Notable People

Dr. James Salisbury - Inventor of the Salisbury Steak

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Dr. James Salisbury
Dr. James Salisbury

Dr. James Salisbury published a multitude of medical articles that were legion. However, he may have been best known as the inventor of Salisbury steak. For those who may not be familiar, Salisbury steak is made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients and usually served with gravy.

His study of microscopic medicine began as early as 1849. In 1858, he initiated the study of alimentation, diphtheria, intermittent and remittent fevers, measles, and other studies involving the use of the microscope.

Salisbury served as a physician during the American Civil War and became convinced that diarrhea suffered by the troops could be controlled with a diet of coffee and lean chopped beefsteak.

Salisbury was one of the earliest health food faddists, and he taught that diet was the primary determinant of health. He believed that vegetables and starchy foods produced poisonous substances in the digestive system that were responsible for heart disease, tumors, mental illness, and tuberculosis. He thought that humans were meant to eat meat, and sought to limit vegetables, fruit, starches, and fat to one-third of the diet.

He introduced his unique blend of ground beef along with other ingredients as his means of achieving this goal. In 1888 and he suggested that it should be eaten three times a day, with lots of water to cleanse the digestive system.

James Henry Salisbury was born of Welsh descent in Scott, New York, on October 23, 1823.  He earned a Bachelor of Natural Sciences degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1844, a medical degree from Albany Medical College in 1850, and a Master’s degree from Schenectady College in 1852.

Charles married Clara Brasee in 1860. She was born on April 26, 1835. They had two children: Mary B. (Pollock), born in 1866, and Trafford Brasee born in 1874.

Salisbury came to Cleveland in 1864 and assisted in founding the Charity Hospital Medical College, where he gave lectures. He was president of the Institute of Microbiology and was at one time in charge of the state laboratory of New York.

He maintained membership in many societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Albany Institute, The Natural History Society of Montreal, Canada, the Philosophical Society of Great Britain, The American Antiquarian Society, The Western Reserve Historical Society, and many others.

Salisbury died on September 23, 1905, at his country home in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Clara died shortly afterward on November 2, 1905 and buried alongside James in Lake View Cemetery.