Sharon Historical Society examines small town medicine

Dr. Josephine Everts

SHARON — On Saturday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m., the Sharon Historical Society & Museum will host a free public guided tour of their new three room exhibit entitled “Sharon Cures: Centuries of Medicine in One Small Town” with co-curators Marge Smith and Susan Shepard.

Following the tour, guests are invited to hear and share recollections of local legend, the spitfire country doctor Josephine Evarts who practiced in Sharon and surrounding towns from 1929 to 1979. “Dr. Jo” was the first woman physician at Sharon Hospital and was a force to be reckoned with throughout the Northwest Corner and Dutchess County, N.Y. She had offices in Kent, and Millerton, N.Y., saw patients at four institutions, worked six days a week, and welcomed walk-ins and made house calls well into her 70s. She was also a strong advocate for patient and family health and championed causes with government in Connecticut and New York. Tributes and anecdotes from her patients and their families are shared in the exhibit.

The exhibit tells the amazing history of medicine in Sharon from 1738 when the town was founded in the unsettled part of colonial Connecticut to today’s Sharon Hospital in words, photos, and objects from the 18th century through today. Visitors can learn about the very first doctors and their methods. The stunning but little known story of Sharon fighting its way through a small pox epidemic in 1784 using controversial small pox inoculations is told in documents and illustrations.

An 1830s doctor’s ledger of his daily calls and patient treatments is on display. Dr. William Coley, now recognized as the Father of Cancer Immunotherapy, was a Sharon resident. His life’s work was preserved by his daughter Helen Nauts of Sharon, founder of the Cancer Research Institute. Their compelling story is revealed in the exhibit.

Contents of the 1900 medical bag of Sharon Hospital’s founder, Dr. Jerome Chaffee, are on display along with common quack medicines that people were using and doctors were fighting against.

Visitors will also learn about the founders of the Sharon Clinic in 1947, including Dr. Robert Noble who was also part of the 1956 Nobel Prize-winning team of Drs. Cournand and Richards, and the impact that all the Clinic doctors had on their patients for decades. Today, the medical industry is the largest employer in Sharon, but the story of its evolution has never been told before in one place.

An exhibit guest said, “The blend of photos, stories and objects made it memorable.”

Smith and Shepard, award-winning curators and area historians, developed the exhibit from the Sharon Historical Society collections, extensive research in original town documents and with advice from Connecticut medical specialists.

The Sharon Historical Society & Museum is located at 18 Main Street, Sharon.

For directions call (860) 364-5688, visit www.sharonhist.org or The Sharon Historical Society on Facebook. Regular museum hours are Wednesday through Friday Noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Connecticut Media Group