Dr. John Hastings Marks (1785 - 1822)
Dr. John Hastings Marks died unmarried and under sad circumstances. His father, John Marks, died when John Hastings was only six. The family was then living in Georgia (his mother Lucy, his sister Mary, and his half-brother Reuben). They returned to their home, “Locust Hill,” in Albemarle County in 1792.
He received some medical education in Philadelphia (Special Collections UVA Library) and probably also at the College of William and Mary. In a lengthy letter to his mother from Fort Mandan on March 31, 1805, Meriwether Lewis wrote, “I must request of you…to send John Marks to the college at Williamsburg as soon (writer’s emphasis) as it shall be thought that his education has been sufficiently advanced to fit him for that seminary, for you may rest assured that as you regard his future prosperity you had better make a sacrifice of his property (referring to property inherited from his father, John Marks) than suffer his education to be neglected or remain incomplete.” (Anderson, p. 500) It is not known if John Hastings ever practiced medicine as he is not listed as a practicing physician in Charlottesville (Rawlings & Hemphill, Eds.) His early education was, as his half-brothers before him, no doubt obtained by private teachers.
John Hastings inherited the Georgia lands from his father and sold the original acreage in 1797 and sold the remainder in 1806 (186 acres) and 1810 (600 acres), closing out the Georgia holdings. He also handled other land sales for the family and after his half-brother Meriwether Lewis’s death in 1809; he helped to settle his estate.
Gilmer writes that John Hastings “went deranged, died in a lunatic asylum.” (Gilmore, p. 84) John Hastings did die while in the City Hospital of Baltimore, Maryland, a hospital that evolved from an early “retreat” established for the care of the mentally ill in 1797. In 1808, a pair of local physicians, Drs. Colin Mackenzie and James Smythe, persuaded the Baltimore City Council to lease the hospital to them for a period of fifteen years. One of the conditions of the lease was that "the building be exclusively appropriated as a Hospital for the insane and diseased persons of every description (www.springgrove.com/history).” A letter from Dr. Colin Mackenzie to Reuben Lewis tells him of the death of his half-brother, giving him details of his last two weeks of life:
Letter dated “Baltimore 22nd Jan’y 1823” (Special Collections, UVA Library, 1823)
“…….I regret to inform you that your Brother Dr. John H. Marks died on the 17th of December [illegible] after an illness of 5 weeks. He had been [torn section] to his attack, complaining of an indigestion and loss of appetite to remove which I repeatedly advised him to take some tonick [sic] medicine but in vain. He was continually under an apprehension that poison was mixed with this medicine and refused, in consequence, to take it. He was at length attacked with an [illegible] which harassed him for two weeks and for which he refused every medicine although a number of my medical friends who were called in consultation with me on his case assured him that nothing poisonous was contained in any food or medicine that was prescribed for him. The intermittent [illegible] left him but his limbs and face began to swell, accompanied by a dyspenea or difficulty of breathing, the consequences, we were all convinced of an effusion of water in the chest and which terminated his life. He took exercise daily while he was able, but the disease [torn section] continued unabated. I had him decently interred in the burying ground attached to Christ Church. I was extremely anxious to have written to you during his illness, but I had entirely forgotten your address; nay, I had forgotten the county, in which you resided altho’ [sic] I had taken it down on paper, but which, I had mislaid. I take the liberty to enclose a statement of his acct.
I am very respectfully your obe [sic] servant,
Care of the mentally ill in the early 19th century was based on “moral management or moral treatment.” This method consisted of doctors encouraging their patients to develop self-control and to think positive thoughts. Moral treatments also called for classification of patients, organization of their daily routines, and punctuality demanded by the ringing of bells. (Yanni, pp. 11, 13) The asylum in Baltimore placed great emphasis on the importance of cleanliness, good hygiene, patient activities, nourishing foods, personal dignity, and freedom of movement. The Maryland Hospital listed the forms of insanity at the hospital in 1844: mania, monomania, dementia, and idiocy. (www.springgrove.com/history)
Patricia Zontine, April 2009