History of the Church Series | BYU Studies

History of the Church Series

The Medical Practice of Dr. Frederick G. Williams
May 23, 2018
History of the Church Series
The Medical Practice of Dr. Frederick G. Williams
Author Frederick G. Williams,

This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by Frederick G. Williams. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history, beginning in New York in the early 19th century and progressing throughout the year to Utah in the 20th century. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.

Frederick Granger Williams (1787–1842) was a leader in the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints, but also served as a justice of the peace, scribe, editor, and medical practitioner. In the early nineteenth century, the medical profession was in its infancy, beginning a slow shift from barbaric practices (generally bleeding and calomel) to herbal treatments that were at least mild if not particularly effective. Dr. Williams conscientiously followed the botanic methods and theories of Samuel S. Thomson, who published a book (The Thomsonian Materia Medica) and sold patents to those who read his book and wished to practice medicine according to his new Thomsonian system. A frontier family doctor, Williams regularly assisted with childbirths, set broken bones, and treated various wounds and diseases. This article is an excerpt from the BYU Studies book The Life of Dr. Frederick G. Williams: Counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith (BYU Studies, 2012) written by Dr. Williams's great–great–grandson.