The Doctors Crosby
Ask any member of AARP in Niagara County and they will surely remember a renowned trio of doctors known as the Crosby Family. (Perhaps some would have said the FitzGerald family, but that will be the topic of another essay.) The family patriarch, Dr. Frank A. Crosby could have been called a “horse-and buggy” doctor. In his early days in the late 1800s, he made his house calls in a horse-drawn carriage. Lacking a hospital facility in Lockport, Dr. Frank carried enough medical paraphernalia in his big black bag to handle just about any medical emergency.
Frank Crosby was born in Royalton in 1872, and upon graduating from high school, taught in area schools to save money to attend medical school. He graduated in 1896 from Niagara University School of Medicine. His first practice was located in Beach Ridge (Pendleton). Dr. Frank was instrumental in establishing the first hospital in Lockport (Lockport City Hospital) and was a member of their original staff. Dr. Crosby was known throughout the area for his generosity and kindness. On numerous occasions, if he knew of a need, he would deliver a baby for a young couple without charge and then tell them to go out and pick out a crib at Taylor and Reynolds Furniture store and charge it to his account. Many patients could not afford the 50 cent office visit or one dollar house call, so those fees would be forgiven as well. His patients remembered the long cigars he smoked, but when he made a house call, he would invariably remove the cigar from his mouth, place it on the front step and pick it up again when he took his leave. During his tutelage, the Lockport Hospital grew from a small 19 bed facility to an area leader with 76 beds.
Dr. Frank Crosby was followed in his practice by his two sons, Dr. John Crosby and Dr. Frank H. Crosby. Growing up as young men, the sons remember wanting to follow in their father’s footsteps. A scholarship to the University of Cornell helped John along and he later completed his studies in medicine at the University of Buffalo, graduating in 1936. The esteem and goodwill established by his father, gave Dr. John an excellent springboard for his practice in Lockport. He is remembered as a gentle, soft-spoken doctor.
Dr. Frank H. Crosby was educated in the Lockport schools and received his degree in medicine from Duke University in 1939. Later, while serving with the U.S. Marines in Guadalcanal, he was severely wounded by shrapnel, having survived 53 bombings in 31 days. He returned to Lockport following his discharge from the service and joined in the practice of medicine with his brother, Dr. John Crosby. Both doctors had very busy medical practices and continued their medical duties even beyond their formal “retirements” in the 1980s.
The brothers’ love of medicine and their desire to help others brought Dr. John to make the following observation. “Where ever we traveled, no matter how distant, our hearts remained in Lockport. We love it here and this is where we’ll stay.”
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094