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Dr. Jesse Mercer Gehman

IVU Vice President 1960-77
IVU Regional Secretary for the Americas 1960-75


1925 - a statue of Christopher Columbus was commissioned for the city of Reading, PA, USA. Full details of this on the Columbus Monument Pages include:

"Interesting detail: in the booklet published at the occasion of the unveiling a photo is included of the 'Reading Boy Who Posed for Columbus Statue.' This 'boy' was Dr. Jesse Mercer Gehman, a physical-culturist from Reading, who lived in New York."

They also show the photo left, presumbaly taken around the same time.

From The Academy of Natural Healing (history page) :

Today Dr. Lust is generally recognized as the founder of American naturopathy. Dr. Lust's student, Jesse Mercer Gehman, DC, ND, expanded the practice of natural healing from the 1930s through the 1970s and for a time served as president of the American Naturopathic Association. Much of his work was supported and expanded into a spiritual focus that addressed the new youth counter culture of the 1960s and 1970s. With this specific group of seekers in mind Dr. Gehman and his good friend Vincent Collura created The Natural Healing Foundation International.

Photo right: 1920's Jesse Mercer Gehman Beefcake. Nice photo of the American Apollo, the man who posed for the statue of Christopher Columbus that stands in Reading, PA, and a pioneer of the vegetarian diet and lifestyle in America. Click for a bigger version.

1949 saw the holdong of the 'First American Vegetarian Convention' which founded the American Vegetarian Union and elected Dr. Gehman as its first president.

1950 IVU Congress, minutes from the General Meeting: ". . . Messages and greetings were read from the Los Angeles Vegetarian Society and from the President of the American Vegetarian Union (Dr. Gehman).

1960 IVU Congress, from the GM minutes: - "Regional Secretaries Appointed: Mr J N Mankar (India and the East), Dr Jesse Mercer Gehman (The Americas)" - and - "Vice Presidents elected: . . . Dr Jesse Mercer Gehman (USA) . . .". The post of 'Regional Secretary for the Americas' had been created in 1958 and initially held by Dastur F. Bode.

By 1963 there were eight Vice Presidents from the USA: Mr Lowell Fillmore, Dr Jesse Mercer Gehman, Dr W Mc Gregor, Mr S H Linnio, Dr J Maxwell, Mr Curtis Freshel, Prof Scott Nearing, Prof H B Stevens.

1965 WVC General Meeting minutes: - "General secretary: The committee re-appointed Mr Geoffrey L.Rudd, and re-appointed the Regional Secretaries: Mr J N Mankar (India & the East), Dr Jesse Marcer Gehman (The Americas) (Dr Gehman's new address is POB 68 Duncannon Rd., 3, Pennsylvania 17028, USA) "

Also in 1965 Geoffrey Rudd compiled a brief history of IVU which stated: "Dastur Framrose Bode worked in America during Mrs. Gasque's Presidency, and then the appointment passed to Dr. Jesse Mercer Gehman - a dynamic personality in the American natural health movement and a good friend made at the first American Convention."


Dr Jesse Gehman, with a fine Hippy hairstyle, and his wife Agy, whose mountain retreat near Harrisburg is the editorial home of "The American Vegetarian-Hygienist".

In 1968 Geoffrey Rudd toured North America, his report included the photo right, and the following comments:

We then had a few days' rest at the mountainside retreat of Dr Jesse Gehman and his wife, Agy - at Duncannon in Pennsylvania - an idyllic spot with large floppy swallowtail butterflies, strange flowers and birds. Of course, my film camera had been busy whenever possible, not only recording the country and its inhabitants but the exotic flora, fauna and avifauna - Red Cardinals, Eagles, Chipmunks, Woodchucks, Mandrake, Indian's Paint Brush, and, believe it or not, Humming Birds.

I had met Jesse at the first American Vegetarian Convention, near Milwaukee in 1949 - James Hough was there, too - and we had corresponded ever since. I had never expected to see him again, and there we were, idling in his garden overlooking the Susquehanna River, once a stamping ground of the Indians. His home was Kahagon - Indian for "at the foot of mountains." It was hard to believe ; and always the nagging thought, "Had our offer for Parkdale been accepted?" I had made the Society's bid for the new premises just before I left.

A yard-long black snake slid by my wife's feet and made for the rockery. Wild tortoises ate the strawberries if you didn't watch out. Tilly, a little Sheltie bitch, followed us everywhere and chased racoons until they turned and bared their sharp teeth ; deer barked in the forest. A nice break, full of interest, and Agy knew all about cooking, even understood the English need for a cuppa. Chatted with farmers and delved for information as in England. Corn cobs were stacked high in wire-mesh cylinders for cattle and pig feed. Milk production was no longer profitable for small farmers, so they fattened beeves instead. A.I. was not successful, they said, and preferred their own Hereford bulls - nice to see other Englishmen in the fields. Cherry trees were loaded with fruit by the roadsides and we ate as we walked.

The American Vegetarian Union, Inc. President: Dr. Jesse Mercer Gehman, P.O. Box 68, Duncannon, Penn. 17020. Tel.: 717-834-4504.
Periodicals include: American Vegetarian-Hygienists, published by American Better Health Publications. Editor: Dr. J. M. Gehman. Monthly. An. sub. U.S. $4.50, abroad $5.50. Single copy, 35 cents. P.O. Box 68, Duncannon, Pa 17020.

1971 GM minutes: - The Secretaries remained the same: Mr. B. J. Gunn-King, as Hon. General Secretary; Shri J.N. Mankar, as Hon. Regional Secretary for India and the East, and Dr. J.M. Gehman, as Hon. Regional Secretary for the Americas.

In 1975 the role of 'Regional Secretary for the Americas' was replaced by separate Secretaries for North and South America, and Dr. Gehman retired after 15 years in the post.

1977 - GM Minutes - "The Congress expresses its deep and sincere regrets on the passing over of our following colleagues:- . . . Dr.Jesse mercer Gehman, former Hon.Reg.Sec. for The Americas and Sec. of the former American Vegetarian Union; . . . Please join with me in a period of silence to mark our esteem for them all."


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