Iowa History Project


History of Medicine in Iowa
by D.S. Fairchild, M.D., F.A.C.S.
reprinted from The Journal of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1927
transcribed from the original book for the Iowa History Project by S. Ferrall


Tom O. Edwards
pg 56, mention
Dr. Tom O. Edwards was an associate of John W. Findley from the fall of 1856 to the spring of 1861 in Dubuque.
John D. Elbert
pg 49-51, full text & pg 104 & 105, mention
Dr. John Elbert was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, May 16, 1806. At the age of six years he removed with his father Dr. J.D. Elbert, senior, to Logan county, Ohio, then almost a wilderness, and when hostile bands of Indians exercised a power all but agreeable to the new settlers, who imperiled their very existence by day and night, that the present generation might enjoy peace and tranquility.

At this time the war of 1812 broke out, and Dr. Elbert, senior, tendered his services to the government in the capacity of physician and surgeon, rendering effective service in the army, while the young boy remained at his father's cabin to assist as best he could in the protection of the family. The education of Dr. Elbert was such only as the common schools of the neighborhood afforded. Nothing daughted by the limited means and meagre facilities for the acquirement of knowledge in that region of country, he resolved to be a man of mark, and accordingly availed himself of the books of his friends, who were more fortunately circumstanced. In 1829, he received a license from the hands of Dr. Daniel Drake of Cincinnati, after which he established himself as a practitioner of medicine in the State of Ohio, where he pursued his profession with great energy, until the year 1840, when he sought the then far west, a field affording greater latitude to his boundless ambition, which was not restricted to the profession alone; his influence was felt at an early day in the councils of the territorial legislature to which he was elected in 1842, and of which he subsequently became president, likewise, in all matters pertaining to the development of the agricultural interests of the state, was a devoted member of the Masonic fraternity, as well as a shining light in the Methodist Episcopal Church. His indomitable will, coupled with confidence in the recitude of his intentions, made him generally efficient and successful in carrying to completion the varied projects which he originated, an element in his character to which was due his eminence as a practitioner and surgeon.

In addition to the license from the Cincinnati college, two honorary degrees were conferred upon him. One by the faculty of the Missouri University, and one by the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. As a surgeon, he acquired extensive reputation in southern Iowa and northern Missouri, for the bold use of the knife, as well as skill in general management. By his patients he was especially beloved for his prompt attention and kind sympathies. In his friendships he was ardent and wholly disinterested, never counting the cost when he could oblige a friend. Hospitality was his crowning virtue. Nothing afforded him greater delight than congenial company aobut his table or fireside. His jovial nature and seemingly inexhaustible fund of anecdote, conjoined with a character and manner so eccentric, made him wonderfully entertaining, while his laughter-provoking originalities were a source of much surprise to his friends, who could never really anticipate him. In the review of his many virtues and excellencies of character, we have forgotten to record his faults. If he had any they should be ascribed to his eccentricities.

Dr. Elbert died at Keosauqua, Van Buren county, Iowa, on the 28th of March, A.D., 1865, after an illness of three weeks. His brethren of the Masonic order, together with a vast throng of his brethren in the Lord, performed the last sad rites and solemn services of religion, in a manner befitting his name and fame, and in silence deposited his remains beneath the cold clay from whence it sprang. (pg 49-51)

He was a Charter member of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1850, and it's first vice-president. (pg 104 & 105)

J.J. Ellison
pg 105, mention
Of Wapello, was a charter member of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1850
J.F. Ely
pg 35-36, full text and pg 155, mention
Dr. J.F. Ely in 1847 and Dr. S.D. Carpenter in 1849 came to Linn county and were among those who became identified with the county business affairs in the decade between 1840 and 1850 and afterward. Both came as physicians and practiced for a few years with success, but soon became interested in the business and financial affairs of Cedar Rapids and abandoned the practice of medicine. These gentlemen had an important part in the development of the city which had the good fortune to attract men of broad and liberal views, whose influence became a valuable heritage which was felt and appreciated long after they ceased to be active factors on the affairs of the city and county. Few names are remembered with greater affeciton than those of Dr. Ely and Dr. Carpenter. (pg 35-36)

The Linn County Medical Society. This society was organized in 1859 at Mt. Vernon by Drs. Love, Ely, Ristine, Carson and Lyon. (pg 155)

J.M. Emmert
pg 132, mention
In 1907 the Iowa State Medical Society adopted a plan of legal protection against malpractice suits under the directon of a committee consisting of Dr. D.S. Fairchild, Dr. L.W. Littig and Dr. J.M. Emmert.
Charles Enfield
pg 156, mention
Elected secretary of the newly organized district medical society (1874)
J.E. Evans
pg 105, mention
Of Keosauqua, was a charter member of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1850.


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