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About Samuel M. Smith


Samuel Mitchel Smith was born in Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio, on Nov. 28,1816. He was the only child of Samuel and Nancy (Mitchel) Smith. His family was a pioneer family of Highland County and his mother was one of the first white (not Native American) children born there (3). His paternal grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, and his father operated a tannery in Greenfield, also finding time to be minister of the Presbyterian Church. Dr. Smith's mother died of postpartum complications resulting from his birth. She had not yet reached her twentieth birthday. A family story told that her final words were a prayer that her son would be spared "to serve acceptably the God she trusted." This was repeated often to young Samuel and guided his decisions in life and helped shape the choice of his career (19).

Samuel M. Smith entered Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, in the fall of 1832, graduating in 1836. Following graduation, he was placed in charge of an academy in Rising Sun, Indiana, where he studied medicine under a local physician, Dr. John Morrison. He attended the 1837-1838 session of lectures at the Medical Department of the Cincinnati College (6). The Medical Department of the Cincinnati College was one of several Ohio medical colleges founded by Daniel Drake, M.D., the dominant figure of early medicine in the Cincinnati area. It had a four-year existence from 1835 to 1839 (14).

Contrary to what is recorded in some biographies of Dr. Smith (37; 38), he never received a medical degree in course from the Medical College of Ohio (now the University of Cincinnati) (5), nor is there a record of his attending lectures at this institution. He matriculated to Philadelphia in 1838, receiving a medical degree in 1839 from the nation's first medical school--the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania (19; 35, p. 428; 36). After a brief return to Highland County, Dr. Smith moved to Columbus. In 1840 he accepted a position as an assistant physician at the Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum, a large facility on East Broad Street near what is now Parsons Avenue (36). The Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum was built in 1835 and destroyed by fire in 1868. The superintendent during the years of Dr. Smith's association was William Maclay Awl, M.D. (1799-1876). Dr. Awl was one of the thirteen founders of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (original name of the American Psychiatric Association) and its second president from 1848 to 1851. It was under Dr. Awl's supervision that Dr. Smith received his first experience and training in psychiatry.
In 1843 Dr. Smith resigned his position at the Central Asylum and opened an office for the practice of medicine on the corner of High and Town streets, opposite the City House (I 6). In the same year, he married Susan Evans Anthony, daughter of General Charles Anthony of Springfield, Ohio. Shortly afterwards he moved his office to East Rich Street near High Street. He later relocated to 154 East State St., where his office remained until his death (28; 37).

 

* Taken from Pinta, E.R. (1994). A History of Psychiatry at The Ohio State University, 1847-1993, pp. 3-12