Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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COGSWELL, Mason Fitch, physician, born in Canterbury, Connecticut, 28 September, 1761 ; died in Hartford, Connecticut, 10 December, 1830. His mother died while he was young, and he was adopted by Samuel Huntington, president of the Continental congress and governor of Connecticut, who sent him to Yale, where he was graduated in 1780 as valedictorian 680 COGSWELL COHEN of his class, and its youngest member. He studied with his brother James, a surgeon in the Revolutionary army, at the soldiers' hospital in New York, and became one of the most distinguished surgeons in the country. He married Mary Austin Ledyard, and settled in Hartford, Connecticut He was the first to introduce in the United States the operation of removing a cataract from the eye, and also the first to tie the carotid artery (1803). His daughter, Alice, became deaf and dumb from severe illness at an early age, and her father's attention was thus called to the possibility of educating deaf-mutes. Mainly through his influence the first deaf-and-dumb asylum in the country, that at Hartford, was established in 1820, and Alice became its first pupil. He was also one of the founders of the Connecticut retreat for the insane at Hartford. He was for ten years president of the Connecticut medical society, one of the last survivors of the "old school," and persisted in wearing knee-breeches and silk stockings, which he held to be the only proper dress for a gentleman.--His son, Mason Fitch, physician, born in Hartford, Connecticut, 10 November, 1807; died in Albany, New York, 21 January, 1865, was graduated at Yale in 1829, studied medicine, and became a leading physician in Albany. He served as assistant surgeon and surgeon in the volunteer army of the United States during the civil war. In 1847 he married Lydia, daughter of the Rev. John M. Bradford, a direct descendant from Governor Bradford, of Plymouth colony. She died in 1872.
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