Posted By: Cindy Bray Lovell (email)
Date: 3/10/2007 at 01:14:14
Allamakee co. Minister & Patent Medicine Peddler
The "days when anyone who read up on medicine" could prescribe cures for the ill was recalled recently when Dr. F. T. Plank, retired Independence dentist, revealed the existence of an old family heirloom. The 77-year-old dentist admired a patent medicine kit used by his grandfather. John Plank, when he was a German Methodist minister traveling through eastern Iowa and western Illinois.
Forty small bottles stopped with corks and filled with pills — from Aconlt to Verat — neatly arranged in a small box well made of native lumber formed the stock of medicine from which Dr. Flank's Grandfather mixed his cures when "doctors" didn't need a license. Dr. Plank estimated that the medicine kit is at least 110 years old. But it has been well preserved and. many of the bottles remain filled as the minister left them at the time of his death.
The retired Dr. Plank related that his grandfather was born in Germany. He came to America in 1829 and became a German Methodist minister. While traveling as a minister he was away from home six months at a time — he would also give his services as a prescriber of patent medicines. The minister and his family settled in Allamakee county where he was presiding elder (district superintendent) for churches of his faith. He later retired as a minister and moved his family (on a farm near Kimball. S. Dak.) He died there as the result of a fall. Feb. 7. 1890.
"My grandfather handed the medicine kit down to my father, whose name was also John, and then it was given to me," Dr. Plank remarked.
Dr. Plank, the youngest of eight children, was born in Allamakee county. His parents moved to Buchanan county when he was six weeks old. His father was a farmer.
In 1895 the local dentist graduated from Quasqueton high school and went to work in the Winthrop creamery. It was then he decided to become a dentist. When he got his degree in dentistry at the University of Iowa, he returned to Quasqueton to begin his practice.
-Bulletin Journal, Independence, Iowa; September 18, 1953
-transcribed by Cindy Bray Lovell
Note: the Plank family lived in Linton twp. Allamakee co. Iowa. They can be found on the 1860, 1870, 1880 & 1900 federal census.
Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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