By Peter Becker
HAWLEY- One of Hawley, Pa.'s early medical practitioners was Abram Coolbaugh Dingman, M.D. An account of his life is detailed in History of Wayne, Pike & Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania by Alfred Mathews, published in 1886.
He was born at Dingman's Ferry in Pike County on Sept. 18, 1843, and raised on the family farm. After attending the district school, he sought further education at the Deckertown Academy in New Jersey. Inclined to pursue the medical profession, in 1862 he borrowed some medical books from Dr. Gratton of Monroe County and read them thoroughly in his leisure time over the next two years.
In 1865 he began reading medicine in the office of Dr. P.F. Fulmer of Dingman's Ferry, and took two regular courses at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1867.
In August of that year, Dr. Dingman settled at Hawley, where he continued his practice. The article in the Mathews book states, "[He] enjoys the confidence of a large circle of the most intelligent and thoughtful people in the community."
He established a drug store upon arriving in Hawley, which he conducted in connection to his medical practice.
The 1872 Hawley street map shows his office/drug store on 18th Street (Main Avenue), near where J. Vance Hunt & Son print shop is located, in the middle of the east side of the 200 block. He is listed in a business directory with the map as a "physician, surgeon & druggist."
Dr. Dingman became a charter member of the Tri-States Medical Society in 1872 and was named to the board of pension examiners for Wayne County in July 1885.
The doctor zealously pursued interest in the growth and development of Hawley. including educational and civil matters. He held office of treasurer of Palmyra Township in 1881 and 1882, when Hawley was still a part of the municipality. Hawley became a separate borough in 1884. On February 17, 1885, Dr. Dingman was elected as the borough's second burgess (mayor). James Millham served as burgess for the first year.
In 1876, Dr. Dingman married Josephine Dow, daughter of a locomotive engineer from Broome County, NY. She was born in 1852. The 1880 Census lists her as "keeping house." A search of the 1872 street map did not locate a separate residence for the Dingmans; at that point at least they may have lived in the same building as his office and drug store.
They had three daughters. Their first two were twins, Rena and Verna, born Dec. 20, 1877. Tragically, they both died less than a year later- on the same day- Sept. 9, 1878.
Their third daughter, Nellie E. Dingman, was born in August 1879.
The doctor's biography published in the 1886 book does not mention the twins. Their existence is clearly marked on a grave stone in the Delaware Cemetery, Dingman's Ferry, where the family was all eventually laid to rest. "Gone but not forgotten," the epitaph reads, identifying Rena and Verna as the twin daughters of Abram C. and Josephine Dingman.
Dr. Dingman died the same year the 1886 book was published, making his biography a memorial. He died November 14, 1886 at the age of 43.
Josephine Dingman lived only until Sept. 24, 1893, and was 42.
Nellie was only about 14 at the time of her mother's death. The 1900 Census lists Nellie Dingman as the stepdaughter of Alfred and Annie Decker. A 1912 Hawley street directory lists Annie Decker living on Main Avenue near River Street, widow of Alfred.
A marriage record was found for Nellie Dingman, wed to "Raymond Amerman" of "Wayne, Pa." on June 28, 1904. Whether this the same Nellie has not been corroborated, but also in Delaware Cemetery is the marker for "Nellie D. Ammerman" and "Roy Ammerman." In this case, Nellie's birth date is not given, but she died in 1972. Roy Ammerman lived, 1882-1945.
Dr. Abram was listed in a report from the Pennsylvania State Board of Health & Vital Statistics, issued in 1888.
The book lists registered physicians practicing in each county, for 1881-1888. Others listed for Hawley included Dr. John G. Mayer, Dr. Henry A. Plum, Dr. George B. Curtis and Dr. James M. Peebles. There are 48 doctors on the list for Wayne County. Eight were in Honesdale. Their apparently was one female doctor, Barbara Baiker, who was from Germany and was practicing in Texas Township.
Eleven physicians were listed in Pike County in the 1881- 1888 report. Eight practiced in Milford; three were in Bushkill and one in Matamoras.
Dingman is a well-known name in Pike County to this day, having a township by that name and the community of Dingman's Ferry. Andrew Dingam, who was from Kinderhook, NY on the Hudson, settled at "Dingman's Choice" in 1735, where he was the pioneer settler. His son Andrew joined him; the son became a captain of a company engaged in the Revolutionary War. The son died in 1839, at the age of 83.
Andrew (the son) was wed to Jane (Westbrook); they had two children, Daniel W. and Cornelia. Daniel W. Dingman (1775-1862) inherited his father's estate at the "Ferry" and carried on a lumber business and merchandising He was active in local politics, becoming the first elected sheriff of Wayne County in 1801 and the second holding that office. Daniel Dingman served in the State Legislature from 1808 to 1814, during which time Pike County was taken from Wayne.
Daniel Dingman was credited with naming the new county after General Pike, a hero of the War of 1812, and also named Dingman Township. He was associate judge of Pike County for 26 years, and was one of the electors in the election of President Monroe.
He and his wife Mary Westbrook had six children, Martin W., Andrew, Daniel W. (Jr.), Cornelia, Margaret and Jane.
Daniel W. Dingman Jr., born on Christmas Day, 1804, was a farmer and lumberman at Dingman's Ferry. he and his wife Caroline (Sayre) had nine children, including Dr. Abram Dingman, subject of this story. Abram's sister Jane resided with him at Hawley. Their other siblings included Mary (Kilsby) of Dingman's Ferry; Susan (McInnis) of Columbus, Ohio; Margaret (Lattimore) of Dingman's Ferry; Daniel W., Flatbrookville, NJ; Alfred S., Milford; William H., Columbus, Ohio and Isaac, Dingman's Ferry.
Physicians in Pike County, Pa., 1881- 1888 report
Vincent Emerson, Milford
Gouverneur Emerson, Milford
Peter J. Guillot, Bushkill
Walter Basset Craft, Milford
Charles Walter Dana, Milford
Simon D. Treeble, Milford
Rodolfo de Socarras, Milford
Walter H. Illman, Matamoras
Francis Whitaker, Milford
George Albert Westfall, Milford
Frank Beers, Bushkill.