July 16 – Happy Birthday Dr. Salphronius French

shfrenchsmallIn addition to having one of the most unique first names in Amsterdam, NY history, Dr. Salphronius French was certainly one of the most prominent citizens to ever reside in this upstate community. Born in Broome County on July 16, 1837, he went to school as a child in Binghamton and after graduating from Binghamton Academy and the Susquehanna Seminary he began studying medicine with an uncle who was a physician living in Tomkins County. French then attended the New York State College of Physicians and Surgeons for one year before completing his studies at Albany Medical College. eventually returning to Broome County in 1861 and going into practice with his uncle.

That same year the Civil War began and in 1862 Dr. French joined the 109th New York State Volunteers as an assistant surgeon and was commissioned a 1st lieutenant. After the regiment took part in the battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania in June of 1864, he fell ill and was given a medical discharge. He then returned to Broome County where he practiced medicine for the next seven years.

He moved to Amsterdam with his wife Mary and one year old son Charles in 1871 and opened a new practice. It did not take him long to make it one of the most successful in the city. For several years he served as Amsterdam’s health officer and was on the original medical staff of the City Hospital.

French also  became one of the most active citizen volunteers this town has ever seen. He was a trustee of the United Methodist Church, superintendent of its Sunday school and taught bible class. He served as a director of the Amsterdam YMCA. Then in 1887 be became a founder and the first president of the Amsterdam Savings Bank, a position he held until he passed away in April of 1920. During his tenure, he made himself an expert in the area of finance. His early leadership of that institution is credited for it becoming one of the most successful local savings banks in the state.

In 1902, French sat down and wrote a letter to Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate philanthropist. He asked Carnegie for $25,000 to …

(This great Amsterdam boxer and South Side business owner also celebrated his birthday on July 16…)

My complete birthday post for Dr. French will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. I also distribute an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that includes the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty  people whose birthdays I recognize each month. Each newsletter also includes an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.

The monthly newsletter is free. If you’d like to receive it, just make sure your name and e-mail address are included on this list.

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