Sharalee Falzerano, left, gives a tour of “The Country Doctor” exhibit at the Owens House in North Creek. News Enterprise Reporter McKenna Kelly, right, listens to stories about the various physician instruments on display.
At the Owens House, there’s a Life magazine article from Sept. 20, 1948 titled, “Country Doctor.”
The photo shows Dr. Ernest Ceriani walking through the weeds in Kremmling, Colo., carrying his doctor’s bag on his way to a house call.
“Dr. Ceriani begins to work soon after 8 o’clock and often continues far into the night,” the article reads. “He serves as physician, surgeon, obstetrician, pediatrician, psychiatrist, dentists, oculist, and laboratory technician. Like most rural g.p.s he has no vacations an few days off, although unlike them he has a small hospital in which to work.”
Such is the life of a country doctor, whether in Colorado or the Adirondack Mountains.
The 2012 Owens House exhibit — “The Country Doctor” — examines the history of doctors in the town of Johnsburg from the early 1800s to the present.
Sharalee Falzerano, a volunteer from the Johnsburg Historical Society and curator of “The Country Doctor” exhibit, explained that all the medical instruments and furniture were originally donated mainly by Hilda Grunblatt, the wife of Dr. Jacques Grunblatt, who was the physician in North Creek from 1949 to 1975.
“Everything you see is from the historical society with the exception of some of the posters,” Falzerano said. “I added those in for a little color.”
The medicine bottles are from different doctors, including Dr. O’Keefe. The portable X-ray machine — the Coolidge X-Ray Outfit — was owned by Dr. Stevens.
“If you look at the instruments, you’ll see some scary-looking ones,” Falzerano said. “Of course I put the gruesome ones in the front and put them on little easels to make one wonder. Those saws are amputee saws, even though some doctors may have used them to cut off casts.”
There’s a children’s activity of seek-and-find, where kids look for certain doctor items in the room.
“In addition to the Country Doctor exhibit, we have a photograph exhibit from Dr. Daniel Way,” Falzerano said. “He is our own country doctor, and he takes photographs of his patients while making house calls, with their permission. He really captures them, not just as patients, but as human beings.”
Way is the family practitioner at the Indian Lake Health Center, operated by the Hudson Headwaters Health Network. He took photos of the following patients:
•Greg George, former forest ranger in Blue Mountain Lake
•Phil Kunz, North Creek
•Dawn Vanselow, Pottersville
•Barbara Ross, Bakers Mills
•Elmer Norton, Indian Lake
•The Moffitts, Wevertown
There are also photos of Dr. Carroll, who practiced in Indian Lake, and Dr. Dan
O’Keefe II, who practiced in Glens Falls and wrote a history book about North Creek titled, “Halfway to Heaven: Livin’ in the Crick,” about life in North Creek from 1920 to 1950. His father owned the O’Keefe Pharmacy in the early 1900s.
Located on Main Street near the train station, the Owens House dates to around 1857 and is the oldest known building in North Creek. It was originally located across the street and was once one of two cottages on the property of the American Hotel, where the Copperfield Inn currently stands. The American Hotel was built in 1871, the year the Adirondack Railroad was constructed from Saratoga Springs to North Creek, and burned down in 1903. Eventually, the Owens House was moved across the street.
Once the home of the Owens family, the Owens House is now owned by the North Creek Depot Museum.
The museum is open noon-3 p.m. Friday-Monday. Donations are accepted and can be placed in the bed pan on display, the Perfection Bed Pan No. 2: “The Most Comfortable Bed Pan in the World.”
Town of Johnsburg country doctors
•1817-1830: Martin Gillett. Born in 1776 in Massachusetts, Dr. Gillett was also the postmaster at Johnsburg Corners. He moved to Illinois in 1830 and died in 1854.
•1862-1882: Godfrey Martine. Born in Troy in 1837, Dr. Martine was a surgeon during the Civil War and a member of the New York State Assembly in 1870. He died in 1907. It was reported that 1,000 people attended his funeral in Glens Falls.
•1878-1931: William Wallace Aldrich. Born in Athol in 1853, Dr. Aldrich graduated from the Dartmouth Medical College in 1877. He began practicing medicine in Wevertown and spent the rest of his life there. He died in 1941.
•1882-1925: James Fuller. Graduating from Dartmouth, Dr. Fuller came to North Creek to practice medicine, possibly to be close to relatives who were early settlers. He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1902.
•1880s: M.C. Gill, C.J. Logan and F.W. Spoor were all graduates of Dartmouth and practiced medicine in the town of Johnsburg.
•1910-1916: William Lee. Graduating from Columbia University in 1902, Dr. Lee moved to North Creek in 1910. He created a popular home remedy of the day called “Save the Baby,” and a version of it is still being manufactured today. He became ill, gave up his practice and became health officer for the town.
•1920-1930: Lee Somerville. Buying the former Thomas Durant property “The Gables” in 1898, Dr. Somerville brought his bride to live with him there in 1902. He practiced medicine and was involved in the lumber industry, making wooden handles.
•1919-1941: Andrew Barron Fitzgerald. Born in 1886 in Troy, Dr. Fitzgerald received his medical degree at the University of Vermont and was a surgeon at Troy Hospital for seven years before moving to North Creek. He died in 1945.
•1936-37. Dr. McNeeley. She was the first female doctor in town. There is no more information available.
•1937-1949: James Glen. He invented a folding wooden leg splint for protecting broken bones when being transported to the hospital. It was later adopted as standard emergency care by ski patrols nationwide. He left Johnsburg to specialize in radiology in Boston and Glens Falls. He died in 1968 at the age of 60 in Glens Falls.
Mid-1940s-1950: W.J. Stevens. He practiced general medicine in North Creek until his death in 1950.
•1949-1975: Jacques Grunblatt. Born in 1910 in Poland, Dr. Grunblatt studied medicine in Marseilles, France. He was a doctor in the Spanish Civil War and volunteered for the French Army during World War II. He arrived in North Creek in 1949 with his wife, Hilda, and set up a practice in their home until his retirement in 1975. He worked hard to bring the Adirondack Tri-County Nursing Home to North Creek.
•In 1975, John Rugge established the Hudson Headwaters Health Network in North Creek. This center provides a general health care facility. He is currently a physician at the Warrensburg Health Center and the Chester-Horicon Health Center, run by the same network.
•1977-1985: John Babe. He was a physician here until around 1985.
•The Hudson Headwaters staff in North Creek currently includes Dr. James Hicks and Dr. Dan Sooriabalan.