Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dr. Moses Scott

Moses Scott, a Remarkable Man and a Great American

(The following article was written by Margaret Teiwes who is a member of our History Club.  She, and her husband, Harry, live in Wheaton, IL. and almost always attend the history tours.  She shared with me her family history and I said if she would summarize the information we would publish it as a blog.  Moses Scott has earned the right to be remembered and we are happy to place his story on the Internet.)
Moses Scott (1738-1821) was a remarkable man. He was a leader of men, soldier, physician, judge, patriot, church elder and trustee, friend, husband and father of eight. He was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and was the eighth of nine children born to Scottish parents John and Jane Mitchell Scott.
John Scott, a weaver by trade, emigrated from Scotland to Ireland and then in 1722 sailed for the Pennsylvania colony. In his new country he was a farmer but continued the weaver's trade and trained his eldest son, Robert, to work the loom. Little is known of his wife, Jane Mitchell, except that she was the mother of his nine children.
The Scott family attended the Neshaminy Presbyterian Church in Warwick, Pennsylvania which was founded by the Rev. William Tennent, a Scotch-Irish clergyman. Rev. Tennent also established the Log College which is considered to be the forerunner of Princeton University. He invited Rev. George Whitefield, the great English preacher and evangelist, to preach at his church at least twice during the time the Scott family attended. Surely, Whitefield's preaching had a spiritual impact upon the Scott family. Moses was instructed in the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church and was a faithful Christian to the day he died.
He was about twelve or thirteen when his father died leaving him and his younger brother, Matthew, orphans. It's assumed his older, adult siblings cared for them after their father's death in 1749. When Moses was seventeen years old he left home and joined the military. This was during the time of the French and Indian War.
He was among the Pennsylvania Provincials who joined the army of General Edward Braddock. The General had as his personal aide, Colonel George Washington. The army set out to attack the French held Fort Duquesne in southwest Pennsylvania and to drive the French out of the Ohio Valley. Unfortunately, Braddock's army was ambushed by the enemy and many were slaughtered, including General Braddock. A few years later another attempt was made to capture the fort. This time the Pennsylvania Provincials joined the British army under the command of General John Forbes. They took the fort, rebuilt and renamed it Fort Pitt- Pittsburgh.
Scott, who by now was an officer, resigned from Provincial Service in order to study medicine. The only "medical school" at that time was the Pennsylvania Hospital which was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1751. However, the primary manner for training doctors was through an apprenticeship with another doctor. Young men would reside in their mentor's homes and were expected to do menial tasks apart from their medical studies. Most likely, this is how Moses Scott received his medical training.
He married Anna Johnson in 1765 which was the same year he commenced his medical practice in the Brandywine area of southeast Pennsylvania. Their first five children, all girls, were born during their ten year stay in Brandywine. Eventually, they had eight children - seven daughters and one son. Shortly before the start of the Revolutionary War, the family relocated to New Brunswick, New Jersey where they remained the rest of their lives. The family attended the New Brunswick Presbyterian Church where Scott served as Elder, Trustee, and Treasurer. In 1815 the church organized its first Sunday School and their daughter, Hannah, was its first Superintendent.
At the outset of the war, Scott joined the 2nd Regiment Middlesex Militia as a surgeon. A few months later, July 2, 1776, he was commissioned by the Continental Congress to be Physician-General of Military Hospitals. His rank was Surgeon, and in 1777 he was appointed Surgeon of the Hospital and Assistant Director-General. He was in charge of General Hospitals in Morristown and New Brunswick. Scott was present at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Trenton and Princeton.
Surgeon Scott had his war stories too and here is one among several. During the winter of 1776, the British General Howe made a surprise attack on New Brunswick. Dr. Scott was at home and about to sit down to dinner when he was warned that British soldiers were about to storm his home. They wanted to seize the rebel doctor. He narrowly escaped, but instead they seized his dinner, plundered his home and confiscated all his medical supplies and equipment for their own use. A Tory neighbor warned the soldiers the doctor may have poisoned the medicine in order to kill the enemy. All the medicine was taken outside and dumped into the street in front of his house.
Once more he resigned from the army and returned to civilian life and to private practice. He continued to be active in the medical profession and earned accolades and appointments: He was President and Treasurer of the Medical Society of New Jersey (the first in America), Fellow of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York City, founding member of Somerset District Medical Society, Judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Somerset County; Justice of the Peace, Middlesex County; Elder, Trustee, Treasurer of New Brunswick Presbyterian Church.
During the Howe's winter stay in New Brunswick, the church was used by British soldiers as a barracks and stable. It is said the church was desecrated and torched when the troops left and could not be used as a house of worship again. The congregation was scattered and did not meet for several years. In 1784 Scott was part of a group of men who helped to reestablish and reorganize the church. Eventually, a new and larger building was erected on a different site. The New Brunswick Presbyterian Church still exists, but again, in a different building. When the church celebrated its 225 anniversary in 1951, Moses Scott and Hannah Scott were among the few early members who were especially honored.
Moses Scott died December 28, 1821 and was buried in the church cemetery. One hundred years later his and Anna's remains were removed and interred in Van Liew Cemetery in New Brunswick.
Moses Scott was, indeed, a remarkable and industrious man who contributed much to his country and to those who knew him. He needs to be remembered. 

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus

Illinois St. Andrew's Society

The next meeting of the Scottish American History Club will occur on September 8 in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home, North Riverside, IL.  The program will be given by the Eastland Disaster Historical Society.  The Eastland, a passenger ship, rolled over while docked in tfhe Chicago River.  A total of 844 people lost their lives that day and it is the largest loss of life from a single disaster on the Great Lakes.  Members of the Eastland Society will have stories, films, and personal testimonies about the disaster.  Reservations are requested, please call lthe Scottish Home 708-447-5092.

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