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Plaque Memorializes Canton’s Trailblazing Physician, Founding Father and Renaissance Man

June 24, 2016 Business, Community, Government, Health No Comments

By John Fitts 

CANTON — As the story goes, Dr. Solomon Everest once treated a young woman who claimed her self-inflicted wounds were the result of witchcraft. “Immersion” in a large cistern of water diminished her symptoms and the doctor’s suggestion that he could burn the wounds with his “witchiron” quickly cured the ailment. On another occasion, Everest, according to lore, happily collected $20 from a man who “insisted” he had a broken neck.*

Everest practiced medicine in Canton (initially West Simsbury) from 1796 until his death in 1822. He, of course, treated more serious and traditional medical ailments, but the stories suggest a man who realized a good physician could use plenty of empathy and a healthy dose of humor.

And Everest’s contributions to his community and state were significant. He served in the General Assembly, is largely credited with leading the charge to get Canton incorporated in 1806 and served as a member of 1818 Constitutional Convention. For good measure, he was a deacon at the First Congregational Church of Canton Center, a charter member of Village Lodge #29 (Mason), and left funds to the Connecticut Congregational Society.  

Everest’s home and site of practice in Canton at the corner of Lawton Road and Route 44 were dismantled in 2002 and moved to a location in western Connecticut for use by a private owner.

But while this historic structure no longer graces the town, medical practice on the site continues with the UConn Health facility at 117 Albany Turnpike. The facility includes offices for Urgent Care, Internal medicine, cardiology,  dermatology, and soon, OBGYN services.

Layout 1And recently, UConn, with the help of town and state officials, dedicated a plaque commemorating Everest’s contributions to medicine his community.

Last fall when officials held a ribbon cutting at the facility, Tim LeGeyt, state representative and historian at Everest’s former house of worship, suggested some type of tribute.

“We did a lot of research, with a lot of help from people here, and decided that it would be nice to recognize Dr. Everest for his service to practice of medicine and the town of Canton by developing a plaque in his honor,” said Anne Horbatuck, former Canton resident and Vice President of University Medical Group.

LeGeyt said it was a great honor to be at the plaque dedication.

“This is an honor for me to be part of the ceremony today in recognition of Dr. Solomon Everest and his contribution to the greater Canton Community as a medical doctor from 1796 to 1822,” LeGeyt said. “The history of the medical practice and profession in this place is long and honorable and so it will continue with the work being done here in this UConn urgent care facility.”

Canton Town Historian David K. Leff lamented the loss of the historic structure but praised UConn’s efforts to acknowledge an important piece of town history.

“This might seem an ordinary day, but it’s a great moment for Canton’s history,” Leff said. “By unveiling the Dr. Solomon Everest plaque, we are taking a dose of good medicine for a pernicious condition that could be called civic amnesia.”

“We cannot get the quiet grandeur of the Solomon Everest house back any more than we can resurrect this Revolutionary War doctor who was the first to sign the petition to make Canton a distinct town,” Leff, in part, added. “But with this plaque, we do what we can to keep the flame of remembrance alive, even if it is merely an epitaph for something that no longer exists.”

* Information provided by “Canton Sesquicentennial 1806-1956” and is quoted from a Farmington Valley Herald Article, May 21, 1931 by Josephine C. Hough.

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