Sunday, July 26, 2009

From the Ministry to Osteopathy

I've spent the bulk of my weekend working on a picture history of the Bovina U.P. Church. In the course of research on Bovina's pastors, I wanted to find out what happened to the various ministers after they left Bovina. Most of them took fairly typical paths, continuing as ministers in one form or another, but I stumbled on one pastor who took a different road.

Reverend Mason Pressly, a North Carolina native, accepted the call to Bovina in late 1889 and was pastor until 1892. He went on to equally brief pastorates in Pennsylvania and Ohio before deciding to change careers. Pressly went into medicine, becoming an osteopath. In 1899, he became co-founder of the Philadelphia College and Infirmary of Osteopathy. Pressly had to fight the antipathy of the established medical profession in getting the college off the ground, but he succeeded and the college still exists today as the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. The college still gives out the Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal each year to a student for outstanding achievement and service to the college, the community and the osteopathic profession.

Pressly did not stay with the college long. He and his co-founder had a disagreement with the college faculty over remuneration and sold their shares, severing their connections with the college in 1905. Pressly remained in Philadelphia after leaving the college. In 1910, the New York Times reported that Dr. Pressly had made a trip to the West Indies and had discovered a new form of hookworm not seen outside the West Indies.

I could find little information about Pressly's later years except that he moved to California sometime in the 1930s. He died in Van Nuys in 1942, aged 83.

In October, during the Bovina U.P. Church's Bicentennial celebrations, I'll be giving a talk on some of Bovina's 19th century ministers. I'll pass along via this blog other tidbits of Bovina church history as things progress with the book and the presentation.

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