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About the Department


The history of the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and that of the College of Medicine itself are necessarily intertwined.

The Connecticut Land Company had purchased three million acres in the Connecticut Western Reserve and arranged for settlers from New England to travel by boat from Buffalo into Ohio. The name Chagrin came about when the settlers found an unexpected falls blocking their passage along the river. They stopped there and founded a town, giving it a name that indicated their feeling of the moment.

Westel Willoughby was a 23-year-old physician, trained by the preceptor method, who built a successful practice in Chagrin. He eventually founded Willoughby University of Chagrin.

The Ohio Legislature passed two bills, which eventually would bear on your lives. The first was a charter for the City of Columbus and the second a charter for Willoughby University of Lake Erie, located at Chagrin, Ohio. In 1834, there were no colleges of medicine west of Ohio and only 27 in the country. In the Western Reserve at that time there was a Western Reserve College and Oberlin Collegiate Institute, besides several academies. In Ohio, there were the Medical College of Ohio at Cincinnati and the reformed Botanic Medical School of Worthington.

Starling-LovingThe medical department of Willoughby University was transferred to Columbus as Willoughby Medical College of Columbus. At that time, Columbus was a city of about 14,000.

Willoughby Medical College of Columbus never finished its first session since the name was changed to Starling Medical College when Lyne Starling, not a physician, gave $30,000 to build a hospital and medical school. He is not to be confused with Dr. Starling Loving (named for Lyne Starling) who came to Columbus in 1846, traveling from Cincinnati on the Mad River Railroad, the only railroad in the state.

"It was poorly constructed, furnished with strap rails, inferior engines and rickety cars and the rate of speed was very slow, so slow that a horse that seemed to understand about how fast the train could move, got on the track and for 100-200 yards, although the engineer made his best efforts, kept a safe distance ahead until, weary of his sport, he finally gave a loud neigh and threw up his heels, and leaped across the ditch into a field, leaving us to proceed...Eighteen hours after leaving Cincinnati, we got to Columbus at 3:00 a.m. I remember being congratulated by the urbane clerk at the hotel on having made a speedy trip."

In the early 1890's, another school, The Ohio Medical University, was founded in Columbus.