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This biography is from ANNALS of the Medical Society of the County of Albany, 1806-1851, by Sylvester D. Willard, M. D.

Jesse Smith

Jesse Smith was born in that part of the old town of Amenia, Dutchess Co., N. Y., now North East, on 5th October, 1780. He was the third son of Elijah Smith, a respectable farmer of that town. Elijah Smith came to America before the revolution, as is believed, to what was then known as Phillip's patent, in the south part of Dutchess Co., now Putman Co., N. Y. He was an active, industrious man, but like the great majority of farmers, led mostly a quiet life on his farm, where he died many years ago, having lived to be nearly 90 years of age. At the breaking out of the revolution Elijah Smith was a captain in the militia, and during the war was at times called out to meet emergencies. At one time he with his company, was called into service at the burning of Danbury, Ct. Beyond this, Elijah Smith lived a quiet life on his farm, as a good citizen, holding no public office.

Jesse was one of five sons. In early life he attended the ordinary country school of the neighborhood, and afterwards spent a considerable time at the classical academy at Sharon, Litchfield Co., Ct. In this way he acquired a good English education, adding thereto a fair knowledge of the Latin language. After leaving Sharon he hegan the study of medicine with Dr. Cyrenus Crosby, then practicing in Amenia. He continued this study with Dr. Crosby for four years, during the last year assisting Dr. Crosby in his practice.

Dr. Smith settled in Coeymans, Albany Co., about the beginning of the year 1802. The only license to Dr. S. that can be found, is dated July 27th, 1806. This license is given by Hon. Elisha Barlow, one of the judges of the court of common pleas of the county of Dutchess, in accordance with a law of New York of April 4th, 1801, and is headed with a certificate of Dr. Crosby that Dr. S. had studied with him for four years. This discrepancy of dates cannot be accounted for in any way than by supposing that Dr. S. practiced his profession a considerable time before taking out his license. He had undoubtedly studied his regular time, four years before coming to Coeymans. His first patient in Coeymans, was the late Andrew Whitbeck, then a young man, whose son John B. Whitbeck afterwards married the Doctor's second daughter. An incident in connexion [sic] with this patient occurred small in itself, but one which made a lasting impression on the Doctor's mind, and which he often related in the latter days of his life. Immediately after the recovery of the patient, his father, calling on the doctor, asked for his bill. This request, coming so soon after his professional visits, alarmed the doctor, for fear that he had not given satisfaction. The father being a prominent and influential citizen, it was important to the young physician that he should have his good opinion and active influence. He partly said to Mr. W that he hoped he had not called so soon for his bill, because of any dissatisfaction. The old gentleman's reply was "No Doctor you are a young man, just commencing practice, and I suppose cannot conveniently wait a long time for your money, therefore I come to pay you now." This kind thoughtfulness of Peter Whitbeck was not forgotten by the Doctor to the last day of his life.

On the 30th October, 1810, Dr. Smith married Elizabeth, daughter of Casparus Ackerman, at that time an active, thriving farmer and business man of Coeymans. Mrs. S. still survives her husband, being now (1864) in the 82d year of her age, and possessing remarkable mental and physical activity. Of this marriage there were five children, all still living. Platt A. Smith, residing at the homestead, Coeymans, Charles Smith a farmer of Oneida, N. Y., Jasper Smith late consul at San Juan, Porta Rico, and now in the department of state at Washington, D. C, Eveline wife of Dr. F. G. Mosher, Coeymans, and Hannah wife of John B. Whitbeck, Coxsackie. Of his sons, none studied medicine; one, Jasper, studied law, but abandoned practice some years ago.

Soon after his marriage Dr. S. purchased the place on which his family still reside. It was one of the pleasures of his life to cultivate and adorn this place. He had great taste for rural life, and had an especial fancy for the cultivation of choice fruits. At this, his chosen residence, he surrounded himself with all the comforts of a country house.

Dr. Smith, though a man of decided political ideas, was not an active politician. In the year 1816, he was a member of assembly, together with Michael Freligh, John J. Ostrander, and John Schoolcraft, to represent the county of Albany in the legislature. This was the only time that he was a candidate for public office. The experience of one year seemed, fortunately, to satisfy his desires in that direction.

Dr. Smith continued to live and practice his profession in Coeymans until the 10th April, 1841, nearly 40 years when he died of an attack of inflammation of the lungs. During the last years of his life he gave much attention to farming. As he grew older he seemed more and more inclined to give up the practice of his profession, so arduous in the country, and devote himself to rural pursuits.

Dr. Smith was a man of active, industrious habits, was affable and agreeable in conversation and took much interest in all matters of neighborhood or of public interest. His taste for reading acquired in youth, never forsook him. It was to him a never ending source of pleasure. He was a man of strictly temperate habits and of high moral character, but in no respect an ascetic in his ideas or habits.

As a business man he was careful and painstaking, husbanding well his resources. He accumulated property gradually, by slow degrees, never risking anything in hazardous speculations. In this way he was able to leave to his family a comfortable estate, as also pleasant remembrances of his many virtues.

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