Joseph Gallup, born in Stonington, Conn. in 1759 was about six years old when his father brought his family to Hartland. The means of his early education is not known but it included a command of good English, some Latin and Greek and the ability to read French. In 1787 he began his study of medicine under a “preceptor”, the method of instruction in this profession prevailing at that time. This supplemented by the required number of lectures qualified him to begin practice when he reached his 21st birthday, the earliest age when such practice could be legal. This practice began in Hartland, Bethel and Woodstock. In May 1792 he became surgeon of the militia.
In Sept. of that year he married Abigail Willard of Hartland, and their first child was born there in 1793. For a better location and a wider field of activity, he moved to Woodstock in 1800. He received the degree of Bachelor of Medicine in 1798, the first to receive a medical degree from Dartmouth. He received the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1814 and the degree of Master of Arts from Middlebury in 1823.
In these years, medical societies were beginning to be formed and a charter was granted to the Vermont Society of Castleton in 1813. Dr. Gallup was elected it’s president for ten successful terms until he refused in 1829. He was already a teacher and writer on medical subjects, being deemed the most prominent man in the profession in New England.
Dr. Gallup was the first in the use of the new vaccination for small pox. Upon the discovery in 1796 of the much greater effectiveness of cow pox in the inoculations for this dread disease, he advertised in the Vermont Journal of Windsor in Jan. of 1803 that he was prepared to vaccinate with cow pox.
Dr. Gallup had long had dreams of a school of medicine and these were brought to fruition by the founding of the Medical College in Woodstock in 1826, of which he was sole owner and supporter during it’s difficult early years. The first session of the Clinical School of Medicine was from March to late May in 1827. Midway in this session Dr Gallup bought a plot of land and erected a building for the purpose of holding lectures in 1828. This fine brick building was the home of the medical school until 1839 when the larger building was erected on College Hill. The original building was remodeled for residential purposes.
A difference of opinion arose between Dr Gallup and two young medics resulting in the resignation of Dr. Gallup. This so stirred the people of Woodstock that a meeting was called. A large gathering on a stormy night in Jan 1834, unanimously passed resolutions commending Dr. Gallup “Resolved that it is the wish of this meeting that Dr. Gallup would continue his efforts and use what means as he may think proper to continue the school and in so doing we will give him our support and influence”. This did not help and Dr. Gallup resigned and severed all connection to the institution.
Save for a few years in Boston, he continued to live in Woodstock, dying there in 1829. He and his wife are buried in the Wyman Cemetery in North Hartland.
– May Rogers, 1963