Doctor’s key to longevity: keep active

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

The long length of life attained by some of Findlay’s earliest settlers has always been a subject of much interest, in view of the hardships which they encountered in helping to open up Ohio’s last frontier in northwestern Ohio. It was the location of the Great Black Swamp that challenged settlers for a long time before hardy ones finally conquered it in the early years of the 19th century.

Among these long-lived pioneers was Dr. Lorenzo Firmin, one of the community’s first physicians, who arrived in 1841. He lived to be 92 years old, passing away in 1901. Two others who also lived into their 90s and who were among the first to arrive in Findlay were Squire Carlin, who died in 1892 at the age of 91, and Dr. Bass Rawson, who passed away in 1891 when 92 years old. All had relationship ties that gave them common interests. Dr. Rawson’s daughter married Squire Carlin’s son and Dr. Firmin married a niece of Dr. Rawson, a daughter of the latter’s brother.

In writing about Dr. Firmin’s life back in 1899, Miss Florence Blackford, a Findlay newspaper woman, said, “He attributed his present good health in great measure to his activity.” She went on to say:

“He never used tobacco in any form and never took liquor except as a medicine, or as a stimulant after his return home after a cold, wet journey. These things, added to the use only of substantial food and good care of the stomach, gave him a vitality that is wonderful.”

Miss Blackford continued:

“He is still as active as the average man of 40. A few months ago he was at Defiance and became possessed of a desire to visit his farm which is three miles south of Defiance. He was told there was a livery stable near the end of the street. He set out for it, but missing it, made up his mind to walk to the farm. Taking the wrong road, he went considerably out of his way and had walked 10 miles before he arrived at journey’s end. The walk did not tire him in the least.

“A few days ago, he visited a building on Pine Avenue owned by him and superintended a job of plastering. He walked the entire distance both times, despite his advanced age of 91, going through the snow which had been falling for some time. In the evening, he said he was very glad he had taken the walk because it had refreshed him. A few weeks ago, he was in Mortimer waiting for a train to Findlay, but it was late and he just walked to Findlay.”

In closing her article, Miss Blackford said:

“Dr. Firmin is to be congratulated on the splendid vigor healthfulness with which he enters his 92nd year. He is indeed a splendid specimen of the well-kept man and bids fair to add years to his useful life. Findlay honors this sturdy pioneer who in years past has done much for her development and growth.”

Dr. Firmin’s first wife died in 1891 and he later married Mary B. Humphrey, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis Humphrey.

He took an active role in community affairs. He was one of the organizers of the First Congregational Church in Findlay in the 1860s. The church build the structure in the rear of the courthouse, which was later occupied by the Findlay Publishing Co. as a newspaper plant.

Dr. Firmin’s home was on East Sandusky Street, at the southwest corner of Beech Avenue. The home became the Findlay YMCA early in the 20th century and continued as such until late in the 1930s, when a new building was erected by the “Y” on the site. When the association obtained the home, it built a south wing to the structure which served as the gymnasium. Dr. Firmin was greatly interested in the YMCA and contributed substantially to its work before his death. He also was a liberal contributor to Oberlin College.

The intersection of East Sandusky and Beech was the location of the homes of four of Findlay’s early citizens, all of whom were prominent in local affairs. Across Beech on the southeast corner was the home of Henry Byal. On the northeast corner was the home of Dr. William Dreitzler, also a Findlay physician, while on the northwest corner lived A.H. Hyatt, an early Findlay business leader.

Dr. Lorenzo Firmin was an uncle of the late Dr. F.W. Firmin and John C. Firmin of Findlay. Dr. F.W. Firmin was a Findlay physician for many years, while John C. Firmin was a local druggist. In Dr. F.W. Firmin’s family there were to follow, in two succeeding generations, other medical practitioners: his son, Dr. John M. Firmin, and his grandson, Dr. Richard Firmin.

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