1843: Nathan Staples Pike to Dr. Gunning S. Bedford

Dr. Nathan Staples Pike

This letter was written by Dr. Nathan Staples Pike (1819-1867), the son of Isaac Pike (1770-1842) and Rebecca Briggs (1791-1867). He graduated from the New York University medical school in 1843. He married Jane Frances Perkins (1828-1904) of Sterling, CT, in 1853. She was the daughter of Obed Perkins and Rachel McGregor.

Gunning S. Bedford (1806-1870) was a medical writer, teacher and founder of the United States’ first obstetrical clinic for those too poor to pay a doctor’s fee. Dr. Bedford graduated in 1825 at Mount Saint Mary’s University (then Mount Saint Mary’s College), Emmitsburg, Maryland, and took his medical degree from Rutgers College. He spent two years studying abroad and in 1833 became professor of obstetrics in Charleston Medical College. After this he became a professor in the Albany Medical College.

He later founded the University Medical College in which he established an obstetrical clinic for those too poor to afford a doctor which was the first of in the United States. He retired from teaching for health reasons in 1862 and he died in 1870. His funeral panegyric was preached by Archbishop John McCloskey a fellow student at Mount St. Mary’s.

Two books written by him, “Diseases of Women” and “Practice of Obstetrics” went through a number of editions, were translated into French and German and adopted as textbooks in American schools.

Stampless Cover



Addressed to Gunning S. Bedford, M.D., Professor at the University of New York, New York [City]

Sterling [Connecticut]
March the 1st. 1843

Proff. Bedford,
Dear Sir,

I take this opportunity to inform you that I am in the land of the living & about to ask of you for information about a patient that was confined with her first child a few days ago & she was unfortunate enough to have a laceration of her perineum from the posterior commissure to the rectum. She is in other respects very well indeed except her bowels being rather costive. In consequence of the laceration, she is put in severe pain at every evacuation of the bowels and is unable to sit up at all. If you will give me your treatment in such cases you will do me a favor.

I am located in Sterling with a tolerable prospect for business. Henry Hubbard, a fellow student of mine, has just called on me & he says he thinks you are you are [a] set of fine felllows there at that New York University & thinks that he shall attend his second course & graduate there. If you have a social festival at the close of this session of lectures as you did at the time I graduated, please offer for me this sentiment, viz:

“The New York University — may her second accouchement be as successful and her progeny as numerous as the first, & may her after pains not require the use of anodyne.”

Please write immedate on the receipt of this. — Nathan S. Pike


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