For nearly one hundred and ten years there has been a medical facility sitting at the top of “the hill” here in Ticonderoga. Over those years there have been a number of changes to the facilities, types of health services offered and to staff: the professional, administrative and service personnel that provided the operational necessities of our community hospital.
As many of our friends know that in the not so distance future there will be a significant transformation to “our hospital” in that “Moses-Ludington Hospital” nor “Inter-Lakes Health” will be a corporate identity; and, that services as we known them now will be enhanced and some will no longer exist.
At this time we thought it would be appropriate to look back over those years since the hospital was “born” and take a retrospective review of some of the changes to the buildings, services provided and the people that worked there.
In the course of eleven decades there have been many doctors who have practiced medicine since the first Moses Hospital (1908) was opened and later at the re-named Moses-Ludington Hospital (1924). Let us begin with four of the earliest physicians in those early years.
Starting at the beginning (1908) ~~ Dr. J. (John) P. J. Cummins is probably the one doctor that most of an “older generation” may remember as he practiced medicine here for nearly seventy years. Besides Dr. Cummins, there were three other physicians who were as well respected and provided valuable medical care to Ticonderoga and the surrounding area – and – were very active in community affairs.
Following are brief biographies:
Dr. J.P.J. Cummins – (1874-1968) – Born in Vineland, N.J. and moved to Ticonderoga at an early age. He graduated from the University of Vermont Medical School in 1897 and began his practice here in 1908. “Dr. John” as most spoke of him was one of the those “Country Doctors” who began his practice in the horse and buggy era; and, he used to love telling stories about that era. As the Editor of Sentinel wrote at his passing: “Dr. Cummins began making medical history in Ticonderoga long before the advent of automobile and the many miracles of science as we know them today. Travelling by horse and buggy, his calls took him to all areas of the region in all kinds of weather, to homes where he frequently and successfully performed operations with only the most primitive facilities available. Who can say the hundred of lives which were saved through this man’s great ability?
It was in 1907 that he collaborated with another native townsperson, Horace Moses, the great benefactor to Ticonderoga, of the need to have a hospital here.
On July 11, 1957, as Dr. John was observing his 60th anniversary of practicing surgery and medicine the town celebrated this occasion with over 500 attending a festive afternoon on the hospital lawn. Later that night a great banquet was held at the K of C with over 200 attending.
Dr. J. P. J. Cummins, Sr.
August 1, 1963 – The Women’s Auxiliary presented to the hospital a portrait they commission from George Hughes of Sandgate, VT. At that time some additional endearing comments about Dr. John were spoken: “Few of us in the past may have consider what went into the beginning of the Moses Ludington Hospital, and fewer in future generations would have know the man who had the dream and whose dream became a reality, and that only through persistence. Dr. John wanted a hospital and he was a fighter, with high aims and high ideals, and he persisted until he had backing to finance the hospital, he fought to maintain high standards of professional skill and professional ethics.” That was Dr. John.
Dr. Melvin H. Turner – Born May 19, 1853 in Ironville, NY, where he also attended school. He then sought and was promised an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, but did not attend – instead he entered the Fort Edward Collegiate Institute, then later went to Albany Medical College where he received his medical degree. Dr. Turner took up practice in Crown Point, then shortly thereafter moved to the Town of Lewis, and then relocated to Hammondville, (Crown Point) where he became physician and surgeon for the Crown Point Iron and Ore Co. and remained there for 14 years. He then moved to Moriah for two years. In 1894 he moved to Ticonderoga and establishe4d his business until his death in 1919 from an infection of a carbuncle on his neck and a long-standing diabetic condition. He achieved an enviable reputation as an outstanding medical practitioner and consultant, and was loved throughout the North Country.
At the time of his move to Ticonderoga, he formed a partnership with Dr. Rollin C. Wilcox until Dr. Wilcox’s death in 1899. Keenly interested in improvements within the community, he was elected in 1915 as president of the Village of Ticonderoga and served for two terms. From 1914 to 1918, Dr. Turner was also the superintendent of highways and held the position as a health officer for the Town of Ticonderoga. While head of highways, Dr. Turner induced convicts from great Meadow prison to work on town roads. They were prisoners who had a short term period left of their sentence. The first, in 1914, was improving the Chilson Road. The only cost to the town was for living quarters, and this was provided by the use of three tents.
In 1906, at the request of Horace Moses for a physician to be one member of a five local citizens team to participate in investigating of establish a hospital here. Dr. Turner was elected by the medical staff to be its representative. He died December 12, 1919 and is buried in Glens Falls, NY.
Dr. Thomas J. Dowd (1881-1940) – was born in Cohoes, NY and attended St. Bernard’s Academy in Cohoes. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree for Albany Medical College in 1904, was interned in 1904-05 in the Troy City Hospital, and came to Ticonderoga in 1905 where he practiced medicine and surgery until his death at the age of 58. Dr. Dowd was president of the medical staff at Moses Ludington Hospital, was a member of the Ticonderoga Elks, a Village of Ticonderoga Trustee (1918-1920), and Essex County Coroner.
He was an outstanding athlete in his youth, enjoying all forms of athletics, and was an ardent follower of boxing, football, baseball, and other sports. Dr. Dowd was an enthusiastic angler and spent many enjoyable hours fishing at his camp on black Point on Lake George. He lived on Champlain Avenue in Ticonderoga and is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Ticonderoga, NY.
Dr. Martin E. Sergeant – (1885-1938) – Born at Peacham, VT, where he attended local public schools, he continued his studies at the University of Vermont and graduated in 1908. Married to Mildred Lillie of Putnam, NY, he practiced there for about three years, then moved to Ticonderoga to practice medicine for 26 years. In 1916, he was appointed health office in Ticonderoga and held similar positions in the towns of Putnam and Hague, as well as health examiner in the Ticonderoga, Putnam and Hague schools. He was a member of the consulting staff at Moses Ludington Hospital, was former chief of staff, and had complete charge of the X-Ray department at the hospital. He was affiliated with the Mt. Defiance Lodge, F. & A. M. (Masons) Ethan Allen Lodge, I.O.O.F. (Odd Fellows), and the Oriental temple, A.A.O.N.M.SS. He was also a member of the Kiwanis Club. Dr. Sergeant lived on Champlain Avenue and is buried in Valley View Cemetery at South Ticonderoga. (Sorry at the time of this publication we have not found a photograph of Dr. Sergeant)
Early means of raising funds for the hospital
The Great Benefactor
1862 – 1947
This is first of a series of hospital related articles to be written. We are seeking material that is relative to the legacy of our hospital. If you have material and would like to share it please contact the Ticonderoga Historical Society.