Roberts and urged the party to support him and strongly disclaimed the anti-Roberts charge that he was “the Church candidate” saying it had been “proven false by statements of church leaders.” There was an effort by some of Roberts’ friends trying to force him off the ticket while pro-Roberts elements threatened revolt and bolting the party if this happened. This meeting instead of healing differences between the two camps only intensified them. A correspondent for a Salt Lake newspaper wrote at the conclusion of the convention: “The air here is blue with threats of the defeated faction, and no eloquence of Moses Thatcher, no taffy of the Herald, no persuasion from Powers, Sloan, Moyle, or any other element in the Democratic Party will heal the gaping wound that has been inflicted.” The highest authorities of the Church were opposed to Roberts running and feared he would win. Most of their efforts were in the whispering mode and using their “Undue Influence,” but on the day before the election a last ditch effort was made overtly from the top ranks of the Church. President George Q. Cannon focused on the repeated stories of the polygamist Roberts living with his several wives. The Church leader stated: “It is not necessary for me to comment on the law. It is against cohabitation and it is not necessary for me to explain it.” Then he let the devious genie out of the unspeakable bottle for Mormons as he continued: “Any man who cohabits with his plural wives violates the law.” It was more than a mouthful and, although not named, the list of law violators was long including the First Presidency, many apostles, stake and ward leaders and Dr. Ormsby. Roberts won the fall election by a seven thousand vote majority, but it would prove a hollow and sad victory. It would allow for an open season on polygamists and the Church would enter a long season of ducking, explaining and changing with another Manifesto in 1904 reaffirming the first more sincerely than had the 1890 version.119
B. H. Roberts, one of the presidents of the Seventies, had run for the congressional seat in 1895 and Apostle Moses Thatcher for the senate seat with neither man consulting with higher Church authorities. Roberts lost the first election and found himself in trouble with Church leaders and came extremely close to losing his position in his Church (Thatcher did lose his). Roberts’ second campaign produced serious internal friction in the local Democratic Party, heated debate in his Church and then sparked a series of external explosions in and out of Utah that exceeded the internal party and Church disputes. It galvanized the old anti-Mormon forces in their charges that polygamy had not stopped in Utah and moved to keep Roberts from being seated in the House of Representative, using the concept that to seat Roberts would be to sanction polygamy. Roberts fought the lone battle for his seat and lost the contest after a long and bitter fight.120 But the repercussions went on and reached into Cache County in the short and long range.
On April 14, 1899, before his hearing on whether he would be seated, a large number of Democrats of Cache County assembled in the Palace Hall in Logan to celebrate the memory of Thomas Jefferson. Dr. Ormsby called the meeting to order and after prayer and music, he made a brief introductory address to party members who were now somewhat terrified (as differing from their 1897 convention claim) by the condition of their party. Then the Honorable Charles H. Hart, judge of the First Judicial District and
President of 64th quorum of Seventies, was introduced and he made a short address to the assemblage on “The Democracy of Cache County.” His words dwelt on the “disunion of the Democracy in Cache through untoward influences creeping in.” In conclusion he thought troubles could be remedied and urged his party to unite and work in harmony. Then Congressman-elect, B. H. Roberts was introduced and he related the story of democracy and the conflict between those who love and seek power and those who love and seek freedom. He severely criticized the policies advocated by Alexander Hamilton while praising the ideas and policies of Jefferson. Then he came to “an indirect discussion of his case in which he said it was unpatriotic and un-American for the people of a State to appeal to the country for a decision in a question which had been decided by the State.” Perhaps a very reasonable and legalistic stand, but it had little support in Cache County and even less in the country. By late October of 1899 the Republicans were finding favor among the Cache electorate while the Democrats were severely divided, still feuding and dissatisfied with their slate of candidates. The ire of the party was manifest in the choice for mayor of Logan, when it was generally believed that W. C. Cates would be nominated. However, an upset and controlling faction chose otherwise and decided for Mayor Anderson for another term leaving, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, previous party leaders and “popular gentlemen as Dr. O. C. Ormsby, W. C. Cates and other were shelved for another term.” With this occasion and situation in late October of 1899 Dr. Ormsby seems to have withdrawn from the Cache County political scene.121
However, the Roberts’ case reinvigorated the old can of worms on polygamy, ending an informal agreement whereby those who entered polygamy prior to 1890 and the Manifesto were not pursued by the law unless they entered into new plural marriages. For some time, probably starting in 1898, Charles Mostyn Owen had been hired as a spy by the New York Journal to find details on suspected Mormon polygamists. In the fall of 1899 Owen began filing complaints in the district court at Salt Lake City for statutory offenses which in the case of Apostle Heber J. Grant was reduced to the misdemeanor unlawful cohabitation which Grant plead guilty in September in a quick three minute hearing before a judge. Besides giving Church leaders fits in Salt Lake City, Owen sent a packet of thirty-one affidavits to the Cache County Attorney charging one case of adultery and thirty cases of unlawful cohabitation. According to the anti-Mormon newspaper in Salt Lake City, the issue “In filing charges against so many at one time, Mr. Owen intends to refute the assertions of the defenders of the system that there may be a ‘few sporadic cases’ of such unlawful cohabitation.” On his long list were Apostle Marriner W. Merrill of Richmond, Bishop George L Farrell of Smithfield, C. O. Card of Canada, Samuel Roskelly of Smithfield, Dr. W. B. Parkinson and Dr. O C. Ormsby, superintendent of Logan Sunday schools, with Mrs. O. C. Ormsby and Rebecca Langton. It was open season on polygamists again, and more so for those with their wives in the same community and in Dr. Ormsby’s case his last wife had given birth to two children since the Manifesto—Leila Cain on October 3, 1895 and Cromwell Langton on September 8, 1897, both at Logan.122
At the quarterly conference of the Cache Stake held at Logan on January 28 and 29, 1900, at the closing afternoon session on Monday, Dr. O. C. Ormsby and his counselors were released from their stake positions over the Sunday School organization. It is not known if Ormsby was released after his many years of service, or if he requested the release in accordance with other changes in his life. There is much circumstantial evidence to support the latter possibility. In addition at the afternoon session of conference Apostle George Teasdale was the only speaker and he took the occasion to praise the Deseret News and other church publications for their strong anti-vaccination stands on smallpox. Teasdale declared that the preventive vaccination “was worse than the disease.” Most likely this grated the ears of Dr. Ormsby who had long advocated the vaccination for smallpox, and he found his Church solidly back in its old anti-doctor and science stances of its earlier days. Five days later on Saturday, February 3rd a large crowd assembled at the Brigham Young College for a reception and testimonial for the retiring Sabbath School Superintendency of the Cache Stake of Dr. O. C. Ormsby, W. H. Applerley and W. G. Reese put on by a host of workers and leaders in the auxiliary. At the gathering Dr. Ormsby was presented with a gold-headed cane.123 Perhaps it was also his “swan-song” or final public appearance in Cache Valley.
Thereafter it becomes difficult to trace the location and activities of Dr. O. C. Ormsby with certainty. After he all but disappears from the scene in Cache Valley, his presence was found in Pocatello, Idaho. He was not a stranger here as his medical calls to this location came by requests from that Idaho community. About two weeks after his Utah testimonial he was at Pocatello and with his physician son, O. S. Ormsby, performed a “critical operation” on Mrs. James Davidson. In early May of 1900 the same father and son team of doctors performed a “severe surgical operation” on Mrs. E. T. Hargraves at Pocatello. In mid-June of 1900 he was one of four male speakers at a Relief Society stake conference at Pocatello, Idaho. He was listed on the 1900 census at Pocatello, Idaho in Bannock County enrolled on June 5th while a boarder on Arthur Avenue with all the data confirming the fifty-six-year-old physician married for thirty years as the noted doctor from Logan, Utah. To the south in Utah’s Cache County in the city of Logan his legal wife and family were enrolled on June 7th in the Fourth political ward with Maretta Ormsby cited as the head of the family at age 45 with the occupation of “Recorder,” and having been married twenty-four years and bearing eight children of whom five were living. Living at home were her four single daughters—Mabel at age 20, Sybil at age 14, Vera at age 12 and Ruby at age 8. Her son Dr. O. S. Ormsby with his wife and young daughter were also living in Logan. Surprisingly the home the family was living in was rented and they had eleven boarders, all students ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-four. Twenty homes from this family the same enumerator on the same date enrolled the Dr. Ormsby’s plural wife formerly known as Rebecca L. Ormsby. She was now using the name of Ray Ormsby and was listed as the head of the family at age thirty-five, married sixteen years and having borne four children all living. Her children were listed as “Ray” a daughter named Rebecca after her mother at age 12, Lula E. at age 11, Lila C. (Leila Cain) at age 5 and son Cromwell at age 3. Mrs. Ray Ormsby was renting and she was listed with the occupation of “Boarding House” keeper with one or two students boarding in her home. The census taker, or someone checking the work, did some scratching out and renumbering of residences and families along with order of listing to the point that it may be interpreted that a second house was rented in which a housekeeper resided with her children and as many as six boarders as part of the Ormsby boarding establishment.124
Dr. O.C. Ormsby’s presence in Pocatello was not part of another professional visit to this Idaho community that he had visited several times previously. At this time in his life other factors had caused him to look for a new location to re-establish his medical practice. This move presents one of the biggest questions concerning Dr. Ormsby, as to why he so abruptly left Cache Valley where he had been so successful for three decades. To this point we can only speculate as to the reason or reasons. A prime consideration would be that he relocated to avoid law enforcement personnel seek a polygamist as the political infighting in Utah had reinvigorated the old crusade against plural marriage. Also he may have moved to get away from the whole mess in Cache County on 1900. The latter included the smallpox situation wherein the preventive was viewed as worse than the disease with heavy Church involvement, and the fracturing of the Democratic Party in Cache by the “untoward influences creeping in,” due in part to meddling and whispering campaigns of local and general Church leaders. Probably due to the combination of these factors Dr. Ormsby left Cache County and Utah, and established a temporary residence at Pocatello, possibly checking it out in regard to establishing his medical practice there. His son, Dr. O. S. Ormsby, joined him at Pocatello for at least two operations. The son can be found before and after the joint operations back in Cache Valley. Another indirect reference to the doctor’s whereabouts comes from an item from a Utah newspaper from July 5, 1900. It had his second daughter Sybil, in her late teens, returning to Logan after spending a “few days at Pocatello.” Most likely she was there visiting her father. The only mentions in the Salt Lake newspapers from February through August of 1900 were for Dr. O. S. Ormsby and in mid-August of 1900, Dr. Oliver S. Ormsby left Logan to continue his medical studies in Europe. Possibly the son’s plans were based in part on his father’s action and plans. However, Pocatello was only a temporary stopping point for Dr. O. C. Ormsby, and he is not found on the 1901/02 Pocatello city directory. Probably sometime after August of 1900, he relocated to Rexburg, Idaho, and moved his plural wife and family there. Only his legal wife and family remained in Utah. In late November of 1904 the Democratic Party’s Cache County convention was held in Logan, and the only Ormsby mentioned was “Mrs. M. S. Ormsby” being selected to serve on the Platform committee of five members. A year later in the fall elections of 1905 the Republicans showed growing strength, sweeping the county positions. “For a time it was thought that Recorder Ormsby had been re-elected, but the returns show that she lost by twenty-three votes. . . .” The loser in the Recorder office race was Mrs. M. S. Ormsby. The newspaper concluded: “All day the Republicans worked unceasingly, while Democrats generally were apathetic and idle, which accounts in part at least for the big Republican majority.”125
Thereafter in Utah the only coverage of the Ormsbys was in the society columns concerning daughter Sybil returning from a fall trip in 1904 to visit relatives and friends in Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. In late November of 1904 a lady friend from Swan Lake visited Mrs. M. S. Ormsby in Logan. In February of 1905 Sybil was a guest at the “big social event” of a private masquerade at one of the Thatcher homes. Under “Marriage Licenses” issued was one for Sybil M. Ormsby of Logan and Edward S. Hahn of Kansas City, Missouri. In a story about the new “L.D.S. Nurses’ Home being dedicated in Salt Lake City in mid-December of 1905 was the note that among the nurses who would occupy the home was “graduate nurse, Mabel Ormsby.” Six weeks later in the January 28, 1906 issue on the social happenings in Logan was this line: “Mrs. Maretta S. Ormsby of Salt Lake, but formerly of this city, spent Wednesday and Thursday with friends here.” After thirty-three years in Logan, Maretta S. Ormsby left Logan and moved to Salt Lake City taking her two children remaining at home. With their departure in late 1905 there were no more of Dr. O. C. Ormsby’s family living in Logan. Daughters Vera and Ruby attended the Salt Lake schools with Vera a high school graduate in the spring of 1908. One yet unexplained side note came four to five months after Maretta had moved to Salt Lake City. In early April of 1906 the district court of the First Judicial District of Utah in and for Box Elder issued a summons to a group of defendants that included Maretta Ormbsby to appear within twenty days of the summons.126
Dr. Ormsby at Rexburg established his medical practice. The details and sequence of this move have not been ascertained at this time. However, this much is known from a report of a meeting of “medicos” or doctors of eastern Idaho held at Idaho Falls on January 11, 1906. Apparently Dr. Ormsby had much to do with organizing this meeting and its format which consisted of an afternoon session and one in the evening that concluded with a banquet. In the sessions a number of “interesting papers were read and discussed” among which Dr. Ormsby presented one on “Lithotomy.” As this was the first meeting of this group of doctors and a formal permanent organization was effected with Dr. Ormsby chosen as president along with a vice president and a secretary-treasurer. The new medical organization planned their next meeting for April at Pocatello with later meetings to be held at Blackfoot, Idaho Falls and Rexburg. The article described Dr. Ormsby as “the veteran physician of Fremont County” whose commissioners had recently chosen him to be the county Physician.127 To be so described the doctor would have needed to be in the area for a few years at minimum and in 1906 Fremont County covered a huge area of northeastern Idaho. Today Rexburg is located in Madison County which was created from Fremont County in 1913.
The 1910 census discloses some changes for the Ormsbys from the census ten years earlier. The head of the two Ormsby familes was the doctor not the wives and in 1910 both homes were owned free of mortgages whereas both homes in 1900 were rented. In the Idaho census for 1910 the family at Rexburg was enrolled on April 20th with the sixty-five-year-old physician cited as the head of the family with his household consisting of wife “Ray L.” (Rebecca Jane Langton) who had borne four children with all living. Her occupation was listed as a “Taylor” which should have been spelled tailor, and she worked on her own and had been out of work a dozen weeks during 1909. The three younger children—Lula, Leila and Cromwell—where still at home. The family had two “Lodgers” or boarders living with them, one of whom was a Langton and could have been related to wife Ray L. Ormsby. To the south about 210 miles in election district sixteen in Salt Lake City was the doctor’s other family. There exists a slight difficulty in determining the date of their enrollment since no date was placed on the roll, just the notation that it was a “supplement sheet” as were two additional sheets to conclude the census in this district. The sheet previous to the one the Ormsbys were on was taken on April 27th while the concluding supplemental sheet had the date of May 13th. On this census the head of the family was Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby listed at age sixty-seven correctly instead of two years younger as on the Idaho census. His wife’s name was spelled “Mariettia” with her occupation as “Stenographer” employed by others and she had been out of work for twenty-five weeks in 1909. Three single daughters were living at home—“Mabel J., Vera I. and Rilley M.—with the latter name usually written at Ruby.128 Quite possibly Dr. Ormsby had found the best way to position his two families in two different states yet close enough for contact with both via the railroad Apparently this arrangement continued until Dr. Ormsby died at Rexbury on October 27, 1916. One short obituary from Brigham City, Utah, told of his death from paralysis and concluded: “He was 72 years of age and he leaves two wives and a number of children.”129
An article on the early years of medicine in Cache Valley had the following to say about him: “Ormsby may well be called the father of medicine in Cache Valley. He was the first formally trained physician to settle there; he performed the first major surgery in the valley; he operated the first regular clinic and dispensary for the area.”130 To these kudos and title could be added that he was the dean of doctors in Cache Valley and adjacent areas seeking and teaching new and improved techniques and exchanging and sharing information in line with a scientific approach to his profession. As a prominent insider who worked with the outsiders or gentile doctors, he brought more and better advancements in medicine within Cache Valley much faster than would have been the case. He was important as a physician and surgeon, but his role as an influential example became more significant; by the choice of his fellow physicians (and patients to some extent) he was looked upon as the leader and director of the medical establishment in the area. At the same time, by his prominence, personality and manner, he broke down some of the strong prejudices and negative considerations of early Mormonism in regard to doctors and scientific medicine. His three decades of professional medical service to the area was a great blessing and within his own lifetime his import and impact was felt throughout Utah and into southern Idaho.
1 Edward W. Tullidge, “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” Tullidge’s Histories, Volume II with A Biographical Appendix (Salt Lake City, Ut., 1889), 42; “Died [obituary of John S. Ormsby],” Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Ut.), Oct. 20, 1875. These two sources most likely had Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby as the primary source of information. A different version comes from a “History of Westmoreland County, Penn.,” written by George Dallas Albert and published in 1882. It has James. S. Ormsby showing up in Greensburg around 1839 or 1840 not trained as a physician but practicing medicine by which he became prosperous. It also claimed he eventually moved to Utah where he died under a cave-in of an earthen bank while the newspaper report of his death made no mention of this. The 1840 census for Westmoreland County, PA had John S. Ormsby and family living in Salem Borough.
2 “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 42; “Died”, Deseret News, Oct. 20, 1875. R. S. Yeoman, A Guidebook of United States Coins (Racine, Wisconsin, 1997), 281.
3“Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 42-43. The grave of Olive Cynthis Ormsby has a death date of March 17, 1851 which complicates the general story of the Ormsbys going to California.
4 Ibid. ; Mark W. Swarthout, “The Battle of Pyramid Lake,” California and the Indian Wars: The Battles of Pyramid Lake.” Internet source via http://www.militarymuseum.org/Pyrimid Lake; Michael Sutton, “John S. Ormsby” from Ormsby Origins via http://www.ormsby.org/genie/Branches/John S. Ormsby.
6 “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 44.
7 Ibid, 44-45.
8 Deseret News, Oct. 20, 1875, Jan. 2, 1867, Dec. 1, 1869, Jan. 27, 1869, Aug. 31, 1870, Dec.27, 1871.
9 “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 46.10 Deseret News, Sept. 18, 1852; Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool, England; 1854-86 or reprint), 4:109, 13:142;, 14: 230, 15:225-226; Blanche E. Rose, “Early Medical Practice,” Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1( Jan. 1942), 14-32.
11 Journal of Discourses, 15:225-226.
12 Deseret News, Jan. 27, 1869.
13 Ibid., Mar. 10, 1869.
14 “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 46; Deseret News, Oct. 27, 1869.
15 Deseret News, Oct. 13, 1869 and Jan. 26, 1870.
16 Deseret News, Jan. 26, 1870; “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 46.
17 Ibid., Mar. 30, 1870, Sept. 28, 1870.
18 Rose, “Early Utah Medical Practice,” 21-22.
20 Deseret News, Nov. 2, 1870.
21 Ibid., Mar. 15, 1871,
22 Ibid., Mar. 15, 1871, Nov. 8, 1871; Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Ut.), June 11, 1872.
23 Deseret News, July 31, 1872, Aug. 14, 1872. Daily Corinne Reporter (Corinne, Utah), Jan. 18, 1872.
24 “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 46.
25 Richard Daines, “Heroes and Horse Doctors: Medicines in Cache Valley, 1857 – 1900.,” in Douglas Alder (ed), Cache Valley: Essays on Her Past and People, (Logan, Ut. 1976); Deseret News, Oct. 9, 1872 and Nov. 6, 1872.
26 Deseret News, Sept. 26, 1860 and Jan. 2, 1861.
27 “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 46; Corinne Daily Reporter, Sept. 26, 1873, Oct. 2, 1873, Nov. 18, 1873; Deseret News, Jan. 31, 1894; Salt Lake Tribune, July 19, 1874.
28 The Ogden Junction (Ogden, Utah), Jan. 25, 1879.
29 The Logan Leader (Logan, Utah), Oct. 9, 1879.
30 Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 23, 1872
31 Deseret News, Sept. 15, 1872, Oct. 16, 1872, Nov. 27, 1872.
32 Ibid., July 9, 1873.
33 Ibid, Feb. 4, 1874.
34 Deseret News, July 8, 1874; Cache County Probate Court Records, Book “A”, p. 232; Deseret News, June 2, 1875.
35 Deseret News Weekly, Sept. 9, 1874, Jan. 20, 1875, Dec. 6, 1876, Oct. 2, 1878 plus numerous other references from 1872 through 1880. The Logan Leader, Dec. 11, 1879.
36 Deseret News , Mar. 22, 1876; June 22, 1878; Aug. 27, 1879. Rose, “Early Utah Medical Practice,” 25; J. Cecil Alter, “Addendas--Addena (F)--Brigham Young's Death,” Utah Historical Quarterly
Vol. 10, No.1 ( Jan. 1942), p.48.
37 Deseret News, Aug. 27, 1859; The Ogden Junction (Ogden, Ut.), Aug. 23, 1879; The Logan Leader, Feb. 13, 1880.
38 The Logan Leader, Nov. 13, 1879.
39 Ibid., Nov. 12, 19, 1880 and Dec. 3, 1880.
40 Ibid., Oct. 9, 30, Nov. 6, 13, 20, 1879, Jan. 1, July 16, 1880.
41 Ibid., Nov. 20, Dec. 4, 1879, Jan. 1, 1880; Oct. 22, 1880.
42 Deseret News, Oct. 20, 1875; The Logan Leader, Jan. 9, 1880. U. S. Census for 1880 and 1900 for Cache County, Utah, and Logan City Precinct. The Ogden Junction, Aug. 23, 1879.
43 The Logan Leader, Nov. 26, Dec. 10, 17, 24, 1880. Jan. 28, March 12, 18, 1880. Dr. Ormsby removed a tumor from the back the proprietor of People’s Drug Store, Mr. Lamoreaux, in March of 1880.
44 The Logan Leader, Mar. 18, 1881. “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 46. Deseret News, April 13, 1881.
45 Letter of O. C. Ormsby to President A. Carrington, from Birmingham, England June 14, 1882, in the Latter-day Saints Millennial Star, June 19, 1882, Vol. 44, No. 25, pp. 397-399
46 The Logan Leader, April 1, 15, 22, 1881. Millennial Star, May 16, 1881, Vol. 43, No. 20, p. 313.
47 “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 46-47. Millennial Star, Oct. 3, 1881, Vol. 43, No. 40, p.635, Feb. 13, 1882, Vol. 44, No. 7, pp.106-107, June 19, 1882, Vol. 44, No. 25, p.397-399.
48 Dr. O. C. Ormsby’s letter to the Logan newspaper and entitled “Travels in England,” published in The Logan Leader, June 2, 1882. An address in the Logan Tabernacle on July 16, 1882, by Dr. O. C. Ormsby talking about his mission, published in The Utah Journal (Logan, Utah), Aug. 4, 1882.
49 The Utah Journal, Aug. 4, 1882. Ogden Daily Herald, July 10, 1882.
50 Millennial Star, June 12, 1882, Vol. 44, No. 24, p. 379; June 26, 1882, Vol. 44, No. 26, p. 411-412; July 10, 1822, Vol. 44, No. 28, p. 444.
51 New York Times, July 3, 1882.
52 Ogden Daily Herald, July 14, 15, 1882.
53 The Utah Journal, Aug. 4, 1882.
54 Ibid., Aug. 4, Sept. 8, 1882.
55 The Utah Journal, Sept. 8, 26, Nov, 21, 1882. Arta Larsen Hansen, “The Life Story of My Grandfather—Peter Petersen.” Author had a copy of this typescript. The Christian Peterson family over a hundred years later was not aware of existence of the brother Peter, and their version of the story has the horses frightened by a passing train.
56 Ogden Daily Herald, Sept. 27, 1882.
57 The Utah Journal, Sept. 19, 22, 1882.
58 Ibid., Oct. 20, 1882.
59 Deseret News, Jan. 17, 1883; The Utah Journal, Jan. 5, 1883.
60 The Utah Journal, Jan. 12, 16,1883; Deseret News, Jan. 17, 1883.
61 The Utah Journal, Jan. 23, 26, 1883.
62 Ogden Daily Herald, Feb. 1, 1883; The Utah Journal, Feb. 2, 6, 1883.
63 The Utah Journal, Feb. 2, 6, March 6, 1883.
64 Ibid., Feb. 6,9,16, 20, 27, Mar. 2, 1883.
65 The Utah Journal, Mar, 9, April 6, June 1, 1883; Ogden Daily Herald, Aug. 9, 1883.
66 The Utah Journal, June 11, 1884; Deseret News, Oct. 15, 1884.
67 Ogden Daily Herald, Aug. 29, 1885.
68 The Utah Journal, Aug. 22, Sept. 19, Nov. 7, 1885; July 11, 1888. “Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby,” 48.
69 The Utah Journal, Jan. 13, 1886.
70 The Utah Journal, June 2, July 17, Oct. 23, 27, Dec, 18, 1886, Jan. 5, 1887.
71 Ibid., Feb. 2, Mar. 30, 1887.
72 Ibid., June 13, 1888; Deseret News, June 13, 1888; Salt Lake Tribune, June 12, 1888.
73 The Utah Journal, June 27, July 11, 14, 25, 1888; Deseret News, Aug. 22, 1888.
74 Deseret News, Aug. 29, Sept. 12, Oct. 10, 1888.
75 Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 2, 1888
76 Ibid., Oct. 19, 1888.
77 Ibid., Oct. 21, 1888.
78 Deseret News, Oct. 3, 1888 George Q. Cannon diary transcription on the Internet at http://www.coloradocollege.edu/library/SpecialCollections/Manuscripts. Melvin L. Bashore, “Life behind Bars: Mormon Cohabs in the 1880s, Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Winter 1979), 22-25.
79 The Semi-Weekly Standard (Ogden, Utah), Jan. 9, 1889; The Utah Journal, Jan. 9, 23, Feb. 9, 16, 27 and May 15, 1889.
80 The Utah Journal, May 8, 15, 1889.
81 Ibid., May 15, 18, 22, June 5, 1889. Deseret News, Jan. 25, 1889.
82 The Utah Journal, May 29, July 20, Oct, 2 1889, Jan. 4, 1890.
83 The Logan Journal, May 7, July 2, Aug. 2, 1890.
84 The Utah Journal, Sept. 18, 1889.
85 Deseret News, May 23, 1888; The Utah Journal, June 7, Nov. 8, 1890, Mar. 25, 1891.
86 The Logan Journal, Feb. 22, July 23, 1890.
87 Ibid., July 30, 1890, May 20, 23, June 24, Dec. 5, 1891.
88 The Journal, Oct. 22, 26, 1892, May 31, 1893, Dec. 1, 1896.
89 Ibid., Mar. 12, April 20, 1892, Jan. 15, 1894, Jan. 23, 1895, Feb. 13, 1896.
90 Ibid., Jan. 30, 1892.
91 Salt Lake Tribune, April 17, 1892.
92 The Standard, April 20, 21, 1892. The Journal, April 20, 1892.
93 The Standard, April 20, 21, 1892. The Journal, April 20, 27 1892. Salt Lake Tribune, April 21, May 6, 1892.
94 The Standard, May 14, 1892. Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 1892. The Journal, May 18, 1892. Deseret News, May 21, 1892.
95 The Journal, May 21, June 1, 4, 11, 1892. The Standard, June 2, 1892.
96 The Journal, Aug. 13, 1892.
97 The Journal, Jan. 13, June 8, 1892. Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 1, 1893. The Standard, Jan. 15, 1892.
98 Salt Lake Tribune, May 15, 1893.
99 The Journal, Oct. 5, 1892, Aug. 16, 1893, June 8, 1895, May 16, 26, 1894.
100 Ibid., May 20, 27, June 7, 10, 24, 1893, Feb. 13, 1897, Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 26, 1897.
101 The Journal, Dec. 31, 1892, Jan. 15, 1894.
102 Ibid., Jan. 23, 1895, Dec, 1, 1896, Feb. 27, 1897, Sept. 18, 1897.
103 Ibid., June 15, July 6, 30, Dec. 5, 1895.
104 Ibid., Mar. 26, 1892, July 8, 1893, Feb. 10, Mar. 3, April 7, Nov. 14, 1894, Feb. 23, 1895, Jan. 30, Feb. 1, Mar. 4, 1896.
105 Ibid., Jan. 21, June 7, 1893. Jan. 20, Feb. 21, 1894. June 8, 1895. Reference to certain multiple items detailed in the parenthesis by newspaper source citation such as (month/day/year) it was reported in the newspaper.
106 Ibid., Jan. 19, 1895, Aug. 15, 1894.
107 Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 23, 1890, April 16, 1892, March 30, Oct. 3, 1894, Oct. 3, 1895. Jan 6, 1888, Oct. 3, 1895.
108 Ibid., April 16, 1896, Oct. 7, 26. 1897, Mar. 10, 1899, June 11, 1898, Oct. 5, 1899.
109 The Journal, Sept. 14, 1892, May 31, Dec. 27, 1893, May 19, Sept. 22, 1894, May 30, June 11, 22, 1895.
110 Ibid.,, June 27, Aug. 29, 31, 1895, Dec. 17, 22, 1896, Jan. 28, Mar. 7, June 26, 1897. Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 1, 1898. Salt Lake Herald, Feb. 7, Aug. 19, 1900.
111 Salt Lake Herald, Aug.17, 19, 1900. Isaac Sorensen, History of Mendon (Salt Lake City, 1988), 161, 167, 168, 407.
112 Deseret News, April 17, 1897, Sept. 24, 1898. Salt Lake Herald, Jan, 5, 9, 11, 1900.
113 Salt Lake Herald, Jan. 13, 14, 16, 26, April 27, 1900, March 4, 8, 1901. The Standard, Jan. 31, Feb. 21, 22, 1901.
114 “Controversy in Utah over Smallpox Vaccination,” The History Blazer, May 1996. Eric L. Bluth, “Pus, Pox Propaganda and Progress: The Compulsory Smallpox vaccination Controversy in Utah 1899-1901,” BYU Master’s Thesis, August 1993, 19,65,66,70, 76, 157-161. The debate on this issue in the newspapers is quite revealing from the Deseret Evening News’ two remedies (the first a curative and preventive, and the other a curative with amazing speed) to control and eradicate smallpox. In 1921 Apostle James E. Talmage stated his experience with the vaccine bacillus and gave his positive view in favor of vaccination.
115 The Journal, June 9, 11, 13, July 27, 1896.
116 Ibid., Oct. 12, 1892, Sept. 24, Nov. 5, 1895, Nov. 5, 1896. Truman G. Madsen, Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story (Salt Lake City: 1980), 216-218.
117 The Journal, Sept. 24, 1895, June 18, 1896.
118 Ibid., Sept. 15, 1896, Oct. 12, 1897. Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 11, 15, 1898.
119 Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 2, 4, Nov. 7, 1898. Madsen, Defender of the Faith, 242-244.
120 Madsen, Defender of the Faith, 222-227, 242-244.
121 Salt Lake Tribune, April 22, Oct, 27, 1899.
122 Ibid., Sept. 9, Nov. 26, 1899.
123 Salt Lake Herald, Jan. 30, Feb. 5, 1900.
124 Deseret Semi-Weekly News (Salt Lake City, Utah), March 6, May 8 and June 26, 1900. Twelfth Census of the United States for Pocatello, Idaho in Bannock County, and Logan City in Cache County, Utah.
125 Salt Lake Herald, July 8, 1900, Feb. 7, Aug. 17, 19, Sept. 29, Nov. 7, 1900. Letter from the Special Collections & Archives of Idaho State University dated Sept. 6, 2007 concerning the Pocatello city directories and other information on Dr. Ormsby.
126 Ibid., Nov. 13, 20, 1904, Feb. 5, April 27, Dec. 16,1905, Jan. 28, 1906, May 31, 1908. The Box Elder News (Brigham City, Ut.), April 5, 1906.
127 Salt Lake Herald, Jan. 14, 1906.
128 1910 United States Federal Census for Idaho, Fremont County and Rexburg 3rd Precinct. 1910 United States Federal Census for Utah, Salt Lake County and 16th District of Salt Lake City.
129 The Box Elder News, Oct. 27, 1916.
130 Richard Daines, “Heroes and Horse Doctors: Medicine in Cache Valley, 1857-1900,” in Cache Valley: Essays on Her Past and People. (Edited by Douglas D. Alder. Logan: Utah State University, 1976) p. 72.
Updated: 29 Aug 2011
Copyright 2007 by Larry D. Christiansen
Produced for Cache Co. UTGenWeb