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Bevier, Benjamin B. - Dr.

DR. BENJAMIN B. BEVIER,

who died in 1866, at Napanoch, was the fifth in descent from the Huguenot Louis Bevier, who emigrated to this country from France about the year 1660, and was afterwards one of the twelve purchasers of the "Paltz Patent," on which he settled about the year 1663. Abram Bevier and John Bevier, brothers, and grandsons of Louis, removed from "the Paltz" to the "Warsink Valley" some time previous to the year 1745, and settled, Abram on the Bevier homestead, and John on what is now known as the "Mill Property" at Napanoch. Johannes Bevier, son of Abram, and grandfather of Dr. B.R., occupied the site of the old Doll House, now Cudney’s Hotel. He was a man of note in his day, was largely occupied in public matters, and was a distinguished officer in the Dutch Church of Wawarsing. Conrad Bevier, son of Johannes, and father of "Dr. Ben," was also a prominent man both in military and civil life. He was in active service through the whole of the Revolution, and, was for some time in charge of the defenses in the Wawarsing and Minisink Valleys, then an exposed frontier. He also distinguished himself at the battle of White Plains. At the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, he, with his command, was put in charge of the captured baggage and war material, which he conveyed to Albany. He was remarkable for his great personal courage and fleetness of foot. In civil life he served the town and county in various capacities. He was for many years a member of the State Legislature when that position was accounted an honor.

"Dr. Ben" was born on the 10th of September, 1782, in the house now owned by Alfred Burhans, at the top of the "Slager Bergh" (Snake’s Hill), now known as Budd’s Hill. The house, still standing, was then occupied by Benjamin Roosa, the maternal grandfather of the doctor, and for whom he was named. At that time there was but one family living between the western boundary of the Wawarsing Valley and the Susquehanna River. This family lived on the Neversink, a mile below the Falls, at Palen’s Tannery, and carried their grain to Napanoch by a circuitous foot-path of twenty miles. Dr. Bevier grew up a vigorous, athletic youth, with a strong passion for books and study, which was judiciously fostered by his parents. But facilities for intellectual cultivation did not abound in those days in these then outskirts of civilization, and the young aspirant for educational honors plodded on as best he could. On approaching his majority he chose the medical profession as his sphere of labor, and began his regular studies with the late Dr. James Oliver, of Marbletown, in this county. Here his great enthusiasm and patience of research gave promise of his future skill and eminence. He attended lectures both in New York and Philadelphia, and received his diploma from the Faculty of Columbia College in the year 1804, in the same class with the late Drs. Mott, Seaman, and Buck, of that city. He commenced his career as a medical practitioner—a career which extended over sixty years—in the town of Woodstock, in this county, about the year 1805, removed thence to Kingston, and thence to the old homestead at Napanoch some ten years later, where the remainder of his life was spent.

As a practitioner Dr. Bevier was distinguished for the precision and quickness with which he made his diagnoses, for his great fidelity to his patients, and for his genial manner. His "ride" was extensive, reaching from Mombaccus to the Mamakating Valley, and from the Upper Neversink to Sam’s Point. And yet, notwithstanding the extent of his practice, he managed to find time for a great deal of study. Down to his last days he kept himself informed of new discoveries in the science, discussed new theories with ability, and readily adopted improvements as they successively appeared. He did his riding mostly on horseback, and may be said to have lived nearly forty years in the saddle. This habit unquestionably served to strengthen his naturally vigorous constitution, and tended to the longevity to which he attained. So long a practice in the same field made him familiar to all, and "Dr. Ben" was a household word from one end of the valley to the other. Nor was he less favorably, if less generally, known abroad. The late Dr. Valentine Mott held him in high regard, and the intimate intercourse and warm friendship which existed between the two was interrupted only by death; and in all the upper river counties his professional brethren treated him with more than usual respect. His own intercourse with other members of the fraternity was always marked with kindness and courtesy. Tenacious of his own opinions, conservative both in view and feelings he yet recognized and respected medical skill and talent wherever he found it. He grew into a position where he was, from the nature of the case, something of a terror to the inexperienced, yet no unfairness, no designed discourtesy could be laid to his charge. The "Pope of Doctors" wore his honors never flauntingly, and wielded his power never harshly. The younger members of the profession found him sympathetic and kindly disposed, a valuable counselor, with no jealousies and no sinister ends to serve. Ambitious to excel in his profession, he was still above resorting to any petty trickeries and cunning devices to enhance his reputation, but was content to stand or fall upon the real merits of his practice.

Socially, Dr. Bevier was an attractive man. Though dignified and even reserved when occasion demanded, he was naturally frank and hearty in his manners, a most entertaining and instructive companion. He had fine conversational powers, a great store of varied information, and when the mood was on him could make himself the centre of attraction in any company. Scores of his old patients have pleasant memories of his happy sayings and pleasant ways with which he broke up the dull monotony of the sickroom. Without losing sight of the somewhat magisterial gravity characteristic of the "Old School" practitioner, he could come down to humor the waywardness, engage the interest, and win the confidence of a sick child with uncommon success. In his own family, while never demonstrative, he was kind, considerate, and loving. The real great-heartedness of the man came out in the dignity, patience, and composure with which he bore the increasing infirmities and pains of old age, retaining his self-control to the last hours of his life.

In a civil capacity Dr. Bevier’s life was full of labors and full of honors. He had a remarkably sound judgment, abundant executive resources, an unflinching integrity, and correct and systematic business habits. These qualities introduced him early to public notice. When only thirty years of age, Governor D.D. Tompkins signalized his respect and esteem for him by making him one of the judges of the Ulster County Court, which office, however, Dr. Bevier soon resigned, as it interfered too far with his professional work. He subsequently served the county several terms in the State Legislature, and held various other important public trusts. He was twice a candidate for Congress in this district, at times when the old Whig party, with which he was connected, was about two thousand seven hundred in the minority, and was defeated in one instance by only one hundred and fifty, and in the other by only sixty votes.

His practice in this neighborhood as legal adviser, commissioner of deeds, and notary public was for many years scarcely less extensive than his medical practice. He probably drafted more wills during his life than any lawyer in Ulster County, and few if any lawyers have a wider experience than he had in drawing up deeds, contracts, etc. Very much of the real estate at this end of the county has thus passed through his hands. For years he held a land-agency for Robert Tillotson and other patent-holders in Western Ulster and Sullivan Counties, and transacted the business connected with these large estates to the satisfaction of all concerned. He had, indeed, unusual skill in this kind of business, and was resorted to for information and advice from great distances and from all quarters. His strict systematic management of all his accounts and documents gave him a wide renown. There was in truth something peculiar in this,—the last piece of public writing which he did was a copy of a subscription paper in aid of the R.P.D. Church of Napanoch, written the week before his death, and is a model of neatness and accuracy. We are convinced that the papers of which he died possessed, being the accumulation of a lifetime spent in transactions involving changes of the real estate of a large district, are of great value, and we urge their careful preservation.

Religiously, Dr. Bevier’s character was undeveloped. In his later years, scrupulously correct in his habits, strict in his integrity, honorable in all his intercourse with his fellow-men, he contented himself with his morality, and made no pretense to any interior experience of divine truth. But at the same time he admitted the full force of the claims which religion had upon his attention. He usually managed to find time amid his professional duties to fill his seat in the sanctuary on the Sabbath, where he was ever an attentive and interested hearer. His hand and his purse were ever at the service of the church, and his counsel in temporal matters was as eagerly sought as it was cheerfully given. He held at his death the office of treasurer of the Dutch Church of Napanoch, a post which he had occupied for many years. In his old age he became more serious and thoughtful; but if he underwent a saving change it never impressed him so satisfactorily that he could venture to make a public profession of it. And yet he liked to talk in his last days upon religious themes, and frequently gave his emphatic assent to the cardinal doctrines of grace.

Dr. Bevier left a wife, three sons, and one daughter. Prior to her father’s death, another daughter, wife of R.C. Southwick, Esq., of Poughkeepsie, died. His youngest son and namesake succeeds him in the profession at Napanoch. Dr. Bevier has left to his children and friends a legacy of usefulness and therefore of honor. He has left to his fellow-townsmen an example of integrity and unselfishness that deserves imitation.


 

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