Looking Back: Dr. Ebenezer M. Raynale

Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 21, 2015


The Birmingham Historical Museum & Park recently acquired a painting of Dr. Ebenezer Raynale. It was donated by the Oakland County Medical Society. The description on back of the painting reads as follows:

“There were three generations of physicians in the Raynale family. This portrait is of Dr. Ebenezer M. Raynale, born in Vermont, 1804. He was a doctor of the old tradition — his medical education consisted of reading medicine in New York State and Pennsylvania.

“In 1828 he moved west to Franklin, Michigan, to open his medical practice. ... He is listed as one of the founding members of the Oakland County Medical Society when it organized in 1831. ... In 1838, he moved his family to Birmingham, where he practiced medicine for several decades.

“He was fondly remembered for his generosity to the pioneer settlers and the Indians: He was liberal to a fault, and would often deprive himself of comforts in order to help the poor. On one occasion he went several miles into the country to see a sick lady who was very poor. On his return he was lost in a snow storm and traveled over 60 miles, being out all day and night, yet his bill was only $3.

“He was also known throughout Michigan for his political activities. He was a Jeffersonian Democrat and a close friend of Govs. Cass and Stephen Mason. In 1835 he was a delegate to the convention (Michigan Constitutional Assembly), which wrote the first State Constitution, and the following year was elected to the first state Senate.

“He was one of the organizers of the first State Medical Association of Michigan. Dr. Ebenezer Raynale helped compile the material for ‘History of Oakland County, 1817 to 1877.’

“Upon his death in 1881, he was eulogized as a ‘gentleman of the highest type, beloved by all who knew him, his death cast a gloom over the entire community, and it is doubtful whether the county ever had or will have a citizen whose name will live longer than that of Dr. Raynale.’”

The museum hopes to have the painting of Raynale on display in the near future.

— Brittany Hendryx, Birmingham Historical Museum and Park