15. Dr. William Darlington (1782 - 1863)
a man of almost encyclopedic interest.
He studied medicine under Dr. John Vaughn of Wilmington, DE at the same time
learning French and then later, Latin, Spanish and German. In 1804 he was
the first citizen of Chester County to earn the degree of Doctor of Medicine
from the University of Pennsylvania. He also became interested in botany
and was so successful that his name became known and respected throughout the
botanical world. In 1805 he was disowned by the Religious Society of
Friends because he took a position of Regimental Surgeon to a local militia
unit. During the War of 1812 he served as a Major but saw no action.
In 1814 and again in 1818 and 1820 he served in the United States Congress.
In 1822 he was appointed by the Secretary of War as a Visitor to West Point.
In 1826 he assisted in organizing the Chester County Cabinet of Natural Sciences and published his "Cestrica" being a catalog of plants growing around the Borough of West Chester. Behind his residence on South Church Street can be seen the cedar of Lebanon which he planted nearly 100 years ago and was caught on canvas by local artist John Supplee. In 1828 he helped found the Medical Society of Chester County and was immediately elected as its head. That organization still exists and has taken the responsibility of maintaining his grave site. Aside from his medical and botanical efforts, he was very active in the commercial world. He headed the company which built the West Chester Railroad. In 1830 he was elected President of the Bank of Chester County which he had helped organize in 1814. During all these activities he continued to publish botanical works and practice medicine until the end of his life. Dr. Darlington received the degree of Doctor of Law from Yale College and Doctor of Physical Science from Dickinson College and was an elected member of more than 40 literary and scientific associations including the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia and the Botanical Society of the Netherlands.
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