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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches
Dr. Jonas Preston
(A biographical sketch taken from One Hundred Years, The Delaware County National Bank Chester, PA 1814-1914)
Dr. Jonas Preston (1814-15; second president of the Bank of Delaware County), son of James and Mary (Yarnall) Preston, was born at Chester, January 25, 1764. He was a student of medicine with Dr. Band, of Philadelphia, attended lectures at the Pennsylvania Hospital, and subsequently went to Europe, where he graduated at the University of Edinburgh, and then spent a year in Paris, where he attended medical lectures in that city, receiving what is now termed a post-graduate degree.
Returning to America, he located at Wilmington, Del. He shortly after removed to Georgia, but dissatisfied with his surroundings, he returned to his native county, settling in Marple township, where he acquired wide reputation in obstetric cases. A Friend, yet in 1794, during the Whiskey Insurrection, he volunteered as a surgeon in the Army, for which act the Society disowned him.
In 1794, he was elected Representative from Delaware county, serving in the Assembly continuously until the close of the session in 1804. That year he was County Auditor, and held the same office in 1807. He was elected State Senator for Delaware and Chester counties in 1808, serving until the close of the session of 1812.
By the Act of March 21, 1814, he was appointed one of the Bank Commissioners for the District of Delaware county; was one of the first directors of The Bank of Delaware County, of which, on March 30, 1815, he was elected president, succeeding John Newbold, resigned, a position he held until November 27 of that year, when he declined re-election as a director. In the succeeding winter, Dr. Preston removed to Philadelphia, where his reputation had preceded him, and at a bound he took a place in the front of his profession in that city. Notwithstanding his pressing personal duties, he was a frequent visitor at the Pennsylvania Hospital, gratuitously attending difficult cases in the free maternity wards, and rendered like service at the Friends' Asylum at Frankford. He was a director of the Pennsylvania Bank, the Schuylkill Navigation Company, and several other corporations. During his long and successful professional career, so much distress among the honest poor had come to his note that when he died childless, April 4, 1836, aged 72 years, 2 months and 9 days, he left by will $400,000 "towards founding an institute for the relief of indigent married women of good character, distinct and unconnected with any hospital, where they may be received and provided with proper obstetric aid for their delivery, period of weakness and susceptibility which ensues." Under that provision of his will was established "The Preston Retreat," one of the noblest of the many individual charitable institutions in the city of Philadelphia.
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This page last updated 10/17/05