Dr. Friend Sturtevant (1767-1830)

Extracted from the Spring 2006 Hartland Historical Society Newsletter.

Dr. Friend Sturtevant was the 13th of Dr. Josiah Sturtevant’s children. Dr. Josiah was a Tory and died as a result of his treatment at the hands of Boston patriots. Dr. Friend was studying medicine with his half-brother, Dr. Thomas Sturtevant of Middleboro , when his mother and some of his sisters and at least one of his younger brothers went to Vermont. In 1793 he married at Middleboro, Mass. , Sarah Porter. After a brief experience of frontier life at Holland Patent, near Rome, N.Y. they settled in Pittsfield, Mass. by the spring of 1795. Ten years later, Dr. Friend moved his family to Woodstock and in 1807 to Hartland where he practiced until his death at age 63. During the war of 1812 Dr. Friend served for a time with the U.S.Army as a surgeon, being stationed at Plattsburg, N.Y. , but was taken sick and returned before the war finished.

The Sturtevant family first lived in Hartland Four Corners, occupying the house that is now the Skunk Hollow Tavern, which was then ornamented with a gambrel roof. The Dr. was the only educated physician in town for many years. (I question this as Dr. John Harding preceded Dr. Sturtevant but perhaps Dr. Harding did not have the same level of education . C.Y.M. ) He had an extensive practice ,and was as successful as the average of country practitioners. Let us now imagine how Hartland Four Corners looked when the young family came to live there..There were no buildings except the tavern which stood on the southeast corner in the village, the home that they occupied, and one other occupied by Captain Farwell who owned and ran a sawmill on the brook nearby; these with the schoolhouse made up the town. Later on the family moved to Three Corners and lived in the house that would later become the Congregational parsonage ( now Jane McClelland’s ). Here the good Dr. tied his horse and dispensed pills and plasters in the good old way, and, proving a good Samaritan to many a troubled household. No matter who called, poor or rich the Doctor must go and let the winter winds blow , he and his faithful horse must brave the tempest. The Doctor was a jovial, free-hearted , merry man, exceedingly fond of those things which go to make the happy part of the world - liked his joke and never lost a good opportunity.

Thus we see his life ran through times of war and times of peace, caring for his patients in the midst of a wilderness peopled with savages, where he got lost frequently and had to remain in the woods all night - binding up the wounds of those gallant fellows who fought to sustain the honor of the republic and plying his profession in a peaceful community where savage Indians and war were things of the past. He was taken ill early in the year 1830 and failed gradually till he died Aug 26th at the age of 63. His wife survived him and died in 1864 at the age of 92.

This was taken from an unidentified newspaper article.

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