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History of Adair
County, Iowa,
and its People.  1915.

Volume 1.


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There is no profession, no trade, no enterprise, which did not have a beginning in darkness; there is no effort to which the forces and energies of mankind have been directed but that did not first combat the obscurity of ignorance, pardonable ignorance, it is true.

In this enlightened age of medical science one regards the early doctor as a person with little knowledge of the profession, one who applied the home remedies of calomel, castor oil and blue pill with the abandon of a solicitous grandmother and one who wielded the lancet with artistic indiscrimination.  However one regards the early physician, there must be taken into account the times in which he worked, in other words the knowledge of medicine and surgery which then existed in the world.  Secondly, there are the physical conditions under which the early doctor worked.  Thirdly, there was distinct character of disease among the early settlers, and, lastly, the remedies with which the doctor had to work were scarce and many times not the best antidote for the ailment.

In the matter of world knowledge of medicine at that time it can safely be said that little or nothing was known in comparison with the present status of the science.  In fact, medicine has made more rapid strides in the past decade than in the past century.  In the early days of this state and county the doctors had strong faith in the use of the lancet, believing that by letting a copious amount of blood from the patient, the object of which was to destroy the tenement of the disease, a cure could be effected.  Then there was the Spanish fly blister which was applied for all sorts of ills; there were calomel and blue pills as the universal internal remedies.  During the convalescent period of the patient's disease, if such a period were ever reached, gamboge, castor oil and senna were administered in generous portions to work out of the system the effects of the first course of treatment.

It would be difficult to describe in limited space just how far the step has been taken from those early theories to the present day theories.  A glance at the daily newspapers and magazines will invariably prove by concrete instance the wonderful cures being effected today, both in medicine and surgery.  Operations upon the heart, upon the brain, upon the other delicate and vital organs of the body are becoming of daily occurrence, whereas a quarter century ago they would have been ridiculed.  The day of serums has arrived and the disease is thus throttled in its inception.  The present-day doctor assists nature to repair the break and is a man of thought and initiative.

The physical conditions under which the early doctor worked is another point in his favor.  There were no roads, bridges and in many places there was not even a marked path of travel.  His trips were made on horseback through intense blizzards, soaking rains, bitter cold and in the face of the high winds which swept across the prairie.  Oftentimes his sleep was snatched while in the saddle.  In reward for this torturous service he received a very meager fee and the fact is known today that in the majority of cases he received nothing, for the settlers as a class were too poor to pay for his aid.  Then again, he would receive his fee in potatoes, apples, flour or whatever commodity the settler could most conveniently give him.

The diseases common to the early settlers were distinctive. The rough life they led and the exposures they endured did not permit entrance to the many ills and pains attendant upon civilization and large urban communities.  Fevers and ague, with an occasional stomach ache, were nearly all the ills they bore.  Accidents there were which required the use of splints of wood and bandages and also the early doctor needed a good knowledge of obstetrics, although the latter skill was not always called into use.  The hardy pioneer mother many times endured the birth of her child without assistance.  When sickness broke in the family the doctor was called if within distance, but if not, the stock of simple remedies in every cabin was put to use.  If it were nothing more than a cold among the children the application of hot lard or bacon rind and the internal use of quinine or onion juice completed the treatment.  Sweet powders were also taken.


In the year 1857 there was a physician named Hinkle who came to this county from Decatur County and located at Fontanelle.  He was a Mormon preacher and it is said that he had two wives with him.  He was an eclectic practitioner, also ran a small general store for a time.  In the fall of 1858 he returned to Decatur County and there died.

Dr. Nelson Bates came to Fontanelle on August 1, 1866, from Lewis County, N. Y.  He was known as a good doctor and built up a good patronage.  He was born in Jefferson County, N. Y., in 1813.

The first physician to locate in Greenfield was a Doctor Edinton, who came here in 1864.  He had a very poor reputation while here.  He taught the school for one term, but his drinking habits compelled him to give this up.  He shortly left the county.

Dr. Arthur R. Brackett and Dr. Charles E. Stoner also practiced in Greenfield for a time. Dr. E. Spooner was another prominent physician of the early days and also served as postmaster at Greenfield.

Dr. F. M. Culverson came to Greenfield in the spring of 1880 and entered the practice of his profession.  Dr. John E. Howe came to Greenfield in August, 1875.  Dr. A. W. Vaughn, a native of Rock Island, Ill., began his work in Adair County in 1881.  Hamlin V. Monnett moved to Fontanelle in 1881 and began his duty here under great handicap, but persevered  and soon built up a good practice.  Dr. Peter McDermid came to Fontanelle in the early '70s, purchased a large drug store, pursuing this business in connection with his medical practice.

Dr. T. M. Moore began practice at Fontanelle in 1856 or 1857.  Dr. Calvin B. Scott commenced his work in Fontanelle in 1879.

The first physician in the Town of Adair was Dr. T. D. Lougher.  He settled here in March, 1875.  Fayette Parsons, another early physician of Adair, came in 1877, settling on eighty acres in Summit Township until 1880, when he went to Adair.


On December 17, 1903, the Adair County Medical Association was organized at Greenfield, composed of most of the doctors in this county.  This organization is affiliated with the state association by rule of the latter which considers the county association the unit of their own organization.  There are ten members of the Adair County organization, namely: Drs. J. E. Howe,  J. A. Harper,  James Macrae,  F. B. Culverson,  P. McDermid,  Ira Gibson,  Eugene Tinsman,  A. S. Bowers,  R. R. Chapman and Preston Powell.  The latter is a resident of Adair and is the only doctor in the northern part of the county who is a member, owing to the inaccessibility of the northern towns to the remainder of the county.  A regular meeting is held on the second Thursday in December of every year and a call meeting is generally held in June.


The following list is of the physicians who have registered at the clerk's office in Adair County since the beginning:  E. H. Adams, 1897;  E. L. Asbell, 1899;  M. I. Adams, 1914;  J. H. Baker, 1895;  G. A. Broady, 1899; Martin Bower, 1901;  Elmer Babcock, 1901;  A. S. Bowers, 1903;  George Brooks, dentist, 1906;  F. P Culverson, 1887;  H. L. Coleman, 1891;  R. R. Chapman, 1894;  W. W. Claybaugh, 1896;  F. J. Correll, 1911;  G. W. Deemer, 1894;  S. O. Davis 1895;  F. T. Dewitt, 1902;  D. T. E. Kirkpatrick, 1903;  E. J. Everett, 1899;  P. W. Flickinger, 1906;  J. E. Howe, 1886;  E. B. Hicks, 1888;  J. R. Hughes, 1893;  J. A. Harper, Jr., 1896;  W. L. Hummer, 1905;  Edwin J. Higgins, 1910;  H. H. Hunt, 1913;  J. W. Johnston, 1899;  M. E. Johnson, 1899;  Charles D. Knapp, 1887;  J. F. Kempker, 1893;  W. K. Keith, 1894;  J. W. Kelly, 1898;  H. G. Lynch, 1887;  T. D. Lougher, 1887;  C. P. Liegerot, 1901;  T,. W. Mielhem, 1886;  H. P. Monnette, 1886;  P. McDermid, 1887;  S. Mosher, Sr., 1894;  C. O. Maloney, 1895;  R. P. Miller, 1896;  Pierre McDermid, 1898;  C. A. Miller, 1902;  J. H. Maynard, 1906;  J. G. Macrae, 1912;  S. D. Packwood, 1896;  Preston Powell, 1899;  A. A. Potterf, 1901;  Leslie W. Scott, 1888;  M. M. Schener, 1888;  F. E. Sampson, 1891;  F. A. Saum, 1891;  A. J. Scofield, 1893;  A. B. Shideler, 1904;  Hartford Sweet, 1905;  S. A. Sammons, 1905;  J. R. Shike, 1911;  I. F. Trumbull, 1887;  J. Thompson, 1889;  G. E. Thweatt, 1894;  W. E. Turner, 1896;  Eugene Tinsman, 1903;  Samuel G. Wishard, 1887;  H. A. Weirick, 1889;  A. H. Warren, 1891;  G. W. Weddell, 1906;  H. H. Woodward, 1908;  E. W. Wilson, 1910;  C. N. White, 1915;  D. S. Ziegler, 1899;  A. Zook, 1906.


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