History of Bucks
County, Pa Volume 3 by William H. Davis
DR. GEORGE THOMAS HESTON
DR. GEORGE THOMAS HESTON, was born in Pineville, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, February 27, 1826, the son of Jesse Stackhouse HESTON and Martha Comly THOMAS, of the well know Philadelphia family of that name.
Deceased removed from Pineville to Newtown with his parents when four years old. His early education was acquired at the old Newtown Academy and Westtown Friends’ School. On the completion of a course at Haverford College he entered the University of Pennsylvania for the study of medicine, his preceptor being the noted Dr. Phineas JENKS, of Newtown. Failing health compelled him to travel at the end of two years, and he toured the world, starting on the barque “Adelaide,” commanded by Captain Joseph EYRE, of Newtown, spent sometime in California in “49, afterwards visited Brazil, Chili and Peru, and bore the distinction of a man living in Newtown who had twice doubled Cape Horn. While in Peru he met Don PEDRO, and when the latter visited the Centennial Exposition in 1876, through the instrumentality of George W. CHILDS, the acquaintance of former years was renewed, and the agricultural developments of Bucks county, that the Doctor had described as the “Eden of Pennsylvania,” were thoroughly appreciated and lauded by the Emperor.
After a close study of fevers on the South American coast he embarked from Valparaiso on the ship “Independence,” commanded by the Danish Captain PEDERSON, studied on his arrival in Europe in the hospitals of Berlin, Paris and London, and, on his return to his home in 1851, renewed his course in the University of Pennsylvania, and at his graduation in 1852 made “Typhoid Fever” the subject of his thesis, which was highly commended by Sir Benjamin BRODIE, of Edinburgh, Scotland. During the civil war he passed a successful examination as surgeon, and held a certificate marked “very distinguished,” but, yielding to his father’s Quaker principles, declined an appointment, but from no lack of patriotism, as was evidenced by his ministering freely of his knowledge, time and money in the city hospitals and in the homes of his townsmen who were doing duty on the battle field, until the conflict was ended.
Dr. HESTON was a lineal descendant of Zebulon HESTON, who came to Eastham, Barnstable county, Massachusetts from Heaton Parish, on the Midland road, sixteen miles out of London, in 1684. He removed to Burlington county, New Jersey, and was very active in building the first Episcopal church in New Jersey, near Trenton, deeding the land and contributing generously in finance toward the erection of the house of worship. His sympathies, which had been aroused for Friends while in New England by the unjust persecution of the Quakers, led to his becoming a member, and in 1707 he removed to Fallsington, Bucks county, and later (in 1711) he transferred his certificate to Wrightstown, having purchased 211 acres in Upper Makefield, where he continued to reside until his death in 1720, and was interred in the old burying ground at Wrightstown. Having purchased one hundred acres of land at what is now known as Hestonville, his grandson Edward located there and was noted for his ability legally and financially, and was a well known revolutionary patriot, winning the title of colonel. His brother, who established the Heston Glass Works, now known as Glassboro, also held the same commission as Colonel Thomas Heston in the army.
Dr. HESTON on his mother’s side was a direct descendant of Llewellyn, King of Wales, and had in his home the family coat-of-arms, to which he was entitled from the THOMAS castle in Wales. Dr. HESTON’S father was a shrewd business man in his day, and was largely engaged in mercantile enterprises in Newtown. He was an extensive owner of coal lands in the Shamokin Valley, and a pioneer in the Middle coal fields, for many years president of the Locust Mountain Summit Improvement Company. The development of these coal fields made him a man of great wealth.
In 1853 Dr. HESTON married Miss M. Amanda DUNCAN, then a talented and prominent teacher, who has distinguished herself from a literary point of view, being a gifted speaker, fine conversationalist, interested in all good, active in the Forestry Association of Pennsylvania and ranks as the oldest graduate of the Philadelphia High and Normal School for Girls. Their married life of half a century was very congenial. The Doctor relied on her in all business transactions, and made her his confidant in all matters pertaining to finance. There were no children born of the marriage.
In 1885, owing to poor health, Dr. HESTON relinquished his practice in favor of Dr. J. Aubrey CREWITT, of Huntingdon, whom he always highly esteemed and in his dying moment said “that man has been a son to me in alleviating my sufferings.” The Doctor never lost interest in his profession. As one of his brother physicians (Dr. Charles SMITH) wrote, “ Dr. HESTON will always stand out as a unique personality, doing harm to no one, kindly to all, a big heart, strikingly benevolent and charitable in suspecting poor but needy places, never letting his right know what his left hand did, as a physician, forceful, positive and progressive, in fact, I never met an elder medical man, as I of a younger generation would say, who more fully kept awake to all that was new in his profession.”
The Doctor was a gifted writer, a fine English as well as classical scholar, reading his Greek Testament a week before his death as well as his English, a thorough chemist, even in his college days the originator of numerous prescriptions that would have made a fortune, but pride in his alma mater forbade all secrecy that leads to quackery. He was a prominent local historian, well informed in botany, geology, mineralogy, ichthyology, and particularly so in conchology. In a word, he was at home in the field of science, and the study of nature was his pleasure. Caring nothing for social life, yet there was a rare hospitality in his home, and he was a genial and charming host.
For more than a year he had been a quiet uncomplaining sufferer from the results of la grippe in the form of insomnia and acute Bright’s disease. He died as he lived, honored and beloved by all who knew him, leaving a large circle of friends to mourn his loss. His philanthropic and charitable deeds will be missed by many in his community, to whom he was always ready and willing to extend help from his well-filled purse and larder. The funeral services in the home where he had lived for seventy-five years were largely attended. The casket designed as his last resting place was a handsome work of art in solid mahogany, richly carved, while the floral offerings were of unique and original design.
Dr. HESTON was a birthright member of the Society of Friends, and Evan L. WORTHINGTON’S remarks on this last occasion were appropriate to the life of the deceased who had solved the mystery of death without a fear, and borne the testimony that he dad made his peace with God. The Masonic fraternity, of which he had been a member fifty years, rendered their burial ceremonies in a most impressive manner at the grave in Newtown cemetery.
Test taken from page 532 to 533 of:
Davis, William W. H., A.M., History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III
Transcribed June 2006 by Joan Lollis as part of the Bucks Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html
Published June 2006 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/