The Reading Eagle of Wednesday, Aug. 10, 1898 reported on an “unusual” surgery performed at the State Hospital, Ashland.

The newspaper said J. G. Hepler, 53. a farmer, had been suffering for many years from “an affection of the skull” and noted that specialists from different areas had treated him with little success.

“His case is an unusual one and the surgeons will use their utmost skill in trying to effect a cure. The poor fellow is now but a skeleton and staggers when he walks. The surgeons removed the entire top of his skull.

“In performing this operation the bone was cut away for an area of 6 by 6 inches, and the membranes of the brain were exposed. This gave the physicians an excellent opportunity to watch the workings of the brain. The cavity thus exposed was dressed and afterwards Hepler was doing nicely.”

The same article reported on conditions of several other persons from the Shamokin area. These included Anthony Onish, described as a “Polish lad from Shamokin,” who was injured at a local colliery about a year earlier. He had an elbow joint removed by Dr. Biddle and his assistants.

Peter W. Cepsinger, who was badly injured by a fall of coal at the Locust Gap colliery, and James Welsh, who was injured at Mahanoy Plane, were both admitted to the hospital for further treatment.

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