Home : Quarterly Archives : Volume 6
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: 1944 Volume 6 Number 1, Pages 8–9
Dr. Jacob Rickabaugh, 1815 to 1900
Centuries ago, the Rickabaugh family had its origin in the valleys that lie among the blue mountains of Switzerland. About 1745, in the vicinity of the historic Rhine River flowing through the cantons of the Swiss Republic, there was born a child who was to be closely connected with the history of Tredyffrin Township. This child was Adam Rickabaugh who in early manhood left his native land to seek a home in the New World. He arrived in America, and finally settled in Tredyffrin Township in the vicinity of the Great Valley Presbyterian Church. In religion he was a Mennonite, always remaining active and liberal in his support of that church throughout his lifetime.
A son, David, the youngest of fourteen children, was born on the farm in the vicinity of the Great Valley Presbyterian Church and died November 18, 1848, in his 76th year. Politically, he was first a Federalist but later he became a Whig. In religious faith he was also a strict Mennonite. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of Peter Young (the name being originally written Yohng) who came from Germany to this country about the time Adam Rickabaugh arrived. She died March 5, 1889, at the age of 81.
David Rickabaugh and his wife, with two brothers, Jacob, who died February 3, 1848, in his 81st year, and George Y. Rickabaugh, who died March 22, 1855, at the age of 12 years, lie buried at the Mennonist Meeting House Cemetery which is on the south side of the Yellow Springs Road a short distance west of Diamond Rock School House. The meeting house was erected in 1835 but has been torn down now for some time.
Jacob was one of six children born to this union on the old Rickabaugh homestead "Meadowbrook" which adjoined the Valley Presbyterian Church. Here he was reared and received his early education in the common schools of that neighborhood, one of which was the eight-cornered school house at Diamond Rock. Later, however, he attended the classical school at Great Valley conducted by an eminent educator of that time, Professor Joshua Jones. After leaving school, Jacob "read medicine" for a time with Dr. James Francis Latta of Tredyffrin, and afterward took a course in the medical department of the Pennsylvania College of Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania) from which institution he was graduated with the degree of M.D. in 1842.
He immediately opened an office in his home, and, succeeding Dr. Latta who had just died, began a country practice which lasted for more than half a century. His visitations took him many miles from his home, for he had patients in Frazer, Charlestown, Reeseville (Berwyn) and the surrounding territory. Night and day, summer and winter, in sunshine and in rain, the doctor and his faithful horse made their rounds. In snowy weather a sleigh was used. At other times an old-time buggy filled the requirements.
The doctor attended anyone who was sick, and paid special attention to children. An observer could always tell when a child patient was seriously ill, for the doctor showed signs of worry, and if a child could not be saved he felt that he had lost one of his own family.
One icy morning, in answer to a call, he went to the barn to harness his horse. In so doing he slipped on the ice and fractured his leg. A young man just out of medical school, Dr. Charles J. Roberts of New Centreville,
later to become his son-in-law,, heard of the accident and came to offer assistance. He attended Dr. Rickabaugh and assisted in caring for his practice. Later, when Dr. Rickabaugh had recovered, the two formed a partnership. Dr. Rickabaugh took care of the nearby daytime patients while the younger doctor looked after the more distant patients and the night calls.
Dr. Rickabaugh was a Democrat up to the Buchanan campaign when he became a Republican and from that time supported that party. Although he never became a member of the Great Valley Presbyterian Church, he attended when his practice permitted and contributed liberally to its support.
In 1861 he married Anna Pound of Walworth, New York. She was a teacher and at that time was connected with the Frazer Academy which was located along the Lancaster Turnpike in Frazer. The couple were blessed with four children: David Walter, who died April 1, 1938. Sarah E., wife of William West of Malvern, passed away January 20, 1943. A daughter, Anna C., died in infancy, July 5, 1868. Mary E., widow of Dr. C. J. Roberts, is the only surviving member of this family although there are several Rickabaugh families in this vicinity who are related to Dr. Rickabaugh. The doctor and his wife, who died January 3, 1910, with their three children, are all buried in the same plot in the cemetery of the Valley Presbyterian Church.
As is the case with many doctors, Dr. Rickabaugh was so busy with the troubles of other people that he was not always able to devote as much time to his own children as he would have liked. Consequently, many anecdotes and interesting events in which he was involved have not been handed down to us. However, since he could not always be with his children at bedtime, he would let them come to his bedside in the morning and there he would tell them Aesop's Fables and other stories.
At one time, a friend asked him why he did not arrange to change his name (which was difficult for others to spell and pronounce) to its English equivalent "Richbrook". He replied that "Rickabaugh" was good enough for his ancestors, so it was good enough for him.
Dr. Rickabaugh always had a desire to "die in the harness". Shortly after he entered his eighty-sixth year, he was taken sick, a condition which was unusual for him. His family did not think his illness serious. One day his wife even permitted him to see a woman patient in his room and to prescribe for her. The next day, May 6, 1900, he passed away, truly fulfilling his desire to relinquish life only while still serving others.
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