Ohio Biographies

David Long, M.D.

Cleveland in disclosing its memorials to the honored figures of the past might appropriately establish something permanent to symbolize the service of its first physicians. Chief among these was Dr. David Long, to whom history accords the distinction of being the first resident physician of the town.

Among the doctors of the old times David Long was a man of rare human greatness -- strong but tender, brusque but true, with a devotion to duty that bestead him through all storm and stress. He was a successful doctor, a high minded and valuable citizen. He possessed a spirit of tender and knowing love for his brother man.  

While it would be impossible to record fully the impress which his services made upon the early life of Cleveland, there is justice in attempting a brief survey of his career.  

David Long was born at Hebron, Washington County, New York, September 29, 1787, the year the makers of the federal constitution were assembled at their labors in Philadelphia; he located at Cleveland in 1810; for thirty years diligently pursued his professional work at Cleveland and the surrounding community; and when still in his sixty-fourth year was called to his final reward, September 1, 1851. His father was a physician and had also give service in the Revolutionary cause.  

David Long took up the study of medicine in Massachusetts under his uncle, Dr. John Long. From there he removed to New York City, attended medical college, and was granted his degree. He was in his twenty-second year when, in June, 1810, he came to Cleveland, then little more than a village, and less than fifteen years after General Moses Cleaveland had brought his party to this Lake Erie port.

When David Long began practice at Cleveland there was no other physician nearer than Painesville on the east, Hudson on the southeast, Wooster on the south and River Raisin (now Monroe) at the west. It was a wild and almost trackless region. The streams had no bridges, and the cabins of the pioneer settlers in many places were ten miles apart. No modern day physician can comprehend all the conditions that made difficult and arduous the performance of professional duty in such a country when David Long began practice. In rain or snow, winter’s cold and summer’s heat, at midnight or in midday, he cheerfully responded to all the calls for his services, and forgetting self he exemplified that self-sacrificing zeal for which the old time doctor has been idealized in literature.

Some of the journeys he made over this region seem nothing less than remarkable when the condition of the country is recalled. One day his assistance was asked in a case of extreme urgency. The patient was fourteen miles away. He rode that distance in fifty minutes, changing horses twice. On anther time he was called out at midnight. His horse carried him nine miles in fifty-one minutes. During the War of 1812 he was a surgeon in the American army. When General Hull surrendered Detroit it was Doctor Long who brought the news all the way from the mouth of Black River to Cleveland, a distance of twenty-eight miles. He covered that stretch of ground in two hours and fourteen minutes. Just one more instance may be recalled. During the winter of 1823 he and a Mr. Sears started from Sandusky for Cleveland in a one horse sleigh. After going a short distance the snow melted, and they then determined to risk themselves on the ice of Lake Erie. This dangerous ride of nearly fifty miles was accomplished in safety, though it required constant vigilance on the part of the drivers.

The first home occupied by Doctor Long was on Water Street near the old Light House. From there he removed to a double log house which had been built by Governor Huntington and which stood back of the present American House. In later years he occupied more modern residences which for comfort and pretention (sic) ranked with the best I the rapidly improving city.

Doctor Long had a part in the business and civic life of his community. At one time he was proprietor of a dry goods and notion store on Superior Street. This store was managed by John P. Walworth. Doctor Long joined heartily and liberally with other Cleveland citizens in constructing a section of the Ohio Canal. His investment in that enterprise caused him severe financial reverses. For many years he steadily practiced his profession, but toward the close of his life gave he most of his time to business affairs. In public spirit and disinterested helpfulness to his community he was not excelled by any other Cleveland man of his generation. But he did his work retiringly and without the slightest manifestation of desire for the honors of public office. Only once did he deviate from his strict rule to avoid political honors. When the question of a location of a new county court house came up for decision he was persuaded to stand as a candidate for the office of county commissioner. His personal popularity brought him election, and as a member of the board he passed the determining vote by which Cleveland was given the court house rather than Newburg.  

Doctor Long especially had close to his heart and desire the welfare of the community as represented in the institutions of schools and churches and those influences that make for culture and right living. He personified generosity, kindliness and unrestricted human sympathy. Both he and his wife were noted for their thorough culture, and at the same time for the amiability which distinguished their relations with the community.  

In 1811, the year after he arrived at Cleveland, Doctor Long married Juliana Walworth. She was a daughter of Judge John Walworth. Doctor Long and wife had only one child to survive them, Mary H. Long. She became the wife of Solomon Lewis Severance, and special attention is given to her name on other pages.


From Cleveland Special Limited Edition, Vol. 1, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1918