Born in Switzerland and educated in Europe, Dr. Jacob Schwinn arrived in the United States in 1884, at the age of 28.
He headed for the Midwest and practiced both in Chicago and in Des Moines, Ia. However, it was the good fortune of the city of Wheeling and the Ohio Valley that Schwinn had, while studying at Bern, Switzerland, become a roommate and friend of Dr. Gregory Ackermann.
It was Dr. Ackermann who persuaded Schwinn to come to Wheeling. In fact, Dr. Ackermann brought him to the community to be his assistant.
In time, Dr. Schwinn established himself as a surgeon of brilliant skill. Still, it was more than his ability and understanding of surgical techniques that brought him to the forefront. His humanitarian principles and his sympathetic understanding made him a friend and counselor, as well as medical adviser, to hundreds of patients.
Dr. Schwinn was considered the dean of the staff of Ohio Valley General Hospital and was head of the research department. He was on the surgical staff of both OVGH and Wheeling Hospital and also was associated with the staff of their predecessor, the old City Hospital, established in 1892. Prior to that, operations were often performed by Dr. Schwinn in his own home.
The youngest of 10 children, Schwinn was born in Switzerland on Dec. 10, 1854. His father and most of his elder brothers engaged in farming but it was his mother's wish that he should fallow the profession of medicine. The family farm was near Schauffhausen, where he received his elementary and preparatory education.
His medical studies took him to the Universities of Heidelberg, Zurich, Wurzburg, Berlin and Bern. It was necessary at that time for a medical student to attend a number of medical schools because few universities in Europe offered a complete medical curriculum. Schwinn received his medical degree at Bern, where he studied under a famed surgeon, Dr. Kocher.
Dr. Schwinn was noted for his charity work. When the Wheeling Rotary Club, in cooperation with other civic groups, undertook to assist crippled children, he placed his services at their disposal and carried on the work for many years.
In 1938, at the age of 83, while given only a local anesthetic, Dr. Schwinn supervised his own operation for a strangulated hernia -- an event so unusual that it made news wires and was circulated throughout the country.
Schwinn was the father of six children, all now deceased except a daughter, Rose Schwinn Plummer, who is confined to Peterson Hospital. Six grandchildren survive and four of them reside in Wheeling.
The revered doctor suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve of 1941 and died on the morning of Dec. 26, at age 87.
Six years earlier, the Jacob Schwinn Study Club had been organized in his honor by his fellow doctors. It remains active today.
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