A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement
Volume 1
Chicago, Illinois
The Pioneer Publishing Company



The two professions ‐ those of Law and Medicine ‐ have been well represented in Dickinson County since the first settlements in 1857. Naturally, in the first years, there were few doctors and few lawyers, but the services of one or two of either were adequate for the sparse settlements around the lakes. Personal troubles and disputes were more often decided among the parties involved or else submitted to the seer of the community. Medical attention often came from some member of the family or a neighbor who kept a store of simple remedies in his cabin.

The first doctors, though perhaps crude in comparison with the present day methods of the physician, must be commended. Their knowledge and practice were necessarily restricted. Frequently they had no professional education to speak of, their training having been gained through apprenticeship to older physicians. They followed the tide of emigration westward and built up their practice with the new country. In the face of biting winds and chilling rains, in the darkest hours of the night, the doctor made his calls; fording streams, crossing sloughs and pushing his way across the trackless prairie. The pioneers, as a class, were in financial straits and the doctor's fees were small, generally in the form of flour, meat or corn, or whatever commodity the settler could afford to give. Blue pills, senna, quinine, bone-set tea, burdock or snake root bitters, decoctions of wild cherry or hickory bark, and various poultices and plasters, and Spanish fly, constituted the physician's available remedies. One pioneer physician remarked that after the patient had reached a convalescent stage, if indeed such a stage were ever reached, generous doses of castor oil were given to work out of the system the deleterious effects of the initial course of treatment. Blood-letting was also considered an efficient means of combating disease, the doctors believing that by letting a copious amount of the life-giving fluid from the veins thereby the tenement of the demon disease would be destroyed. Duncan, in his "Reminiscences of the Med‐


ical Profession," says: "The first requisite was a generous supply of English calomel." To this were added jalap, aloes, Dover's powder, castor oil and Peruvian bark. If a cruel cathartic, followed by blood-letting and a fly blister, did not improve the condition of the patient, the doctor "would look wise and trust to the sick man's rugged constitution to pull him through."

What would be this pioneer doctor's thoughts were he to see the complicated array of medical apparatus, the technique of the modern surgeon with his many operations a day, the use of serums and antitoxins, and learn the theories of medical science as they are now? But even as his art would be considered primeval and practically useless now, just so much did his labors and sacrifices pave the way for all these splendid wonders ‐ without him they could not have been created. Of the history of medicine itself and its practice, more can be read in the chapter on Law and Medicine in the History of Emmet County.

The first physician to practice his profession in Dickinson County, Iowa, was Dr. James Ball. Doctor Ball was a native of Newton, Jasper County, Iowa. He settled in Dickinson County in the year 1858. Upon the opening of the Civil war in 1861 he went into the government medical service as surgeon, first at Sioux City, and from there to some of the upriver posts.

The first practicing physician in the town of Milford was Doctor Everett, who came here in the fall of 1872. He was a young man, of excellent ability, and would undoubtedly have made a reputation had not ill health compelled him to return to his Illinois home, where he died soon afterward. Dr. W. S. Beers had practiced a little prior to this time, but did not engage in the profession regularly. Dr. H. C. Crary came to Milford in the autumn of 1874 and remained until 1880, when he moved to Spencer. Doctor Crary and his wife were both interested in education work during their stay in Dickinson County, the doctor having served as superintendent of the Milford schools and Mrs. Crary as a teacher for several terms. In the new town of Milford C. T. Fox was the first physician to locate. Dr. J. E. Green followed shortly after Fox. Doctor Green also engaged in the drug business.

The first physician in Lake Park was Dr. Beebe, who came in 1885. Dr. C. E. Everett, formerly of Spirit Lake, started a drug store and engaged in professional practice a few years later.

The Upper Des Moines Valley Medical Society was organized on August 3, 1897, with the following officers: Dr. E. L. Brownell, president; Dr. E. E. Munger, vice president; Dr. C. S. Shultz, secretary and treasurer. The members of the society at that time were : A. E. Burdick and R. C. Mollison of Graettinger; A. E. Rector, Lake Park; R. J. and R. G. Hamilton, Ocheyedan; C. B. Adams, Estherville; C. M. Coldren and Q. C. Puller, Milford ; J. B. Stair and C. B. Fountain, Spirit Lake.



In the practice of law there have been many able men in Dickinson County. Just where law had its beginning is difficult to explain. Undoubtedly it began in social habit or custom, the regulation of the people's association and cooperation for the benefit of the whole community. Early law was tribal and the individual was subject to its authority and also entitled to its benefits because of his membership in a tribe. The practice of law has had many phases, religious, national, sectarian, civil and so on for innumerable instances. The attorney of today is a person of prominence by virtue of his profession, generally a man of leadership and judicial mien, but the same cannot be said for the lawyer of the ages past. During the Middle Ages he was a person not of the best standing, that is, he was regarded as a nuisance and a man of ill repute by the people. Many of the writers of the Elizabethan and Victorian periods refer to the man of law with the utmost cynicism and caustic criticism. Later, however, he was to reach the standard of popularity and dignity of the present day.

The first election in Dickinson County under the new constitution was held in the fall of 1858. A. W. Hubbard of Sioux City was elected judge of the fourth judicial district which embraced Dickipson County and O. C. Howe was elected district attorney.

The first term of the district court was held in the county at Spirit Lake in June, 1859, Judge Hubbard presiding. B. F. Parmenter of this county, C. C. Smeltzer of Clay County and Patt Robb of Woodbury County were attorneys in attendance. The case between Doctor Prescott on one side and Howe, Wheelock and Parmenter on the other, which has been described before, occupied mose of the time at this first court session.

The judges of the district court since Judge Hubbard have been: Henry Ford, C. H. Lewis, Ed R. Duffie, Lot Thomas, George H. Carr, W. B. Quarton, F. H. Helsell, A. D. Bailie, Nels J. Lee and Daniel F. Coyle.

In Spirit Lake B. F. Parmenter and O. C. Howe may be mentioned as the first men having a practical knowledge of the legal profession. Orson Rice began the practice as early as 1864, R. L. Wilcox in 1869, A. W. Osborne in 1870, J. W. Cory in 1874 and W. H. Bailey a little later.

The present bar of Dickinson County includes the following men: Leslie E. Francis, V. A. Arnold, H. C. Owen, W. F. Carlton, R. S. Carlton, H. E. Narey, of Spirit Lake; W. J. Bock and E. W. Robey, of Lake Park; J. L. Bascom of Milford.