Aaron Humphrey
Aaron humphrey 1903.jpg

Full name

Aaron Gordon Humphrey

Alternative names

Aaron G. Humphrey, A.G. Humphrey

Presence at Shimer


Presence on Earth



Hygieo-Therapeutic College of New York 1858


Seminary period alum

Aaron Gordon Humphrey was a student at Shimer College during the Seminary period, and later a hydropathic physician in Galesburg, Illinois. His exact dates of attendance are unclear, as he also taught in Iowa for several terms between his Seminary studies.

Humphrey was an active participant in the Seminary Lyceum and was expelled, due to allegations of spreading atheism at the Lyceum, during the crisis of 1857.

He married his first wife, fellow Seminary student Sarah Randall, in Galesburg on October 15, 1857, after which both traveled to New York for medical training at the Hygieo-Therapeutic College operated by Robert Trall. The Hygieo-Therapeutic College was a hydropathic institution, opposing drug-based medicine and advocating approaches such as the "water cure" and "movement cure." It also had the distinction of being America's first medical school to admit male and female students on equal terms.

After graduating on April 15, 1858, Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey returned to Galesburg, where they opened the Western Health Institution and Galesburg Hygienic Infirmary. They also served briefly as associate physicians at the "Western Hygeian Home" established by Trall in St. Anthony's Falls, Minnesota, in 1865.

An early advertisement for the Galesburg institution, under the name of "Galesburg Hygienic Retreat," advertises that the physicians would "use electricity, Swedish Movement Cure, and all hygienic agents,—but no drugs."

Humphrey, who remarried shortly after Sarah's death in 1867, continued to practice medicine in Galesburg until shortly before his own death in 1914.

Shimer connections[edit | edit source]

Writings[edit | edit source]


Profiled[edit | edit source]

  • in "Deaths", JAMA 63:23, 1914, p. 2057:
    Aaron G. Humphrey, M.D. New York Hygieo-Therapeutic College of New York, New York City, 1858; for more than half a century a practitioner of Galesburg; was for a few months a resident of Kansas City, Mo.; died at his home in that city, November 17, aged 82.
  • in "Aaron Gordon Humphrey M.D.", The History of Knox County, 1912, pp. 436-437:
    Of this family Dr. Humphrey, the fourth in order of birth, was a young lad when he accompanied his parents on their removal to Iowa, where he continued his education as a pupil in the Congregationalist school at Davenport and afterward in the Baptist Seminary of Mount Carroll, Illinois. He also engaged in teaching for about three terms in Iowa. With his first wife he went to New York city, where both studied medicine and surgery in the Hygio-therapeutic College, from which both were graduated. They afterward opened a health institution at Lancaster, Ohio, where they practiced for several years, and then came to Galesburg, opening a similar institution in this city in the northern part of the town. About fifty years ago Dr. Humphrey removed to the Lombard fruit farm in the southeastern part of Galesburg and in connection with the conduct of his health institute also engaged extensively in horticultural pursuits, conducting his fruit farm until 1890, when he removed to his present residence—a comfortable, two-story frame dwelling, standing in the midst of a twenty-acre tract of land devoted to the raising of vegetables and fruits. Here he conducted his health institute for about ten years but since that time has practically lived retired, giving his attention only to the raising of fine fruits and fine poultry, which work he carries on through the aid of an assistant. He has ever been a close student of the scientific methods of fruit-raising and is a life member of the State Horticultural Society. His broad reading and study and his practical experience have made his opinions largely an authority upon the production of various kinds of fruit in this section. In the course of years he accumulated an extensive library on horticulture, which he has now given to two colleges.
    More than a half century ago Dr. Humphrey lost his first wife, who bore the maiden name of Sarah R. Randall and was a daughter of Richard Randall. On the 16th of February, 1868, he married Lovina Swartzendruver, a daughter of Christian and Catharine (Berges) Swartzendruver. Mrs. Humphrey was born in Wayne county, Ohio, October 11, 1844. Her maiden name indicates her German ancestry. Her paternal grandparents were Vincent and Mary (Brennemann) Swartzendruver, who spent their entire lives in Germany. Her maternal grandparents were Christian and Christina (Gingerich) Berges. The parents of Mrs. Humphrey were natives of Waldeck, Germany, and in early life came to the new world. In 1861 they removed to Davis county, Iowa, where her father died at the age of eighty-three years, while her mother reached the advanced age of eighty-eight. They were the parents of ten children, all of whom lived to adult age, namely, Susan, John, Elizabeth, Fanny, Mary, Daniel, Solomon, Rebecca, Christian and Lovina. As previously stated, the last named became the wife of Dr. Humphrey in 1868 and they have one son, Albert S., who is teaching the art of expression and public speaking in the Westport high school of Kansas City, Missouri. He is a graduate of the Columbia School of Oratory, now the Columbia College of Expression of Chicago, and for seven years was at the head of the department of expression in Knox College at Galesburg. Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey attend the Universalist church and for many years he has been affiliated with the Odd Fellows society and is a past grand of Galesburg lodge. His political allegiance has been given the republican party since its organization and in former years he was somewhat active politically, serving as alderman of the city, also as a member of the board of health for a number of years and as city physician for some time. In past years he has been a frequent contributor to the press, writing numerous articles for medical journals, free-thought magazines and agricultural papers, as well as for the local press. His articles have always shown originality, careful investigation of the subject discussed, and a breadth of vision that has awakened the interest and attention of many readers.
  • in "Humphrey, Aaron Gordon", "History and Biographies of Galesburg", Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1899:
    Physician; Galesburg; born in Delaware, Ohio, July 19, 1832. His parents, Aaron Case and Betsey (Starr) Humphrey, were natives of Hartford, CT.; the grandparents on both sides were natives of England. He was raised on a farm in Tipton, Iowa, and attended school at Mount Carroll Seminary. He is a graduate of Hygeia Therapeutic College, NY. He has since been proprietor of a sanitarium, first at Lancaster, Ohio, then in Moline, IL, and since 1860, at Galesburg. In 1865, he conducted a sanitarium in Minneapolis.
    Feb. 16, 1868, Dr. Humphrey was married to Lavina Swartzendruver, at Bloomfield, Iowa. They have one son, Albert S., who is prominent as a public reader and as a teacher of dramatic _expression and oratory.
    In religion, Dr. Humphrey prefers to be known as Humanitarian. In politics he is a republican.

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

  • in "A Review of the Discussion Relative to the Mount Carroll Seminary", Nathaniel Halderman, 1857, pp. 13-14:
    Of A.G. Humphrey, one of the number whose "testimony" Mr. Gray introduces, I would say, soon after he entered the institution the Principals learned in a casual conversation that he had been a Methodist exhorter; becoming disaffected he joined the Congregational Church. The impression left on their minds was that he still retained his standing in that church. He chose to join the Baptist Sabbath School, and labored there harmoniously, nothing coming to the knowledge of those with whom he co-operated, conflicting with the generally received truths of Christianity. If views were then entertained and an influence then exerted thus conflicting, it was studiously kept from the knowledge of the Principals. It was supposed, if he had a standing in an evangelical christian church, that he professed Christianity; if professing it was of course hoped he possessed it. The Principals did not deem it their duty or business to inquire into his peculiarities of faith; they extended to him christian charity; did all in their power to aid him in getting an education; he being dependent upon his own exertions, they gave him employment when out of school and used their influence to secure for him the office of sexton, that the remuneration therefor might enable him the more independently to prosecute his studies. In November a series of prayer meetings was commenced in the Baptist church; he attended and took an active part, engaging in prayer, exhortation, &c. with seeming harmony, till the spirit of God was felt at work; many were interested, among the number were pupils at the Seminary, and they manifested a desire to attend the meetings. Then the true nature of the spirit Humphrey possessed was made manifest. Though not a member of the institution during this time, being engaged in teaching in the country, yet he would seek every opportunity to watch their movements, throw himself in the way of those who manifested an interest for their soul's salvation, and exert himself to divert their minds. When successful he would return to his home in high glee. When failing in unholy purpose, he would retire railing at and about them and all christians in general and Elder Estee in particular. Those things coming to the knowledge of the Principals, enlightened them as to the real character of the influence he was exerting. They then took measures to inform themselves more fully, and found that he had been for a long time actively engaged in instilling into the minds of his associates what he termed liberal principles; that he regarded many of them as his converts; that he would exultingly point out different ones of this class as proof against any christian influence that might be brought to bear. But it is truly a matter or rejoicing that of the number singled out as victims to his delusion, only one proved deaf to the calls of mercy. Soon after the meetings closed, Humphrey returned to the institution. The Principals were now aware of the sentiments ho entertained and the character of the influence he would exert, secretly if not openly. They did not however deem it their right to refuse him admission because he entertained such sentiments, but did feel it their duty to be watchful of the influence he might exert by open expression of his sentiments. They found that he, with two or three others, gave free expression of their views before the society connected with the institution, and more, this community knew, that at the public exercises of this society, free expression of the sentiments of this class of individuals was given which in two or three original orations was so gratifying to the infidel portion of the audience that some of them who deny the whole system of christian religion, deny the Bible, and do not oven acknowledge a God, cheered them while speaking.

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