DAVID W. FLORA, M.D., physician and surgeon, ay Newaygo, was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 20, 1828. He is a son of George W. and Margaret (Sloop) Flora, and was reared to manhood after the method common in the training of farmers' sons of that period. He obtained his his elementary education at the common schools and found the curriculum of study open to him uner the metropolitan school regulations to be only incentives to the investigation of the wife fields of knowledge to which the higher institutions of learning furnished the "open sesame." He supplemented his primary studies by two years' attendance as a student in the literary department at the college at Augusta, Ky. He was deeply impressed with the exhaustive and concise character of the text-books with which he became familiar, and learned from them the lesson designed by discriminating instructors, - that they could only serve a specific purpose in designating the route to the possibilities lying in the great field of scientific research beyond our mental horizon. To join the already mighty army of suthors and investigators, became his highest ambition, and, in casting about for a profession which afforded the widest scope for the consummation of his desires, he fixed upon that of medicine. His idea was not that of limiting himself to the study of drugs, or their effects upon the human system, or in any sense restricted by the scope of a practitioner devoted to the one purpose of ameliorating human suffering, but in the broadest sense possible, and including anatomy, comparative anatomy, physiology and botany, 0 the whole field included within the limits of natural history.
After leaving Augusta he became a teacher, and devoted sevenyears to that profession, preparatory to entering upon the course prescribed by custom for such as contemplated the practice of medicine. In 1857, he entered the office of Dr. A. G. Boynton, of Columbus, Ind., and read under his supervision. He afterwards attended lectures at the Ohio Medical College located at Cincinnati, and also at the Kentucky School of Medicine, at Louisville, and later at the Chicago Medical College. He spent one term at each of the institutions named.
When thus engaged, the mighty question of country of no country was forced to an issue by the rebellious South, and i succeeding events Dr. Flora found duty and opportunity closely linked. In all that this may mean, a passing tribute is doe to the influence wielded by the schools and instructors of the period between the settlement of this country and the advent of war. The spirit of patriotism engendered by the struggle for independence had been therby kept alive, and the fair green plant suddenly burst into marvelous bloom and boare a glorious fruitage, solving the problem of the rise and fall of nations and demonstrating that the inherent principles of liberty are synonymous with those of truth and are as eternal; also that they foster in the American people impulses which render the National institutions as impreishable as are the ties of hoe and kindred.
Dr. Flora was in the ardor of youth and the flush of ambitious hopes to rise in his profession. He foresaw through the vista of advancement the acme of his aspirations; and, recognizing the stability of small things for a foundation, he made haste to respond to the second call for troops after the disaster at Bull's Run, and entred the service as a private, enlisting in August, 1861, in Co. F, 39th Ind. Vol. Inf., and was made Hospital Steward of the regiment. He was soon placed in charge of the regimental hospital, and made himself active in the care and treatment of the men and officers. His faithful, conscientious labors and the efficiency of his sanitary measures came to be understood at headquarters, and he was detailed to organizse a general hospital for the army corps. He was informed that na opportunity was open to him to appear before an examing board of regular army surgeons, under whose dictum he was mustered out by special order of the Secretary of War, preliminary to his appointment as Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A. He was assigned to the transportation service and assumed charge of a train conveying sick and wounded soldiers to the general ospital at Louisvile, Ky. This duty involved the bringing in of the sick and wounded from outlying posts, adn when it was completed he was placed in charge of the convalescent barracks in the city, which post he filed from May 1, 1862, to April 1, 1863.
His next charge was Hospital No. 9, in Louisville, where he remained until September of the year last named, when he was ordered to Camp Nelson, Ky., to care for 1,000 sick soldiers left by Gen. Burnside, when he marched on Knoxville, Tenn. The attendant difficulties in this service rivaled the details in some of the rebel hospitals. Dr. Flora had but two assistants to aid him in the care and management of 2,000 disabled soldiers and 1,000 contrabands and laborers, and in less than six weeks himself and fellow surgeons succumbed to the severity of the situation and were prostrated by typho-malarail fever and dysentary. His comrades went home to die, but he soon recovered his health, and on the first of October he resumed duty at the General Hospital at Madison, Ind.
While there he inaugurated a series of original investigations to discover the nature of certain class of obscure ailments which caused the victims to be classed as "malingerers," "hospital bummers," etc. This calss of patients commonly became permanent appendages to the hospitals, and if discharged "cured" and sent to the front, invariably returned and in time became the "opprobrium medicorum" of the profession. By the aid of the microscope and chemical tests, Dr. Flora succeeded in diagnosing and placing under proper treatment this class of patients. The incurable were discharged and the other "ilk" were sent to their commands so described that they returned no more.
While in charge of one of the divisions of the general hospital, Dr. Flora devoted a portion of his time to morbid anatomy, histology and natural history, especially in the department of entomology. During his microscopic investigations of embryology in insect life, he conceived the idea of photographing magnified objects, and aided by a photographer, he succeeded in obtaining what he supposed to be the first photographs of that character. It afterwards transpired that he had a contemporary in the work, - Dr. Dean, of Washington, who was engaged at the same time (1865) in photographing sections of the spinal cord. Micro-photography has now reached amazing proportions, but Dr. Flora claims originality if not priority in the discovery. In addition to his duties and researches, he mad important contributions to the medical, literary and scientific magazines.
On receiving his discharge from the army, Dr. Flora established his practice in Chicago, and while there became favorably known to a wide fircle of miscellaneous readers by articles on current sanitary topics, one of which at least was exigent and opportune. Many will remember the able and exhaustive paper on Trichinae published by the Chicago Times, and copied by hundreds of journals of lesser pretensions. It was then becoming the subject of much interest to scientific thinkers, and alram to other classes.
In 1868 the Doctor came to Denver, Newaygo County, and not long afterward to Newaygo. His business here has been extensive and satisfactory. His intellectual grade in his profession is understood and appreciated, and he takes precedence of his compeers as the oldest resident practitioner. He has been medical advisor among the poor a large proportion of the time since he settled here, and he has served many years as a local health officer. He is at present Justice of the Peace.
In 1872, Dr. Flora perfected and patented a safety mask for the purpose of protecting the respiratory organs from dust in mining and dry-grinding, by cotton films charged with antiseptics, forming a perfect safeguard against germs of infection in contagious diseases.
Dr. Flora was married in Seymour, Jackson Co., Ind., April 7, 1857, to Sarah C., daughter of Charles and Harriet Hanley. She was born at Cohoes, N.Y., May 10, 1835. Charles A., elder child, was born in Bartholomew Co., Ind., and is a printer by trade. Daisy, only daughter, was born in Newaygo, Oct. 7, 1869.