PRICE, WILLIAM HENRY, physician and author; b. 4 or 14 Sept. 1839 in Butternut Ridge (Havelock), N.B., son of William Henry Price and Charlotte Alward; m. 24 Dec. 1873 Catharine Jane Watts in Chicago, and they had two daughters and two sons; d. 8 Sept. 1930 in Phoenix, Ariz.
George Webb Price, the grandfather of William H. Price, was an early settler at Butternut Ridge. He operated a grist mill there as early as 1814. William, however, was apprenticed to medicine under Henry Shaw of Kentville, N.S., and subsequently took formal training at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and at the University of the City of New York, from which he graduated in 1865. In that year as well he served briefly as an acting assistant surgeon with the Union army at Nashville, Tenn. He then practised in Prospect Park until 1872 (in which state is unclear, though he is said to have been a member of the Chicago Medical Society in these years), Chicago (1872–76), and New York City (1876–81).
Price was educated according to regular principles, but he accepted many of the therapies of botanic medicine and belonged to the sect of doctors known as eclectics. Though not an aggressive controversialist, he was one of the many practitioners who gathered at Clarendon Hall in New York to observe the outcome of Minneapolis doctor Henry S. Tanner’s boast to the regular medical profession of New York in June 1880 that he could survive a 40-day fast. Rotating shifts of observers from both sides of the medical community kept watch over Tanner to ensure his compliance with the challenge. Price took his turn at Tanner’s side on the night of 4–5 August, just before the successful completion of the fast on the 7th.
Baby’s guide to health (1880), written while Price was in New York, clearly expresses his medical principles. The book belonged to the popular genre of domestic medical literature. It enjoyed its own measure of success, and though self-published was available through the American News Company. Price took issue with the tendency of the physicians appointed to visit the poor in New York to prescribe medicines rather than teach people the general principles for preventing disease. Medical therapeutics were in a state of flux, and Price insisted that the doctor was merely an assistant to nature in matters of health. “It is not the doctor who ‘cures,’” he stated, “but it is the laws of Nature that only can be entitled to the credit.” Price promised a larger work on the same subject but it never appeared.
Price returned home to Butternut Ridge in 1881. He joined the New Brunswick Medical Society and pursued a large practice in the largely rural community. Though in New York he had offered medical advice to patients by mail, it is unknown if he continued this aspect of practice in New Brunswick. He was at least able to blend regular and botanic medicine without disturbing fellow practitioners until his retirement in 1901. He subsequently embarked on hog farming, beginning with 200 pigs. After his wife died in 1913 he moved to Phoenix and lived with his elder daughter, Charlotte.
In religion Price was a Methodist but the rest of his family were Baptists. Following his death in September 1930 he was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix.
William Henry Price is the author of Baby’s guide to health; or, how to promote and preserve the health of babies from the time of birth to the age of two years or more in all seasons and climates (New York, 1880). An earlier work noted on the title page, Children’s guide to health, has not been located.
The most detailed obituary of Price appears in the Kings County Record (Sussex, N.B.), 26 Sept. 1930: 4. A photograph accompanies the biographical sketch in Canadian album (Cochrane and Hopkins), 3: 413.
NA, RG 31, C1, Havelock, N.B., 1891, dist.16, subdist.E, no.2: 23; 1901, dist.18, subdist.E, no.1: 13. Arizona Republican (Phoenix), 10 Sept. 1930. New York Times, 4 July, 6–7 Aug. 1880. The descendants of Edmund and Jane (Webb) Price: one of the very early English-speaking couples to settle on the St. John River, comp. M. F. Amos et al. (n.p., 1976), 114–15. General alumni catalogue of New York University, 1833–1907; medical alumni (New York, 1908). General catalogue of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine: a biographical record of alumni and officers, 1794–1950 (sesquicentennial [5th] ed., Brunswick, Maine, 1950)