HAWLEY - One of Hawley, Pennsylvania's many dentists in its long history was Dr. Charles F. S. Custis, active here in the 1860's and 1870's. He eventually relocated his family and business to Milford, Pike County.
He was also referred to as “Dr. C. F. S. Custis.”
HAWLEY - One of Hawley, Pennsylvania’s many dentists in its long history was Dr. Charles F. S. Custis, active here in the 1860’s and 1870’s. He eventually relocated his family and business to Milford, Pike County.
He was also referred to as “Dr. C. F. S. Custis.”
A Hawley business directory for 1875 listed only one dentist, “Custis, F.S.”
The Hawley Times carried an advertisement for him in September 1876. Containing a drawing of a set of teeth, it reads,
“Dr. C.F.S. Custis, surgeon and mechanical dentist, still has his office on 17th street nearly opposite the German Church, and he flatters himself that by ten years constant practice he is fully able to perform all operations in the dental line in the most careful and skillful manner.
“Special attention given to saving the natural teeth, also to the insertion of artificial teeth on rubber, gold, silver or continuous gums and perfect fits in all cases insured.
“Many persons know by dear experience the great folly and danger of entrusting their work to the inexperienced or the traveling dentist,
“Sulphuric ether administered for the painless extraction of teeth.”
What was dentistry like in the 1870’s? A brief outline given by The Dental Center in Indiana noted that the first mechanized drill was patented in 1871. It was an extremely slow moving drill and a filling could take several hours to complete. Baked porcelain inlay to fill large cavities were first being used in the 1870’s. Denture bases made of vulcanized rubber had been in use since 1839. Nitrous oxide, used as a sedation, was first demonstrated in 1840. There was not yet an understanding of the microbial basis of dental cavities, and x-ray machines adapted for dental practice were still a quarter century away.
Near German Church
Information here gives a clue to where his Hawley office was located, but there may have been an error in the ad. The German Church is the same as the Lutheran church and is today known as St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Lutheran church has been located at the corner of Church Street and Maple Avenue since 1864 (rebuilt after a fire in 1922). Streets were numbered until the early 1900’s; Church Street was 18th, and Maple was 19th. The street numbered as 17th is today Penn Avenue., two blocks away. The church always fronted Church Street; it would seem that Dr. Curtis was located somewhere on Church Street, diagonal from the German Church. (The 1872 street map, however, offers no confirmation.)
He was born April 11, 1846 at Bushkill. His parents were Stanton and Elizabeth (Place) Custis, of Bushkill. His parents were originally from New Jersey.
He and his wife Mary E. Custis evidently were married while in Hawley. They raised a son, Charles S. Custis, who was born about 1875.
Moved to Milford
Sometime by the late 1880’s, the doctor had moved to Milford. It is interesting to ponder how such a move would have taken place. There was a regular stagecoach between Hawley and Milford, known as the Hiawatha and displayed at The Columns Museum in Milford. The doctor and his wife and son may have taken the stage, but to deliver their household and office effects we may assume a wagon driver was hired.
A shipment might have been taken by rail or by canal from Hawley. Both modes of transport reached Rowlands where cargo might have been transferred to a wagon to Milford. Otherwise they could take the Milford-Owego Turnpike, which generally follows present day Route 6.
In about November 1888, the Tri-States Union (Port Jervis) reported in the Bushkill column, “Dr. Custis, the enterprising dentist of Milford, is in this village this week, for the purpose of extracting those distracting incisors, canines, bicuspids and molars which so much do ache.
Their son Charles, in August 1894, accompanied by another boy went on their bicycles from Milford to Delaware Water Gap and Stroudsburg.
The young Charles Custis became a house painter in Milford. A 1904 news brief also told if a job he had painting wagons for a customer in Branchville, NJ. The son’s wife was Lilly F. Duryea, of Port Jervis. They had at least two children, Muriel and Francis. He moved to Branchville, NJ in 1904. One daughter was living in 1937; she was wed to Joseph Brooks and lived in Matamoras.
Dr. Custis and five other men from Milford attended a murder trial in Newton, NJ in February 1904, a news brief reported.
In August 1918, Charles Custis was complimented in the Evening Gazette (Port Jervis) for donating the use of the Milford Theater for the Young Syrian Set, an entertainment benefitting the Pike County Chapter of the Red Cross. The affair netted $275 (or about $4,664 in 2019 dollars).
September 1919, Charles Custis- probably the son - was leaving Milford, PA on a trip to Jacksonville, FL using his 2-1/2 ton Ford auto truck loaded with household goods. “He thinks he can make the trip in 19 days,” the Evening Gazette reported.
Harford Street office
Advertising in the Milford Dispatch found from 1895 through 1901, indicated that his dental office was on Harford Street, near the post office. In that time period the post office was at the corner of Harford and Broad, in the landmark building housing the Forestry School operated by Gifford Pinchot.
Once of Dr. C.S. Custis’s ads in the Dispatch reads, “Filling, Cleaning, Extracting, Treating, etc., a specialty. All work thoroughly warranted and prices as low as can be consistent with good workmanship. All work thoroughly warranted and prices as low as can be consistent with good workmanship. Call and examine his outfit.”
Little other information on the life of Dr. Custis was located. His wife died in November 1906 at the age of 63, at home. Dr. Custis died January 7, 1924 at the age of 74.
Their son Charles died July 10, 1937 at age 62, at his home in Port Jervis. His wife Likkian died October 7, 1969, at the age of 94.
Dr. Custis and his wife, as well as their son and wife, were laid to rest at Milford Cemetery.
Wallenpaupack Historical Society
Vintage newspapers at Fuiltonhistory.com
Census and other records at Ancestry.com (Hawley Public Library)