Iowa History Project
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
Part Second -
Practice of Medicine in Iowa From 1840 to 1850
In the first section of our work of recording the adventures of early medical practitioners in Iowa, we have outlined some of the most imortant facts in the lives of seventeen men all of whom we believe were graduates of medical colleges in good standing. What their daily lives were and how they practiced medicine is left to the imagination of the reader.
There are still living, men whose experience goes back far enough to have an appreciation of what the practice of medicine on horseback means, but few can fully understand what a round of perhaps one patient visits meant, when three or four days were consumed and from 50 to 200 miles were traveled through mud or drifts, guided only by general direction, to meet perhaps, the most difficult and trying cases, with no one to advise, or with whom to divide responsibilities. This did not apply only to the men just mentioned, like Dr. J.M. Robertson, whose practice carried him all the way from Cedar Rapids to Keokuk, but also the medical practitioners, who came in 1840-1850, or for the following twenty years in western Iowa.
In the decade from 1840 to 1850 an increasing number of physicians emigrated to Iowa to seek homes, and for the definite purpose of practicing medicine. The greater number of them had but recently graduated from medical colleges, or, after a short period of practice in, or near the home town, feeling their opportunities were few, sought larger fields in the new West. Iowa appeared a fruitful field for the young physician with an ambition to succeed in many ways. Many met with disappointments and some returned to a more congenial professional atmosphere in older settled communities. The majority, however, struggled on to secure hoped for later rewards.
It thus happened that many pioneer settlements secured medical practitioners of a selected class, men of strength, courage and character.
It of course, often came about, that failures in other fields, poorly educated doctors, arrant quacks and unscrupulous charlatans of every species and character joined in the migration to the new country, who, after a short period of uncertain success disappeared. Of these men we have no record.
From 1840 to 1850, when the Iowa State Medical Society was organized, a group of notable practitioners of medicine located in Iowa. We have endeavored to seek them out and to assign to each the share due him in civic welfare, professional organization and progress. It may be assumed that organization is essential to progress. Civic organization became necessary as soon as settlement fairly began for the protection and welfare of those who had cast their lot in a new country and for those who were to come later. Isolated enterprise and individualistic effort could contribute but little to progress in general or to the community or state.
Medical practice has generally been looked upon as an individualistic effort to secure benefits to the individual members of the community; that the medical practitioners' function was secondary and subordinate to the immediate needs of the afflicted and the unfortunate. In later times this view has changed in a very material way. Public health has been found so essential to community progress, that a disregard of this imortant fact has invariably led to misfortune and failure. It was only when medical organization had reached a high degree of development, and a dissemination of scientific knowledge of the nature and cause of diseases had come about, that the public began to see and appreciate the immense value of organized medical cooperation. It is greatly to be regretted that only a minority of the public can appreciate this even now. It is fortunate, however, that the minority having a clearer vision of public needs constitutes a predominating influence in public affairs and are slowly clearing up the waste places.
The physicians who came to Iowa between 1840 and 1850 to seek homes, represented the highest type of men, who were earnestly seeking fields of usefulness with the prospect of small pecuniary rewards, at least in the near future, but new experiences were particularly attractive to young men, as these men were. Some left an honorable record and many disappeared, probably attracted to other fields. Success in those days meant a degree of personal sacrifice, courage and determination, not ordinarily seen, and what success and reputation was finally secured was well earned. Doctors under these conditions, become resourceful and self-reliant, and were able to meet emergencies to a degree rarely seen today; while not possessing a great fund of scientific knowledge, they developed into strong men who wielded a great influence in their communities.
It was our privilege to know many of these men; they were not only wise physicians but also useful to a rare degree in public service in township, city, county and state service, probably not as much as officials, but influential in the selection of office hlders and in directing the policies that had public welfare in view. Little oportunity was afforded for contributions to medical science and there seems to have been little disposition to record, "interesting cases," or personal experiences, unless they were of real interest. Their work was a silent influence that contributed to the general betterment of the community of which very little has been recorded and the name often remains only as a tradition. All this may be said of multitudes of men who early came to Iowa, but the medical practitioner had an immense advantage over most others in that his training fitted him to measure welfare programs by more accurate and logical standards.
Dr. Jess Bowen came to Iowa City in 1840. He was born in Virginia in 1806, came to Iowa from Indiana where he had served as state senator. Dr. Bowen did not limit himself to the practice of medicine, but was active in public affairs. In 1840 he was made presidential elector by the Whig party.
On November 19, 1857 Governor James W. Grimes officially declared that, "the Capitol of the State of Iowa to be established under the Constitution and Laws of the State at Des Moines in Polk County." There were no railroads in the state, many streams had no bridges and the river bottoms had a bad reputation, particularly Skunk river bottom and the problem of moving the state property from Iowa City to Des Moines was a difficult one. There were 4 large safes to be transported, but no contractor was willing to undertake the task. Finally Dr. Jess Bowen accepted the contract and after many days of hard and tedious work the safes were delivered safely in Des Moines. The state treasurers' safe was much the largest and very heavy. During the journey it was left on the open prairie near Little Four Mile Creek in Polk County for several days and nights until the storm abated and the ground was frozen sufficient so that it could be handled on a large bob sled. When it arrived in Des Moines it was drawn by ten yoke of oxen.
In 1860 Dr. Bowen took his seat in the Seventh General Assembly as senator from Johnson county. At the breaking out of the Civil War, Dr. bowen was Adjutant General of the state. He was afterward appointed paymaster in the US Army and was the last paymaster to be mustered out of the service.
Dr. S.M. Ballard was born in Virginia in 1812, came from Ohio to Iowa City in 1842. He was from the Medical Colege of Ohio. In 1854, Dr. Ballard abandoned the practice of medicine and removed to Audubon county, Iowa, where he engaged in agriculture on a large scale.
In 1875, five candidates for governor appeared before the Republican state convention with Gen. James B. Weaver in the lead. Dr. S.M. Ballard placed in nomination Samuel J. Kirkwood. A delegate inquired by what aughority the name of the governor had been used. Rising to his full height the stalwart Ballard answered, "By authority of the great Republican party of Iowa," (Brigham's history of Iowa). Thus showing how easily a doctor could set aside political traditions in the interests of public good. The nomination and election for a third term as governor insured Governor Kirkwood's election to the United States Senate.
On account of his gigantic stature and the size of his nose, Dr. Ballard was familiarly known by the title of "Big Medicine".
Dr. William Vogt was one of the most noted of early Iowa practitioners of medicine. His activities were limited to his profession. For twenty-five years he was the most loved physician in Iowa City and his memory was cherished for many years after his death in August, 1873, at the age of fifty-five years.
Dr. Vogt a native of Prussia, began practice in Iowa City in 1848. It is said that he never presented a bill for medical services, but devoted himself to his patients and his practice without thought of money compensation. His modesty, his willingness to render service, his devotion left a place never quite filled in the professional annals of Iowa City, which has been adorned with some of the noblest men in the profession of Iowa.
Dr. M.J. Johnson came to Iowa City in 1846. He was born in Jefferson county, New York, in 1815, graduated from the medical department of the University of New York. Dr. Johnson had previously practiced eleven years in Ohio. After two years practice in Iowa City he returned to Ohio.
Dr. Wm. McCormick was an early settler in Johnson Co., practicing in Iowa City for a few years and about 1850 removed to California.
Dr. Nathan Udell came to Appanoose county in 1849. He was born in Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, February, 1817. He was educated as a physician and came to Iowa as a pioneer practitioner of medicine. On April 1, 1844 the first election was held in Appanoose county at which nine votes were cast. In 1846 Centerville was laid out under the name of Chaldea but this name was not satisfactory to the citizens and at a large gathering, Dr. W.S. Manson who was an admirer of Governor Senter of Tennessee "in an eloquent address proposed the name of Senterville" This being satisfactory to the audience a petition was sent to the legislature and the name was changed, but by some mistake, the name was spelled Centerville. This is the only mention we are able to find of Dr. W.S. Manson who is said to be the first physician in Centerville, unless Dr. Manson was also a preacher for it is said that Rev. W.S. Manson preached the first sermon in a log cabin on the west side of the river (Chariton River). In 1849 when Dr. Udell came to Appanoose county there were but few people to need his services. He was elected to the senate of the Fifth General Assembly in 1854 and in the Eighth and Ninth General Assembly. Served in the regular and extra sessions. During the Civil War, Dr. Udell was for several months surgeon of the Seventh Iowa Infantry. In 1860 he was again elected to the senate and served in the Tenth and Eleventh General Assemblies. He died in Denver April 11, 1903.
The medical history of Linn county began when Dr. Sam Grafton settled at Ivanhoe Bridge about 1840, the exact date is not known, but it is stated that after several years practice he died of typhoid fever in 1847.
In 1841, Dr. Magnus Holmes came to Marion from Crawford, Indiana. He was a man of high order of attainments and gave promise of a highly useful career which was soon cut short by death.
Dr. Henry Ristine, brother-in-law to Dr. Holmes came to Marion in 1842 and practiced medicine in Marion and Cedar Rapids, fifty-one years; truly a long life of service in practically the same communtiy. Dr. Ristine sustained the closest relations to the family life of his people and as the trusted physician had opportunities to observe the elements that make up the strength and the weakness of a community.
Dr. Ristine did not seek public office, notwithstanding the temptations which must have come to him at times when opportunities for an interesting medical practice were few. His activities were wholly welfare, social and professional in character. The opportunities such as they were, gave Dr. Ristine a reputation as a surgeon which led to his appointment as chief surgeon for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway and district surgeon for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway.
Dr. Ristine early recognized the need of a hospital in a growing community which had for so many years depended on home treatment for serious medical and surgical cases, and for the care of injured industrial workers, with whom he had much to do.
Hospitals at that time were in no great favor with the public generally, and strange as it may seem to us now, such welfare institutions were extremely difficult to organize, but with the assistance of his friend, Judge Green, St. Lukes' had a beginning and Dr. Ristine was made a member of the first consulting staff.
In medical societies he was a leading influence. The Linn County Medical Society was organized in 1859 and Dr. Ristine was one of the five original members. In 1873 he became a member of the Iowa State Medical Society and in 1877 was elected its president.
Dr. Henry Ristine was born September 21, 1818, near Albany, Ky. Moved with his parents into southern Indiana when two years of age. Attended Wabash College at Crawfordsville, Indiana, but did not finish the course. Graduated at the Ohio Medical College in 1851 after having practiced medicine in Marion, Iowa, for several years; having located at the latter place in winter of 1842. Was married to Miss Katherine McMaster in Crawfordsville, Indiana, in 1844, and died at his home in Cedar Rapids in 1893.
Dr. John McMaster Ristine died at his home in Cedar Rapids of angina pectoris, January 8, 1919.
Dr. Ristine was born in Marion, Linn county, Iowa, October 17, 1847. He received his literary training at Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, which institution conferred the A.M. Degree in 1908. Dr. Ristine received his medical degree from Bellevue Hosipital Medical College, New York in 1876. Immediately after graduating in medicine he began practice with his father, Dr. Henry Ristine who began practice in Marion in 1842. Both father and son represented the highest ideals in medicine and surgery and for seventy-seven years the Ristines were recognized as among the leading physicians and surgeons of Iowa. Soon after the location of Cedar Rapids the Ristines removed from Marion to the latter city and became identified with the building of the town and its industries, and were medical advisors to many of them. Surgeons for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway. Afterwards the C.R.I&P.; the C.&N.W.Ry.; the Illinois Central; Street Railway; Sinclair Packing House; the Quaker Oats, etc.
Dr. Henry Ristine died in 1893 and the Ristine firm was continued under the name of Ristine and Ruml. During the long period of seventy-seven years the Ristines and Ruml enjoyed a large practice among the most influential people of Cedar Rapids and their name became a household word. Dr. John Ristine continued practice up to the last day of his life. Under a mistaken idea that doctors should be rich in money and lands, Dr. John allowed the last years of his life to be clouded with the anxieties of business speculations.
A great shock came to Dr. Ristine only a few weeks before his death in the death of his son Lieut. Richard Ristine in an aviation accident at Gerstner field. Dr. Ristine is survived by Mrs. Ristine and one son who is serving the United States Army in France.
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.
Dr. Greenburg Ridgely Henry, son of Dr. John F. Henry, was born in Hopkinsville, Ky., September 28, 1828 and died in Burlington, Iowa, 1885. Dr. Henry was educated at Jacksonville, Ill.; graduated from the Louisville Medical College; located in Burlington in 1845. Five years later he married Miss Kate Chambers of Jacksonville, Ill. Dr. Henry, in addition to being a skillful physician was a man of business and of affairs in a broad and liberal way. He did much to promote various important enterprises in Burlington; the street railway, steam heating plant, rolling mills, etc. He was much interested in agriculture and imported the best blooded stock from his native state (Kentucky). Dr. Henry was one of the original members of the Iowa State Medical Society (1850) and was its first treasurer, which office he held three years. He was a member of the board of trustees of the insane hospital at Mt. Pleasant for several years. Dr. Henry was interested in public school affairs and for many years was a member of the school board.
Dr. R.H. Wyman was born in Oswego, N.Y., March 24, 1817. Educated at Middlebury College, Vermont and graduated from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1843. Began the practice of medicine at Hagerstown, Pennsylvania, and removed to Davenport, Iowa, in 1846. In 1855 he removed to Keokuk and formed a partnership with Dr. John F. Sanford, which continued up to the time of Dr. Wyman's death in 1881, except for a brief period while in the United States Army.
In 1861, Dr. Wyman was commissioned surgeon of the 21st Missouri Infantry, commanded by Colonel Moore. On the first day of the battle of Shiloah, Col. Moore was seriously wounded in the leg, which rendered an amputation necessary. Col Moore was placed on board a steamer at Pittsburg Landing, which had been improvised as a hospital, and Dr. Wyman as ranking surgeon had charge of the wounded brought from the Shiloah battlefield to this improvised hospital and there amputated Col. Moore's leg. Consequent on the fatigue and exposure from this service, Dr. Wyman contracted pneumonia and from the protracted illness which followed he was invalided home, and in June, 1862, he resigned from the service and resumed practice in Keokuk where he died in 1887.
Dr. Asa Horr was one of the most distinguished and probably the most scholarly of early Iowa physicians. He located in Dubuque in 1847. Dr. Horr was born in Worthington, Ohio, September 2, 1817. He early showed a strong interest in science and perhaps contributed more to scientific literature than to medical literature. He was not without skill and courage in surgery. In 1875 he removed a large solid tumor of the left ovary together with a fibroid tumor of the uterus at the same operation. It is stated that there were many adlisions and that the tumors were removed with great difficulty. The patient made an uneventful recovery. Dr. Horr performed many difficult operations such as were regarded as legitimate in those days.
Dr. Horr was an active member of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and was one of the leading observers for the Smithsonian Institute. His most valuable contributions were to Meteorology and to him and Professor Lapham of Milwaukee is due the present method of forecasting the weather employed by the United States Government. Dr. Horr died at his home in Dubuque, June 2, 1896, at the age of seventy-nine years.
Dr. S.E. Reinhart a graduate from Jefferson Medical College came to Oskaloosa in 1846. When the Mahaska County Medical Society was organized in 1856, Dr. Reinhart was elected its first president. It does not appear that he at any time occupied public office, although well fitted by ability and education, but preferred to remain a devoted practitioner of his profession. He was a cultivated gentleman, enjoying the confidence of the public and the affection of the medical profession of his county. He died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1875.
Two other physicians came to Mahaska county about 1845. Dr. John J.F. Hopkins who later was surgeon of the 33rd Iowa Infantry and Dr. F.W. Coolbridge, both graduates of reputable medical colleges and a Dr. Owen who was not a medical college graduate.
Dr. Edward Whinery (by some the name spelled whinnery) was one of the pioneer physicians of Iowa. He settled at Fort Madison and began practice there in 1841. He was born on a farm in Columbiana county, Ohio, February 27, 1812. His mother was Margery Carroll. She and her sister, Sallie Carroll married two brothers, William and James Whinery. Edward Whinnery was the eldest of nine children all of whom grew to adolesence. Four of his five brothers reached ages ranging form eighty-four to ninety years. Edward was the strongest of them all, and but for his death by accident, so all his brothers were wont to say, would have outlived them all. In that early time, the unworn Ohio soil yielded forty bushels of wheat to the acre. Most of the acres were still in oak, popular, sugar-maple, shellbark hickory, etc. The "cradling" of the wheat was the heaviest work known. At sixteen no man in that region could keep up with Edward, "cradling".
The Whinerys were Quakers. In 1829 when Edward was seventeen, occurred the schism between the Hicksite and Orthodox Quakers or Friends. He alone, in a dispute over the possession of the meeting house of New Garden meeting, ejected all the Orthodox members, for which violation of Quaker ethics, he was compelled or impelled to profess sorrow to the Hicksite "meeting."
In 1831-32 he studied medicine with his uncle, Dr. Thomas Carroll at Cincinnati and at Maysville, Kentucky. One of his grandmothers was a Murray, the other a McMillan. Edward Whinery was known as a skillful and daring surgeon. Exceedingly slow in movement, but completing an operation with the rapidity that often characterizes the slow and sure. He was five feet eleven inches in height, and powerfully built. It was his custom to care for the upper park at Fort Madison, opposite his home which he would now with scythe. Although constantly driven by a large though not lucrative practice his lack of business ability was as conspicuous as his professional skill was memorable. In the suposed flush time of gold at a premium, he habitually charged $1.50 per visit. During the Civil War he was prominent in relief work and generally made no charge to the families of absent soldiers, sometimes in cases where the beneficiary was better off in money than himself. His oldest son, Marshall, was a Union volunteer, who later became a physician, dying in 1887 in Wisconsin. The brothers in Ohio remained Garrison abolitionists, refusing to vote in 1860. Though vehemently anti-slavery, Edward was an active supporter of Lincoln in 1860 and also active in previous years.
The large residence on Third street, Fort Madison, later owned by Mrs. Kretsinger, the prison contractor, was completed by Dr. Whinery in 1860 (a portion of it many years older) and was long a monument of his mastery of detail and thoroughness. It was superintended in every item by him, and was built to endure, projected to collect debts, a business error now well understood. It left him farther in debt than before. His great strength made him over confident, he drove a dangerous horse, and early in February, 1868, he was thrown from his buggy, landing on his head on the frozen ground. Confident in the "purity of his blood," he took care of his own wounds which healed too rapidly. About a week after the accident he crossed the Mississippi river on the ice to visit a patient whose leg he had amputated, a relapse ensued and when Dr. Harvey of Burlington and Dr. Cutler of Keokuk were called erysipelas had set in and they told him to prepare to die. He died February 25, 1868.
The explosion of a steamboat off Nanvoo provided a notable case for him from the public if not from a professional standpoint. In 1911 two beautiful chestnut trees forming one symmetrical top that Edward Whinery had planted as a boy in 1825 on the old Ohio home farm, were struck by lightning, and wrecked, dying.
The above interesting biographical sketch of one of the strong men of early Iowa was written by a son of Dr. Whinery, whom after considerable search, we found in Oakland, Calif. In looking over the published records of the Iowa State Medical Society, we found the report of a case read by Dr. Whinery on the sixth day of February, 1868, at Des Moines, nineteen days before his death. We reproduce the report in full. It is interesting to know the characteristics of a man of courage and resourcefulness who could under the most unfavorable conditions undertake an operation which would today be regarded as a surgical victory in the best equipped hospital.
Dr. Edmund Augustus Boyer was numbered among those who were truly pioneers of Mahaska county, and his name will ever be held in grateful remembrance by all who appreciate what the pioneers had to undergo to make the wilderness a happy home for civilized man. Dr. Boyer was a native of Uniontown, Md., born March 31, 1816. At the time of his birth, and for some years afterward, his father, also a physician, was the owner of a number of slaves, but becoming convinced that slavery was a crime, and not wishing to rear his family where they would be surrounded by such evil influences, and where they would be dependent upon others, he liberated his slaves, after liberally providing for them, and moved with his family to Ohio. Here the Doctor grew to manhood and entered the medical profession.
In 1840 Dr. Boyer was united in marriage with Miss Mary Wiley, of West Lake, Ind., but a native of Vermont, and immediately moved to Iowa, locating in Van Buren county, where he remained three years. In April, 1843, he came to Mahaska county, picked out his claim, and in May following, just as soon as the country was thrown open for settlement, moved his family here, becoming one of the first, if not the first, permanent settlers of the county. Dr. and Mrs. Boyer reared a family of nine children; Mrs. Dr. Scott, Mrs. John R. Barnes, Oskaloosa; Mrs. E.B. Young; William E. Boyer; Richard M. Boyer; Frank D. Boyer; Edmund A. Boyer, Jr.; Fannie, wife of Smith McPherson, the distinguished attorney general of Iowa and later Federal judge for the southern district of Iowa, and Thomas H. Boyer.
Dr. Boyer practiced medicine fifteen years when he retired from active practice and devoted his entire attention to his farm and store. He was a close reader and had a deep insight in matters of general and public interest. While a zealous politician he never sought public affairs or position.
In early life Dr. Boyer was identified with the Whig party, but being strongly prejudiced aginst slavery, he joined in the organization of the Republican party of which he was an active member until he believed that the Greenback Labor party more truly represented the interests of the people. Strong in his political views he made both friends and enemies, but all respected him as a man of sterling worth, true to his friends, kind and provident to his family, and always ready to extend a helping hand to the unfortunate. For nearly half a century he was a resident of Mahaska county. Every change that was made in trasforming the wilderness into a thickly settled and prosperous country, he witnessed and participated in. The home which he founded was a hospitable one, and from it have been sent forth some who occupy useful and honorable positions in town, county and state. Dr. Boyer, after an illness of more than a years' duration, died February 5, 1886, at his farm in Scott township, on which he first settled when he came to this county.
A group of pioneer physicians located in Washington county between 1840 and 1850 whose names do not appear in the records of Iowa history, but are worthy of record.
Dr. Samuel Nealy located in Washington county in 1840. He was a graduate of Jefferson Medical College and served as a surgeon with the American forces in the war of 1812. He died in Washington co. in 1871.
Dr. Cleaver and Dr. Lefler came to WAshington county about 1840. The former moved to Columbus City where he died about 1860 and the latter died in Washington, Iowa, 1843.
Dr. W.H. Roussean was born in Kentucky in 1816, came to Washington in 1844, read medicine with Dr. W.B. Stone. Later graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Keokuk; married Electa Atwood in 1845. Practiced in Washington until his death in 1893.
Dr. Wm. McClelland came to Washington in 1845 and Dr. O.H. Prizer came to Brighton in 1845. Dr. McClelland is said to have introduced Fowler's solution in the treatment of malarial fever on account of the high price of quinine.
Dr. Horace Carley located in Brighton in 1839 and died the same year.
The medical history of Louisa county has many features of interest. As early as 1852 a county medical society was organized with J.M. Robertson as president. Dr. Robertson was one of the most distinguished of Iowa's pioneer physicians. Dr. G.W. Taylor was its first secretary. Other prominent members of the society were Dr. H.T. Cleaves and Dr. John Bell, Jr.
Dr. John Bell, Jr. practiced medicine in Wapello for several years and removed to Davenport. Some years later he moved to Dallas, Texas, where he died in 1888 and was buried at Wapello. Dr. Bell was at one time surgeon general of Iowa. During the Civil War served as surgeon of the Ninth Iowa Cavalry. Was chief surgeon on General Hunt's staff. Served also as U.S.A. medical director, Department of Texas. He was a member of the American Medical Association. Dr. Bell was particularly noted as a skillful surgeon, as surgery was known at that day; was fearless in surgical undertakings where the interests of the patient were concerned; one operation in particular attracted much attention:
The case was published in the Iowa Medical Journal for April, 1855 and in the Boston Medical & Surgical Journal, January 2, 1860.
Dr. T.G. Taylor, Dr. J.B. Latta, and Dr. B.G. Neal began practice in Louisa county prior to 1850. Dr. Taylor does not appear to have been a graduate of a medical college but was a successful practitioner in Wapello until he removed to Muscatine where he died in 1887 or 1888.
Dr. Latta was born in Ohio, November 26, 1823, graduated from the Ohio Medical College in 1849 and located in Grandview, Iowa, the same year. He later moved to San Diego, California, where he died November 26, 1896.
Dr. B.G. Neal located in Columbus City in 1848 or 1849 and practiced without a medical diploma until 1856 when he received his medical degree from Rush Medical College. Dr. Neal early in 1860 near Columbus City performed a Cesarean Section: the first it is said ever performed in this section of Iowa.
Dr. Hiram Thomas Cleaver should be enumerated as one of the best known and respected among Iowa's pioneer physicians. His connection with the Keokuk College of Physicians and Surgeons brought him in close relation with a large body of medical students who remembered Dr. Cleaver with great affection.
Dr. Cleaver was born in Centerville, Washington county, Pennsylvania, February 17, 1822. His parents were consistent members of the Society of Friends. He graduated from the New Lisbon Seminary, New Lisbon, Ohio in 1841 and graduated in medicine from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Keokuk in 1862 and from Chicago Medical College in 1872. It appears that Dr. Cleaver entered the office of Dr. T. Green of New Lisbon and after a period of pupilage under his preceptor according to a custom quite common in early days, he entered into a partnership with his preceptor and practiced with him several years, and finally received his diploma from Keokuk when he was elected professor obstetrics and diseases of women. In 1848 Dr. Cleaver came to Wapello where he remained in the practice of medicine fourteen years when he moved to Keokuk. While a resident of Wapello or from 1854 to 1858, Dr. Cleaver represented Louisa county in the Iowa Senate. He was one of the founders of the Louisa County Medical Society. Was a member of the American Medical Association and in 1874 he was elected president of the Iowa State Medical Society.
Dr. Cleaver in 1887 on account of poor health, removed to Las Vegas, Hot Springs, New Mexico. Soon after he was appointed surgeon to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Ry. Co., which position he held at the time of his death, January 11, 1888.
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.
Dr. McGugin was born in West Middleton, Washington county, Pennsylvania, in the A.D. 1807. Acquired his literary education under Alexander Campbell, after the completion of which he commenced the study of his profession, under the supervision of Dr. Andrews, an ancient medical gentleman of Steubenville, Ohio, and graduated at one of the oldest medical schools of the country -- the medical department of the University of Maryland, at Baltimore. In western Pennsylvania he entered upon the practice of his profession about the year 1829.
Was married to the daughter of William Welsh, esq. of Washington co, Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1837 with his wife and daughter, he emigrated to Knox county, Ohio, where in consequence of feeble health, he located on a farm in the vicinity of Mount Vernon. In 1840, 1841, he represented the county in the legislature. He afterwards removed to the town of Mount Vernon, devoting his energies to the practice of his profession until the Mexican War broke out, when he was appointed surgeon in the army, in which capacity he served with marked ability.
At the close of the campaign, he returned to Ohio, and with others, emigrated to Keokuk, Iowa, at the time the medical department of the State University was being organized. He was selected as one of its professors, and continued his association with the institution as professor and as president of the faculty up to the date of his death. As one of the editors of the Iowa Medical Journal, he labored unceasingly for the promotion of the profession. He was a member of the board of directors of the insane hospital of Ohio, and afterwards in our own state. Served several years as president of the board of health of the City of Keokuk. Politicaly, the Doctor was a great enthusiast, a faithful follower of the teaching of Jefferson, and an admirer of Jackson. In the presidential contest of 1860, he was one of six who voted for John C. Breckenridge, who was his beau ideal of a statesman.
When the tocsin of war resounded throughout the land, the voice of Dr. McGuin was heard in favor of conciliation and compromise. Many months after the inception of the Rebellion, his conviction underwent a radical change, and he veered to the opposite side, keeping step to the music of the Union. In 1862, he accepted the appointment of surgeon to the 3d Iowa Cavalry, and after the battle of Pea Ridge was transferred to the military hospitals in St. Louis, in consequence of failing health. At the urgent solicitation of a host of friends, he resigned his position, and returned to Keokuk to recover his lost energies. Having regained his health, he reluctantly consented to assume charge of the Leighton House Hospital, which he conducted with marked skill, and ability until his system became thoroughly impregnated with mephitic poison from wounds and other sources. When his vitality was fast ebbing away, he consented, at the instance of his medical friends, to relinquish his charge and devote a few hours to the resuscitation of his failing powers. A condition of asthenia supervened however, before plans were perfected for a short travel, from which he never rallied. It was the pleasure of his biographer to see him often in his last hours, and render to him what comfort he could to smooth his way to the grave, for which he was more than grateful. Naturally of a delicate, nervous organization, it was a matter of surprise to his friends to observe his remarkable equanimity of temper; amid all his sufferings his mind remained clear to the last. He conversed freely about the future; he believed in the Bible, and calmly submitted to the Divine will. A few days before his death, he asked the writer to open the window, exclaiming: "That I may once more gaze upon the blue sky, and contemplate the beauties beyond." On the 23rd of June, 1865, at 11:30 o'clock, he died. His place in the profession which he adorned, in the literary and social circle, cannot readily be supplied. His ability was universally acknowledged. His reputation by no means circumscribed. His usefulness and activity as a contributor to the literature of the profession will be disputed by none, indeed, he loved to discuss the intricate parts of medicine and with geat skill in the adaptation of his inexhaustible vocabulary, would expound the most abstruse theories, and render them so clear that controversy was, in fact, ridiculous.
He was never better pleased than when expatiating upon the beautiful theory of the capillary circulation upon the blood. Whether in the presence of the august national society, or in the halls of the university, he labored purely for the advancement of science, and the overthrow of everything pertaining to irregular medicine. On the ethics and dignity of the profession he was truely eloquent, and be it said to his honor, that he practiced religiously what he preached. If he excelled, in any particular, his professional brethren, it was in that of a correct disgnosis of disease, securing to him a wide fame as consulting physician; this power was not intuitive, but due to the thorough manner with which he was accustomed to investigate disease. HIs scholastic attainments wer eof the finest order. His modes of thought full of originality. As a practitioner, conscientious and skilled. As a teacher, versatile, earnest and enthusiastic. As a man, sincere, and full of benevolence; sacrificing his own comfort in this desire to benefit his fellow men.
The last soleumn services were conducted in the Methodist Church, of which, Mrs. McGugin was a member. His brethren laid his remains quietly beneath the sod, while the multitudes stood around to witness the last honors paid to a man whose memory will not rot in the tomb.
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.
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