Milton’s Dr. Drew (1791-1872)

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | September 30, 2018

I came across the following obituary while doing some Post Office research. Dr. Stephen Drew practiced as Milton’s physician for over fifty years. (He was for a brief time also Postmaster of the Milton Post Office).



Dr. Stephen Drew studied medicine with Dr. Ayer of Newfield, Me., attended medical lectures at Harvard University and at other medical colleges, and received his diploma in medicine about the year 1815. He first practiced his profession for more than a year at Conway, in this State, thence he removed to Milton, N.H., where he faithfully and zealously followed his profession until about four years ago, when his strong and almost invincible frame began to yield to the relentless ravages of age and disease. He was in active practice, in this and adjoining towns, fifty-three years. Indeed, he did not entirely cease office practice until a little before his death, March 1872, so we may as well say fifty-seven years in all.

He came to Milton at the same time that Dr. James Farrington went to Rochester. Dr. Pray was also at Rochester, Dr. Hammond at Farmington and Dr. Russell at Wakefield. These fathers in medicine have all passed away most of them long ago. Had Dr. Drew lived until April, 1872, he would have been eighty one years of age. He lived to see his own generation almost all pass away, another enter upon and pass well across the stage of action, and a third generation appear and pass through infancy and childhood into youth and early manhood. 

The Milton of fifty-six years ago was very different from the Milton of to-day. Says a reliable informant: “At that early period the large tract of country over which his visits extended was a wilderness in comparison with to-day. Very few good roads, but many bridle paths, making it necessary for him to perform much of his labor on horseback, subjecting him to much inconvenience and exposure.”

He was eminent as a surgeon, preeminent as a practitioner of medicine. He was honored by his peers and revered by his younger brethren. In many respects, he was a model physician. In a word he was a physician. He brought to his profession a life-long enthusiasm, which kept him, to last, well in the advance of medical knowledge. His extensive experience, keen observation and quick reason him to anticipate many an advance in medical practice. He was studious, energetic, laborious, unwearying.

In the “sick room” he was calm and self-possessed. No ordinary or extraordinary danger or unlooked-for emergency could throw him off his guard. To the full extent of knowledge, resources and skill, he was able to do all [that] could be done for his patients. The results of all his experience, the accumulations of his extensive research, hastened in orderly array to his aid.

Then, too, he was wisely deliberate in his opinions actions, never hasty, inconsiderate or rash. And being prudently cautious in his determinations, he had great firmness in carrying them out. Yet he was liberal in his treatment of those who differed from him. He was willing candidly to weigh the reasons for modes of practice other than his own; and as he sought new light he was ready to welcome it from whatever source.

Another grand qualification in a physician, he was thoroughly trustworthy. The secrets of his patients and of their families, whether directly or indirectly communicated to him, were inviolably safe in his keeping. His own family never knew anything of the secret history of his patients. A wise head, an attentive ear, a sharp and open eye, but a silent tongue.

He was an old-time gentleman, a gentleman through and through, a man of culture in mind and heart and manners, a man whose manhood could not long be concealed.

He was benevolent, that basis quality of character, out of which all true politeness springs, and from which it gets its strength. He was the poor man’s friend, the poor man’s willing servant. He served as faithfully in the abode of poverty as in the mansion of wealth.

He was indeed “the beloved physician.” Into hundreds, thousands of families has he repeatedly entered as a messenger of hope and help. Thousands of lives, by the blessing of God, has he been the means of prolonging. Thousands have been comforted by him in hours of bitter pain and sorrow, or conducted by him through imminent peril. Yea, until this generation, and the generation after, shall all have passed away, he will continue to be in the remembrances and traditions of multitudes, “the beloved PHYSICIAN.”

In his last years he came fully into the light and life of Christ. The very day before his death he spent largely with his Bible and book of prayer. God was preparing him for his speedy exit from the scenes of this life and entrance into the glories of the life everlasting?

See also Milton’s Dr. Stephen Drew (1791-1872).


NH Medical Society. (1873). Transactions of the New Hampshire Medical Society. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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