John Eberhard Freitag 1764 – 1846

Star of BethlehemJohn Eberhard Freitag (Freytag) 1764 – 1846 was a pioneer homeopath and pharmacist from the very early days of American homeopathy, practicing in Bethlehem in Pennsylvania.

Sometime in the mid-1820’s, William Wesselhoeft and Henry Detweiller became close personal friends and began a series of-informal medical meetings.

One of their meeting places was the Moravian Pharmacy at 420 Main Street in Bethlehem. The pharmacist-physician in Bethlehem at that time was Dr. John Eberhard Freitag (1764-1846), also a German immigrant with a background similar to those of William Wesselhoeft and Henry Detweiller.

Freitag had been a respected apothecary and lay physician in the Moravian community for many years and had even written a popular treatise on veterinary medicine entitled Der Deutsche Pferde-Arzt.

Soon after the commencement of the meetings, Freitag abandoned traditional practice and became a homeopath….

On May 27, 1835 the cornerstone was laid for the main building of the Academy in a festive ceremony featuring an inaugural address by Dr. Constantine Hering himself.

Two three-story wings of the main building were erected south of Hamilton Street and east of Fourth Street in Allentown; a second building somewhat remote from these was planned to house the chemical laboratory and anatomical and dissecting rooms.

The Pennsylvania State Legislature granted the institution a charter of incorporation on June 16, 1836. Instruction commenced immediately thereafter. The faculty consisted of Drs. Constantine Hering, William Wesselhoeft, Henry Detweiller, John Eberhard Freitag, John Romig and Joseph Hyppolyte Pulte….

The Academy itself did not last long beyond its journal. The medical school had deposited its funds in an Allentown bank which folded in the financial panic of the late 1830’s. Formal instruction terminated in 1839 and although numerous attempts were made to re-fund the institution, a terminal board meeting was convened on June 14, 1843.

The termination at this point was merely a formality, as the school had ceased operations four years earlier. The four key physicians and their mentor had long since moved on: Constantine Hering to private practice in Philadelphia, William Wesselhoeft to Boston, and Freitag, Henry Detweiller and John Romig to private practices in Bethlehem, Hellertown and Allentown, respectively.

In 1883, The American Observer Medical Monthly reported that John Eberhard Freitag conducted the first provings of Apocynum, and he also conducted a proving of Kalmia and many other remedies including crocus.

John Eberhard Freitag was recorded as a homeopathic pharmacist in Pharmacopoeia homoeopathica in 1834, and he wrote many articles for homeopathic journals, which were reported in Germany in the Allgemeine homöopathische Zeitung in 1833 and Homöopathische Arzneimittellehre aller in den Jahren in 1863 and Internationale homöopathische Presse in 1873, and also reported in The British Journal of Homoeopathy in 1860. Indeed, most of the Google search for John Eberhard Freitag came up in German from 1834 onwards, so he appears to have been corresponding predominantly with Europe and the early homeopaths there.
In 1885, The Hahnemannian Monthly reported that he was born in Switzerland.

Of interest:

Auguste C Freitag read an article on Homeopathic Pharmacy reported in The Clinique: A Monthly Abstract of the Clinics and of the Proceedings… by the Hahnemann Hospital of the City of Chicago, Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital in 1880.

*T. Engelbach founder of the Homeopathic Pharmacy, New Orleans, announces that he has transferred his entire business to Mr. August C. Freitag reported in the American Homoeopathist in 1879.

*The Southern Homeopathic Medical Association was established officially on April 9, 1885, but the idea was proposed some four years before by Henry Rice Stout, M.D., of Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1881, Dr. Henry Rice Stout put forth the idea of an organization of Southern Homeopathic physicians via a letter which was published, apparently, in several homeopathic periodicals of the time.

The official volume, Minutes, contains a reprint of the published letter by Dr. Henry Rice Stout as it appeared in The Hahnemannian Monthly, December, 1881. Dr. Henry Rice Stout thought that it would be advisable to establish “an organization similar in character to the Western Academy of Homeopathy, to bring together those of our school in this section.”

He went on to suggest that the formation of such an association would allow homeopathy to “be more effectively placed before the public” and would foster “mutual improvement and encouragement” among the homeopaths, many of whom ” are completely isolated, and who do not have an opportunity to meet one of their own school from one year’s end to the other.” An Editorial was published elsewhere in the same issue of The Hahnemannian Monthly supporting the concept of the founding of an organization in the South, saying:

“Our System of practice is as yet unpopular in many sections of the Southern States, and numerous and large tracts of territory have never yet known the blessings of our law of cure.

“Our long-headed business men unite in the opinion that to the whole South there is opening up the promise of a brilliant, prosperous and powerful future.

“The growth of homeopathy must keep pace with that of other interests, and her sway should be extended as rapidly as possible, until it embraces every country, and town, and village …” which “… can be best effected by Southern men, – men who know the land and its people.”

Such “… an annual, or perhaps semi-annual, exhibition of its strength [the organization’s] will do much to inspire and increase public respect for and public confidence in individual practitioners.”

These two pieces appear in a circular contained in the official Minutes book because they were reprinted thusly by *T. Engelbach, Manager of the New Orleans branch of Boericke and Tafel, established in November 1877 (which he bought out on March 1, 1884), and sent out December 30, 1881, in an effort to promote the idea of the establishment of a southern homeopathic medical organization.

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