Today The Monroe News of Monroe, MI published an article about Dr. George Heath, founder of the American Numismatic Association. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online.
Coin collectors across the U.S. who belong to the American Numismatic Association (ANA) may already be familiar with the role that Dr. George F. Heath has played in the history of coin collecting in America. What they may not be as familiar with are his background as a well-known physician and medical pioneer in Monroe as well as its four-time mayor (1890, 1896, 1897 and 1906).
Heath was born in Warsaw, New York, on Sept. 20, 1850. He married Lucy May Rayhill from St. Clair County, Illinois, on Dec. 25, 1876. The couple had three children – Donald born in 1886, Helen and Charles (born in 1888 and died shortly after birth).
Heath graduated with honors from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1881. He became one of the few new graduates to be appointed a resident physician at the U-M Hospitals. After working for several years in Ann Arbor, Heath moved to Monroe and set up his medical practice on East Front Street in Monroe in 1884. The family settled into their new life in Monroe, and Heath began to lead an active civic life – leading to his first election as mayor of Monroe in 1890.
This photo shows the marker for Dr. George Francis Heath erected by the Monroe County Historical Society and located in front of his doctor's office, which was at 312 E. Front St. in Monroe. Born in Warsaw, N.Y., and educated at the University of Michigan Medical School, Heath moved to Monroe in 1884 and served as the first president of the Monroe County Medical Society. In addition to starting the American Numismatic Society, Heath was a four-time mayor of Monroe.
Lucy's health began to decline shortly thereafter, and she died on July 15, 1895, at age 39. It is this tragedy that may have led Heath to pursue in earnest his interest in numismatics – the study of coins – which he had launched in 1888 when he printed, published and distributed a four-page leaflet, called the Numismatist, in which he listed his coin needs, advertised duplicates for sale, and discussed numismatic topics.
His posing of the question,
What is the matter with having an American Numismatic Association? led to the founding of the ANA. On Oct. 7 and 8, 1891, five men – Heath, William G. Jerrems, David Harlowe, J.A. Heckelman and John Brydon – met with 61 charter members in Chicago to begin the ANA. Heath then proposed the idea of a numismatic convention, where members could connect and network with other numismatists. The first convention was held in 1891, then annually until 1895, and then in 1901 and 1904. After the 1907 convention in Columbus, Ohio, it was decided to hold annual conventions thereafter.
A monument erected in 1925 by the American Numismatic Association to honor its founder marks Dr. Heath's grave in Woodland Cemetery. The ANA raised $652 to place the memorial stone and engraving there.
This is the historical marker honoring Dr. George Francis Heath of Monroe as the founder of the American Numismatic Association in 1891. The marker is located on Jerome Street in Woodland Cemetery and was erected by the ANA in 1925.
To read the complete article, see:
Monroe County History: Dr. George Heath of Monroe founded American Numismatic Association
Wayne Homren, Editor
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