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Dr. Winfield FORDYCE


Posted By: Joey Stark - Jefferson Co. Volunteer
Date: 3/11/2006 at 21:56:02

"Fairfield Ledger", Tues., Apr. 17, 1928

Dr. Winfield FORDYCE Dead; Practiced Medicine 56 Years

Last of the Old Time Doctors of the County Passed Away Last Night At His Home -- Funeral Thursday At 2 P.M., And Burial In Evergreen Cemetery -- Was Active In His Profession Almost To The Last

Dr. Winfield FORDYCE, for more than half a century a practicing physician in Jefferson county, died last night at 7:25 o'clock at his home, 200 East Broadway, following a stroke of paralysis Sunday noon. Before that, however, he had been in failing health for several months and not much at his office.

Funeral services will be held Thursday afternoon at 2 oclock at the residence and will be conducted by Dr. U. S. Smith, pastor of the First Methodist Church. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery.

Dr. FORDYCE was one of the old school of country practitioners who rode the country over in wind and storm and rain and shine and heat and cold, carrying not alone medical aid to the sick and unfortunate, but kindly consolation and encouragement, uplifting the spirit as well as healing the body, a repository of the innermost secrets of his patients.

~~ One of the Last ~~
He is one of the last of his kind in Iowa, and perhaps the last in active practice. His ministrations extend back for fifty-six years, beginning when he appeared in Glasgow as a young man of 24, fresh from his studies in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Keokuk and ambitious to serve his community and make a name for himself in his profession.

The country doctor in those early days was a man of parts in his community, standing out as a learned man, along with the preacher and school teacher, in a time when education was not so common as now and opportunities for going to college were not so numerous.

Glasgow was a thriving town, even then fighting for its existence as the competition with railroad towns grew keener. It had perhaps a hundred population, and three doctors served the town and surrounding country. Dr. FORDYCE outlived the others and took his place as the prominent physician in that part of the county for years.

~~ Born in 1848 ~~
He was born February 10, 1848, in Liberty township and lived until he was twenty-one on the farm. But by the time he had attained his majority he had decided that neither his tastes nor his talents lay along the paths of agriculture. So he entered the office of Dr. J.M. Morris, a noted early-day doctor in Birmingham, to "read" medicine, as they used to day.

From that preparation he went to Keokuk to enter the notable college of Physicians and Surgeons, a school that was well known in its day and which gave training to many a useful doctor in this midwest country.

~~ School Day Memories ~~
His memories of his school days were a bright spot in his life. Keokuk then was a flourishing river town, and steamboats crowded its wharves and brought prosperity with them. The Keokuk & Western railroad was built to extend this prosperity to the interior and hold, against the development of other river towns, commercial supremacy.

Into the midst of this bustle and activity, thus surge of prosperity, Young FORDYCE plunged with enthusiasm, and from all this he caught the spirit of progress. He had been a student of the more than locally famous S. M. Whitaker, pioneer school teacher, who only recently passed away. The late John C. Thorne was also a student of Mr. Whitaker, and these two old school mates went together, a few years ago to a big celebration at Bonaparte given in the old pedagogue's honor.

~~ Hangs Out Shingle ~~
Dr. FORDYCE hung out his shingle in Glasgow as his formal announcement that he was ready to practice and sat down to await patients. In later years he recounted with good humor the tediousness of that wait, which was common to all beginners, and would chuckle as he said that for the first year he "practiced mostly economy".

But success came. He rode oftener and further on horseback with his saddlebags freighted with vials and powders, and as his practice extended his skill increased. He read dilligently as medicine and surgery began to make their amazing advances, and kept growing with the growth of that science.

He had a vast store of commonsense and resourcefulness to help him out in emergencies, and his unfailing good humor, cloaked with an easy penetrable brusqueness, was a delight to his friends, and as asset to him in his labors.

~~ The Night Call ~~
Fifty years ago transportation was more laborious than now. Illness was likely to come in bad weather when the roads were worst. Seemingly people thriftily awaited slack farming seasons to get sick. And the telephone had not carried speedy and convenient communication to the country. So men rode through the night on horseback to summon the doctor, and many was the long, chill ride Dr. FORDYCE took, following along dark and muddy roads, as a grief-stricken father or husband piloted him to a sickbed.

The responsibility resting upon a doctor those early days was heavy. There were no hospitals, no trained nurses. He had to instruct in the care of patients, and bully and bribe and threaten to insure his treatments' being carried out. And when amateur nursing failed and ineptness and softness menaced, the doctor often had to stay through a crisis to insure the proper care for his patient.

~~ Friend of Stork ~~
One of the important functions of the pioneer doctor was that of official welcomer of the Stork and Dr. FORDYCE soon won the confidence of the community for his skill and kindliness in these events, so that he was in great demand as an obstetrician. He probably has brought more babies into the world than any other physician in the county, and there are instances where he presided in succession at the birth of mother, daughter and granddaughter.

In his early life he was a great hunter, and after he went to Glasgow he suffered an accident in which he lost the middle fingers of one hand. He was standing with his hand on the muzzle of his gun, when it was discharged by some accident, and the charge tore off the fingers.

He became a most dedicated Mason, and joined also the Knights of Pythias. He was a lifelong republican.

~~ To Fairfield in '91 ~~
After nineteen years' residence in Glasgow, Dr. FORDYCE and his family moved to Fairfield. He had married Miss Miriam FELL of Libertyville, December 19, 1876, four years after beginning practice. Mrs. FORDYCE and three children -- Mrs. J. Mulford BURNETT of Burlington, Mrs. J. A. ROTH of Rock Rapids, and Cr. Chester FORDYCE of Fairfield, survive him.

He immediately took up his office quarters in the Risk building at the northwest corner of the square and for thirty-five years remained there. Two years ago, however, his advancing age made necessary his removal to a ground floor room on North Court Street. He remained active in practice, however, even seeing patients at this home after he had become unable to visit the office.

~~ Welcomed the Auto ~~
It was only within a few years that he had diminished his activities in the least, and the coming of the automobile made it possible for him to continue with ease his trips to the country over roads that he had traveled on dark nights astride his faithful plodding horse, crossing streams on concrete bridges where in other years he had to swim his steed.

~~ A Big Banquet ~~
On the even of the completion of his fifty years of practice, April 14, 1922, the Jefferson County Medical Society honored him with a banquet to which doctors came from a distance. Dr. S. K. Davis of Libertyville presided and Dr. A. O. Williams came from Ottumwa to respond to the toast "Boneset and Other Specialties" and Dr. F. M. Tombaugh from Burlington to speak on "The Golden Age of Medicine", while Mrs. J. S. Gaumer spoke on "When the Doctor Is In", and Dr. C. L. Tennant, then pastor of the First Methodist Church here, spoke briefly on "As Others See Us".

It wast joyous occasion, but it did not mark by almost six years the end of his active practice of his profession.

[Also posted to the Jefferson County Biographies board]

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I have no relation to the person(s).


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