Baker, Dr. James

from Yaphank As It Is and Was
by Beecher Homan



In this connection I will introduce Doc. James Irvin Baker, a very popular gentleman and physician.


Doc. Baker was born in 1829. He is forty-five years old, and five feet ten inches in height, tall and gracefully proportioned.
He studied and graduated in 1851at the Albany Medical College. It may be added that his medical career has proved an enviable success, and an honor to that institution.

Few medical practitioners are more familiarly acquainted with the diverse changes and hardships that must harmonize, in the much abused, and, sometimes, unappreciated art of successful medical practice, than Doc. James Baker; and the number is still less who can gaze calmly back over twenty years of daily experience, and view a cloudless sky at the lapse of that period, a sky unclouded by the abuse that physicians, as a class, are compelled to eat with their porridge and blend with their pills.

When Doe. Baker settled in Yaphank, in 1860, he was unknown-save by family relations-on Long Island. As is common with nearly every young physician's practical beginning, there are many fears to allay and doubts to appease, before the public will place confidence and faith in newly-introduced talent.

Doc. Baker met with many obstacles; but he surmounted all, and soon gained a firm footing by his acknowledged skill and judgment. Professional prejudice naturally arose, and many schemes were hatched to crush the "young usurper." But he eluded the intrigues, stood firmly at the Wheel and eventually sailed into an "open sea."

He, is every way qualified for his calling. He has talent, nerve and skill. He forms a prognosis quickly and accurately, and is seldom misguided by existing prognostics. A diagnosis, by James Baker, is generally satisfactorily received by the profession and the public.


When sixteen years old he began teaching school and studying medicine. The latter he pursued, in connection with teaching, a portion of his time, living with his preceptor and aiding him in his practice during the time.

In 1849 he was matriculated into the University of the New York Medical Department, where he remained until March, 1850, when he entered the Albany Medical College; an institution he considered preferable for rapid and thorough advancement.

He graduated when but twenty-two years old, and immediately began business. Owing to hard work, exposure, etc., his health grew precarious, and he suffered repeated attacks of bleeding from the lungs. He grew more and more physically miserable, and, in 1860, determined to abandon his profession. In accordance with his resolve, he disposed of his home, drug store, etc., and visited Long Island.

His health rapidly improved, and he again entered into his arduous duties. His pulmonary affliction vanished, and he became a hale and hearty mail; another verification that this is one of the healthiest sections in the wide, wide world.

The incidents and events coherent with his professional life are similar to those which must universally happen to all physicians engaged in a country practice, where the oracles of the dead language are expected to be surgeons, oculists, dentists, etc., etc., and to be prepared with all medicines, instruments, and the many mysteries that doctors generally carry about with them. They are expected to comply with all calls by day or night, rain or shine, and to unmurmuringly undergo exposures, cares and anxieties.

To enumerate one-quarter of the many amusing, sad and remarkable events attached to his record as a medical prac-titioner, would fill a small volume.

The Doc. informed me that the only "Reminiscences of a Physician" he ever perused, and that ever gained much popularity, was published in London, and caused much trouble; many persons believing that it alluded to them, notwithstanding fictitious names were used.

The medical art is the most profound, sublime and classical science extant; but one can count with the fingers the names of men who have gained the goal of medical ambition, and who stand pre-eminent among the clique.

Quackery is startlingly prevalent, and the men are many who professionally mislead the unwary and innocent with delusive circulars, and ruin soul and body with patent poison. As long as people patronize these dabblers in life, and disregard the warnings and advice of family physicians, so long will a dubious cloud hover over this great science, and a deteriorating effect be seen.


To please "everybody" is an art few have acquired' and to please one's self and everybody else," is accomplished by still less. Doc. James Baker is one of those rare paragons of pleasantry. He is determined to please, to be agreeable and mirthful.

No one ever interviewed or whiled an evening with Doc. Baker, without becoming captivated with his pleasantry and humor.

He is always accostable and courteous, and be the sun in the East or down in the West, he always greets with a smile.

He is a member of the Yaphank Presbyterian Church, and has held many offices of trust and responsibility in the parish and town.

Doc. Baker is an interesting companion, a pleasant neighbor, and a staunch friend.

He is, certainly, a "self-made" man, and his practice and wealth were secured by personal exertions. His success is a guarantee "that where there's a will there's a way."

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