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James Berney, M.D. (1812-1880); son-in-law/o Reuben & Mary (Phillips) Saffold

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12 Oct 2014 14:03 - 12 Oct 2014 14:03 #1508 by Mamie
Berney, James, M. D., was born in Charleston, S. C, on the 15th day of September, 1812, and died in the city of New York on the 9th of July, 1880. He was of AngloAmerican blood. His father, John Berney, was an English gentleman of business capabilities, who soon became one of the most successful and opulent of Charleston's merchants. His mother was Mary Martin, a daughter of one of the best families of Charleston, respected for her gentleness of manner and loveliness of character. The family consisted of nine children, five sons and four daughters. Dr. Berney was the youngest. He was educated in the Roman Catholic school of that city, whose chief presiding officer was Bishop England. That distinguished, eloquent, and learned divine, taking particular interest in the education of this young man, soon made him a ripe scholar. The languages early attracted his special attention, and very soon he became quite proficient, being regarded by the faculty of that institution as one of the best Latin and French scholars in the school. He was proud of this proficiency, and we, his classmates and medical brethren, can all remember how he would occasionally, in conversation, intersperse his English, which was pure and perfect, with the best idioms of the Latin and the French.

After passing successfully through college, he determined to study medicine, but was, for the time, dissuaded from this natural bent of his inclinations by his relatives and friends.
He took a position in the large business house of John Fraser & Co., of Charleston. In this office he became head clerk in the cotton sample room, arranging and assorting that valuable staple. This continued for some months, when he made known to his family his dissatisfaction, and determination to begin the study of the science of medicine. Gaining their assent, he at once entered the office of Dr. Thomas Young Simmons, of Charleston, his warm personal friend and family physician, then editing, with Dr. William G. Michel, the first medical journal ever published in the State of South Carolina.

He attended his first course of lectures in what was then known as the new school of medicine in Charleston, Dr. Simmons filling with great ability the chair of the Practice of Medicine.

At the conclusion of the course, Dr. Simmons insisted that his pupil should graduate in the University of Pennsylvania,— the college of Dewees, Physick, Rush, Chapman, and Horner. Dr. Berney took a letter of introduction from his preceptor to Dr. William P. Dewees, then Professor of Midwifery in the University, and, through that letter, became an office student of that distinguished gentleman and scholar. He graduated in the year 1833. Pertussis, or whooping-cough, was the subject of his thesis, which met with respectful and complimentary consideration.

Taking leave of his many friends in Charleston, he set sail for Europe, and continued his studies in Paris. In the College of France he had such teachers as Dupuytren, Roux, Lesfranc, Velpeau, Andral, Chomel, Ricord, Rostau, Dubois, Arfila, Magendie, and Richeraud; and he found matriculated at that institution some of his South Carolina friends, who have since become men of mark in the profession of medicine; namely, Drs. Windeman and Chazal, of Charleston; Crawford and James C. Nott, of Columbia; Norris, the surgeon, of Philadelphia; and Dr. May, late professor in the Medical College of the District of Columbia. Upon his return from Europe he hung out "his shingle," as he humorously called it, upon the outer wall of his old homestead, on the south side of Society Street, between Meeting and King, in "Charleston, and advertised to the people of his native place his intention to practice medicine. But the cry of "Westward, Ho!" soon rang upon his ears, and he determined to go to that new country, where he could grow and develop with its people.

In his travels toward Alabama he had Dr. Boon, the late Episcopal Bishop of China, for his companion. Upon their arrival in Hayneville, Lowndes County, Dr. Berney met many Charleston people,—Elmores, Campbells, Haynes, etc.,—who received him with open arms, and persuaded him to settle there, and made him many protestations of the deepest friendship, which, in course of time, were fully realized.

Here he made his reputation as a good practitioner of medicine, and here he married his beloved wife, Miss Jane Safibld, daughter of the Hon. Reuben Saffold, one of Alabama's Supreme Court judges. Mild and gentle in his attention to the sick and dying, his amiable face and cheerful demeanor in the sickroom is, and always will be, remembered by the many who sent for his medical counsel and advice.

After many years of laborious work in Hayneville, he was induced by his brother-in-law, Colonel Seibels, to come to Montgomery, and here completed the reputation he had so successfully begun. We are certain that we are correct in stating that his practice, at one time, equaled in extent and importance that of any physician who has ever practiced medicine in Montgomery.

Dr. Berney filled many important positions of honor and trust. He was mayor of Hayneville, and, in 1843, a Senator in the Assembly of the State. He was internal revenue officer for the United States, and was sent by this government as a Commissioner to the Exposition in Paris, in 1878.. He was a Counselor of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, a member of the American Medical Association, and was appointed to represent that body in the International Medical Association, in 1869. He was an attentive member of the Montgomery Medical and Surgical Society, in which his voice was always heard condemning the wrong and sustaining the right.

Dr. Berney was distinguished for his conversational powers, and, although too modest to make public the eloquence of his speech, he always attracted a crowd of willing listeners to his most charming and instructive teachings. He was, therefore, a most popular member of the "Social Medical Club of Montgomery," of which he was one of the founders. Ah, how he will be missed there by those who clung to every word that emanated from those loving lips, and whose memory is enshrined in the hearts of the remaining nine!.

Dr. Berney died in New York, at halt-past ten o'clock on the morning of the 9th day of July, 1880, aged 67 years 9 months and 24 days; and on that morning one of the kindest, truest, and most generous hearts that ever beat in human breast was stilled forever.

He was buried in the city cemetery of Montgomery, Ala., at ten o'clock on the morning of July 12, 1880. The funeral services were performed by the Rev. Horace Stringfellow, D. D., of St. John's Episcopal Church, Montgomery.

Source: The Transactions of the American Medical Association, , Instituted 1847, Volume XXXIII, printed by Times Printing House, Philadelphia, 1882; Pg. 521

NOTE: James E. Berney, M.D. md. Jane Elizabeth Saffold, d/o Reuben Saffold and Mary Evelyn Phillips.

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