Webster Merritt


During the years 1829 to 1833, New Ross, a typical plantation of the early nineteenth century, lay on the border of the St. Johns river about four miles above Jacksonville. Of the happenings on the plantation Judge F. Bethune, its owner, kept a comprehensive account in his diary. On Friday, April 5, 1833, he wrote, “Andrew sick.” On Monday, April 8, he recorded, “Went to Jacksonville court Andrew sick,” and on the following day he added, “at Jacksonville returned before dinner with Dr. Hall had Andrew bled.” This account of the treatment of one of Judge Bethune’s slaves in accordance with the medical custom of the day is the first authentic record of the practice of medicine by a physician residing in Duval county.