West Virginia Osteopathic Society

Parkersburg Sentinel
February 21, 1900


Was Argued at Criminal Court.

Is An Osteopath a Practitioner of Medicine Is the Question.

The trial of Dr. W. E. Ely, the osteopath, for practicing medicine without having a certificate or license from the state board of health, which has been in progress at Criminal Court for several days, has attracted widespread attention, and the proceedings have been followed with interest by the many spectators who have been in attendance since the trial began.

When our last report was closed on Tuesday several of the witnesses for the defense had been examined, and their testimony was all in favor of the defendant.

One of the witnesses for the defense was a lady, the sister-in-law of a regular school physician. She and her brother-in-law had an attack of grip at the same time. She was treated by Dr. Ely and her brother-in-law treated himself. The lady recovered from her disease before the physician was able to get out.

Among the other witnesses were Ben Nathan, and R. J. Malley.

Both of these gentlemen stated that they had received great benefit under the treatment of Dr. Ely. The case of Mr. Malley was a remarkable one, and his cure was equally as remarkable. No drugs or medicines whatever were used in any of these cases, only the osteopathic treatment.

The last witness examined was the defendant himself. He stated that he was a graduate of the American School of Osteopathy at Kirksville, Mo. He explained the course of studies, the diseases that were treated and answered all questions in a satisfactory and straightforward manner, going into a detailed explanation of various points. Osteopathy is legalized in eight states, where all diseases that regular physicians treat, with a few exceptions, are treated by asteopaths [sic]. In States where the science of osteopathy has not been legalized, they confine their treatment to various chronic ailments. Dr. Ely said that as far as possible he treated his patients at his home. He did not practice medicine or surgery but practiced the science of osteopathy. He neither used drugs nor medicines, nor did he antagonize the practice of the regular physicians. He cited a case of typhoid fever which he was called in to treat, but which he turned over to a regular physician.

During the progress of the examination the question was propounded by Mr. Poffenbarger for the State whether osteopathy was not embraced in surgery. Mr. Merrick objected to the question on the grounds that it was not germane to the charge in the indictment. A long argument ensued on the point raised, the State contending that the practice of medicine embraced surgery. Authorities were cited by both sides and the section in the code was read. Judge Jackson ruled the question out as an improper one. The indictment, he said, charged the defendant with practicing medicine without having obtained a license or certificate to practice as required by law. The word surgery was not mentioned in the indictment, and as the defendant was being tried on the charge in the indictment, the state would have to confine itself to that charge.

Dr. Ely was the last witness examined. Both sides submitted instructions to the court for examination and Judge Jackson adjourned court until this morning for argument.

When court convened this morning Judge Jackson limited the time for argument to two hours for each side, which was satisfactory to all parties.

Mr. Smith of Clarksburg, who represents the State Medical Society in the prosecution made the opening argument for the State. He is a very pleasing talker and prefaced his remarks by paying a compliment to Dr. Ely, for the high esteem in which he was held by those whom he had treated and the good repute he enjoyed in the community. Mr. Smith contended in his argument that the practice of medicine embraced osteopathy, and that Dr. Ely had violated the law, and should be required to take out a license the same as the members of other schools of medicine are required to do.

Mr. Merrick followed in a two hours' argument for the defense. He contended that Dr. Ely had violated no law, as he did not practice medicine, as set out in the indictment. Dr. Ely, he said, had been successful in his treatment, so successful that he had restored to the walks of life, persons who were totally helpless and failed to get relief from any other source or any other treatment. It was proved that he was a useful and capable man, who quietly attended to his own business in the practice of his profession.

Mr. Merrick's argument was forceful and logical.

The closing argument for the state was made by Attorney George W. Poffenberger, of Pt. Pleasant, who appears on behalf of the State Board of Health.

Health and Medicine

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