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Van Sickle, M. D., Abijah Hubbell


Posted By: mjv (email)
Date: 10/30/2020 at 13:26:48

Abijah Hubbell Van Sickle, M. D., a retired physician living in Washington, Iowa, was born in Mason County, W. Va., April 15, 1813. He is the son of Anthony and Zilpha (Hubbell) Van Sickle. The former was a native of Pennsylvania, born Sept. 13, 1760, and of German descent. He was twice married, his first wife being Rebecca Van Meter, by whom he had the following children: Henry, Samuel, Jesse, Hannah, Anthony, Abraham, Martha A., John, Joseph and Eli. Rebecca Van Sickle died, and June 16, 1811, Mr. Van Sickle married Zilpha Hubbell, a native of Massachusetts, of the old Puritan stock, born Oct. 10, 1788. They were married in Ohio, and then moved to Virginia. There were born to them three children two of whom lived to be adults – Polly and Abijah. The former married Bartlett Payne, of Ohio, and has since died Anthony Van Sickle was a soldier in the War of 1812, with the rank of Captain. He died Sept. 29, 1815, in Virginia. Mrs. Van Sickle subsequently married Rev. Eli Steadman, a Free-Will Baptist minister, by whom she had three children, two of whom are yet living: William J., of Hancock, Neb., and Lucinda Hugg, of Meigs County, Ohio. Mrs. Steadman died many years ago in Ohio.

The subject of this sketch was taken by his mother to Ohio when but three years old, and in the pioneer schools of those early days received his education. Of the old school-house and the teachers of the early day he has a vivid recollection. The building was of logs, with puncheon floor, slab seats, and greased paper window lights. The writing-desks were of slabs resting upon pins driving in the wall. The teacher was either a man too lazy to work, “good for nothing else but to teach school,” as expressed by the pioneer, who had generally a poor opinion of a man who wouldn’t work, or “an old maid with such a sour expression that the children’s biscuits were always soured before lunch time.” It never was required of a teacher that a child should be taught anything but “readin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic,” and in the latter only to the “double rule of three.” The boys in the winter time had to haul and cut the wood necessary to roast the children on one side while the other was freezing, as was customary from the fire in an old fireplace. In summer the boys were dressed in tow linen shirts that came down about their knees, while the girls had a similar garment only reaching a little lower. In those days, says the Doctor, the girls had to hunt the cows with a club in their hands to kill the snakes that might cross their path, while the cows had a habit of eating leeks upon the road, which tainted the milk. In order to destroy the taste of the leeks, the Doctor says his mother used to give each of the children a bit of onion. Bread and milk was the chief diet. In his boyhood days wild game was plentiful, including deer and bears. The latter were in the habit of helping themselves to the lambs and pigs, and to protect the stock each farmer had to have a supply of dogs, with guns and plenty of ammunition.

But, notwithstanding such surroundings in his early days, the subject of this sketch grew to manhood, and, Jan. 2, 1842, was married to Mahala Brown, a daughter of Dr. James E. and Mary (Ford) Brown. She was born near Pittsburgh, Pa., and removed with her parents to Meigs County, Ohio, at an early day. Dr. Brown was a soldier in the War of 1812, and faithfully served his country during that struggle. After going to Meigs County he studied medicine, and for many years was a practicing physician. His practice extended over a large scope of country, and in attending his patients he was frequently from home for weeks at a time. There were four children in the family who lived to be adults, but all have since died save Mrs. Van Sickle. Dr. and Mrs. Brown were members of the Free-Will Baptist Church, dying in that faith many years ago in Meigs County. The Doctor was a man of more than ordinary ability, and the family stood high in the esteem of all their acquaintances.

Shortly after his marriage our subject commenced the study of medicine in the botanic school, and was engaged in its practice for ten years in Ohio, and for twenty years after coming to this county. As a practitioner he had very gratifying success, and only relinquished practice on account of increasing age. The Doctor came to this county in 1856, purchasing a farm in Jackson Township, on which he moved and where he resided till his removal to Washington, combining farming with the practice of his profession. In 1881 he moved to the city, where he has since been living a retired life, enjoying the fruits of a well-spent life.

Dr. and Mrs. Van Sickle are the parents of four living children: Neal now resides in McPherson, Kan., and is engaged in the grocery business; Anthony is a farmer in this county; James Eli is also engaged in farming in this county; Abijah R. is a graduate of Hahnemann Medical College, Chicago, and is now engaged in the practice of medicine at Hastings, Neb. Dr. Van Sickle has been identified with this county for almost a third of a century, and has witnessed many of the changes that have been made. In politics he is a stanch Republican, and has been since the organization of the party. He is a man of jovial disposition, enjoys a joke to-day as well as he did half a century ago, and has probably as few enemies as any man in Washington County.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County, Iowa (1887). Excerpt from Biographical Sketch of Abijah Hubbell Van Sickle, M. D., pages 228-229.


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