Almost didn’t write this article, as this man never lived in Montgomery County as far as I know, but he spent many an hour riding the dusty or snowy trails, administering to the sick, especially in the lower portion of our county. Well admired, he was not only a doctor here and in his own home area (Putnam County) but in Marion, Morgan, Hendricks, Parke, Vigo, and Clay. He was certainly a traveling man. In fact, I’ve read hundreds of articles on the early area doctors and I do believe he had the largest area of any. So well loved, if a new doctor planted anywhere around here, the newby was soon gone because his patients wouldn’t stand for anyone else but Doctor Dan to care for them!
Daniel Wunderlich Layman in a couple of history books was stated as born in Shenandoah, Virginia but instead on September 24, 1808 in Shippensburg, Franklin County, PA the son of John Philip and Catherine (Wunderlich) Layman. He had one of the best educations for a physician of his time, a graduate of Jefferson Medical School and Philadelphia, practicing in Port Republic VA for a year, then attending additional medical lectures at Jefferson. In August of 1831, his uncle George Imboden whose son, John would become a General in the Civil War, set-up Dan with a very fine horse, buggy and supplies.
Dr. Layman had read of the malaria explosion in the Wabash Valley and went to Philadelphia to stock-up on a plethora of quinine and other supplies, then headed to Terre Haute, following the old National Road. Laying-up briefly in Indianapolis, they begged him to stay in the capitol city. Nope, he was heading to the Wabash River area, yet he never made it!
Heading that way, his horse went lame and he had to stop until he could continue when the horse was well. Thus, he stopped at Putnamville, 42 miles short of his destination. He not only loved the area, community and people, but fell madly in love with Mary Davis Townsend, the daughter of the inn-keeper where he had stopped to stay. That settled it and he spent the next 56 years practicing medicine there and as noted above, especially in the early years when Central Indiana was short on doctors, he made calls in all the surrounding counties. It was said that Dr. Layman had an iron constitution. Proof: after riding three horses daily, beginning his day as early as two in the morning, switching the horse and back out again heading elsewhere a couple of times, he then would not return until late at night.
Not long after he decided to stay put, he ventured to Crawfordsville and purchased 80 acres from the government land office on September 17, 1835. Seems he was a great farmer in the area as well. In 1870, (Greencastle Banner, 11 Aug p2) there was an impressive article noting that Dr. Layman noticed that up near his home where he had potatoes planted for the convenience of his wife, the Colorado bugs were terrible and devoured the potatoes and plants, but in a very remote part of his farm, there was a large patch – nothing bothered it. Found out it was crows devouring those Colorado visitors, so he encouraged everyone to keep their potatoes away from the buildings on their farm. His wife was extremely active in the county fairs, especially loving to serve on the awards committee.
Never running for an office, he was still very active in politics (nominations; 4th of July activities) and many would seek his advice. At one time, he had a group ecstatic to run him for Congress, but he simply declined their insistent nomination. Once, as the CW was winding down, he heard some boisterous Democratic fellows loudly and repeatedly cheering for Jeff Davis not far from his door. Sneaking out he picked up a stone and hurled it with all his might in the direction of the obnoxious noise. Later, a man came riding up to the doc’s home and asked for medical help. Doc was leery but he had never refused anyone aid and he wasn’t starting then. Off he went to find a man wildly bleeding on the side of the road. Doc fixed him up and went home. “Later (Jesse Weik Putnam History), the injured man still acting innocent (as the whole crew did that night as doc patched him up), offered to pay the doc for his services.” Doc Dan declined, but reminded him of the “dangerous results when cheering for Jeff Davis!” Dan loved his country, quite proud of his Revolutionary Soldier (Dan’s father being his son).
In 1877, Dan Layman and ten others formed the Putnam County Medical Society with goals to promote sanitary projects in the county and to vow to all work harmoniously together, exchanging views and methods. Another interest in his life was his church. He and Mary joined the Putnamville Presbyterian Church on February 2nd, 1834 (PPC registry) and were still active members at their deaths - his on August 10, 1887. His Mary had passed May 24, 1879.
The Laymans had: Kate, Columbia, James, Theodore, and Mary. All survived him and are mentioned in his will, receiving 1/5 of his everything, except for Mary who had passed several years before her mother. She had married James G. Kingsbury and had two sons Edward and James who received her 5th. Although Doc’s father and other relatives are buried at Putnamville, he, Mary and their children are almost all in Crown Hill (photo from FindAGrave by Jodi Leakey) with simple, yet nice stones. The local folks who loved him so were not deprived of their good bye however; as the family had funeral services at his home before they sent his body to Indy where it would forever lay surrounded by his beloved wife and children. RIP Doc!

Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County.