Family Stories

Professor Moses Lewis Linton

Dr. Moses Lewis Linton was the son of Benjamin Franklin Linton and Lucy Crewdson, the grandson of Captain John Hancock Linton and Ann Nancy Mason.  Dr. Linton married Ann Rachel Booker 25 Oct 1837 in Washington County, Kentucky.  They had 11 children:  an infant who died at the age of 2 weeks, John Hancock, Paul Booker, Ann Rachel, Benjamin, Francis Lewis, Mary Elizabeth, Amelia Matilda, Margaret Booker and Caroline Pope Linton.

The Saint Louis Medical and Surgical Journal

January and February 1867

Biographical Sketch of Professor Moses Lewis Linton, A.M., M.D., LL.D.

The following brief outline of the history of Dr. Linton is given to our readers almost under the shadow of his expressed disapproval; yet, since he is Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine in the St. Louis Medical College, and senior editor of the St. Louis Medical and Surgical Journal, whose pages have been under the guidance of his great pen for at least a quarter of a century, the profession and our readers have a claim upon him; I assume, therefore, the responsibility of presenting to them some of his more prominent features.

Dr. Linton was born in Nelson County, Kentucky, April 12th, 1808, and is, therefore, in the fifty-ninth year of his life.

His father, Benjamin Linton, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, on the 10th day of June, 1777.  He emigrated from his native State at an early day, to Nelson County, Kentucky, where he lived a quiet life, following the avocation of a farmer for many years, and there died in a ripe old age, respected by all about him for the many excellences of his character.

That his father was a man of worth and enterprise, possessed of daring and force of character, is sufficiently evidenced by the fact that he was a pioneer, and in a time when the word meant something.  Very early indeed we find him in a new territory, sparsely settled and wild – an adventurer – struggling amidst the perils of that early period, and with him his family shared their part, which no doubt has had much to do in forming the characteristic man before us.

The period of his birth was an auspicious one in the history of our country, and the footprints of his successful pathway, direct us to his realization of its bright promise.  It is well to be born in a heroic age when all the surroundings lead to greatness.  Who may question the fact that his early training had much to do in the development of his courage, moral strength, and force of character, his penetration and quickness of perception, and his ready command of facts, that have made his name so prominent as a disputant, polemic and professional!  In spirit, we may say justly, he is still a boy, full of wit and poetry, yet “a man as is a man,” in all the great attributes.  In the gift of such a son to times so urgently demanding him, a father and the profession may truly be proud.

Of his early history and education we know but little.  We presume it was in accordance with the times, limited in all the favorable opportunities of our day.  These he used, however, with benefit, and by patient effort has attained the high position of a self-made scholar.

When quite young his attention was turned to the study of medicine, upon which he entered under the teaching of Dr. Polin, of Springfield, Kentucky, who was a ripe scholar in the various departments of learning, and to whose personal influence and classical instructions Dr. Linton attributes much, if not all, of his professional advancement.  Indeed, it is not infrequent to hear him speak of his preceptor with the youthful enthusiasm of his pupilage.  The admiration and veneration he entertained for this pure and worthy man are those of a son to a father, and still undiminished by the lapse of years.

During the session of 1832, he attended his first course of lectures in the Transylvania University.  Here his second course was also passed, when he was graduated, with marked honor, on the first day of March, 1835.

Soon after his graduation, he located at Springfield, Kentucky, and pursued the practice of his profession until the spring of 1839, when he started on a visit to Europe.

During his absence of a little over one year, he spent most of the time in Paris, though he visited London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, in which cities he was very kindly received and treated by Sir Astley Cooper, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Syme and Dr. Stokes.

He spent several weeks in Ireland, in County Down, with the friends of Dr. Polin, and often speaks of the time passed in this rural district, of the Emerald Isle, as one of the happiest periods of his life.

He returned from Europe in the autumn of 1840, and in 1842 received letters requesting him to accept the Chair of Obstetrics in the St. Louis University.  He accepted, and came to St. Louis in the fall of 1842, and entered upon the duties of a medical teacher.  In 1844, he was transferred to the Chair of Theory and Practice of Medicine, which he has occupied to the present time with acknowledged ability.

Dr. Linton’s life has been very remarkable to the present time and a complete success, incessant of labor and full of award, while his pathway has been full of the rich fruits of his constant activity and generous efforts.  To the advancement of the profession and the interest of the community in which he has lived, his personal ease and pleasure have ever appeared subordiante.

His personal worth stands out in bold relief in the abundant acts of his generous life, shown to the poor and suffering, among whom he has had a wide field of usefulness.  No less prominent is the Christian charity, that he always manifests to the erring and unfortunate.  Indeed, the entire course of his life has been full of philanthropy, and practical rather than conspicuous or eventful.  Here, indeed, we find his most noticeable traits, for his history has scarcely any startling event to break the monotony of his thirty-four years of practice.  We may only look upon the extent of his work and attainments to know his excellence and greatness.  His way has been right on as a stream, quietly and steadily gathering power and blessing for the profession and the world; twenty-five years of this time have been given to teaching the medical sciences, and to the interest of medical journalism; during which long period he has been the constant senior editor of this Serial.  He has here performed a work that has taken the greater part of his time and strength, yet in the midst of this great labor he did not deny himself the pleasure of entering the field of general literature, where he has also attained a commendable appreciation; of which his versatility of learning in history, philosophy, the classics and politics, gained by patient and extensive reading, is ample evidence, and the the award of which, is his honorable and pre-eminent name in the profession, while the alumni popularly call him the “Old Philosopher”.

Dr. Linton has received many public expressions of favor and appreciation at the hands of students.  Indeed, he has always been a favorite of the alumni, and has commanded the affection of every class to which he has lectured during the long period of his labors.  As an instance, we may refer to the request of the class of 1856, to have him sit for his portrait, which was presented to him, and has since hung in the O’Fallon Hall of the College.

On this occasion Professor Charles A. Pope made the following, among other appropriate remarks, regarding him:  “He is the Nestor of the faculty, our senior in years, in worth, in wisdom, in reputation.  We were fellow students in Paris, and I can safely assert that no American then abroad profited more than he.  Dr. Linton is a rough diamond; beneath his plain and simple exterior, beats a warm heart, full of goodness, purity, and usefulness; and to every noble attribute of the heart he joins those of the head.  His mind unites in a rare degree the useful with the ornamental; the solid with the beautiful.  He is in truth the philosopher and poet.  Self-educated and self-reliant, poor but indefatigable, he has by his own unaided efforts, successfully surmounted every obstacle, and has acquired proficiency in all the knowledge and acquirements that adorn the scholar.”

Long may he be with us to reflect his light upon our path!

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