Sylvanus Koontz, M. D.
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 299-301
The medical profession is ably represented in the town of Roanoke by Dr. Sylvanus Koontz, who, since 1885, has been recognized as one of the successful and progressive physicians and surgeons of Huntington county. The Doctor is a native of Stark county, Ohio, and son of Balser Koontz, who was born in the state of Maryland in 1793. The mother, whose maiden name was Susan Whistler, was a native of Pennsylvania, where her birth occurred in the year 1798. Some time before their marriage these parents emigrated from their respective states to Ohio, settling in the county of Stark, of which they were very early residents. There they were wedded and to their union were born fourteen children, eight of whom are living at the present time. Their names are as follows: Caroline, widow of Gabriel Swihart, living at Kendalville, Indiana; George, a farmer of LaGrange county, this state; Baltzer, a mechanic of DeKalb county; Alfred P., undertaker and furniture dealer, Roanoke; Rebecca, wife of Samuel Grim, who is the present postmaster of Roanoke; Margaret, now Mrs. Joseph Reichart, lives in Dundee county, Nebraska; William, contractor of Nebraska City; and Sylvanus, whose name introduces this article.
The deceased members of the family are Catherine, who married William Vanurder; Jacob, formerly a chair-maker of Cleveland, Ohio; John, for a number of years a citizen of Noble county, this state; Andrew, who was killed in the west by Indians; Eli, who died in Stark county, Ohio; and Elizabeth, who departed this life at the age of fourteen, also in Stark county, Ohio.
In 1853 the Doctor’s parents moved from Ohio to Whitley county, Indiana, and settled on a tract of wild land in what is now Washington township. There the father cleared a farm with the help of his sons, and became a prosperous man and a leading citizen of the community. In early life he was a captain of militia, and after becoming a resident of Indiana took the lead in all public enterprises in his neighborhood, being for years a man of considerable local prominence. From his youth he entertained strong religious convictions and was deeply read and widely informed on ecclesiastical history and kindred subjects, but did not identify himself with any church organization until two years before his death. He was a man of sterling worth, a model Christian gentleman, ann (sic) left as a legacy to his descendants a name untainted by the slightest suspicion of anything savoring of disrepute. He died at his home in the county of Whitley in the year 1877, at the ripe old age of eighty-four. His wife, a faithful companion for so many years and throughout her entire life an earnest and devout worker in the cause of religion and church, survived her husband twelve years, departing this life in 1889.
Dr. Koontz was born in Stark county, Ohio, May 25, 1844, and was ten years old when the family moved to Indiana. He grew to maturity on the home farm in Whitley county, and the district schools offorded (sic) him the means of obtaining a knowledge of the elementary branches of learning.
He grew to manhood strong of limb and determined in purpose, and assisted in the work of the farm until summoned from the peaceful pursuits of civil life to bear his part in stemming the tide of rebellion which then threatened the disruption of the National Union.
In October, 1862, he enlisted in Company I, Fifty-fourth Indiana Infantry, for one year’s service, and proceeding with his command to the scene of action experienced his first baptism of fire under General Sherman near the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Nine days later he participated in the battle of Arkansas Post, and subsequently took part in the siege and reduction of Vicksburg, under General Grant. He was also with his regiment in the siege of Jackson, Mississippi; thence accompanied Gen. Banks’ expedition to Texas, serving in all fifteen months, during which time he experienced all the horrors of battle, the humiliation of defeat and the elation attending victory.
The Doctor was discharged December, 1863, and immediately thereafter returned home, but did not long remain, as treason was still rife and the country needed the services of all true, patriotic men. In the fall of 1864 he again entered the army, enlisting in Company G, One Hundred Forty-second Indiana Volunteers, with which he served until July of the year following. His first service after going to the front was garrison duty, until the battle of Nashville, when his regiment was ordered to the scene of action. He took part in that bloody struggle, which proved the death blow to Hood’s magnificent host of Confederate veterans, after which he served as non-commissioned officer in various lines of duty until the expiration of his period of enlistment.
After severing his connection with the army, the Doctor again returned to his home, and for two years thereafter worked at carpentery (sic) during the summer months, and in winter took up his long neglected studies in the Roanoke Academy.
In 1878 he yielded to a desire of long standing by taking up the study of medicine in the office of Dr. Chaffee, of Roanoke, now of Huntington, under whose able instruction he continued three years. He then entered the Ohio Medical College of Cincinnati, and in September, 1872, began the practice of his profession at the town of Laud, Whitley county. During his fourteen years’ residence at that place Dr. Koontz built up a large and lucrative practice, and earned much more than local repute as a skilled physician and surgeon, meantime completing the prescribed course of the Fort Wayne Medical College, graduated therefrom in 1884, and one year later located in Roanoke, where he has since administered relief to suffering humanity in the town and a large area of surrounding territory. During a part of the time since moving to Roanoke the Doctor carried on the drug business in connection with his practice.
The Doctor was married March 15, 1874, to Miss Marilla J. Haley, a native of Holmes county, Ohio, and daughter of James and Catherine Haley. This lady died April 26, 1876, and on November 28, 1878, he married his present wife, Adelaide M. Kilpatrick, who was born in Summit county, Ohio, May 10, 1858, a daughter of Hugh and Mary Kilpatrick. To this union four children have been born, viz.: Jesse, born September 9, 1879; Chafee, September 19, 1882; Alden, November 21, 1884, died February 25, 1885; Hugh, March 17, 1886, died September 6, 1895.
Doctor Koontz is man of public spirit and a leader of the Republican party in his section of the county. Fraternally he belongs to Little River Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, also to the Rebekah auxiliary, and for some years has been an enthusiastic worker in McGinnis Post, Grand Army of the Republic, of Roanoke. He has served as noble grand in the Odd Fellows fraternity, and at the present time is post commander of the local organization of the Grand Army of the Republic, to which he belongs.
In his profession Dr. Koontz has acquired an enviable standing. He has exhibited rare proficiency from the beginning and deserves great credit for the reputation he now enjoys, having, unaided and alone, qualified himself through his own untiring energy. He has great love for his calling and is conscientious in the discharge of its every duty, attending the sick faithfully and with a kindly spirit that never fails to win their confidence. He is a close and diligent student, a careful observer, and, familiar with the medical literature of the day, he continues to rise in the profession by keeping abreast the times in all matters relative thereto. His practice has a wide range in Huntington, Allen and other counties, and by close attention to his duties has been financially quite successful, being now in independent circumstances as far as worldly wealth is concerned. Not only as a successful practitioner is the Doctor known and honored, but also as a gentleman with a record for honesty and sterling integrity. In his relations with the citizens of his town and in the social circles he is whole souled and genial, numbering his friends by the score and occupying a deservedly conspicuous place in the estimation of all classes of people.