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The Doctors Crary, Their Fund, & The Harford Medical Society

By David Crombie, M.D.

For the past century, the Hartford Medical Society (HMS) has been one of seven beneficiaries of The Crary Fund, which was created in 1920, a year after the death of David Crary, Jr., M.D. In tribute to Dr. Crary, Jr, and his father, Dr. David Crary—a founding member of HMS way back in 1846—let us take a quick look at these two former practitioners of medicine in Hartford.

The senior Dr. Crary was born in Wallingford, Rutland County, Vermont in 1806. In keeping with convention of the day, David Crary did not receive an undergraduate college degree before attending Castleton VT Medical College. He received an M.D. from Castleton in 1834, after which he practiced briefly in Dorset, Vermont, before moving to Hartford. He became a member of the Hartford County Medical Association (HCMA) in 1840.

In addition to HCMA, organizational efforts by the Hartford doctors had led to the founding of the Hopkins Medical Society in 1826. It was so-named in deference to the highly regarded 18th century Hartford physician, Lemuel Hopkins. The distinguished Mason Fitch Cogswell was the first president. For reasons not clear in the historical writings, the society was disbanded in 1844. Hartford physicians, however, expressed among themselves a strong desire for a city medical society to succeed the Hopkins. Fifteen of them met on more than one occasion in doctors’ homes pursuant to the formation of our own Hartford Medical Society in 1846. Dr. David Crary was one of those founding members, along with others whose names endured in Hartford medicine: Gurdon Russell, George Sumner, Samuel Beresford, and George B. Hawley. Dr. Crary retired from practice in 1889 at age 83. He died in 1894.

His son, David Crary, Jr., was born in Hartford in 1842. Again, without a college degree, he received an M.D. at the Medical Institution of Yale College in 1869, and joined the Hartford County Medical Association in the same year. At his death in 1919 he left an estate in excess of one million dollars. The yield from principle was to be divided annually and equally among seven institutions, among them Hartford Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, and HMS. With funds generated, in part, by the Crary bequest, HMS has maintained its role in medicine in Hartford for nearly 175 years. We take a moment to salute the Doctors Crary.