THOMAS C. BIDDLE, M. D. Superintendent of the State Hospital for the Insane at Topeka, Doctor Biddle has long been prominent in his profession in Kansas, where he has practised as a private physician or in connection with the public service for thirty-five years. His name is well known among the profession not only over Kansas, but his work as superintendent of hospitals for the insane has attracted favorable attention over the country at large.
He belongs to a prominent family, of the same branch that produced Nicholas Biddle, one of the first secretaries of the treasury, and many other historic characters. Doctor Biddle is in the fifth generation removed from John Biddle, who founded the family in Maryland, locating in Cecil County of that province as early as 1867. The old home was near the headwaters of the Elk and Bohemia Rivers, both tributaries of the Chesapeake.
Doctor Biddle was born in Putnam County, Indiana, September 14, 1857, and was the youngest of a large family born to Richard and Catherine Elizabeth (Jones) Biddle. His father was born near Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky, and spent his life as a farmer. He was married October 3, 1827, at Shelbyville, Kentucky, and in May, 1831, moved to Putnam County, Indiana, where he lived until his death in February, 1888. His wife was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky, November 9, 1811, and died in Putnam County, Indiana, July 12, 1881. Both parents were members of the Methodist Church. A brief record of the twelve older children is as follows: James Taylor, who was a farmer in Fountain County, Indiana, where he died October 16, 1904; William Burke, who served as captain of Company I in the Eighty-seventh Indiana Infantry, and on the staff of General Baird, afterwards became a prominent lawyer in Northern Indiana, was elected Judge of the Circuit Court at LaPorte in 1897, and died at LaPorte April 28, 1914; Mary Catherine who was drowned December 16, 1848; Ann Maria who married Alfred Cutter and died in Putnam County, Indiana, June 18, 1860; Abraham Jones, who served as a private in the Sixteenth and 115th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, was a farmer, and died August 11, 1914, at Beaumont, Texas; Reginald Heber, who was a private in the Sixteenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, being the first to volunteer his services from Jackson Township of Putnam County, who afterwards followed farming and merchandising, and died at Ladoga, Indiana, August 3, 1893. Dilemma Asher Howard Biddle, who served as a private in the Seventy-eighth, One Hundred and Fifteenth and the Eleventh Indiana regiments, the Eleventh being Gen. Lew Wallace's regiment, and afterwards was a farmer and merchant and died January 9, 1904, at Danville, Indiana; George Allen, who was a member of the First Indiana Heavy Artillery, graduated M. D. from the Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York in 1869, established himself in practice at Emporia, Kansas, in 1879, and was a prominent physician there until his death, March 13, 1909; Richard Harwood who died in infancy April 14, 1849; John Walters, who was a private in the Forty-third Indiana Infantry, was a merchant and contractor and died July 18, 1887, at Fort Worth, Texas; Edwin Ray, who was a farmer and merchant and died March 26, 1885, in Putnam County, Indiana; and Lora Roxanna, who died at the age of seven October 6, 1862.
With the example of his high minded ancestors before him and the encouraging record of his older brothers Dr. Thomas C. Biddle grew up on a farm in Putnam County, Indiana. He attended the district schools, and afterwards was a student in Old Asbury, now DePauw University at Greencastle, Indiana. For his professional course he attended Rush Medical College in Chicago, where he was graduated M. D. in 1881.
Coming to Kansas, he first located at Reading, where he practiced medicine six years, then was in practice at Emporia eight years, and from there was called to the superintendency of the state hospital at Ossawatomie for three years. On April 27, 1898, Doctor Biddle was commissioned physician and surgeon in the famous Twenty-first Kansas Volunteer Infantry. He went with his command to Chickamauga Park, and was then transferred to the Reserve Hospital of the First Army Corps and sent to Porto Rico. From there he was ordered home in November to join his regiment to be mustered out, and was honorably discharged at Fort Leavenworth December 10, 1898.
After this brief military experience Doctor Biddle returned to Emporia. On April 1, 1899, he was appointed superintendent of the State Hospital for the Insane at Topeka, and has now been in that position of great responsibility for more than seventeen years. In point of service he is one of the oldest superintendents of hospitals for the insane in the United States.
Doctor Biddle is a member of the American Psychological Association, is an ex-president of the Lyon County Medical Society and is now president of the Shawnee County Medical Society, belongs to the Kansas State Medical Society and the American Medical Association. Some years after taking up practice he interrupted his work in Kansas in 1887 to take a course on nervous and mental diseases in the New York Post-Graduate Medical College, and has always given particular attention to the treatment of nervous cases and abnormal psychology.
Doctor Biddle has also figured somewhat in politics. He served as chairman of the Lyon County Republican Central Committee several times, and has been a member of the Republican State Central Committee. He is a Knight Templar Mason having affiliations with Orient Lodge No. 51, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Topeka Chapter No. 12 Royal Arch Masons, Topeka Commandery No. 5 Knights Templar. His church is the Methodist.
In April, 1883, at Lebanon, Ohio, Doctor Biddle married Miss Elva Egbert, daughter of S. W. Egbert. Her father was a native of Ohio, while Mrs. Biddle was born in Lebanon of that state on July 21, 1860.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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