The Gilfillan Brothers Biographies
The Story of Iowa: Family and Personal History
(Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1952) Petersen Volumes III & IV
HOMER J GILFILLAN, M D- In 1937, the Gilfillan family of Bloomfield will celebrate one hundred years of service to the people of Iowa in the field of medicine and surgery. Since 1857, when the father of Dr Homer J Gilfillan pioneered as a medical man in Van Buren County and southeastern Iowa as a whole, three generations of the family have practiced the profession in the state, carrying on what still another generation began in Pennsylvania back in the 1820s. Dr Homer J Gilfillan, who for a time practiced with his pioneering father and then for years was in independent practice in various parts of the state, is the father of six sons, all of whom are also medical men. Four of these sons founded and operated the Gilfillan Clinic in Bloomfield, one of the nation’s most active medical centers, drawing patients from many states besides Iowa. One of Dr Gilfillan’s 3 daughters, his oldest child, is the wife of a dentist. Dr Gilfillan, who began his career as newspaperman and pharmacist and then turned to the profession of his father and grandfather, has been known to the profession and the laiety since 1896. He is active in medical, fraternal, and other organizations, and prominent in civic life. He retired in 1946.
Dr Homer J Gilfillan was born in Milton, Van Buren County, on April 28, 1868. His parents were Dr George W and Josephine (Swartz) Gilfillan. The former was born in West Alexander, Pennsylvania, on October 25, 1835, and was the son of Dr Edward Gilfillan, who practiced at West Alexander all his adult life. Dr George W Gilfillan studied medicine under his father-in-law, also a physician and surgeon. In 1855, Dr George Gilfillan moved to Iowa and for 2 years studied at the Keokuk Medical College. He then began practice at Bentonsport, in Van Buren County, one of the first doctors in the entire region. Later he established himself at Milton, in the same county, and in 1895 he moved to Mt Pleasant. For some time he and his son, Homer, practiced together in that community. Dr George Gilfillan died in August, 1908, an honored citizen of Iowa. His widow, who was a native of Virginia, died in 1918.
The son, Homer, was reared at Milton and given his early education in its public schools. In 1886 he was graduated from Milton High School. During his early life he was interested in newspaper work and followed this interest as an employee in the mechanical department of the “Milton Herald.” In 1890, he went to Des Moines and entered Highland Park College, where he studied pharmacy. The following year he returned to Milton, and with a partner, W H Boyd, established the “Tri-County Independent,” a weekly paper covering portions of Iowa and Missouri. He was publisher of this paper for one year. In 1893, having decided to follow what might be called the Gilfillan family profession, he entered Keokuk Medical College. From this institution he was graduated in June, 1896, with the degree of Doctor of Medicine.
Until 1900, Dr Gilfillan practiced at Trenton; then for the next 8 years, he and his father were partners in practice at Mount Pleasant. After the father’s death in 1908, Homer Gilfillan continued alone in the community until 1918. He then returned to his native town of Milton, where he practiced for 10 years. In 1928, he moved to nearby Cantril, where he practiced until his retirement in 1946. Since the latter year he has been residing at the home of his son, Dr George W Gilfillan, at 108 South Bloomfield Street, Bloomfield.
Dr Homer Gilfillan is a life member of the Davis County Medical Society and the Iowa State Medical Association. Also, he belongs to the Fifty Year Club of the Iowa organization. In addition, he is a member of the American Medical Association. Active in the Free and accepted Masons, in which he holds the Thirty-second degree, Dr Gilfillan belongs to such bodies as the Knight’s Templar, the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and the Order of the Eastern Star. His other organizations include the Knights of Pythias, which he joined in 1889, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Republican Party. In religion he is a Methodist.
Dr Homer J Gilfillan married Clara Moon, daughter of William T and Armida (Pobst) Moon, on August 24, 1893. Both of Mrs Gilfillan’s parents were natives of Clinton County, Ohio. Mrs Gilfillan was born in Westboro, Ohio, on October 21, 1873. The 9 children of Dr Gilfillan and Clara (Moon) Gilfillan are: Pauline, now the wife of Dr W L Milstead, and residing in New York City, and the mother of Homer John Milstead; Esther Florence Gilfillan, who resides in Bloomfield; Dr George William Gilfillan (q.v.), one of the four brothers operating the Gilfillan Clinic in Bloomfield; Dr Harold M Gilfillan, a surgeon in San Francisco, California; Dorothy Leona, now the wife of H A Mahannah of Cherokee: Dr Clarence D N Gilfillan (q.v.), another of the partners of the Gilfillan Clinic; Dr Earl E Gilfillan (q.v.), still another partner; Dr Erwin O Gilfillan, a specialist in internal medicine attached to the Sault Polyclinic at Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan; and Dr Homer J Gilfillan, Jr (q.v.), fourth of the brothers in the Gilfillan Clinic.
Vol IV Pg 753-754
GEORGE WILLIAM GILFILLAN, MD- The Gilfillan Clinic at Bloomfield has been described as one of the busiest medical centers in the United States. This of course, means it is one of the best known, with patients flocking to it from many states for surgery and other forms of therapy for all the ill which afflict the human body. Four brothers founded this clinic, and, with 2 additional associates, are operating it today. The oldest of these brothers is Dr George William Gilfillan. Formerly in practice at Pulaski, another Davis County community, Dr Gilfillan was with the United States Navy in World War II, before joining his brothers in the establishment of the clinic. He belongs to a family which has made medical history in Iowa since the pioneer days and is himself a surgeon of note.
Dr George William Gilfillan was born in Henry county on October 29, 1899, where his father, Dr Homer J Gilfillan, whose record precedes this, began his own medical practice in 1896. The father, who practiced in various parts of southeastern Iowa for fifty years, now lives in retirement with the son George. The mother was Clara (Moon) Gilfillan, a native of Westboro, Ohio. Dr George W Gilfillan, paternal Grandfather of the subject of this sketch, began his medical practice in Bentonsport, Van Buren County, in 1857, and died in 1908, at Mount Pleasant. The paternal great-grandfather was Dr Edward Gilfillan, who was a physician and surgeon at West Alexander, Pennsylvania.
The present Dr George W Gilfillan spent most of his early life in Mount Pleasant, where for years his father and grandfather were partners in practice, and where the father later continued in independent practice. He was graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1918. World War I was then nearing its end, and for 3 months after he entered the State University of Iowa, at Iowa City, the future doctor was a member of the Student Army Training Corps there. Then, for an equal period, he was in an Officers Training School for the United States Medical Corps at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, in 1921. In 1924, the State University conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Medicine, chiefly in surgery. His scholastic and professional studies led to his election to such fraternities as Alpha Kappa Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha.
Dr Gilfillan began his practice in Pulaski in 1925. He remained there until 1933, when he moved to the county seat, Bloomfield, and here his practice was centered until, in 1943, he went into the United States Navy as a lieutenant commander. He was in the service for 27 months, 17 of which he served a t sea, and nine of which he served at the United States Naval Hospital at Oceanside, California. For the distinguished character of his service in the Battler o Iwo Jima, Dr Gilfillan was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Separated from the service in November, 1945 he returned to Bloomfield and his surgical practice. In 1946, in partnership with his brothers, Dr Clarence D N Gilfillan, a surgeon; Dr Earl E Gilfillan, a specialist in internal medicine; and Dr Home J Gilfillan, Jr: a specialist in diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat, all of whom are subjects of biographies following this outline, he opened the Gilfillan Clinic in Bloomfield. The brothers established their clinic in the old Southern Iowa Normal School Building, which they purchased and remodeled. It is one of the most modern and attractive professional structures of its kind in the nation. Associated with the Drs Gilfillan are Dr R S Schoonover, urologist, and Dr S R Jaskunas, obstetrician and gynecologist. The clinic enjoys a tremendous practice, with patients streaming in from all corners of the north central states and other portions of the country.
Dr Gilfillan is a member of the Iowa Clinical Surgical Society, the Davis County Medical Society, the Iowa State Medical Association, the American Medical Association, Franklin Lodge No 14, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, in Bloomfield, the Order of the Eastern Star, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Rotary Club of Bloomfield, the Bloomfield Country Club, the American Legion, the American Veterans of World War II, and the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce. He is on the staffs of Ottumwa hospital, and has contributed numerous papers on medical subjects to the Davis and Wapello County professional organizations. He worships in the Methodist Church and in politics is a Republican. All outdoor sports afford him relaxation.
Dr George William Gilfillan married Mabel Dills, daughter of John and Loretta (McCain) Dills, on September 29, 1923. Mrs Gilfillans father was born in Amington, Illinois, her mother in Lincoln, Illinois. The father, who farmed in Iowa most of his life, died in 1925. His widow resides at Milton, Illinois. Dr and Mrs Gilfillan are the parents of Joy N Gilfillan, who was born, in February, 1941. Mrs Gilfillan, active in women’s affairs in Bloomfield, is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, the Tri-T, and president of the PEO Sisterhood.
VOL IV Page 754-755
CLARENCE D N GILFILLAN, M D – Medicine is the profession which is associated throughout Iowa with the name of Gilfillan, a family which pioneered in the profession in the southeastern part of the state. Of this profession, Dr Clarence D N Gilfillan, is a distinguished member. With 3 of his brothers, all doctors, as were their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, doctors, his is a founder and operator of The Gilfillan Clinic in Bloomfield, a medical center whose patients come from many states of the Union as well as Iowa.
Dr Clarence D N Gilfillan, was born at Mount Pleasant on January 1, 1906, the son of Dr Homer J (q.v.) and Clara (Moon) Gilfillan. His father, a noted physician and surgeon who, now in retirement, resides in Bloomfield after a half century of service to the state in various communities. He is the son of Dr George W Gilfillan, who practiced in southeastern Iowa from 1857 until his death in 1908, an honored pioneer, and the grandson of Dr Edward Gilfillan, who practiced medicine in Pennsylvania in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Dr Clarence Gilfillan was graduated from Milton High School at Milton, in Van Buren County, in 1924. He then entered Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant, where he remained 2 years. For his professional training he went to the State University of Iowa, at Iowa City, where, in 1932, he was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Medicine, and followed this with a year’s internship at French Hospital, San Francisco, California. He also served at Letterman Hospital in the California City and afterward remained there a while in private practice.
Returning eventually to Iowa, Dr Gilfillan opened an office in Fremont. Subsequently he was in practice in Eldon. Then, when the United States became involved in World War II, he entered the Army with a commission as first lieutenant. He kept rising in rank until he reached that of a major. His last post was at Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, and he was separated from the service in 1945.
By the time he returned home and re-acclimated himself to civilian life and conditions, Dr Gilfillan’s brothers were ready to join him in partnership in establishing the group medical organization which so quickly attained a reputation, The Gilfillan Clinic. These brothers are Dr George W Gilfillan, surgeon; Dr Earl E Gilfillan, internist; and Dr Homer J Gilfillan, Jr, Specializing in eye, ear, nose, and throat diseases. Dr Clarence Gilfillan is himself also a surgeon in the group. The careers of the brothers are chronicled with the Drs Gilfillan in the clinic are R S Schoonover, urologist, and Dr S R Jaskunas, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.
Dr Gilfillan is a member of the Davis County Medical Society, the Iowa State Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the Bloomfield Country Club, and the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, in which he holds the Thirty-second degree. He is a Republican and Methodist.
Dr Clarence D N Gilfillan married Janet Hodaway of Hawarden, and they are the parents of 2 children; James, who was born on August 13, 1936, and Victoria Jean, who was born on December 8, 1945. Dr Gilfillan and his family make their home in Bloomfield.
EARL E GILFILLAN, M D- A major contribution to the field of medicine and the health and welfare of the people of the North Central States is being made by Dr Earl E Gilfillan of Bloomfield, a specialist in internal medicine. Dr Gilfillan practices at the Gilfillan Clinic, which, with three brothers, he founded in 1946. This clinic has developed into a popular group medical center, with a large practice coming from many states aside from Iowa. Dr Gilfillan, who has practiced in both Iowa and Missouri, also made his contribution through service with the United States Navy in World War II. He is, of course, a member of the family famed in medicine in Iowa since the middle of the last century.
Dr Earl E Gilfillan was born in Mount Pleasant on April 28, 1907, the son of Dr Homer J Gilfillan, the physician and surgeon who for fifty years practiced in various Iowa cities and who now resides in Bloomfield in retirement, and of Clara (Moon) Gilfillan. His father’s life is chronicaled in a separate biography appearing on other pages of this Iowa history.
After being graduated from the Milton High School at Milton, in Van Buren County, where his father practiced for a long time, Earl Gilfillan spent 2 years at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, another scene of his father’s practice. He then studied at the State University of Iowa, Iowa City, from which he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1931. He spent his internship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and upon his return to Iowa, established a practice at Pulaski, but remained there only 3 years, moving at the end of his period to Memphis, Missouri, about 35 miles to the south of Bloomfield. Though he no longer practices in that city, he still makes it his home.
Dr Gilfillan left Memphis soon after the American entry in World War II, to join the United States Navy with the commission of a lieutenant commander. At first stationed at Norman, Oklahoma, he was at sea for months, chiefly in the South Pacific. Separated from the service in 1946, he returned in time to participate, with his brothers, in the founding of The Gilfillan Clinic in Bloomfield. The brothers, each of whom is the subject of a biography also appearing in this history, are Dr George W Gilfillan, surgeon; Dr Clarence D N Gilfillan, surgeon; and Dr Homer J Gilfillan, Jr, specialist in diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat. Two employed associates are Dr R S Schoonover, urologist, and Dr S R Jaskunas, obstetrician and gynecologist. Dr Earl Gilfillan rounds out the group by specializing as internist. This medical unit has attained great stature in the professional as well as the lay world.
Dr Earl E Gilfillan married Luzon McClurg, the daughter of Dr C McClurg, prominent dental surgeon at Milton, in 1928. They are the parents of one daughter, Gertrude, who was born in 1929, now the wide of Roland Oaks and residing at Columbia, Missouri.
Dr Gilfillan is a member of the Davis County Medical Society, the Iowa State Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American Legion, and the Missouri State Medical Association. He is a Republican and worships in the Methodist Church. Mrs Gilfillan is active in club and civic affairs at Memphis.
HOMER J GILFILLAN, JR, M D- A specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat, Dr Homer J Gilfillan, Jr., of Bloomfield, is known throughout Iowa and adjoining north central states. Member of a family long illustrious in Iowa and elsewhere in the nation as physicians and surgeons, he has made an independent contribution to health, welfare, and scientific knowledge. With 3 of his brothers, he is the operator of The Gilfillan Clinic in Bloomfield, a group medical unit attracting patients from many parts of the United States. Like his brothers, dr Gilfillan is a veteran of World War II. He is active in organizational work.
Born at Mount Pleasant on March 9, 1912, Dr Gilfillan is one of the 9 children, 6 sons and 3 daughters of the noted physician and surgeon, Dr Homer J Gilfillan, now retired nad residing in Bloomfield, and of Clara (Moon) Gilfillan. His father, who practiced in various communities of the state for 50 years, is the subject of a separate biography appearing in another portion of this Iowa History. Besides the brothers who are associated with him in the Gilfillan Clinic, Dr Homer Gilfillan, Jr has 2 other brothers in the medical profession: Dr Harold M Gilfillan, of San Francisco, and Dr Edwin O Gilfillan, of Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.
He was graduated from the Cantril High School in 1930, and then studied in the preprofessional and professional classes of the State University of Iowa, Iowa City, receiving his degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1936. After a year’s internship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, Dr Gilfillan served as resident physician in the departments of ophthalmology and otorhinolaryngology there. Later, he was head of the Quincy Clinic Department of ophthalmology in Quincy, Illinois, from 1940 to 1942. In the latter year he was commissioned an officer in the United States Army Medical Corps, with which he served in Africa, Sicily, and Italy. At the time of his separation from the service, after the Japanese surrender in 1945, he was holding the rank of captain.
He then returned to his post with the Quincy Clinic. In 1946,, he returned to his native Iowa to join his brothers, Dr George W Gilfillan, surgeon; Dr Clarence D N Gilfillan, surgeon; and Dr Earl E Gilfillan, internist, in founding the Gilfillan Clinic at Bloomfield. The brothers have, in the few years since founding that institution, made it one of the best known group medical centers in the Middle West. Dr Homer J Gilfillan, Jr who has had postgraduate work in his field of specialization, eye, ear, nose and throat, in Boston, is on the staffs of the Ottumwa Hospital and St Joseph’s Hospital. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, the Davis County Medical Society, the Iowa State Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the Bloomfield Country Club. He is a Republican and Methodist, and his favorite sport is hunting.
Dr Homer J Gilfillan, Jr., married Grace Norris of Cantril, the daughter of Clyde and Martha (McClain) Norris, and they are the parents of one son, Norris Gilfillan, born in 1931, who, in 1949, was a premedical student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.