“ … this report of my death was an exaggeration.” –Mark Twain

The great-great-granddaughter of Henry K. Deen, MD, recently inquired about her ancestor, but she was not sure what medical school he attended or the year he graduated.  Family lore had always said that he had graduated from the University of Louisville; however, the archivist there was not able to verify that fact.

Checking my usual sources, I discovered an H. K. Deen entry in the first edition of Polk’s Medical Register and Directory of the United States and Canada (1886), living in Mauckport, Harrison County, Indiana, noted as an (R) or ‘regular,’ i.e., allopathic physician.  Generally that information is followed by a school code and year of graduation but not in this case. Dr. Deen’s great-great-granddaughter did confirm the Indiana location as correct.

From the online version of the Chicago Tribune, an article on the commencement of March 5, 1862, verified that H. K. Deen of Indiana was an 1862 graduate of the Medical Department of Lind University. Further proof was found in the Fourth Annual Announcement of the Medical Department of Lind University for the college session of 1862-1863, noting the graduates of the previous session, which included H. K. Deen of Indiana, whose thesis was entitled: Veratrum Viride.

The ‘Alumni List’ published in the September 1899 edition of the Bulletin of the Northwestern University Medical School has an H.K. Deen, Class of 1862 deceased. I was informed by the great-great-granddaughter that Dr. Deen died in 1916.

The second edition of Polk’s (1890) lists him but has an asterisk (*) noting that he did not reply to the publisher’s request card. Could he have died?  Two H. K. Deens from Indiana would be impossible.

Paging back through the hand written minutes of the annual alumni meetings, I came upon the report of the necrologist of 1891 that stated:  ‘Class of 62–Dr. H. K. Dean died in Chicago in 1888, reported by Dr. A. W. Gray; Dr. Edward Deans died about that time and Dr. Gray may have confused the names.’

Indeed, Dr. Gray had confused those names, the graduation year of Dr. Edward Dean, 1863, and Dean is in the singular!

Since Dr. Henry K. Deen did not respond to the Polk’s request, he probably did not respond to the Chicago Medical College request to update his information, either. It took eight more years to publish Dr. Deen’s death notice in 1899.

The official record will be updated with Dr. Deen’s death date as February 21, 1916.

That’s all for now — Ron