Dr Eleazar Parmly

Dr Eleazar Parmly

Braintree, Orange County, Vermont, USA
Death 13 Dec 1874 (aged 77)
Burial Rumson, Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA
Memorial ID 64537321 · View Source
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Eleazar Parmly, M.D., D.D.S., whose death from pneumonia occurred on the 13th of December, 1874, was a native of Vermont, born in the year 1797, the third of five brothers, four of whom became dentists. Dr. Parmly at the time of his death was the oldest living practitioner of dentistry in this country, and commenced the study of his profession in Montreal, Canada, and afterwards with his brother Dr. Levi Parmly, in New Orleans.

In the year 1820 he proceeded to Europe and practised [sic] in London, but returned to this country in 1823, and became one of the most successful practitioners in New York city, where he stood at the head of his profession for more than thirty years.

In the year 1847, Dr. Parmly was elected Provost of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, having received from this institution his degree of D.D.S. Dr. Parmly was a very intimate friend of the late President of the College, Prof. Chapin A. Harris, M.D., D.D.S., and also of the first President, Prof. Horace H. Hayden, M.D.

In the year 1861 he gave up practice, although he ever afterwards manifested great interest in the welfare of dentistry.

He was distinguished for his virtues and amiability, and was in every respect a gentleman.

The following resolutions were adopted by the new York Odontological Society:

Resolved, That we sincerely mourn the death of our honored friends and professional brother, Eleazer Parmly.

Resolved, That we and the public have lost in him one who is past years was the first practitioner of our city, and the chief ornament of our profession, at once an able and distinguished dentist and Christian gentleman; one who honored and elevated his profession, and did more than any other in his time to make it respected by the community; one whose character and career is an encouraging example to the young men of the profession; whose beneficient influence must endure so long as American dentistry is known, and wherever its ministrations are enjoyed.

Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with the family of the deceased, and that a copy of these resolutions be presented to them and furnished for publication.

~ American Journal of Dental Science, Vol. 8, 3rd Series, publ. 1875, pg. 522-523
Eleazar Parmly died of pneumonia, at New York, Sunday, December 13th, 1874 - mourned by all who knew him - at the age of 77 years, and was buried in Ransom [sic] Cemetery, Shrewsbury Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. His brilliant mind and careful judgment added much of the merit to the profession. Reared in an obscure village in the Green Mountains, in the old puritanical style, by humble parents, he entered the business walks of life empty-handed, with neither money nor influential friends, but with heart attuned to the beauties of nature and mind determined to excel at whatever he attempted; from overty and humble origin he worked his way to, not only to the highest professional standing, but to the highest social circles, to be welcomed by the most influential men and women of Europe and America.

He was a Christian man of fine sensibilities, possessing a refined and cultured manner and generously endowed as a poet and lover of letters - a literary man of marked ability with high ideals in dentistry. It is said his distinguishing characteristic was a scrupulous attention to little things, which, joined with integrity and a cultivated taste, laid the foundation both to his fortune and his popularity as a dentist. His eminent usefulness to his profession cannot well be overestimated; he was a seeker after knowledge and a teacher of high attainments. Spurred by ambition, he toiled unceasingly and traveled many miles in the pursuit of knowledge, that he might equal the foremost of his profession. He took as his motto the words of Ambrose Pare: "He that would perform any great and noble work must apply himself diligently to the knowledge of the subject."

~ History of Dental Surgery, Vol. 2, edited by Charles R. E. Koch, publ. 1909, pg. 88
"Sophia [Billings] knew the Eleazar Parmly family in New York City quite well and visited with them often. Eleazar had boarded with the Levi Mowers in Montreal at the same time as Sophia and had occasionally escorted her out to tea. Frederick [Billings] corresponded with Mary Parmly, Eleazar's second daughter, born in 1831, and appeared to have been interested in her. Whitmore tried to help Frederick conduct his courtship from a distance, even drafting a letter of proposal, but nothing came of this, and Mary became the wife of Charles Ward, a wealthy and sophisticated banker who shared her interest in European travel.

Frederick may well have forgotten that even Whitmore had casually mentioned Julia Parmly to him in 1855, when she was a bridesmaid at her brother Ehrick's wedding. The auburn-haired young woman had "looked very beautiful," Eben wrote, and "held her head up like a wild deer in hot pursuit." She, too, might well marry soon, he noted. But Frederick had not shown any interest, and when Mother Parmly was taken ill two days before Mary's wedding and died soon after, Julia settled in to look after her father in the dutiful manner of the times.

Eleazar Parmly had a flourishing society dental practice on Bond Street in New York City. At the time of Frederick's admission to the family circle, Parmly probably was the best known figure in the United States in dental surgery, having played a central (and mistaken) role in the "great amalgam war," concerning the desirable qualities for fillings in teeth, and having founded the American Journal of Dental Science. He was also a lay preacher in the Disciples of Christ, a forceful public speaker, and ardent advocate of prison reform, and a prolific amateur poet, producing long verses for virtually any occasion, including somewhat improbable titled stanzas to the dental profession. At the time of his death in 1874, Eleazar Parmly was "the wealthiest dentist this country has ever known." He was also, wrote a medical historian in 1923, the person who had done the most for the profession of dentistry in his time, perhaps "the greatest dentist in history". . . He married Anna Maria, the orphaned daughter of Captain William Smith of Bermuda and Herriot Valk of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1827.

"Eleazar Parmly was a rich man - quite possibly as rich as Frederick, for he owned over a hundred properties in New York, New Jersey, and Ohio, a handsome townhouse, patents on several significant inventions for oral surgery, and good investments. When he died he left a fortune of $7,000,000. Eleazar knew the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts, the Astors."

~ Frederick Billings: A Life, by Robin W. Winks, publ. 1991, pg. 144.
US Passport Application, NY, 25 Apr 1854:
Name: Eleazar Parmly
Birth: 13 Mar 1797, Vermont
Witness: George Bradshaw
Description: Age 57, 6' 0", high forehead, blue eyes, Grecian nose, medium mouth, round chin, gray hair, florid complexion, oval face.
Family: Anna Maria, his wife, aged 52 years; Mary Montagu Parmly, his daughter, aged 22 years; Julia Parmly, his daughter, aged 18 years; Louisa Parmly, his daughter, aged 9 years.
US Passport Application, NY Co., New York, 26 May 1862:
Name: Eleazar Parmly
Address: 11 West 38th St.
Birth: 13 Mar 1797, Braintree, Orange Co., VT
Witness: Jahial Parmly
Description: Age 65, 6' 0", high forehead, blue eyes, prominent nose, medium mouth, round chin, white hair, florid complexion, oval face.
Accompanied By: Miss Louisa Cotton Parmly, daughter.
Contributed by Ben Z. Swanson, Jr., DDS, MPhil:
His father - 96523029; his mother - 96523271.
Thank you to Ben Z. Swanson, Jr., DDS, MPhil for sponsoring this memorial page.

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