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


Pierce B. Fagan
pg 145, full text
Among the early Des Moines physicians was Dr. Pierce B. Fagan who came to Des Moines with P.M. Cassidy and for two years these pioneers were room-mates and occupied the same office. In 1848, Dr. Fagan was a candidate for state senator on the Whig ticket and Mr. Cassidy a candidate on the Democratic ticket. It appears to have been a friendly contest, for the issue according to tradition was based on the claim that Mr. Cassady being a lawyer could be spared, but Dr. Fagan as a physician was needed at home to preserve the health and welfare of the people and as the majority of the voters held to this view, Dr. Fagan remained at home.
David Sturges Fairchild
pgs 2, 93-99,132, 156 & 165, mention

Dr. David S. Fairchild, Sr.
Dr. David S. Fairchild, Sr.
Author of "History of Medicine in Iowa"

In 1875 the author of this book was appointed on a committee to prepare a history of medicine in Iowa for the Centennial. (pg 2)

D.S. Fairchild, M.D., of Ames and later Clinton, was one of the organizers of the Medical College in Des Moines, named the Iowa College of Physicians and Surgeons at the time of its opening. He was selected to deliver the opening address the week before formal lectures commenced October, 1882. The address was delivered in the main lecture room on the 3rd floor of a building adjoining the Old Register building on Court avenue. He also was a member of the first faculty, teaching Pathology, Histology and Microscopy.

When Dr. J.A. Blanchard resigned as Dean of the Faculty, Dr. D.S. Fairchild was elected president of the school, which office he held until the school was taken over by Drake University in 1886. He was one of the small group of the medical faculty of Drake Medical School who were willing to serve with devotion and self-sacrifice during the dark days of that school (when little money was available). In 1903, he was appointed to the position of Dean and professor of surgery and it is said that in 1903-1904, Drake University School of Medicine began to take on the character of a real medical school. In 1908, Dr. Fairchild, who completed twenty-five years of uninterrupted service (to the school), without money compensation and with the prospect of further financial assessment and the devotion of a large part of his time to the work of the department, felt that the time had come to transfer the psition of dean to other hands, but was induced to continue another year and in 1909 at the close of the session presented his resignation which was accepted and Dr. W.W. Pearson was elected dean. (pg 93-99)

In 1905 the Iowa State Medical Society contracted with the editor of the Iowa Medical Journal, Dr. E.E. Dorr, to publish the transactions of the State Society. At the expiration of this contract in 1911, the Society adopted a journal of its own and elected Dr. D.S. Fairchild of Clinton, editor. (pg 132)

In 1874 at a conference between Dr. L.J. Allerman of Boone, Dr. W.S. Shermerhorn of Jefferson and Dr. D.S. Fairchild of Ames a meeting was arranged of the physicians of Green, Boone and Story counties for the purpose of forming a district society. (pg 156)

On July 17, 1873, the Story County Medical Society was formally organized by electing Dr. D.S. Fairchild, president... (pg 165)

P.J. Farnsworth
pg 190, mention
Dr. Farnsworth was the first head of the department of materia medica and pharmacology Univ. of Iowa (1870-1892), succeeded by Dr. C.S. Chase in 1892.
R.J. Farquharson
(J.F. Farquarson *)
pg 254-255, full text and pg 321
Dr. R.J. Farquharson, the first secretary of the Iowa State Board of Health, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, July 16, 1824. Received his preliminary education at the University of Nashville and graduated in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in 1845.

Dr. Farquharson, after graduation, spent two years in hospital service at New Orleans. In 1847 he was appointed assistant surgeon in the United States Navy, but resigned his commission in 1855. During the Civil War he served as surgeon to Andy Johnson's regiment and during the campaign of 1863-64 had charge of the United States Military Railroad Hospital at Nashville. In 1869 he removed to Davenport, where he resided in 1881, when he was elected secretary of the Iowa State Board of Health (Dr. L.A. Andrews serving temporarily at the organization May 5, 1880), and removed to Des Moines where he resided until his death September 6, 1884.

Dr. Farquharson was a scientific and scholarly gentleman, possessing a wide knowledge of medical literature in several languages. He was a member of the Iowa State Medical Society; the American Medical Association; the American Health Association; the American and the English Associations for the Advancement of Science; the American Antiquarian Society and the representative for the West in the Institution Ethnographic. (pg 254-255)

Dr. J.F. Farquarson succeeded L.W. Andrews as secretary of the State Board of Health on May 25, 1881. (pg 321)

Dr. Favre
pg 165, mention
Dr. Favre lived near Ontario, Story co. and had left active practice by the early 1870's
L.M. Fidreck
pg 164, mention
Dr. Fidreck was a member of the Madison County Medical Society at the time of its organization in 1873.
Archelaus G. Field
93 & 120, mention and 191-209, full text

A.G. Field M.D., L.L.B.
A.G. Field M.D., L.L.B.

In 1874 or 1875 Dr. A.G. Field began to agitate the question of a medical school in Des Moines. (pg 93)

In 1868, Dr. A.G. Field was elected by the Iowa Medical Society to be a delegate to the American Medical Association (pg 120)

Transcription note: the biography of Dr. Field is very long, so it has been located on a separate page.
Click here to read the biography.

W.J. Findley
pg 129, mention
Of Sac City. Attended the 50th annual meeting of the Iowa State Medical Society, May 1901, where he presented a series of resolutions looking to the organization of auxiliary medical societies by districting the state.
John W. Finley
pg 55-60, full text
John W. Finley, M.D. was born in Lincoln county, N.C., June 15, 1807. He was the son of James and Mary Finley, who while he was yet a child removed to Kentucky, and subsequently to Pike county, Missouri. Here he grew up engaged in the ordinary labors of the farm; attending the common schools of the country during the winters, until he was about twenty-three years of age.

He then went to Jacksonville, Ill., to an institution under the charge of Dr. Edward Beecher, where he remained a little more than a year. Soon after leaving there he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Wm. C. Hardin, of Louisuana, Missouri, and continued for two years. In 1834 he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to attend medical lectures, and entered the office of Dr. S.D. Gross, then demonstrator of anatomy, being, as Dr. Gross said, the first office student he ever had. Here he remained for two years, graduating in the spring of 1836.

The same year he came to Dubuque, where he immediately entered upon the practice of his profession, which he continued untiringly and without interruption, for thirty-eight years (except an absence of two and a half years in the army). During the early years of his practice the country was new and sparsely settled; the resident physicians were few and far between; many of the roads were mere trails or bridle-paths, and those designed for wheels were usually impassable during the spring and fall, permitting only traveling on horseback; consequently for many years he traveled almost entirely in this manner and during the prevalence of malarial fever in the fall, and pneumonia in the winter and spring, he was frequently almost continuously in the saddle; often called long distances to the vicinity of Colesburg on the northwest, to points in Delaware county on the west, into Jones and Jackson counties on the southwest, not infrequently traveling from sixty to seventy-five or eighty miles on a single trip; enduring fatigue and performing labor that few men could have borne up under.

In June 1844, he was married to Miss Helen Coriell, a daughter of one of the early settlers of Dubuque. The winters of 1851 and 1852 he spent at Louisville, Kentucky, in attendance upon lectures, for the two-fold purpose of rest and improvement; renewing again his acquaintance with Prof. S.D. Gross, towards whom he ever felt a grateful friendship. At the close of the course he returned to Dubuque and resumed his practice which continued to increase. For some time previous to 1840 he was associated in business with Dr. Crane; from May 1855 to March 1856 with Dr. C.W. Belden; and from the fall of 1856 to the spring of 1861 with Dr. Tom O. Edwards. From 1857 to 1859 he was the senior member of the banking firm of Finley, Burton & Co, who about the same time established and operated a white lead factory. They withstood the financial pressure of thsoe years longer than many others, but the decline and shrinkage of values, especially of real estate, at length compelled them to suspend. At that time, beside his liability as a member of the firm of Finley, Burton and Co., he had somewhat extended personal liabilities; these he promptly secured with his private property, and ultimately paid to the last dollar with interest.

After the breaking out of the Rebellion, Dr. Finley felt an earnest and increasing desire to enter the military service, and October 1, 1862, he was very appropriately appointed surgeon of the 37th Infantry (the Iowa Grey Beards), and served faithfully until it was mustered out at the close of the war, when he returned to Dubuque and resumed practice with Dr. Joseph Sprague which partnership continued until nearly a year after the latter became disabled in May, 1873.

In August, 1856, he was thrown from his buggy, his head striking the curbstone, receiving severe injuries. From the immediate effects of these injuries he suffered several months, but, with that restless energy peculiar to him, he resumed attendance upon his old patrons in spite of pain and suffering. Soon after, embarking in the extensive business operations heretofore referred to. These with the attendant misfortunes, the anxiety arising hterefrom, and the labor of an extensive practice, undoubtedly contributed largely to develop the changes that finally terminated his life. He continued to practice as his strength and sufferings would permit until the spring of 1874. In September of that year he visited Philadelphia to consult his old friend, Dr. Gross, but without receiving any permanent benefit. He suffered severely during the following winter, and in June, 1875, he visited California spending a short time in Utah, hoping by a change of scene and a milder climate to stay the progress of his malady.

He remained through the winter, spending part of the time at Los Angeles, returning to Dubuque in March, 1876, realizing but little or temporary benefit from his journey. His disease progressed steadily, causing a gradual loss of control of his will, an impairment of memory, especially of recent events; at times a loss of ability to walk. During July he failed rapidly and sank August 3, 1877.

In personal appearance Dr. Finley was six feet two inches in height, a spare, stooping figure, yet a man of marked appearance and of equally marked character. Without the aid of those personal attractions which are supposed to be so valuable to the successful popular physician, and none of the elements that enabled him to assume that mild, yielding character that can conform to every influence, and be all things to all men; none that go to make up the plausible fawning sycophant. On the contrary, he was reserved, retiring and at times so abrupt that strangers thought him curt, unresponsive and even irritable; he appeared ever courteous and kind to those friends and acquaintances who knew him well.

With his patients he possessed a personal magnetism which combining with his kindly feeling, his earnest sympathy and untiring diligence, gave a hold upon them that few can equal, and yet fewer can excel. In his relations to members of the profession he was ever open, cordial, and honorable. Always careful and scrupulous to avoid interfering with the rights or patients of other practitioners; keenly sensitive to his own rights in this respect, he would be a party to no contest but would promptly abandon any patient where there was an apparent probablility that he was not entirely acceptable to the patient and immediate friends. In consultation he was courteous and judicious; cautious and unobtrusive in the expression of his opinion; when sought, it was given with an unassuming but cordial freedom, that while it gave additional weight to his endorsement, yet carefully avoided reflecting upon any who might disagree with him.

To the young practitioner he was unassuming and friendly, he watched him closely, and if the verdict was favorable his endorsement was ready, cordial, and free if not, he quietly abstained from any expression of opinion; censoriousness being entirely foreign to his character. He had long been a member of the Dubuque County Medical Society, but took no active part in its proceedings. He joined the Iowa State Medical Society at its meeting in Dubuque in 1860, but took no steps to retain or renew his membership.

As a business man he was cautious and careful; as a citizen he was ever ready to encourage and assist whatever he thought was for the public good, casting his influence on the site of morality and religion.

Possessing strong convictions and forming decided opinions, yet wanting thsoe strong impulses that would prompt him to present them forcibly, or urge them upon others. He was deficient in the essential elements of a leader, and by some was unjustly regarded as lacking public spirit.

Ever regular in his attendance upon and support of the Presbyterian Church, and a beliver in its doctrines, he did not make a public profession of religion until the last year of his life. Generous and kind in his professional intercourse with the deserving poor; systematic and conscientious in his benevolence, yet so averse to ostentation and display in giving that he took special pains to conceal his charities, practically illustrating that teaching of scripture, not to allow his left hand to know what his right hand did. As a whole his life and character were above the average in usefulness and success. With only such advantages and opportunities as are within the reach of the humblest in the land, he sought the frontier, and by a career of perservering labor and self-denial secured a position and exerted an influence that are alike commendable and honorable, leaving the memory of a life fragrant with kind acts and good deeds that will long survive him. (pg 55-60)

Elias Fisher
pg 153, mention
The Iowa Central Medical Society in Marshall county, formed in September, 1856, with eight members holding quarterly meetings at Marietta. Dr. Elias Fisher was elected the first president and Dr. R. Howe Taylor secretary.
James W. Flint
pg 105, mention
Of Keosauqua, was a charter member of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1850
E.R. Ford
(Fored *)
pgs 75,105 & 135, mention
Of Keokuk, was a charter member of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1850. The physicians of Keokuk under the lead of Dr. John F. Sanford, met at Dr. Bond's office October 3, 1850, to form the first local medical society in Iowa. Dr. Ford was elected secretary-treasurer at this meeting. He is listed as a member of the 1854 faculty of College of Physicians of the University of Iowa in Keokuk. Professor of obstetrics and diseases of women and children. By 1868 he is president of the curators of the Medical Department.
E.G. Fountain
pg 105, mention
Of Davenport, was a charter member of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1850.
L. French
pg 154, mention
In 1876 Dr. L. French was elected treasurer of the Scott co. Medical Society
Leal Fullenwider
pg 20 & 25, mention
Located in Korsak / Rorsak (Des Moines Co.) in 1837.

*Transcribers note: throughout the book there were instances of a physician's name being given slightly differently from one mention to another; whenever I was positive they denoted the same man, I have included the alternate name or spelling, not knowing which is the 'correct' one.

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