Samuel Davis Day, M.D.,
How unsatisfactory must be the
history of a day which ends at the morning hour, when the bright sun has yet only risen above the horizon, and
its rays are gilding both the mountain peaks and the forest tops; but how satisfactory the task of writing the
biography of one whose genius and powers, even in his early morning, gave unerring promise of a flowing future.
Such are the reflections of the writer upon assuming the task of epitomizing the life of Dr.
Samuel Davis Day. The Day's were a sturdy New England Puritan
family, the Doctor's grandfather, Nehemiah Day, having
served as a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary war. Samuel D. was born in Dalton, Berkshire Co., Mass., March
2, 1811, and was the third in a family of five children, three sons and two daughters. His parents, Amasa and Hannah Day, were natives of Connecticut, who settled on
a farm near Pittsfield, Mass., and here the Doctor's early youth was passed in attending the common district school
in winter, and the academy at Pittsfield, in summer. The district school was taught by students from Williams
College, who were fine classical scholars, and therefore the pupil had many advantages that cannot be obtained
in the common schools of to-day. At the age of 14, the Doctor had, by diligence and rigid study, become proficient
in the different branches of an English education, as well as a good Latin scholar. His eldest brother, Jonathan, having received a first-class literary and scientific education
at Williams College, Mass., afterward attended Berkshire Medical Institution, from where he graduated. He
immediately located his office in Syracuse, N.Y., and rose to be one of the most eminent physicians of that State.
In the spring of 1824, Samuel D. left home and entered the office of his brother, where he remained as a student
until the spring of 1832, during which time, viz., in the fall of 1830-31, he attended a course of lectures at
the Berkshire Medical Institution, teaching a district school two successive winters to pay the fees at that college,
graduating in December, 1831. In 1832, the New York Legislature met in special session to quarantine cholera, and
Dr. Day was appointed Quarantine Physician at the port of French Creek, on the St. Lawrence River, where he remained
until his brother's death by cholera, in August of that year, when he returned to Syracuse for the purpose of settling
up his brother's estate, remaining in that city until 1834. At this time he accepted a position in an Eastern
wholesale house to travel in the State of Ohio, selling surgical instruments, in which he continued throughout
1834 and 1835, making his headquarters in the latter year in Cincinnati. In the spring of 1836, he came to
St. Omer, Decatur Co., Ind., where he practiced medicine a short time, removing to Milroy, Rush Co., and soon after
to Wilmington, Dearborn Co., Ind., where he was induced to sell out to a physician who had formerly practiced at
that point, but who had returned poor to begin anew. In 1838, the Doctor located at Shelbyville, where he
has since devoted his time to the practice of his profession. He was married, Oct. 28, 1847, to Miss Jane Thomson, a prominent citizen of that city. Dr. Day
and wife are strict attendants of the Presbyterian Church, and are deeply interested in the growth and development
of Christianity in their midst. For nearly half a century, Dr. Day has occupied the leading position as medical
practitioner in this place. In former times, he was an enthusiastic Democrat, and took an active interest in politics.
During the war of the rebellion, his whole heart and soul was with the Union. He is a man interested in all the
great advance movements of the world, of an active, inquiring turn of mind, an incessant reader, passionately fond
of society, and has traveled extensively both in Europe and America. His benignant countenance, his dignified
and courteous bearing, his frank, open face, fringed with hoary locks, his kindly disposition, unruffled by the
cares of a lifetime of business activity, all conspire to excite unbounded respect. Nearly three-quarters
of a century have left him a hale, hearty, well-preserved old man; a quick, elastic step; busy, active and energetic,
with eye undimmed and mind unimpaired. In the fullness of a ripe old age, he and his loving helpmate can
look back over many years of mutual assistance, the comfort of their common sympathy and the enjoyment of each
other's society, while the lingering sunset of life casts its shadows over long lives fruitful of good and usefulness.
Atlas of Shelby Co., Indiana, Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co, 1880, p 27.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming
~ ~ ~ ~
Day, retired physician and surgeon, was born in
Dalton, Mass., March 2d, 1811 . His parents were Amasa and Hannah
Day, who lived and died in Massachusetts. The subject of
this sketch received his early education in the district school at which
he was a student during the winter, and his summers until the age
of fifteen, were spent at Pittsfield Academy. Later he began the
study of medicine, and by the time he had gained his majority, he
had taken two courses of lectures at the Birkshire Medical Institute in
Massachusetts, and was graduated therefrom in 1831 . In 1832, the
General Assembly of New York attempted to prevent the spread of
cholera by quarantine, and Dr. Day was appointed quarantine physician at French Creek, where he remained until August,
In 1836, Dr. Day located for the practice of his profession at Wilmington, Decatur Co., Ind.
He only remained there a short time and
then removed to Rush County. Dr. Day came to Shelbyville in
1838, and here he has since resided. Here he continued the active
practice of medicine until 1878- — was a regular practitioner in
Shelbyville for forty - years. Quit the practice on the account of
failing health. He was married October 28th, 1847, to Miss Jane
Thomson of Pittsburg, Pa., a cousin of the late lamented Vice
President T. A. Hendricks. Mr. and Mrs. Day have spent many
years in Shelbyville and always have been held in exalted esteem.
History of Shelby County, Indiana, Brant &
Fuller, 1887, "Shelbyville Sketches," page 477.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming