Sue Young Histories

The Taft Family and Homeopathy

January 27, 2008

taft houseThe Taft family is extraordinary and wide spread. They had influence across America in every sphere, and some of them were homeopaths.

Alphonso Taft 1810 -
1891Alphonso Taft 1810 - 1891 was the Attorney General and Secretary of War under  Ulysses S. Grant and the founder of an American political dynasty. He ran unsuccessfully against Rutherford B Hayes. Taft was ambassador to Austria-Hungary in 1882, and to Imperial Russia from 1884 to 1885.


Dentistry Laboratory at the University of
MichiganCharles H Taft was Florence’s brother was a homeopathic dental surgeon, who presented a paper, Injurious Effects of Amalgam Fillings Medical Advance, 30,6, June, 1893, 422-430.

As far back as the late 1800s, Dr. Charles Taft, Professor of Dental Surgery at a homeopathic medical college in Chicago, claimed that amalgam fillings were responsible for the fact that some patients with chronic disease were not responding to homeopathic medicines.

Once these fillings were removed, he found that the medicines worked, and the person’s chronic condition disappeared or was significantly reduced.

As far back as the late 1800s, Dr. Charles Taft, professor of dental surgery at a Homeopathic Medical College in Chicago, claimed that amalgam fillings were responsible for the fact that some patients with chronic disease were not responding to homeopathic medicines. Once these fillings were removed, he found that the medicines worked, and the person’s chronic condition disappeared or was significantly reduced.

Charles was Professor of Dental Surgery and Therapeutics at the Hering Medical College in Chicago. (Charles’ father Jonathan was also a prominant doctor of dental surgery). He founded the Dentistry Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

The UM School of Dentistry shared space with the Homeopathic Medical College in its early days. Dr. Taft, the founding Dean of the School of Dentistry, wrote about the profession of homeopathy in his journal, Dental Register of the West (and his father before him). Some stories about interactions between the two schools are in the exhibit on Dr. Taft’s life.

In the same meeting, the Regents approved faculty for the Department of Homeopathy, including a specialist in Materia Medica (herbal remedies). The Homeopathy program later became a source of difficulties for Dr. Taft and his dental students…

After three years in planning, the School opened in 1875 with Dr. Taft as the founding Dean. Dr. Taft was at the time the Dean of the Ohio College of Dental Surgery and Professor of Operative Dentistry. In 1877 Dr. Taft… was inducted into the Michigan Dental Association.

What convinced him to stay at the University of Michigan was the unique opportunity to define a dental curriculum to meet the very highest educational standards, to truly lead the profession into the future, and to create future leaders of the dental profession.

During his tenure as Dean of the School, he consistently lobbied for a longer and more complex dental education program, succeeding in 1901 in establishing the four-year model of dental education which later became the national standard.

In 1881 he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Michigan.

In 1891 the School of Dentistry moved into facilities previously occupied by the University Hospitals. Dean Taft had asked every year for almost fifteen years for expanded teaching facilities for the School. The original teaching space for the School was shared with the Homeopathy Department…

Charles Phelps TaftCharles Phelps Taft, brother of President William Howard Taft and an American lawyer and politician. Born in Cincinnati, S&B 1918, headed “Republicans for Progress,” created the Evironmental Protection Agency and lobbied for it to proclaim that secondhand smoke causes cancer.

Charles Phelps Taft IICharles Phelps Taft II, son of President William Howard Taft was as Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio and the youngest President of the International YMCA.

Society of the
CincinnatiCincinnatus A Hartford Taft (?1820 ?1822-1884) brother of Gustavus was the homeopath and eclectic physician of Mark Twain. (Note the name Cincinnatus denotes membership of the Society of the Cincinnati of which President William Howard Taft was also a member). Cincinnatus A Taft was a leading homeopathic physician in Cincinnati and he lived a full life on only one lung and died at the age of 64 in 1884.

When Mark Twain and his family lived in Hartford, they consulted homeopath Cincinnatus Taft, of whom Mark Twain wrote:

‘… And to my mind, first of all the good physician is our physician…’

Dr. Cincinnatus A. Taft, brother of Gustavus M. Taft, graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York in 1846, and settled in Hartford the same year.

He had studied with his brothers and was the third homœopathic physician to locate in Hartford and the seventh in the state. (He was in partnership with Gardner S. Browne, F. Brownell, H. T. Brownell, Russell Caulkins and George S. Green).

He became one of the leading physicians of Connecticut. He died June 26, 1884.

New York City Homeopathy
CollegeFrederick P Taft graduated from the New York Homeopathic Medical College in 1892.

Fred P. Taft, a physician, is listed as the original owner in Longmont water rent records, and he, and his wife Margaret, are listed as the home’s residents in the 1906 Longmont city directory.

In 1903, however, the Tafts were listed as living at 713 3rd Avenue, while this house on Terry Street was occupied by the R.G and Sarah Sutphen family. Mr. Sutphen worked as a real estate agent. The Taft family lived in this home for but a few years (between circa 1904 and 1908), before moving to 320 Bross Street.

On March 5, 1909, Dr. Taft died suddenly from an intestinal hemorrhage, at the young age of 37. He was survived by his wife, and a young son. Dr Taft had been born at Richfield Springs, New York in 1871, but had grown up in Washington, D.C., and in Waterville, New York. He was an honors graduate of the New York City Homeopathy College, where he received a medical degree as a physician and surgeon.

Taft became assistant surgeon and physician at the Minnesota State Hospital at Fergus Falls in the 1890s, and it was during these years that he met and married Miss Margaret Cowie of Arcadia, Wisconsin. The Tafts moved to Longmont in 1899where Fred worked in private practice until his untimely death in 1909.

yellow fever epidemic of
1853Gustavus M. Hartford Taft brother of Cincinnatus, was a pioneer of homeopathy in New Orleans and active in the yellow fever epidemic of 1853.

Dr. Taft of Hartford, Connecticut, and graduated in March, 1846, from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. His interest in homeopathy having been piqued by cases of friends, he settled in Mobile, Alabama, in the fall of 1846 to practice it there. He was the pioneer homeopathic physician in that city. After a year there, he relocated to New Orleans.

Hartford was the second town in Connecticut in which homœopathy was introduced in 1842 Dr. Gustavus M. Taft located there. He was born in Dedham, Mass., December 7, 1820, read medicine with Dr. Josiah Flagg (first Vice President of the American Institute of Homeopathy) of Boston, and later with Drs. Amos Gerald Hull and John Franklin Gray of New York. He graduated at the University of New York in 1842, and at once began to practice in Hartford… in partnership with homeopath John Schue

His health failed and he went to New Orleans in November, 1845. Dr. Holcombe says he was an elegant and accomplished gentleman, a thoroughly educated physician, and to fascinating address he added the charm of fine personal appearance. He acquired an immense business, and his sudden death, August 10, 1847, was regarded as a public calamity. Dr. Taft was one of the original members of the American Institute of Homœopathy.

He died of yellow fever August 10, 1847, aged twenty-seven years.

Mary Florence Taft
1853-1927Mary Florence Taft 1853-1927 was a cousin of President William Howard Taft. She graduated from the Homeopathic Department at Boston University and the Massachusetts Homoeopathic Hospital where she studied under William Wesselhoeft.

She was Professer of Gynaecology at the Hering College in Chicago, where she met Professors James Tyler Kent and Henry Clay Allen. Taft was a member of the International Hahnemannian Association and she wrote articles in numerous journals homeopathy.

Taft worked for 4 years in the library of Harvard and founded a private day care for children, in Newport, Rhode Island. After graduation, Taft began her medical Practice in Waterbury, Connecticut and a second practice in Boston.

Taft was a disciple of Emanuel Swedenborg, and she collected a large library both homeopathic and religious during her lifetime.

William Howard TaftWilliam Howard Taft was the twenty-seventh President of the United States, the tenth Chief Justice of the United States, a leader of the progressive conservative wing of the Republican Party in the early 20th century, a pioneer in international arbitration and staunch advocate of world peace verging on pacifism, and scion of a leading political family, the Tafts, in Ohio. Son of Alphonso Taft and the cousin of homeopath Mary Florence Taft.