More than a century after his death, Cyrus Schreiner's life as a doctor is being shared, thanks to a Mt. Lebanon resident with an interest in the history of medicine.
Lorelei Stein has thoroughly studied the ledgers, papers and tools of the trade preserved by Dr. Schreiner's descendants after he died in 1900.
She compiled her findings in a paper about the practice of medicine in the 19th century that she is presenting for medical groups and will discuss at the May meeting of the Historical Society of Mt. Lebanon.
"His practice was all house calls, all by horse and carriage," said Mrs. Stein, who learned about the Schreiner collection through friend Lisa White, a member of the historical society's board. The doctor's medical instruments, donated by his great-granddaughter, had been on display in an exhibit hosted by the society.
Mrs. Stein became interested in how medicine evolved while studying nursing and later when she was working on her doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. She instructs a course on the history of medicine at Point Park University, where she is graduate program director in criminal justice administration.
Dr. Schreiner arrived in Mt. Lebanon -- it then was part of Scott -- as a physician in 1877, replacing the former local doctor after he and his wife died within days of each other.
The South Hills was rural and sparsely populated at the time, and Dr. Schreiner constantly was on the move, making house calls.
"He was always hitching or unhitching his horse and carriage," Mrs. Stein said. "No one ever traveled the roads more often or faster than Dr. Schreiner."
The physician also practiced at his home, at what now is the intersection of Washington and Bower Hill roads, across the street from St. Bernard Church. One of the items his relatives preserved is a photo of the house, which shows separate entrances for his family and for patients.
Mrs. Stein particularly is interested in the instruments that were standard for practitioners of the time, including tools for trephination, or boring holes into the skull. She explained that procedure often was tried as a remedy for such conditions as skull fractures that people suffered on the area's farms.
Dr. Schreiner's ledgers include information about his patients -- many of the surnames match street names in Mt. Lebanon today -- and his fees. In 1886, for example, he charged $10 to deliver a baby.
Also on record are his concoctions combining pharmacology and botany for herbal remedies, such as tincture of rhubarb. He also practiced surgery and dentistry.
The father of 10 children, seven of whom lived to adulthood, Dr. Schreiner died at age 47 "by his own hand," Mrs. Stein said. A photograph taken shortly before his death shows the image of a man who appeared to be much older.
Mrs. Stein next will present her paper with a more clinical focus for the American Osler Society's annual meeting in Tucson, Ariz. The group is named for William Osler, a Canadian physician who was on the faculty of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia while Dr. Schreiner was a student there.
Her presentation for the Historical Society of Mt. Lebanon will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 15 at Mt. Lebanon Public Library.
Harry Funk, freelance writer: email@example.com.