Dr. Eugene M. Kistler

Dr. Eugene M. Kistler

Photo taken by Warmkessel, 824 Hamilton St., Allentown, PA

Prominent in the social, civic, fraternal, as well as professional life of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dr. Eugene M. Kistler has won his place to the high position that he holds in the esteem of the community through splendid and unselfish service. Not alone in his own line of progress, for he is interested in the successive steps that science has gradually unfolded, but in the allied lines of the community's welfare, he has been a keenly interested worker. Dr. Kistler on first establishing himself in Allentown, assisted his father, Dr. Wilson P. Kistler, of whom further, who was also one of the eminent physicians as well as citizens of this city. The family is an old one, tracing back through a notable ancestry to John George Kistler, the pioneer, as he was called by his neighbors. On the records of the Jerusalem Church, known in the eighteenth century as the Allemangel Church, located near the line of Berks and Lehigh counties, there are recorded hundreds of baptisms of Kistler children, while in the cemetery under the shadow of the church there are many graves marked with the same name. Near the center of the oldest part of the cemetery was a slate stone, recently replaced by the descendants with a marble slab, bearing the inscription: "J. G. K. 1767." This is supposed to be the stone that marked the burial place of the progenitor of the American Kistlers, who was legally known as Johannes, but was called Joerg or George by Pastor Schmacher in his record, and Hanjoerg of John George by his associates.

Johannes Kistler was a native of Palatinate, in Germany, and on October 5, 1737, came in the ship "Townshead" from Amsterdam to Philadelphia, and soon after to Falkner Swamp, or Goshenhoppen, in what is now Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. It is supposed that he was accompanied by his wife, Anna Dorothea, and his eldest children; in 1747 he took out a warrant for land, and moved to Albany Township, Berks County, then wild and barren, where he made his permanent residence. The vicinity was named "Allemangel" or "All Want." Johannes Kistler was taxed in Albany in 1756, and was naturalized in 1761, on September 10, when he and his neighbor appeared before the Supreme Court in Philadelphia and there received the papers that made them citizens of Pennsylvania. He was a Lutheran in his religious belief, and served as elder of the Allemangel Church for a number of years, where his children were baptized and confirmed.

Dr. Wilson P. Kistler, eminent physician of Allentown, who died January 8, 1912, was a son of Benjamin and Rebecca (Peter) Kistler. He was born in Kistlers Valley, Lynn Township, October 12, 1843, and his descent from John George Kistler, the pioneer above mentioned, is traced through his son, Samuel Kistler, born in 1754; his son, John S. Kistler, born in 1783; his son, Benjamin Kistler, grandfather of Dr. Kistler. Benjamin Kistler remained on the old homestead, and became a manufacturer of fine beaver hats. His son, Benjamin Kistler, father of Dr. Wilson P. Kistler, moved to West Penn Township, Schuylkill County, where he was the proprietor of a leading hotel, and he became one of the prominent men of that section. He finally removed to Allentown, after the birth of his son, Wilson P., where he subsequently lived and where his son attended the local schools and then learned the trade of harnessmaking from his father. The boy, however, was ambitious for greater things, and at the early age of fifteen became a school teacher at Kepnersville, Schuylkill County. A year later he was a pupil in Schnecksville Academy, and thence went to the Bucks County Normal and Classical Institute, of which Rev. A. R. Horne was principal. After further preparations in the Allentown Seminary and the Allentown Academy, he became instructor in Dr. Harris' Institute. Later he again taught in Schuylkill County, and also at Lynnville, Mechanicsville, and New Tripoli. Then, while conducting a select school in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows' Hall at Steinsville, he read medicine with Dr. Shade of that place.

In 1863 he enlisted during the Civil War in Company E, 149th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Nagel, of Schuylkill County, commanding a body assigned to the Army of the Potomac. During a considerable part of his service he acted as clerk to Brigadier-general H. H. Lockwood. While in the army he sustained an injury to his eyes, resulting eventually in the loss of the sight in one of them. Receiving his honorable discharge from the army in 1864, he entered Bellevue Medical College, New York, and was graduated therefrom in 1867. His first location as a practicing physician was at Germansville. After three years of failing sight, he was induced to enter, as a patient of Dr. Noyes, the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, and on his recovery he resumed his practice for a period of twelve years, when he removed to Allentown, locating at No. 313 North Seventh Street, where he maintained an office until his death.

Dr. Kistler was eminent in his profession, not only among the laity, but also among his colleagues, for his attainments, medical and surgical knowledge and skill, and for his good judgment and unusual energy. His practice was, consequently, most extensive, and he was an expert obstetrician and a famed specialist on disorders of the skin. With his son, Dr. Eugene M. Kistler, of whom further, he established the first private hospital in Allentown, in which they performed many surgical operations. His many duties left him little leisure, yet he found time for literary work, producing a volume "Practical Medical and Surgical Family Guide in Emergencies" which is a book highly prized in numerous Lehigh County households. His interests were not confined to his profession, but he was also an active business man, and made many successful ventures in real estate. He erected over one hundred dwellings in Allentown and its vicinity, and he was also an enthusiastic agriculturist, acquiring a number of farms on which he had flourishing peach and apple orchards. It was, however, as a medical man that he deserves best to be remembered, and he was noted as a preceptor, a trainer of young doctors, in which capacity he has a record for having instructed more young men than did any other physician in Eastern Pennsylvania; many physicians today, who have achieved success in their life work, attributing the beginnings of their success to the splendid training they received in the office of this master of medicine. He was one of the founders of the Kistler Family Association, taking unusual pride in the history of his family, and of his native township of Lynn. He was a member of E. B. Young Post, Grand Army of the Republic; Improved Order of Red Men; Knights of the Golden Eagle; Junior Order United American Mechanics; Knights of the Mystic Chain; and Daughters of Liberty. He was a Lutheran in his religious belief, and a member of St. Michael's Church.

Dr. Wilson P. Kistler married, in 1865, Jane A. Clauss, of Pleasant Corners, and they were the parents of three children: two daughters who are deceased; and his surviving son, Dr. Eugene M. Kistler, of whom further. Dr. Wilson P. Kistler died of pneumonia, at his home at No. 1517 Turner Street, in 1912, as above stated.

Dr. Eugene M. Kistler, son of Dr. Wilson P. and Jane A. (Clauss) Kistler, was born April 12, 1873, in Schnecksville, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. He attended the academy there until at the age of ten years, he accompanied his parents to their new home in Allentown, where he attended the public schools until his graduation from the high school in 1890. Desiring to follow in his father's footsteps, he studied first under his father, assisting him in his extensive practice, and then took the medical course in Jefferson Medical College, at Philadelphia, and at Bellevue Hospital, New York, for three years, being graduated from the latter, class of 1893. He became house surgeon at St. Vincent's Hospital, and also served as interne at Bellevue Hospital, New York; was surgeon at the Hackensack General Hospital, and subsequently interne at Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital, New York City. While serving in this latter institution, the illness of his father led him to relinquish his plans for further service in metropolitan hospitals, and to decline a proffered and attractive association with one of the foremost surgeons of the country, Dr. David Webster, of New York City. He returned, instead, immediately to Allentown, to relieve his father of some of his onerous practice, and together they continued to work until their joint practice covered so large a section of the eastern part of the State that they had in its service the use of nine horses, and later of three automobiles. On the death of his father, January 8, 1912, Dr. Kistler succeeded to his large practice, and his success was so complete, that he found it necessary to have an assistant, and associated with himself Dr. Leroy S. Howard, but for the last ten years had Dr. Frank R. Wentz. While following a general practice, Dr. Kistler devoted much of his time to the specialty of surgery, and became surgeon to the Sacred heart Hospital, and is also surgeon for the International Motors Company, and examiner for the Hancock Insurance company and for other similar organizations. He keeps in touch with all advanced ideas in his profession, and with the progressive programs of the New York and Philadelphia hospitals. He also assisted his father in the completion of his famed medical work, "Practical Medical and Surgical Family Guide."

Dr. Kistler, like his father, was also widely affiliated with various organizations that stand for the civic progress and fraternity. He is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Jordon Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Allentown Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Allentown Commandery, Knights Templar; Lu Lu Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; Keystone Bodies, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Scranton; Sons of Veterans; Independent Order of Americans. His clubs include the Livingston, Unco St. Leger, Lehigh County, Saucon Valley County, and Kiwanis, being manager of the Kiwanis Club; he is vice-chairman of the entertainment committees of some of these organizations, and active in all club affairs. He is a member of the Bellevue Alumni Association; was a member of the building committee on the erection of the Elks Club Home; has been active in various drives for funds and membership for the Young Men's Christian Association; and for the Sacred Heart Hospital. During the great World War, he served on the Examining Board, and indeed there is no activity for the benefit of the city that does not enlist Dr. Kistler's sympathy and aid. He is one of the public-spirited citizens of Allentown, and besides his large clientele, his practice being one of the largest in the city, and his offices most modernly equipped, he holds the respect and the honored esteem of the community for his many services in the cause of the common good and welfare. In his religious connection he belongs to the Lutheran Church. He is very fond of athletics, gymnastics, and the out-of-doors, and has been an enthusiast in college sports. As a result of native ability, and the exhaustive and extended preparations previously referred to, Dr. Kistlers' surgical work has been eminently successful, and he has gained a reputation for remarkable skill, in diagnosis, in his operations and in his specialty in affections of the eye, ear, nose and throat, and so forth. The equipment of his office is unexcelled throughout the entire Lehigh Valley, and his laboratory is one of the finest possible of attainment.

Dr. Eugene M. Kistler married, February 25, 1901, Lina S. Neuweiler, daughter of Louis Neuweiler, of Allentown.

- Pennsylvania, A History, 1926 page 28

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