Friday, November 11, 2011

As told by Josephi

It was October 7th when I posted about my visit with James Hawthorne Beck, great grandson of the famous James C. Hawthorne. I mentioned then that I would post some highlights from the interview that Fred Lockley, reporter with the Oregon Journal, conducted with Dr. Simeon Josephi on September 1, 1926. I have been feeling remiss since a month has passed since my promise. So instead of highlights, I decided to transcribe the interview for your reading pleasure. Besides information about Josephi, our first Dean, you will read here a bit of history about Portland, Hawthorne, the Insane Hospital and much more.


Lockley: "Here begins an installment story of the career of a poineer physician of Portland, who came hither in 1867. A second chapter forthcoming.

Dr. S. E. Josephi is, in point of service, dean of the medical profession of Portland. When I interviewed him recently, at his office in the Corbett Building, he said:"

Josephi: "I was born in New York city on December 3, 1849. My father, Edward Josephi, with his brothers Henry and Isaac, conducted a wholesale jewelry establishment in Maiden Lane. My father was born at what was then St. Petersburg but is now Leningrad, Russia. My mother's maiden name was Mendoza. Her parents were Spanish but she was born in England. You can see that I am a product of that melting pot. There were eight of us children. I have five sisters and two brothers. I went to school to Professor Quackenbos. He had a private school in New York city at that time and was the author of an arithmetic that was very popular. Later I attended the public schools of New York city and still later the New York college. I secured work as a clerk in a wholesale hat house.

My oldest brother, David Josephi, had gone to San Francisco as manager of the San Francisco branch of the I & S Josephi & Co., wholesale jewelers. In 1866, when I was 17 years old, I had a bad attack of wanderlust. I wanted to see the world, so I went out to San Francisco to visit my brother David. After I had been in San Francisco about six months Dr. Loryea of Portland dropped in to visit my brother David. David introduced me to Dr. Loryea, who inquired as to my plans. When he learned that I was a clerk and understood bookkeeping, he said 'Dr. J. C. Hawthorne and myself have the contract from the state for the care of the insane. Our hospital is in Portland. If you want to come up to Portland and take a look around and see if you like the country, you can work for us keeping books and doing clerical work.' I agreed to go to Portland and work for Drs. Loryea and Hawthorne for six months.

I will never forget my introduction to Portland. I came up aboard the Oriflamme, Ben Holladay's favorite steamer and flagship. We reached Portland on the evening of February 4, 1867. For a day or two there had been a continuous rain storm. The river was high, the wind was blowing a gale, and when the captain got the hawser out to draw us into the dock it snapped and we drifted back into the stream. Once more the hawser was attached to the dock, and again the wind and current snapped it, so we dropped anchor and stayed out in the stream until morning. Next morning I was met by an attendant from the hospital and taken by horse and buggy across Stark street steam ferry to East Portland and driven to the hospital. In those days the ferry ran only during daylight. If you wanted to cross the Willamette to Portland after dusk you stood on the bank and called across to the ferryman, who came over in a rowboat to get you.

I had not worked at the asylum long until Dr. Hawthorne suggested that I take up the study of medicine. At that time the practice was that a physician must study one year under a preceptor and spend two years at college before he could secure his medical degree. Dr. Hawthorne was a very capable physician and a very likeable man. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1819. He graduated from the Medical University at Louisville, KY. In 1850 he located in Auburn, Placer county, California, where he was engaged in general practice but also in hospital work. He served as state senator from Placer county for two terms. In 1857 he came to Portland and engaged in practice. The following year he was given a contract by the county commissioners to take charge of the county hospital. Govenor Whiteaker gave him the contract to care for Oregon's insane. For 21 years he had charge of the Oregon hospital for the insane. He was a specialist in nervous diseases, having made a deep study along this line and also of the treatment of the insane.

I worked as a clerk at the hospital for the insane for two years, putting in my spare time studying medicine. Dr. Hawthorne, who had the contract for the county hospital also, maintained this hospital in the rear of the buiding in which the insane patients were quartered. There were usually from half a dozen to a dozen patients in the county hospital, so this gave me some clinical opportunites. In 1869 I went back to New York city to take my medical course at Bellevue. I was unable to arrange my financial affairs to be able to graduate, so I returned to Portland, resuming my work at the hospital. In 1869 there were several banks in Portland, among them the bank of Oregon, of which Ladd & Tilton were the proprietors; the Bank of British Columbia; the First National Bank; the bank of Wells Fargo & Co., and on the east side of the river, to what was then the city of East Portland, was the bank of Stephens & Loryea. On account of my familiarity with bookkeeping methods and accounts, Dr. Loryea offered me a position in the bank. I divided my time between my work for Dr. Hawthorne in the hospital and my work at the bank. Later I took a postion with Hamilton Boyd, agent for the well-known insurance company. While working for Mr. Boyd I took a course in commercial law.

I still continued my medical studies from 5 a.m. till breakfast, put in the day at my work, and resumed my study in the evening. When I had saved sufficient money to see me through college, I went to San Francisco and entered Toland Medical school, which later became the nedical department of the University of California. I graduated in 1877, 49 years ago. Dr. Hawthorne offered me a place as assistant physician of the hospital. I accepted this place, and when Dr. Hawthorne died, in February, 1881, I became medical superintendent of the hospital, continuing in this position till 1883 when the insane patients were removed to a building that had been erected in Salem." ........................................................................................................................................

The second and final installment coming up next Friday.

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