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

-W & Y-

Charles M. Wade
pg 183, mention
The Interstate Medical News, an independent medical journal of medicine, surgery and allied sciences was edited by J.H. Talboy, M.D. The associate editor and publisher was Charles M. Wade, M.D. It appeared in Sioux City, published quarterly, the first number dated February 15, 1895 and contained 38 pages. Two numbers appeared and then suspended publication, we assume for the want of financial support.
W.H. Ward
pg 95, mention
W.H. Ward M.D. was a member of the 1882 faculty of the Iowa College of Physicians and Surgeons of Des Moines; professor of Gynecology.
Charles Chunn Warden
pg 151, mention; pg 219-221, full text

The Wapello County Medical Society was organized in 1853 by Dr. C.C. Warden; J. Williamson; W.L. Orr and A.D. Wood of Ottumwa. Dr. C.C. Warden was president. (pg 151)

Dr. Charles Chunn Warden
Dr. Charles Chunn Warden

Dr. Charles Chunn Warden was born November 20, 1816, Maysville, Mason county, Kentucky. Died February 14, 1902, Ottumwa, Wapello county, Iowa. Oldest child in the family of Richard Henry Warden and Elizabeth Charity Chunn, who were natives of Virginia. About 1834 the family removed to Ohio. On the death of his father, Charles, whose education had been obtained in the common schools of Kentucky and Ohio, supplemented by attendance at an academy in Greensburg, Indiana, engaged in the drug trade in the last mentioned place. He soon commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Fogg as his instructor. He continued his studies for two years and then entered the Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati after which he entered a partnership with Dr. Fogg, which was terminated by the death of his partner six months later. In the spring of 1843 his broken health induced him to take a trip West and he arrived in Wapello county on July 3, 1843. When it became known that he was a physician, he was called on to prescribe and his increasing practice induced him to become a permanent resident and was the first physician to locate in Wapello county. Dr. Warden followed the active practice of medicine for thirteen years and after that time engaged in the drygoods business. Much of his time was devoted to educational interests and for twelve years he was president of the board of education in the public schools of Ottumwa, and for four years was a member of the board of trustees of the agricultural college at Ames, two years of that time acting as chairman. Doctor Warden belonged to the type of pioneer which has built the State of Iowa - bringing to the frontier the integrity and sagacity which bind together the best in the struggling settlements and cementing the foundations of our commonwealth, and his philosophic acceptance of the unrecorded hardships of sickness and debt and exposure was an inspiration to his neighbors. The mute reminders of his early struggles, his shabby saddle bags, his rusty surgical instruments, his mortar and pestle, his matriculation cards to the Ohio Medical College are still treasured by the surviving members of his family who reside in Ottumwa. His name is to be found on the rolls of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1858, and the Wapello County Society of which last he served his term as president.

To him and others who have seen the wilderness fade away and cities spring up, the present generation owes a great debt. It was the Editor's privilege to be connected with the State College at Ames when Dr. Warden was a member of the board of trustees and has a clear recollection of the usefulness of his services to the institution, particularly in relation to the health and welfare of the students. At that time public health matters, received but little consideration. There was no state board of health then, and no precautions were taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. All the students at the state college were lodged in one great building, and as college physician, we had great difficulty in controlling the spread of infectious diseases, as measles, scarlet fever, and diphtheria. Through the influence of Dr. Warden the college physician was made health officer and endowed with all the authority the law would permit; which was little enough you may be sure. This action of Dr. Warden was confirmed by Dr. W.S. Robertson, when the state board of health was formed, who was the first president of the board, and made the college physician health officer of the college under state authority. We are indebted to the courtesy of Mrs. D.C. Brockman of Ottumwa for most of the data relating to her father Dr. C.C. Warden. (pg 219-221)

William Watson
pg 119-124, 125 & 234, mention; pg 209-213, full text

The eighteenth annual session convened in Des Moines, Wednesday, February 5, 1868. Meeting in the hall of the Good Templars at 10:00 o'clock, A.M. with President Wm. Watson of Dubuque in the chair. There were twenty permanent members present and nineteen new members were elected, making a total of thirty-nine members present at the annual session of the Iowa State Medical Society at its first meeting in Des Moines. President Wm. Watson delivered his address in the afternoon session. The committee on order of business consisting of Drs. W.F. Peck, J.C. Hughes and Wm. Watson recommended "that a bill be drafted to restrain the impositions of quackery in this state; also a bill to prevent criminal abortion." Articles of Incorporation were presented, William Watson was a signer of the Articles on the 6th day of February, A.D., 1868. At this same meeting, Dr. Wm. Watson was also elected a delegate to the American Medical Association and was appointed to a committee to determine upon a design for, and to procure a seal for the Society before the next annual meeting. (pg 119-124)

Perhaps the sentiments of the profession in 1868 may best be reflected by quoting a part of the able and interesting address of Dr. Wm. Watson, for many years one of the most aggressive and most conservative members of the Society. [Dr. Watson's address is transcribed in Part Sixth of this book] (pg 125)

Dr. Gustine with a group of active members, notably Drs. Thrall and Williamson of Ottumwa, J.W. Smith of Charles City, A.G. Field of Des Moines, and Wm Watson, assumed in large measure direction of the affairs of the Iowa State Medical Society. (pg 234)

William Watson, M.D., for almost half a century one of Dubuque's most prominent physicians, was born in Leeds, England, May 14, 1826. He was the son of Joseph and Ann (Metcalf) Watson. When he was a year old the family immigrated to the United States, settling in Middletown, Connecticut. Four years later the Watsons, removed to Onondage county, New York, where they remained until he was 18 years of age. Here he received a common school education. In 1844, William hearing the call of the West went on alone to Ohio where he taught a district school. Soon moving on however, he took a lake steamer one sunny spring morning and came to Beloit, Wisconsin, settling on a farm some sixteen miles from that frontier town. After working hard for two years at the carpenter's trade, which he had managed to learn back East, he saved sufficient money to provide for himself the opportunity of attending the Beloit Seminary for one year. This year of schooling was indeed a happy one for our subject, for working at his trade mornings and evenings and Saturday afternoons, he combined within the space of a single day the experience that comes not only from the study of books, but also from the wider fields of actual labor among men of many classes. Two years after his first arrival in Wisconsin, Watson's father came to join him in the new region.

In 1849 Watson commenced reading medicine in the country and twelve months later went back to Beloit to read with Dr. E.L. Clark. The following winters, in 1851-2 he attended a course of lectures at Rush Medical College, Chicago. With this preliminary medical education he began the practice of medicine in the small town of McGregor, Iowa, the first physician to locate at that place. Eighteen months later, with the stern experiences of the early doctor picked up amidst the hills of McGregor, he attended a second course of lectures at Rush Medical College, graduating with honor in February, 1854. Two months after his graduation, he came [back] to Iowa, and according to his own statement "stuck out a shingle in Dubuque in 1854". After a few months in Dubuque, Dr. R.S. Lewis, at that time a prominent physician of the city, recognizing his worth both as a physician and a man, formed a partnership with the energetic young doctor and that partnership was dissolved only by the death of the white-haired Lewis on the 10th of September 1859. From that date Dr. Watson was always alone in practice and rapidly built up a medical business the equal of many of our leading physicians or surgeons of the present day. No man in Iowa has been more assiduous in the duties of his profession.

With the out-break of the Great Rebellion, William Watson hearing the call of his country, entered the army as a surgeon of the Eleventh Iowa Infantry, on the 20th of October, 1861. On March 4, 1863, after active service on the field he resigned from this post to accept the position of assistant surgeon of United States Volunteers under appointment of President Lincoln and was immediately commissioned by the secretary of war for responsible hospital duties at Memphis, Tennessee. In August of the same year he was placed in charge of the Jackson hospital, the next month was promoted as surgeon of volunteers and ordered to Louisville, Kentucky. IN February, 1864, he was placed in charge of the Crittenden Hospital, and thirty days later sent to Rock Island, Illinois, to take charge of the post and prison hospitals located there. It was an important assignment, requiring great diplomacy and tact. He remained in charge at Rock Island until mustered out on the twentieth of October, 1865. Returning to Dubuque, he received a brevet commission of lieutenant-colonel leaving the army with a truly bright record. Governor Kirkwood when he entrusted the care of a regiment to Dr. Watson made no mistake in his man, for later we are told that it there was a place where disaster had caused an accumulation of sick and dying, or if lack of foresight had failed to arrest the spread of disease, or to provide for the wounded, it was to Medical Officer Watson they turned with confidence for assistance and support.

In politics Dr. Watson was a democrat, until the republican party was organized, at which time he changed his view and clung tenaciously to the latter party. He never sought office. The doctor was an Odd Fellow and was a representative to the Grand Lodge on numerous occasions. He was a member of the Dubuque County Medical Society, of the State Medical Society and served as president of both. He was a president of the State Medical Society in 1868 when it held its first annual meeting at Des Moines. He served as delegate to the International Medical Congress which met at Philadelphia, in 1876. As a parlimentarian in the Iowa State Medical Society he was a recognized power. His knowledge of the constitution and by-laws of the State Society, keen analysis and recollection of yearly amendments, has probably never been equalled. In the meetings of the American Medical Association, Watson of Iowa, when he arose to speak needed no introduction. In this state Dr. Watson is especially remembered for his sterling worth as a man, for his keen enthusiasm in his work, splendid memory and general prominence in affairs of the Iowa State Medical Society. He has written a number of valuable historical sketches of some of the lives of the early pioneer physicians. For years he remained the nestor of the Dubuque County Medical Society.

Dr. Watson was first married in Portland, Maine, in November 1860, to Miss Lucy Giddings, who died on the 13th of March, 1862, leaving one child, Fred. He was married a second time on the fourtheenth of September, 1868 to Miss Lucy F. Conkey of Dubuque. He remained in active practice in Dubuque until 1901. Since then, and up to the time of his death he traveled extensively, visiting in the course of his wanderings every state in the union. Hale and hearty to the end he was a splendid type of a true gentleman of the old school. HIs aristocratic appearance on the streets of Dubuque is oft remarked by the younger generation of physicians. He died on the twenty-first day of November, 1910, at the home of his son F.J. Watson, Thatcher avenue, River Forest, Chicago. His body was brought to Dubuque and buried in Lindwood cemertery. His passing marks the last of our early Iowa doctors many of whom were engaged in laying the foundation of city and state as well as practicing their profession.
(pg 209-213)

Dr. Weir
pg 151, mention
The Wapello County Medical Society was organized in 1853 by Dr. C.C. Warden; J. Williamson; W.L. Orr and A.D. Wood of Ottumwa; Dr. J.W. LaForce of Ashland, and Dr. Weir of Agency.
Edward Whinery
pg 121 & 122, mention; pg 38-41, full text

At it's eighteenth annual meeting of the Iowa State Medical Society in Des Moines, February 5, 1868. Drs. Ed. Whinery, Wm. Watson and H.L. Whitman were appointed as a committee to draft a bill to prevent criminal abortion. At this same meeting, Articles of Incorporation were presented. Edward Whinery of Ft. Madison appeared as one of those present and was named as a trustee of the Society for the first year and as a signer of the Articles on the 6th day of February, A.D., 1868 (pg 121 & 122)

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.
(pg 38-41)
[The lengthly report of the case Dr. Whinery presented followed. It has not been included with the biographical sketch.To read it go to Part Second of this book]

H.L. Whitman
pg 119-122 & 145, mention
At it's eighteenth annual meeting of the Iowa State Medical Society in Des Moines, February 5, 1868, Dr. H.L. Whitman, president of Polk County Medical Society "welcomed the members from abroad in an appropriate and well received address." Drs. Ed. Whinery, Wm. Watson and H.L. Whitman were appointed as a committee to draft a bill to prevent criminal abortion. At this same meeting, Articles of Incorporation were presented. H.L. Whitman of Des Moines appeared as one of those present and was named as a trustee of the Society for the first year and as a signer of the Articles on the 6th day of February, A.D., 1868. He also participated as a speaker at the meeting and was elected a censor. (pg 119-122 & pg 145)
Jefferson Williamson
pg 119, 124, 151 & 234, mention; pg 221-122, full text

Dr. J. Williamson of Ottumwa was elected recording secretary, at the eighteenth annual meeting of Iowa State Medical Society in Des Moines, February 5, 1868. (pg 119)
At this same meeting ... That the dignity of the profession might be conserved, Dr. J. Williamson offered the following resolution:

Whereas, a ember of this Society is engaged in selling a patented instrument known as the Babcock's uterine supporter, in violation to the code of ethics of this Society, and derogatory to professional character. Therefore, resolved that this Society express its disapproval and condemnation of such conduct. Adopted unanimously.

(pg 124)

The Wapello County Medical Society was organized in 1853 by Dr. C.C. Warden; J. Williamson; W.L. Orr and A.D. Wood of Ottumwa. Dr. C.C. Warden was president. (pg 151)

Dr. Gustine with a group of active members, notably Drs. Thrall and Williamson of Ottumwa, J.W. Smith of Charles City, A.G. Field of Des Moines, and Wm Watson, assumed in large measure direction of the affairs of the Iowa State Medical Society. (pg 234)

Dr. Jefferson Williamson was born in Adams county, Ohio, March 31, 1827. Graduated in medicine in 1852 from the medical department Western Reserve University. Came to Ottumwa and entered upon the practice of medicine in November 1852, where he practiced continuously fifty-one years. He died in Ottumwa January 12, 1904 at the age of nearly seventy-seven years. Dr. Williamson was a polished gentleman holding to high civic and professional standards. Progressive in his views of medicine, he became recognized as an ideal family physician. Although he made no special claims as a surgeon he had the courage in 1881 to perform an operation for a large ovarian tumor with a successful result; at a time when the operation was looked upon as a doubtful undertaking. Dr. Williamson was a constant attendant of the meetings of the State Medical Society and was an inspiration to the younger members. He was active in the business of the society and his usefulness caused his name to appear at one time or another on the most important committees throughout his long membership of forty-five years. In 1872 he was elected president of the Society. The profession of Ottumwa has been particularly distinguished for its loyalty to high ideals to which the influence of Dr. Williamson was an important factor. (pg 121-122)

J.M. Witherwax
pg 112, mention
Was an original member of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1850.
J.W. Witherwax
pg 154-155, mention
Scott County Medical Society was organized in Davenport, October 18, 1856, nine physicians met for that purpose at the office of Drs. Witherwax and Carter. J.W. Witherwax sat on a committee to revise the Society's constitution and by-laws.
A.D. Wood
pg 151, mention
The Wapello County Medical Society was organized in 1853 by Dr. C.C. Warden; J. Williamson; W.L. Orr and A.D. Wood of Ottumwa. Dr. A.D. Wood was vice-president.
Peter N. Woods
pg 232-233
Dr. Peter N. Woods, of Mr. Pleasant was born in Gremoille, Stark county, Ohio, September 8, 1829. Received his preliminary education at Vermillion Institute, Haysville, Ohio and the Ohio Wesleylan University, graduated in medicine at Cincinnati June 10, 1854. Practiced at Rome, Ohio, until May, 1856 when he removed to Fairfield, Iowa. In 1879-80 he was a graduate student in Rush Medical College and received the degree of M.D. from this institution in 1880. In July 1862 he was commissioned as recruiting officer, in August was detailed as examining surgeon for Jefferson county and in September commissioned surgeon of the 39th Iowa Infantry. In December, he was sent to the front with his regiment and served in the Tennessee campaigns until late in 1864 when he was appointed acting division surgeon on the staff of General Sweeney. In General Sherman's Atlanta campaign, he was placed in charge of the sick and wounded of the 4th Division of the 15th Army Corps. He was at the battle of Altoona and had charge of the hospital at that place, when Sherman marched to the sea. Later, at his own request, he was relieved and joined his regiment at Beaufort. Later he joined his regiment at Beaufort. At the close of this service, Dr. Woods was detailed as chief surgeon of Sherman's Provisional Division until it was disbanded at Raleigh, North Carolina in 1865. He was ordered to Washington with his regiment and was finally mustered out at Clinton, Iowa. Dr. Woods in addition to a large medical practice, was also interested in various business enterprises, among the most important was the Fairfield woolen mills of which he was one of the original protectors. Dr. Woods died March 19, 1886, from pneumonia, at the age of 57 years. (pg 232-233)
R.H. Wyman
pg 137, mention; pg 36-37, full text

At a meeting of the Keokuk Medical Society on July 27, 1858, Dr. J.C. Hughes proposed drafting a fee bill. Drs. McGugin, Carpenter, Wyman and Bond were named as the committee. (pg 137)

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. (pg 36-37)

H.B. Young
pg 17 & 182, mention
Through the cooperation of Dr. H.B. Young of Burlington who kindly examined the early records of Des Moines county we have been able to secure some valuable data in relation to early physician-settlers... (pg 17)

From Burlington, Dr. H.B. Young was on the editorial staff of the Iowa State Medical Reporter, 1884. (pg 182)

*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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