Mary Augusta Bassett M.D.

Contributed by Rene' Treffeisen

Mrs. Mary Augusta Bassett, M. D., who was a pioneer woman physician of this part of 
the country, was born in Albany, N.Y., March 28 1825. Her father, Captain William
Ostrander, was also born in that city, and was for many years in active business there.
His father, Adam Ostrander, was also a native of Albany, was of Holland ancestry, and
was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He died at the advanced age of ninety-five
years. Captain William Ostrander, father of Mrs. Bassett, was the proprietor of the
sloop "Eclipse," the fastest sailing-vessel on the Hudson River at that time. He
commanded this and another vessel on the Hudson for many years, and died at Albany in
1838. He was a man of uncommon energy and enterprise, and was recognized by all as one
of the leading business men of Albany. The maiden name of this wife, the mother of
Mrs. Bassett, was Harriet Gregory. She was born in Norwalk, Conn., and was the daughter
of Samuel Gregory, a native of Connecticut, but of English ancestry. He owned and
operated boats for many years on Long Island Sound, and later moved to the State of
New York, spending his last years in New Berlin, dying at ninety years of age, in
full possession of his mental faculties. Teh mother of Mrs. Bassett died on board
the "Eclipse" in 1832, of cholera. Three of her children were reared to maturity.
The father of Mrs. Bassett had one child by a former marriage. At the time of her father's death Mrs. Bassett was fourteen years old, and she then
went to live with an uncle, Hiram White, Esq., of Garrattsville, Otsego County,
residing in his family until her marriage, at the age of twenty years. Previous to
this time she had given some attention to the study of medicine, but not with the
intention of following it as a profession. In 1865, however, she attended a course
of lectures at the Philadelphia Female College, and in the following spring graduated
at the New England Female College at Boston. she took a third course in the city of
New York, and from that time until her death was engaged in active practice. She began
practice when there was a strong prejudice against women physicians, and during her
practice she was the means of breaking down that prejudice to a considerable degree
and of opening the way for others of her sex. Her skill as a physician was soon
recongnized, and she practiced in every town in Otsego County, sometimes driving as
many as forty miles a day. She aided her husband in many ways, being a cool and
efficient assistant in surgical operations. She was very diligent in the acquisition
of professional knowledge ans was eminently successful in her practice. From 1871
until her death, she practed gratuituously in the Orphan Asylum at Cooperstown, as
did her husband during the same time, and also since her death. Her experience and
her success are among the many evidences of what can be done in the profession of
medicine by women, if they set themselves resolutely to work; and as their success
becomes more evident to the world, more of them will doubltess become practioners. Mrs. Bassett died Frebruary 26, 1893, and was sincerely mourned by a large circle of
friends as well as by her immediate family. She was in every respect a most worthy
woman, a loving wife and mother, kind-hearted and sympathetic in all cases of trouble
or distress. She was well educated, not only in her profession but also in general
literature, and was accomplished and cultured much beyond the ordinary degree.
Her losss even to general society cannot be filled, to say nothing of her immediate
family circle and closer friends. Mrs. Bassett was in fact for many years, and up to her death, one of the leading woman
physicians of the State of New York, as well as having been the pioneer woman physician
of Otsego County. There can be no doubt that a portrait of this superior and most
excellent woman will be acceptable to all who loved her in life, and to all who cherish
her memory.
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