Sarah E. West

Female 1847 - 1880  (33 years)

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  • Name Sarah E. West 
    Born 1847 
    Gender Female 
    Died 24 May 1880 
    Person ID I40009  Stewartsnydotcom
    Last Modified 14 Oct 2019 

    Family Ancestors Zachariah Taylor Matteson,   b. 28 Nov 1847, Richfield, Otsego, New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Oct 1926  (Age 78 years) 
    • Newspaper Article - Thursday, January 2, 1873 Pulaski Democrat - Pulaski, New York - Married - Matteson-West - At the residence of Royal Simmons, December 26, 1872, by Rev. H. L. Kelsey, Mr. Z. T. Matteson and Sarah E. West, all of Albion, Oswego County, New York.
    Last Modified 14 Oct 2019 
    Family ID F14905  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Newspaper Obituary - Thursday, June 3, 1880 Pulaski Democrat - Pulaski, New York - Surgical Operation - A Sad Termination - An Inquest - The Verdict - What "Observer" Says - On Tuesday, May 18th, a tumor, supposed to be an ovarian, was removed from the body of Mrs. Sarah E. Matteson, wife of Zachary Matteson, of Albion. The operation was performed by Dr. J. N. Betts, of this village, assisted by Drs. E. F. Kelley and G. W. Betts, also of this village. There were also present members of the medical profession, and among these were Dr. Wright and Dr. Cramer, of Sand Bank. The lady died in about an hour after the operation. Considerable excitement prevailed in the community and on Monday, May 24th, the body was disinterred, a post mortem made by Drs. Coe, of Oswego, and Low, of this village, and in inquest held by Coroner Caldwell. The neighbors and friends of the deceased and the physicians who made the post mortem were examined as witnesses. At the close of the inquest, there were two verdicts rendered. The majority report or verdict was as follows: That she, Sarah E. Matteson, came to her death by shock and hemorrhage, caused by a surgical operation performed by Dr. J. N. Betts, in removing a tumor attached to the uterus. We find that proper precaution was not taken after the incision was made in ascertaining the character of the tumor and its attachments and in place of puncturing the tumor, the incision should have been closed up. We find that Dr. J. N. Betts should be censured in attempting to remove so dangerous a tumor from the body of the deceased. Noble Hazzard, W. T. Henderson, Philo B. Sage, O. A. Rice, N. G. Prouty, Elias Laney, Stephen Lifts, T. M. Costello, J. P. Thomas, L. W. Aldrich, Jurors. Following is the verdict of the other two jurors: That she came to her death by shock and hemorrhage caused by a surgical operation performed by Dr. J. N. Betts, in removing a tumor attached to the uterus. We find that Dr. J. N. Betts performed the operation in a scientific manner, and he is not responsible in any way for the death of the deceased. P. B. Doxtater, L. A. Jones.In the is with the palladium of the 31st ult., there appeared the following communication addressed to the editor of that journal, which throws additional light upon the matter in question: Sir, An article copied by you from the times in relation to a surgical operation lately performed by Dr. Betts, resulting in the death of the patient, has just come to my notice. The article referred to, although for the most part, correct, contains some inaccuracies. It speaks of the tumor removed as an ovarian tumor. In fact the operation was performed on the supposition that such was its nature. It was not, however, an ovarian tumor, though it was so diagnosed and pronounced by at least four physicians besides Dr. Betts, before the operation was performed. The tumor, as the result shows, was malignant, attached to the uterus instead of the ovaries, and as the medical profession will understand, of an entirely different character. It seems that Dr. Betts, when he found the tumor as is natural in such case, and directed by the authorities, made an incision in it, and then discovered it to be of a different character from what was expected. It would seem that Dr. Coe. who made the postmortem, was of the opinion that "when the tumor was found the incision should have been closed up and the tumor allowed to remain." and that Dr. Low, who assisted in the postmortem, corroborated the testimony of Dr. Coe. This case well shows how unsatisfactory a one-sided investigation is where the real person accused is denied the aid of counsel in an investigation of this kind. The testimony disclosed the fact that the external appearance of the tumor indicated a cystic tumor, which would be expected if attached to an ovary, and that these very doctors after it was removed and when it could be handled, still pronounced it a fibroid cystic tumor, and they did not become convinced of its malignant nature till it was in fact cut open at the inquest. Dr. Coe stated that the character of the tumor could have been ascertained by puncturing it, and, on being asked what the effect would have been of discontinuing the operation after it was punctured, stated it would have produced death; he might also have said it would have been the grossest malpractice, and that the only course left was to proceed with the operation. There is no claim whatever that Dr. Betts failed to apply any test which has been suggested even since the operation and in the light of the post mortem. There is no claim but that the operation was artistically performed, and the doctors themselves pronounce the operation, a splendid one. Had not the coroner's investigation been a one-sided examination, (perhaps necessarily so from its nature as much as a grand jury,) and had Dr. Betts been permitted the benefit of _ before the jury, it is hardly possible, but that these facts would have been elicited. 1st. That by the judgment of many eminent and careful physicians who examined the lady before the operation, it was an ovarian tumor of a cystic character. 2d. That the tumor had all the appearance of an ovarian cystic tumor and answered all the tests short of an actual cutting of the tumor. 3d. That several physicians, some of which were sworn, after handling the tumor pronounced it a fibroid cystic tumor, which would have been a kind of tumor that might be expected from an ovarian tumor. 4th. That after a puncture of the tumor, it being of the character, it has proved, the only course left open was to proceed with the operation, and continue, the only chance of saving the patient's life. 5th. It does appear from the testimony of the physicians that the actual operation was well and artistically done, the four doctors who saw the operation joining in the opinion that it was well and skillfully done, one of them of great experience in surgery, saying it was done according to the most approved rules of surgery and another that it was as fine an operation as he ever saw, or language to that effect. One, Dr. Low while on the stand, eating asked his opinion in regard to it, replied, "I would not have done it, but seeing it was done, I will say for Dr. Betts it was a splendid operation." A compliment from a physician of so wide and varied practice should certainly be appreciated if spoken of anyone. It would have been more satisfactory had Dr. Low stated why he would not have done it. It is now, to be sure, easy for him, or anyone, to say he would not have done it, this remark, of course, must have been made in the light disclosed by the operation and by the post mortem. Perhaps Dr. Betts would have agreed with him. Neither Dr. Low or any other has indicated any reason why he would not have done it had he been the operator. Nor does he indicate any test that he would have applied, which was not applied, or any examination he would've made which was not made, or which would have disclosed the nature of the tumor or deterred him from proceeding with the operation. Does Dr. Low, mean that he would not have commence the operation? If to his opinion is in conflict with every physician that examined her previous to the operation, and in fact in conflict with the jury, for they do not censure because the operation was commenced but for not receiving it after it had advanced to a certain point. Does he mean that he would have stopped before the tumor was tapped or punctured? Up to that time, everything had indicated it was an ovarian tumor of a cystic character. Dr. Low has certainly shown no reason why he would not have tapped the tumor within the light that was disclosed up to that time, and all agree that it would have been fatal to have them receded. It then it's fair to suppose Dr. Low's remark that he "would not have done it," was made with the qualification "if he had the light which the result has disclosed," and this is the more confidently assumed from the fact that on an examination of the tumor before the inquest was held, he pronounced it a fibroid cystic tumor, and neither he or Dr. Coe or any other doctor knew its malignant nature until it was cut open upon the inquest before the coroner's jury. Now if these doctors, upon examination of the tumor after it was removed from the patient, could not tell its nature, if they were, in fact, deceived as to its actual character, and they failed to discover its true character until it was cut open, it may be asked why Dr. Betts should be censured for not discovering its character. While it was yet in the patient's body. And this question may be more forcibly asked when we find it asserted in the highest medical authority on these tumors, that "in some cases it is literally impossible to correctly diagnose them." That there were five physicians present, besides Dr. Betts at the operation, either as spectators or assistance, four of them graduates of the highest old-school college in the city of New York, and one from the esoteric university of New York. Some of them of great experience not only in civil but military surgery and all of them competent to give an opinion, and it is believed every one of them sanctioned and approved the operation. It is difficult to see why the opinion of these who were present and saw the operation was not at least as good authority as the two physicians who did not see the operation and could not tell the character of the tumor until it was actually cut open. But if Dr. Betts had accurately known the character of the tumor has developed by the investigation it may be doubtful whether an operation would yet have been advisable. The tumor had commenced to suppurate, and would sooner or later certainly have caused the patient's death, and although the chances of an operation might be against success, yet with a skillful operation as this is admitted to be, there are many chances that it might succeed, and if successful, the patient restored to health. Opinions might differ whether the patient should be left to certain death, or risk of an operation assumed to restore her to health. But the jury say, "we find that proper precaution was not taken after the incision was made in ascertaining the character of the tumor," and hence censure Dr. Betts. This sounds queerly when we find that the doctors themselves would not tell its character, even after removal from the patient until submitted to the test of actual cutting, to say nothing of the propriety of an operation even if the true character of the tumor had been known. Whatever motives instigated the inquest, or whoever gave aid and comfort to the assailants of Dr. Betts, it certainly was not the husband of the deceased. If it was intended to injure Dr. Betts, it has failed in this respect. Had he been a tyre in surgery, and had he not by a practice of twenty-five years performed many perhaps more successful and difficult surgical operations than any country surgeon in the sphere of his practice, this one-sided. Finding of a part of the jury might deter some from employing him. We are satisfied that the public, upon a full and complete understanding of the case, will say with the minority of the jury that "We find that Dr. J. N. Betts performed the operation in a scientific manner, and he is not responsible in any way for the death of the deceased. Observer. Dated May 27, 1880.