Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 3 - Page 6, Submitted by David Bunker, March 28, 2012

Medical Practitioner in Early Period Was “Jack of All Trades”

Muscatine’s early medical practitioner was, out of sheer necessity, a jack of all trades. His duties were both numerous and varied, and his equipment consisted of little more than a meager knowledge of how to treat an abrasium or how to administer the proper dosage of pills. In fact, pills, usually of the quinine variety, were the physician’s chief weapon against diseases of all kinds in the days when the city of Muscatine was little more than a struggling trading post.

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Only a few of the pioneer physicians were men of culture, who had gained their medical education in college. For the most part, they were men who had picked up their knowledge of the profession where best they could, usually as an understudy in the office of some practicing medical man.

Books were practically a luxury for the pioneer physician. More than anything else he needed a generous quantity of common sense, quickness of perception and self-reliance. Seldom did he have access to the counsel of practitioners of more ability than himself. His medicines were simple, usually being carried on his person.

Among the diseases most prevalent in Muscatine during the early days were “bilious remitting fever” and “bilious pneumonia.” These ran their course as epidemics during the period from 1833 to 1849.

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One of the earliest and best known of the pioneer physicians was Dr. Eli Reynolds, who came to Muscatine county in 1835 and practiced medicine in the county for 56 years. Dr. Reynolds settled first in Geneva, located a few miles above Bloomington, and while residing there he sought vainly to get the county seat located there. He resided in Geneva about 12 years, and later became a resident of Fairport and Moscow.

The town of Moscow was laid out by Dr. Charles Drury, another pioneer physician. Others who pioneered the practice of medicine in Muscatine and Muscatine county were Dr. McKee, Dr. Benjamin Weed, Dr. James Weed, Dr. George M. Reeder, Dr. C. O. Waters, Dr. George W. Fulliam, Dr. D. P. Johnson and Dr. James S. Horton.

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One of Muscatine’s best known and most accomplished physicians of an earlier era was Dr. I. L. Graham, who, besides practicing his profession, operated a drug store in Muscatine between the years of 1855 and 1886, the year of his death.

During his residence in Muscatine, Dr. Graham gained an extensive acquaintance throughout the county and the state as well. He was a man of importance in the community, serving terms on the city council, county board of supervisors and the school board.

Dr. Graham was also one of the organizers of the Merchants National bank in Muscatine, and an active member of the Academy of Science and the Congregational church here. Before coming to Muscatine, Dr. Graham studied medicine and surgery at the Eye and Ear Infirmary at Hartford, Conn., and the college of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. For several years he practiced medicine in Bristol, Conn.

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Dr. Albert Ady, who served patrons both in Muscatine and West Liberty during the early history of the county has gone down in the annals of Muscatine county medical history as the first graduate in medicine to practice in the southern portion of the county.

Dr. Ady, described in the county medical history as a man “of much native ability and one who kept abreast of the advances in medical and surgical sciences”, came to Muscatine county in 1853, and settled first in West Liberty. Later he moved to Muscatine and took up practice, but returned to West Liberty shortly before his death.

In 1856, Dr. Ady graduated from the Starling Medical college, Columbus, O., and years later, in 1874, he attended Bellevue Medical college in New York City, receiving a degree. For many years during his residence in this vicinity, he served as local surgeon of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway.

Dr. Ady was slightly crippled through most of his life, the result of an injury to his back in early in life and a resulting case of spinal meningitis. He died at West Liberty on March 20, 1893.

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One of the oldest and best known stories in the medical history of Muscatine and Muscatine county is the tragic death of Dr. Christian Hershe.

Dr. Hershe came to Muscatine from Pennsylvania in 1851, and rapidly won his way into the heart of almost everyone in the community. To quote from a county medical history book, he was “a man of large heart and many charities, and no appeal from the poor for help ever came to him unheeded”.

Despite his popularity, Dr. Hershe developed strained relations with a neighbor, Frederick Mowry, and it was this enmity which later led to his tragic death.

The doctor and Mowry squabbled frequently over the boundaries between their farms, which were located on adjoining lands a short distance below the city. And it was during one of the bitterest of these squabbles that Mowry turned a shot gun on Dr. Hershe, killing him instantly.

A lengthy trial resulted, with Attorneys DeWitt C. Richman and Jerome Carskaddan defending Mr. Mowry. Throughout the community the feeling was strong against the man who had slain one of the best beloved physicians in the county’s history. But despite the feeling, the defendant was given a sentence of only six years in the state penitentiary on a charge of manslaughter.

Dr. Hershe’s death occurred in 1869. He was 45 years of age at the time.

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First Medical Society Formed Here in 1869

Little is known of the origin and early, history of medical societies in Muscatine county, though it is an established fact that medical men of the county banded together for the first time in the year 1869. This first organization sur-vived only a short while, but was succeeded by a similar organization in the year 1874. No facts are available concerning all the founders of these organizations or their officers, though it is apparent that the latter society existed no longer than did the first.

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The first county medical society for which records are available was formed on May 1, 1899 at a meeting held at the Y. M. C. A. building here. The meeting was called by Dr. E. H. King, and resulted in the organization of the Muscatine County Medical society. This original society listed as its objectives “the promotion of social and professional relations of its members and the cultivation of professional relations of its members and the cultivation of professional ethics as well the advancement of original scientific investigation”.

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H. M. Dean was elected presi-dent of this organization, and E. H. King, was named vice-president; Dr. J. L. Klein was elected secretary-treasurer. The charter members were E. H. King, J. L. Klein, H. M. Dean, G. A. Heidel, George Lezotte, E. K. Tyler, R. W. Durkee, F. H. Little, Miss Emma L. Braunwarth, G. O. Morgridge, Cal. W. Schmidt, Miss Sarah Braunwarth, H. Johnson Dean, T. F. Beveridge, A. J. Oliver and A. J. Weaver, Muscatine; A. A. of Cooling, E. R. King, William Gilkes, A. R. Leith, W. L. Miller, Will Cooling, H. P. Mason, of Wilton Junction; George H. Mott, Mary Lawson Meth, C. B. Kimball, E. Ady, L. F. Woodruff; F. H. Battey, O. B. Wyant, of West Liberty; F. E. Regnier, of Atalissa. Later, J. H. Close, J. Higley and George W. Deemers joined the group.

On Oct. 8, 1903, the society met at the office of Dr. L. Reppert for the purpose of reorganizing, according to the plans adopted by the Iowa State Medical society and the American Medical association. At this time Dr. H. M. Dean was re-elected as president, with Dr. C. W. Smith as vice-president; and T. F. Beveridge, secretary-treasurer. At this meeting J. D. Fulliam, F. H. Battey, S. Chesebro, C. A. Reinemund, B. F. Eversmeyer, H. H. English, R. E. Brisbine, S. G. Stein, H. L. Husted. C. A. Remicke, and F. R. Halstead were elected to membership.

The society has continued to operate steadily since, holding approximately six meetings a year. The society listed 26 members in the year 1911, and the membership has held virtually on the same plane since.

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Assisted Lincoln
Photos of Dr. George W. Fulliam and Mrs. George W. Fulliam

Beginning the study of medicine at the age of 15 years, Dr. George W. Fulliam enjoyed a successful career in his chosen profession. Born March 22, 1822 in Shelby county, Kentucky, he went to Sangamon county, Ill., in 1839 and while there carried the chain for Abraham Lincoln on a surveying trip. He subsequently attended Cincinnati Curtis Medical college from which he was graduated in the spring of 1842 and afterwards attended the Pennsylvania Eclectic college, graduating in the class of 1848.

Coming to Iowa in 1843 he first located in Wapello, staying there a brief time before coming here. His first wife pictured here was the former Miss Eliza J. Morford, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Morford. They were married in 1850, her death occurring on Nov. 16, 1852. Later he married Elizabeth Vanatta who died Jan. 19, 1890. His death took place on June 29, 1893.

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Over 30 Years Ago

Photo of August Blaesing Jr. - We started serving the people of this community in all kinds of building and construction work. Since the days of 1840 Muscatine has developed into a city of hundreds of attractive brick homes. It has been my pleasure to serve many home builders and home owners who have availed themselves of the experience gained by this firm. We are prepared to and would appreciate serving you, too.

Brick – Contractor – Cement

Phone 1300 . . . 1211 Iowa Ave.

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