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Doctors in Pittsford

Dr. Arthur Davis (1877-1951)

Dr. Davis came to Pittsford from the Pennsylvania coal mine region shortly after the turn of the century. He took over Dr. Doane's office in the house on North Main Street at #17. The office was in the back wing of the house that was later occupied for a long time by Willis and Louise Kingsley.

According to Madge Lusk and Una Hutchinson, Dr. Doane moved his office into the Copeland Building in Rochester and expected his patients to follow him, but they did not! After three years Dr. Davis razed the old house on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Monroe and built the big house now found there.

Mrs. Davis, Gertrude B. (1884-1959) was described as a pleasant and generous lady. She was a trained nurse. They had four children, Ruth, Everett, Clarence, and Mary Catherine. Mary died at the age of 6 in September of 1922. Ruth lived in Geneseo after marriage. Everett married Janet Thomas and ran a diner in Webster and Clarence became a doctor.

Una recalled that Mrs. Davis baked many delicious cakes for the library parties that were held down on the Herb Hutchinson lawn. Both she and the Doctor were stalwart supporters of the Methodist Church and donated many items which are still in use in the United Church of Pittsford that merged with Baptist and Methodist congregations.

Dr. Davis was active in many town affairs. For years he was an enthusiastic member of the Business and Professional Men's Club known as the "Saints and the Sinners'" since it was made up of ministers under one name and attorneys and doctors under the second name. This group will be frequently mentioned in the annual brochures.

Frank Shearer recalled that at one time the doctor became enthusiastically certain of the future of Haydon Gold Mine stock in Canada. He tried to get Mr. Windsor, the bank manager, to join in and promote and, perhaps, Eldred Loughborough also, but, apparently nothing great or nothing really bad ever came of it.

Ted J. Zornow served as secretary of the School Board for many years and he reminds us of the fact that Dr. Davis served on that board for at least 12 years.

May Spiegel said that Dr. Davis was opposed to dieting, that is for weight control, and he insisted upon this for his family. Dr. Davis, like many men who grew up in the 19th century, was very heavy and also he smoked cigars. We know more about the deleterious effects of excess weight and smoking than when the doctor was young and formed his opinions. Perhaps he should have had ten, or more, good productive years if he had followed the modern precepts of health.

There have been a number of doctors in the community of Pittsford. For the next few articles, I shall be concentrating on their stories. This article will focus on Dr. Hartwell Carver, a very colorful character.

Dr. Hartwell Carver (1789-1875)

Dr. Hartwell Carver was a descendant of John Carver of Mayflower and Plymouth fame. Hartwell was born in Rhode Island in 1789 but his family moved to New York State when he was five years of age. He attended Hamilton College in 1813 and was graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1816 and came to Pittsford that year. A former historian says that he lived, for a short time, on West Jefferson Road. This old place was razed when James Gillis built the large home at #65 where C.L. Whiting lived for many years. In June of 1828, Dr. Carver purchased an acre of land from David Sutherland on Monroe Avenue and built the striking Gothic revival home that is currently there at #41. This home was a remarkable change from the Greek Revivals and the Colonial revivals found in this village. He had seen this style in New York City, copied the architecture and built the house of bricks which were immediately covered with board and batten siding.

Dr. Carver practiced medicine for 50 years, but was often away for extended periods. He traveled to Europe and England and studied medicine in those places. He became enamored with the railroads in those places and in other parts of this country. Dr. Carver had a dream about connecting the east coast of the United States with the west coast and spent considerable sums and effort trying to make this dream a reality in the form of a continental railroad. After many years and considerable effort by thousands of people, the dream did become a reality and Dr. Carver was present at and participated in driving the golden spike at Provo, Utah.

Dr. Carver died in 1875, and is buried in Mr. Hope Cemetery. It is said that he has the tallest monument in that cemetery which was paid for by the grateful Union and Pacific Railroad.

Dr. J. Walter Crews (1872-1932)

Dr. Crews was a Canadian, and he graduated from Queens College in Toronto with his M.D. degree in 1902. He came to Pittsford not long after that. His wife was Editha or Elishna (1877-1971).

When he first came he owned the house at 49 South Main Street, which he sold to George and Lena Thomas. He then moved to a house on Church Street behind Tousey's market. Next he purchased the Geare house on the southwest corner of Monroe Avenue and Washington Avenue at #25. Then he sold this to John Schoen in 1913 and moved into the house at #27 immediately west of the Geare house. It has been said that #27 had once been a barn.

Dr. Crews was well liked and respected as a doctor. Kathleen Lord reported that he attended Jim Harmor before and up to the time of his demise, and Jim willed his home at #33 North Main Street to the doctor. He served as the school physician for many years.

Harlan Knickerbocker speaks of the fact that Dr. Crews was their family doctor after Dr. Carpenter died. In 1918 Harlan had the Spanish Flu, and Dr. Crews said that it was OK for Harlan's mother to give Harlan some whiskey. Harlan said that the gossip of the time observed that Dr. Crews advocated whiskey for the flu and lost none of his patients while Dr. Davis forbid whiskey and lost some of his patients.

Unfortunately, in September 1932, at the age of only 60, the doctor suffered a fatal heart attack at home.

Dr. Paul Carpenter (1845-1918)

In February of 1881, Dr. Carpenter married Harriett Acer, a member of one of Pittsford's oldest families. They had no children. The Carpenters resided at 19 Monroe Avenue in a house which Harlan Knickerbocker understood had been built by one of the early members of the Welch family. It was across the street from John Steele's home. The Little House stood at the sidewalk on the northeast corner of the lot. The doctor used this building as his office for a time, but then moved the office into his large home. Much later this little building was threatened with demolition but was saved by the efforts of the Pittsford Historical Society, and was moved across the street to sit on the southeast corner of the Steele lot. At the time of this move, the Steele home was owned and occupied by Stuart and Nancy Bolger. The Little House is now owned by Historic Pittsford, Inc. and serves as the headquarters for that organization. The Carpenter House was demolished when the Post Office building was erected there. The Post Office moved to a new building at the corner of Marsh Road and Route 31 on October 22, 1990.

Carl Spiegel remembers the Doctor as a well-mannered and highly respected man. He recalls that the Doctor served on the water board with Thomas Spiegel for the village when the water system was introduced. The Doctor also served in various capacities for or on the Village Board.

Harlan Knickerbocker was brought into this world by Dr. Carpenter, and knew him well in later years. He describes him as tall and slender. Harlan understood that Dr. Carpenter had been a minister in earlier years, going all the way back to the Civil War. The Doctor's horses were brought to the Knickerbocker farm for clipping.

William Critchley was his hostler, and he lived in the barn on the property. Nancy Brown (Allingood) served as the maid for many years. Harlan recalls that Nancy helped his mother at the Episcopal Church suppers. Nancy was very well liked by the townspeople.

Harriett Acer Carpenter (1856-1934)

Una Hutchinson describes her as small, dainty, and pretty. She had a fine personality. She read all the time and was interested in everything. She would stand for no pretense and could be caustic.

She was an avid Democrat and fortunately, for her, the vote for women did come in time for her to cast her vote.

Mrs. Carpenter disliked her neighbor, John Steele for the following reasons. Mr. Steele liked to fraternize with "aristocratic" people and felt the Carpenters fit this role. Mrs. Carpenter resented that and also the fact that he would "borrow" Nancy when he had parties where he wished to put on airs, and he never paid her. Another story says that when Harriett died, John came to the Carpenter house and with no permission, helped himself to some of the household goods that he coveted.