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A Foremost Authority on Tuberculosis
In estimating the agencies which bring persons to California: organized and unorganized publicity praising the climate, beauty and opportunities, and that incalculable advertising that is by word of mouth, we touch upon positive causes for this world-famous development. The perpetual sunshine of Southern California is its golden asset–a gospel of good health that has become the prime distinction of the state. To countless millions of distant people California symbolizes health, restoration, repose. Its progress is considered due to climate rather than strategic position. This progress has been timed with the development of new channels of communication, until we have reached the point when the achievements of the people of California are transcending in importance the magnificent endowments of Nature herself.
The achievement of Dr. Francis Marion Pottenger is not signalized merely in the sphere of his professional activities, nor do the thousands of invalids who have sought this care give more than a hint of an influence born of his thirty years’ war on tuberculosis, by which the message of California has been passed on to the entire world. To this powerfully individualized work a greater amount of direct and indirect appreciation may be traced than to any other single source. In Monrovia, a town of 14,000, the home of Dr. Pottenger, it is said that he is responsible for the presence of more than a half of the residents, and throughout Los Angeles County countless others are found who have come because of his influence.
The son of Thomas and Hannah Ellen Pottenger, he was born at Sater, Ohio, September 27, 1869. He is of pioneer English stock. His first paternal American ancestor, John Pottenger, came from Berkshire, England, to Maryland, where he settled in 1665. He became an extensive land owner, his holdings being known as “Major’s Lot.” He is described as “of Mount Calvert Hundred, gentleman and planter.” His first maternal American ancestor, Henry Sater, likewise came from England, settling in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1709. He was an ardent Baptist, and established on his farm the first Baptist church in Maryland. The church still stands. He was an extensive land and slave owner. Both lines took the same course in America, settling in Maryland, and then traveling westward to southwestern Ohio, at about the same time in the early years of the nineteenth century, where both families became important factors in the development of the communities in which they lived. The influence of the families in the community in which Dr. Pottenger was born is illustrated by the fact that the Pottengers named the town “New Baltimore” from the city from which they came, and the post office was named “Sater” after his mother’s family.
Dr. Pottenger received the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy at Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio, in 1892. He subsequently received from his alma mater the degree of Master of Philosophy in 1897, Master of Arts in 1905, and Doctor of Laws (honorary) in 1909. He attended the Medical College of Ohio in 1892-1893, and was graduated by the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery with highest honors in 1894. He took post-graduate work in New York in 1900, and four times went abroad to study, working in the hospitals of Vienna, Berlin, Munich and London. After practicing general medicine in Norwood, Ohio, 1894-1895, he established at Monrovia, California, in the latter year, and was the first physician on the Pacific Coast to specialize extensively in diseases of the chest. This specialization was begun in 1901, and the following year Dr. Pottenger founded the first organization of its kind in the United States: the Southern California Anti-Tuberculosis League, of which he was president for three years. It was later merged into the California Tuberculosis Association. At this time he was known in Europe by his writings, and was appointed one of the American members of the first International Committee to Combat Tuberculosis.
The Pottenger Sanatorium is one of the most famous institutions devoted to the treatment of pulmonary diseases. It was established at Monrovia in 1903, opening its doors on December 5 of that year with accommodations for eleven patients. At present it has provision for 134 patients. The long service and unfaltering prestige of this institution reflect the disposition of the founder constantly to regard the patient as well as the disease as the subject of study. The physiological and psychological qualities of patients he believes should receive equal attention to the vagaries of the disease itself.
An original point of view has characterized Dr. Pottenger’s study and practice in the field of work upon which in a century has been expended more research and experiment than in any other disease. He has not been content at any stage of his long experience to accept data and dicta at their face value. Whether in the study of economics, political theory or medicine–and he is interested in all–Dr. Pottenger is disposed to consider that the rule should be fitted to the man, rather than the man to the rule. No doubt it was due to this kind of open-mindedness that he was the first to describe the motor reflexes from the lung for use in diagnosis. Since 1909 he has described and classified about forty reflexes from the lung, and first to demonstrate that it is possible to feel and outline by simple palpation organs and areas of disease which lie deep within the chest. These discoveries led into the study of visceral neurology, or the nervous control of internal organs, in which subject Dr. Pottenger has become a foremost authority, and to studies in endocrinology. For fourteen years he has been secretary of the Association for the Study of Internal Secretions, an international organization whose members are scattered in some forty different countries of the world.
Dr. Pottenger’s work in tuberculosis is known to the medical profession of the United States and Europe. He has written six books on the disease, especially relating to methods of diagnosis and visceral neurology. They are as follows: “Pulmonary Tuberculosis,” 1908; “Muscle Spasms and Degeneration in Intrathoracic Inflammation and Light Touch Palpation,” 1912; “Tuberculosis in Diagnosis and Treatment,” 1913; “Clinical Tuberculosis,” two volumes, 1917, second edition 1922; “Symptoms of Visceral Disease,” 1919, second edition 1922, third edition 1925, fourth edition 1930; “Tuberculosis and How to Combat It,” 1921, second edition, 1928. He has contributed more than 200 articles to medical journals. He is much sought after by medical organizations, by state and district groups and clinics and has been president of various local and national organizations. His institution is regarded as one of the most successful in the world, patients coming from all parts of this country, and from Mexico, Central and South America, Asia and some from Europe. So completely has his time been devoted to his profession that he has had but two vacations in his entire life. During his thirty-five years in California he has spent a year and a half in making 100 round trips across the continent, attending meetings, visiting research institutions and clinics, addressing medical organizations and demonstrating his method of diagnosis.
At the age of twenty-five Dr. Pottenger had become assistant to the chair of surgery at Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery, and after settling at Monrovia lectured at the University of Southern California on diseases of the chest and climatology, 1903-1904. He was professor of clinical medicine, 1905-1909, in the medical department of the University of Southern California, and professor of diseases of the chest in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Los Angeles, from 1914-1920.
He was president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association 1906-1907; president of the Los Angeles Clinical and Pathological Society 1923-1924; president of Southern California Medical Society 1912-1913; president American Therapeutic Society 1914-1915; president of Mississippi Valley Medical Association 1917-1919; president of American Sanatorium Association 1924-1925; member of California Medical Association, Pacific Interurban Clinical Club, California Academy of Medicine, Trudeau Society of Los Angeles, American Medical Association, American Climatological and Clinical Association, Association for the Study of Allergy, American Public Health Association, American Heart Association; secretary of Association for the study of Internal Secretions since 1916; a councilor of the American Congress of Internal Medicine, 1916-1923; a fellow of the American College of Physicians, councilor from 1916-1923, regent since 1923 and vice president since 1929; a director and vice president of California Tuberculosis Association since 1930; a director since 1924 and vice president since 1929 of Los Angeles Tuberculosis Association; a director of National Tuberculosis Association since 1930; member of International Union Against Tuberculosis, Eugenics Society of United States of America, Association for Advancement of Science, American Medical Editors’ and Authors’ Association (Board of Governors since 1930), Science League of America, National Geographic Society, American Academy of Political and Social Science; member of Society of Colonial Wars, and the Sons of the Revolution; member of the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio, since 1924; chairman of the advisory board of the Monrovia branch of the Bank of Italy National Trust and Savings Association; member of California Club, University Club, Gamut Club, Beach Club, Surf and Sand Club; the Phi Rho Sigma (Delta) and Pi Gamma Mu fraternities. As a regent of the Pacific Geographic Society, Dr. Pottenger is deeply interested in the extensive work of this young but influential organization. He has been a constant patron of prominent musical undertakings in Los Angeles for many years.
In 1894 Dr. Pottenger married Miss Carrie Burtner, a daughter of Abraham K. and Sarah C. Burtner, of Germantown, Ohio. She died in 1898. In August, 1900, Dr. Pottenger married Miss Adelaide Gertrude Babbitt. In September, 1917, he married Miss Caroline M. Lacy, a daughter of George S. and Martha Lacy, of Lacyville, Pennsylvania. He has two sons: Francis Marion, Jr., who married Miss Elizabeth Saxour of Chillicothe, Ohio; and Robert T., who married Miss Helen Powers, of Providence, Rhode Island, both of whom are physicians and are associated with him in the sanatorium at Monrovia; and two daughters, Adelaide M., who is the wife of Ronald P. Harville, and Caroline M., aged eight and a half years.