BRJMarch23Flipbook - Flipbook - Page 27
Sloan, whose family lived just across the Somerset County line,
in the village of Lamington. She died in labor in 1812, along with
their first child, a daughter also named Elizabeth.
Dr. Sherwood was remarried two years later to Elizabeth Honnell, who had lost her husband, John Lane, the year before. They
started their new life together in Middle Valley, a fertile farming
community along the South Branch River, in the southwest corner
of Morris County. Sherwood was the first doctor in Middle Valley,
where he purchased a circa 1780, fieldstone farm house (originally
built by William Welsh) from Nicholas Neighbor, a Revolutionary
War veteran and politician nicknamed “The Judge,” who was
heading out west with 60 of his family members and friends to
establish a settlement in Newcomerstown, Ohio.
Described in the National Register of Historic Places as “an early
practitioner in the field of mental health,” Dr. Sherwood established his practice in Middle Valley during a time when the concept of “moral treatment” of the insane was reaching America.
Sprung from the ideas of the Enlightenment during the late 18th
century, reformers in Europe like French physician, Philippe
Pinel, and English Quaker, William Tukes, began pioneering therapies that called for replacing the brutal treatment and harsh conditions of Europe’s “mad houses” with compassion, kindness,
and dignity, in clean, humane conditions.
In the United States, where those who suffered from mental
illness were usually cared for at home, or housed in alms houses
or jails, these radical ideas were being introduced by noted physicians such as Dr. Benjamin Rush, and George Parkman, a proponent and student of Philippe Pinel. In 1813, Quakers in
Philadelphia established “The Asylum for Persons Deprived of
the Use of Their Reason,” (now known as the Friends Hospital)
to “provide for the suitable accommodation of persons who are
or may be deprived of the use of their reason, and the maintenance of an asylum for their reception, which is intended to furnish, besides requisite medical aid, such tender, sympathetic
attention as may soothe their agitated minds…”
Perhaps this enlightened thinking reached Dr. Sherwood in
Middle Valley, when he established what Washington Township