The land lying along the southern shore of Lake Erie has a colorful background. In 1662, the colony of Connecticut persuaded Charles II of England to grant her the title to western land which lay between the parallels which bounded the state and extended from "sea to sea." Ownership was a confused issue to be settled only after the thirteen states had agreed to relinquish disputed lands to the Federal Government so that they might be admitted to the Confederation as new states. Connecticau waived part of her claim, but reseved a tract, which later became northeastern Ohio, as compensation for her relatively small size. This area, known as the Western Reserve, extended southward from Lake Erie to the 41st parallel, and continued westward from the Pennsylvania line.
In 1796 the Connecticut Land Company chose selected General Moses Cleaveland, a shareholder, as superintendent of the Western Reserve surveying party. Moses Cleaveland and his party did the final leg of the journey in an open bateau and arrived at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River on July 22.
The early settlers led a rugged existence. Records of the time speak of a Dr. Thompson who rode the circuit from Hudson throughout the Western Reserve. While Dr. Thompson was a physician, he also extracted teeth. He was the only physician and dentist in the area until 1810 when the first resident physician in Cleveland, David Long, established his practice.
Dr. Benjamin Strickland
The first dentist to reside permanently in Cleveland was Dr. Benjamin Strickland. He was the earliest dentist, maker of artificial porcelain teeth, user of anesthesia, and great advocate of organized dentistry. In 1841 he was admitted to the American Society of Dental Surgeons, the first national dental organization. This society ceased existence in 1856 due to the infamous amalgam war.
The organization of the Northern Ohio Dental Society
In 1855 the American Dental Convention recommended the development of local societies. Accordingly, a group of Cleveland dentists, issued a circular inviting the dentists of northern Ohio to attend a meeting inTremont Hall in Cleveland on November 3, 1857. Thirty five dentist responded to the call and attended this meeting. It is interesting to note that of the 22 dentists practicing in Cleveland at the time, 18 attended this meeting. A resolution was passed calling this organization the Dental Convention of Northern Ohio. Later, the name was changed to the Northern Ohio Dental Association.
Among the members present was Thomas McCune, a young dentist who had just commenced practice in Cleveland in 1857, and who was the first Cleveland dentist to receive the D.D.S. degree in course from a dental school.
These were troubled times both for the nation and for the dental profession. The Civil War was brewing nationally, and the aftermath of the amalgam war was still being felt by the profession. The battle over vulcanite and the vulcanite patents was at its height.
The organization of the Cleveland Dental Society
In 1886, while returning from the meeting of the national association, Dr. Harlan of Chicago discussed the idea of forming a local society in Cleveland with Dr. Jennings and Dr. Henry Barnes. Dr. Jennings felt that there was a lack of interest, united action, and of compatibility. Dr. Barnes was more optimistic. As a result of his persuasion, a meeting was held in the office of Dr. Jennings, on November 6, 1886, and plans were laid for the formation of a local organization. December 4, 1886, was selected as the day for formal institution of the Cleveland Dental Society.
Dr. David Rawson Jennings
The distinction of being the first president of the Cleveland Dental Society fell upon a Buckeye State native, Dr. David Rawson Jennings, who was born on a farm in Ravenna in 1830. Of considerable significance is the fact that while he had no formal schooling, he held an honorary degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery, bestowed upon him by the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1867, and an honoary Doctor of Medicine from the Medical Department of Wooster University in 1886. Besides being a most able organizer, he was considered a fine all-around dentist, very skillful in gold foil fillings and porcelain dentures. As the first president, he established many precedents and conducted meetings with dignity, formality and dispatch.
Dr. Henry Barnes
It was perhaps the enthusiasm and courage of Dr. Henry Barnes, the fifth president of the Cleveland Dental Society, that produced the spark that brought the organization into existence. It was his driving spirit that overcame the apathy of others, resulting in an organizational meeting which preceded the "birth" of the Society.
The Northern Ohio Dental Association elected him as its presiding officer for two terms, in 1894 and 1895. He was appointed a member of the Ohio Board of Dental Examiners for the period between 1902 and 1908. Dr. Barnes presented numerous papers at the meetings of various societies. As early as 1902 he became concerned with the importance of proper tooth brushing methods, and in 1916 copyrighted a treatise entitled, "A New Tooth Brush Method" which covered interdental brushing. The copyright was to protect his priority of the method and was not intended to prevent its universal use. His contributions to the society were numerous and of lasting value.
Dr. Lewis Buffet
Charter Member Dr. Lewis Buffet was a man of great capability and personal charm. Because of his educational background, he was called upon by the Medical Department of Western Reserve University to be lecturer in Oral Surgery in 1874-5 and professor of Oral Surgery and Dental Pathology from 1875 to 1881. Dr. Buffet became the pioneer dental professor in Cleveland. He was the second Clevelander to be president of the Ohio State Dental Association, holding that office in 1873. In 1889 he moved to Easton, Md., where he practiced until about the time of his death in 1901.
Dr. William Atkinson
W. H. Atkinson stands high on the list of colorful personalities that have graced the dental profession. He was an impressive orator, and this ability was used to a geat degree to advance the cause of promoting professional status for his profession. The distinction of being the first ADA president belongs to Dr. Atkinson. He gave many clinics and talked to many societies on the value of dental organizations. His interest in the formation of dental societies was motivated by a desire for scientific enlightenmment and advance ment within the profession. Others were more interested in the practical consequences of the establishment of dental groups. He supported the idea that clinics were the best mode of instruction, and freely invited fellow practitioners to a place at the side of his operation chair. Dr. Atkinson was a potent factor in the removal of the "No Admittance" sign from the laboratories of dentists. He was a student of the natural sciences and microscopy; his researches in the field of therapeutics, pathology and histology gave him prominence in the dental profession.
Dr. C. R. Butler
Cleveland's second contribution to the ADA presidency was Dr. Charles Richard Butler, some of whose accomplishments have been recounted earlier as one of the founders of the Coeveland Dental Society. He presided over the American Dental Association in 1888-89. Dr. Butler became the 10th president of the Cleveland Dental Society in 1896, and thus established a reverse sequence without parallel in dental history, in that he became president of the local group seven years after having served as president of the national association, 21 years after having been state presidency of the Northern Ohio Dental Association.
Dr. Frank Casto
Cleveland's third contribution to the presidency was Dr. Frank Monroe Casto, who presided over the American Dental Association in 1934-35. During his term, and as a result of his suggestion, a simplification and recodification of the Consitution and its maze of amendments was carried out. Upon his urging, the Board of Trustees in 1935 laid down an official policy relating to various proposals for insurance, or deferred payment-plans for dental care. The Board of Trustees declared its opposition to any form of compulsory health insurance. Dr. Casto, in his presidential address, summoned the delegates to an unrelenting and "continuous campaign of publicity" against compulsory health insurance proposals.
Weston A. Price
Dr. Weston A. Price is an exceptional example of a dentist whose career in research brought him international recognition. In 1900 in Paris he demonstrated radiographs made with radioactive salts before radium had been named. He studied the behavior of wax patterns and investment as well as the physical characteristics of gold during the melting and cooling process. As a result of his efforts, organized research, directed by the National Dental Association, was established in Cleveland in 1916 at the Research Institute at Euclid Avenue. Dr. Price wrote extensively on the nature of faocal infection and the relationship of nutrition to dental caries and other diseases. He made numerous trips to many parts of the world to gather data.
The Research Institute was located at 8803 Euclid Avenue. The building fund for the Institute was supported by subscription of $5000 from Cleveland dentists and a contribution of $4000 from the Ohio State Dental Association. Even the former owner of the mansion, Mr. Wllman, contributed $2500 to the fund. Investigation at the Research Institute was later transferred to various universities.
As early as 1920 "study groups" were organized within the membership for investigation along specific lines. In 1930, Dr. S. Marshal Weaver proposed the formation of a study club center in connection with the executive office of the society. As a result of the work of Dr. Weaver and a dedicated group of assistants, the headquarter depicted in an accompanying photograph was established in the Rose Building. This headquarters provided complete facilities for lectures, demonstration, and participation study groups to undertake postgraduate work in dentistry. Over one-half of the cost of inancing this venture was raised by contributions of individual members, and the balance wa taken from funds of the society. The headquarters was opened with appropriate ceremonies on December 9, 1931.