Chapter 20 - The Medical Profession.


Among the numerous physicians who have practiced medicine in Crawford county, some have attained positions of eminence in the profession.

The first person to practice the healing art in this county was, strange to say, a woman, whose name was Mary Ann Menard, familiarly known as "Aunt Mary Ann."

Of this "person of consequence," James H Lockwood, in 1855, wrote as follows:

"Among the other inhabitants of notoriety at that time [1816], was a Mrs. Menard, of mixed African and white blood. She came from some one of the French villages below, and was then married to Charles Menard, a Canadian of French extraction. She had been married twice previously, first to a man by the name of Du Chouquette, by whom she had two sons, one of whom was in the employ of Mr. Astor in that unfortunate expedition of his sent in 1810 by sea and across the continent to the mouth of the Columbia river, now Oregon territory. Her next husband was named Gagnier, by whom she had three sons and three daughters. After Gagnier's death, she married Charles Menard, by whom she had three sons and two daughters. She was generally called by the inhabitants aunt Mary Ann, and was a person of consequence among them, being midwife, and the only person pretending to a knowledge of the healing art. Until a fort was erected at Prairie du Chien, and a surgeon arrived there with the troops, aunt Mary Ann was sent for by the sick, and attended them as regularly as a physician, and charged fees therefor, giving them, as she ex(p)ressed it, "device and yarb drink." She was an excellent nurse, and even after there were regular surgeons of the army stationed at Fort Crawford, Mary Ann continued to practice among the inhabitants. Whether they employed her because they had more faith in her skill, or because they could pay her with more ease, as she took her pay in the produce of the country, but was not very modest in her charges, I cannot with certainty state; and frequently after the army physician had attended a patient a long time, who perhaps for want of good nursing could not be cured, Mary Ann would take the patient home with her, and by the force of good nursing and "yarb drink" restore him to health, so that we frequently joked the physician about Mary Ann's superior skill in the healing art. There are at this time many of her descendents residing at Prairie du Chien, who are generally as industrious and orderly inhabitants as any others."

B C Miller was the first resident physician educated in the science of medicine, who practiced in Crawford county. He was a native of New York State, from near Poughkeepsie, and settled in Prairie du Chien in 1837. Dr. Miller was a man of exemplary habits, and possessed superior medical skill for those early days. He continued in practice in this county until his death, which occurred in 1845. He resided in that portion of Prairie du Chien known as "Lower Town," and died there.

Dr. S S Beach came to Prairie du Chien and located in the practice of medicine in 1843, being then a young man. He pursued his profession in Crawford county about five years, and then moved to New Orleans. From there he went to California when the gold fever was raging in 1849. Returning from the Pacific coast he re-commenced practice in New Orleans, but removed to Atlanta, Ga., some years later, where, with the exception of a few months in 1864 spent in Indiana, he devoted his energies to the healing art until his death, which occurred in December, 1879. Dr. Beach was appointed physician to the government barracks in Atlanta in 1864, and filled that position until the barracks was disbanded. He was a man of extraordinary skill and attained a high rank in his profession.

Jeremiah Day moved from Grant Co., Wis., about 1845 and located in Prairie du Chien. He was an able physician and conducted quite a large practice during the four or five years he remained there. He removed to St. Paul, where he died some years later.

E P Wood came to Prairie du Chien about 1850, and settled down to practice medicine, and also conducted a small drug store. He remained some six or seven years, then went off south.

Alonzo Benedict was a native of Troy, NY, where he was born Oct. 6, 1814. He obtained his education there and commenced the study of medicine. In 1834 he went to Wheeling, Va., where he completed his medical course and began the practice of his profession in 1836. The same year he married Martha Taylor and continued there in practice six years. He then removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he spent nine years in active professional life. From there he returned to Wheeling, Va., but after a brief stay went to Nashville, Tenn. Being an abolitionist at heart, the institution of slavery was very obnoxious to him, hence his residence in Nashville was limited to a few months, when he came north and settled in Prairie du Chien in 1851. Here he labored in his profession until his death which occurred on Feb. 25, 1864. Dr. Benedict possessed fair ability as a physician, and being a splendid nurse he was quite successful in the treatment of disease, and commanded a large practice. He was an upright, pious gentleman, and was highly respected and esteemed as a citizen.

Dr. Joel Dart Jones was born at Middletown, Conn., Sept. 16, 1818. In his family record is much of historic interest. His father, Joel Jones, was born at Hebron, Conn., May 14, 1792, and was married Sept. 13, 1815, to Miria Dart. He removed to Conneaut, Ohio, in 1819. He was the sixth son of Capt. Samuel Jones, of Hebron, Conn., who was an officer in the French and Indian wars. He held two commissions under King George II, of England. Returning from the war, he settled in Hebron, and married Lydia Tarbox, by whom he had six sons and four daughters. Nine of the ten lived to years of maturity. Samuel, the eldest son, was a lawyer, and practiced his profession for many years at Stockbridge, Mass. From another brother descended the late Hon. Joel Jones, first president of Girard College, the late Samuel Jones, of Philadelphia, and Matthew Hale Jones, of Easton, Pa. From a third brother descended Hon. Anson Jones, second president of the republic of Texas. The family is in possession of a letter written by Capt. Samuel Jones to his wife at Fort Edward, dated Aug. 18, 1758. One hundred and ten years previous to the date of that letter, his ancestor, Capt. John Jones, sat at Westminister, as one of the judges of King Charles I. Col. John Jones married Henrietta (Catherine), the second sister of Oliver Cromwell, in 1623, and was put to death, Oct. 17, 1660, on the restoration of King Charles II. His son, Hon. Wm. Jones, survived him, and one year before his father's death, was married to Hannah Eaton, then of the parish of St. Andrews, Holden, Epinton. He subsequently came over to "these American Colonies," with his father-in-law, the Hon. Theophilus Eaton, first governor of the colony of New Haven and Connecticut, where he occupied the office of deputy governor for some years, and died Oct. 17, 1706. The mother of Dr. Jones was born at Chatham, Conn., March 27, 1797, --- is still living with him, and has nearly attained to the ripe old age of eighty-seven years. Dr. Jones was married at Prairie du Chien, June 15, 1854, to Josephine S Brisbois, daughter of Col. B W Brisbois. They have four children --- Josephine M, widow of Victor Bertholet, and a resident of Prairie du Chien, Bernard Walter, a graduate of Rush Medical College, Chicago, Ills., and in the employ of the Penn Mining company, at Vulcan, Mich. Joel D, is a student at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, and Joseph R, a telegraph operator in the employ of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad company at North McGregor, Ia. Dr. Jones took a regular course at the medical department of the University of St. Louis, and graduated in March, 1851. He settled in Prairie du Chien the same year, and began the practice of his profession with flattering prospects, and exceptional success. Possessed of a most happy and genial disposition, and thoroughly skilled in his profession, he has won many warm friends that place him in the front rank of the leading physicians of the State.

R E Glover came to Crawford county in 1855, not having yet attained his majority. He studied medicine, and located at Belle Center about 1866, and continued in practice some ten years, then moved away, and is now living at Granger, Mo.

Harry Fairbanks settled in Prairie du Chien in 1855, and remained there in practice until 1860 or 1861, then removed to Harper's Ferry, Iowa, where he died a few years later.

Darius Mason, physician and surgeon, was born in Bristol county, Mass., April 1, 1830, and was educated chiefly at the Friend's Academy in New Bedford, Mass. In 1850 he began the study of medicine in the medical department of Howard university, and subsequently prosecuted his studies in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York city, from which he graduated in 1853. He filled the position of house physician and surgeon in Randall's Island Hospital, NY, in 1853-54. Coming west, he located in Prairie du Chien in 1856, and soon built up a fine medical practice. In September, 1862, he entered the army with a commission as surgeon of the 31sth Wisconsin Volunteers. Early in 1864 he left the regiment and became surgeon of the enrolling board of the third district of Wisconsin, and filled the office till the close of the war, when he returned to Prairie du Chien and resumed practice, continuing until he removed to Milwaukee in June, 1878, where he still resides and is doing a very extensive professional business. Dr. Mason is constitutionally adapted for the surgical branch of the medical profession, by his cool nerve, rare good judgment and inate genius for mechanics; and, as is usual where nature especially qualifies a person for a given work, his tastes coincides with, and is an index of those qualifications and determines the choice of avocation, so it is with him; and he has devoted his energies largely to the study and practice of surgery, and has attained an eminence in his profession, unsurpassed by any in this State, and equaled by few in the west. Added to his professional skill, Dr. Mason is a thorough gentleman, and is highly esteemed by all who know him.

J J Whitney located in Prairie du Chien in 1856, and practiced medicine in Crawford county two or three years. When the mining excitement at Pike's Peak was at its height he caught the gold fever, and went out there, remaining about two years. On his return to Wisconsin he engaged in work for the Northwestern Mutual life insurance company until 1862, when he was commissioned assistant surgeon of the 18th regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, and served to the close of the war. He then settled in Indianapolis, Ind., from whence he returned to Prairie du Chien in 1867. In 1869 or 1870 he removed to Emmettsburg, Iowa, where he remained some ten years, then went to Dakota.

Dr. G Morgan came from Indiana and located in the town of Haney, Crawford county, about 1856. He practiced medicine there a number of years, then removed to Nebraska, and has since died. He was born in the State of New York in 1839, and was a skillful physician of the alopathic school.

Dr. H Brunner was a German by birth, and was educated for the medical profession in his native country. He emigrated to this country and settled in Prairie du Chien in 1857 or 1858. He was an able physician and a fine man, and had a large practice, especially among his own countrymen. After residing in the "prairie" about ten years, he removed to Iowa, practicing a short time in Lansing and in McGregor, then went to Fremont, Neb., where he soon secured an extensive practice, and continued to do a large business until his death from Bright's disease, in 1881.

Charles St. Johns came to Prairie du Chien in 1858, and after practicing medicine a little over a year, he removed to Ohio; and it was rumored that he abandoned the pill bags for the pulpit.

B D Eastman was an Ohio man by birth, but he moved from Pecatonica, Ill., where he had been engaged in the practice of medicine, to Prairie du Chien in the fall of 1862. The last years of the war he served as a ward surgeon in the Swift United States Hospital, situated at Prairie du Chien. He was also a partner with Dr. John Conant in practice for a time. Dr. Eastman was an able physician and a thorough gentleman. His usefulness was curtailed by physical debility from weak lungs. He died in Prairie du Chien in 1865.

John Conant, physician and surgeon, proprietor and manager of the Prairie du Chien Remedial Institute, was born in Illinois near Chicago, Feb. 9, 1839. He received his literary education at Antioch college, Yellow Springs, Ohio, under the direction of Horace Mann, president. He began his medical studies at Chicago, took one course of lectures at the Rush Medical college, and subsequently a regular course at the Chicago Medical College, from which he graduated in 1860, when twenty-one years of age. He began the practice of his profession at Pecatonica, Ill., and in 1863 was appointed assistant surgeon of the 45th regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry. After the capture of Vicksburg, he was assigned to old Fort Crawford as hospital surgeon. The fort hospital was a branch of the Swift United States General Hospital of Prairie du Chien, under the management of Dr. F W Kelley, surgeon in charge. Dr. Conant continued at his post till after the close of the war. He then located at Prairie du Chien and built up a very extensive practice. On the completion of the celebrated Prairie du Chien artesian well he opened the Remedial Institute. This establishment is fitted up with a view to the treatment and cure of chronic diseases, and comprises the use of the Turkish, Russian, and electric baths, also hot and cold mineral water baths. Practiced attendants are in charge, and the institution which is commodious and complete in its appointments, is conducted on the most approved modern plan. A free use of the baths and of the mineral water is to produce a certain cure of rheumatism and all other chronic complaints. The hot air treatment has proved very beneficial to consumptive patients. The Institute is patronized by people from nearly every State in the Union. Some who have failed to get relief at the Hot Springs of Arkansas, have been treated here with marked success. Dr. Conant was married at Elyria, Lorain Co., Ohio, in 1861, to Ellen Groat. One child, a daughter, Louisa, was born of this marriage. Mrs. Conant died, and several years after Dr. Conant was married again in Prairie du Chien, in February, 1872, to Amy Edwards, a native of London, England. They have one son, John H Conant. Dr. Conant has been honored by his fellow citizens with the election to the office of mayor two terms.

Emil Steiger, physician and surgeon, was born in Switzerland, July 7, 1838, was educated at Zurich, Munich and Basel, and graduated from the medical college of Basel in the class of 1860. He soon afterward came to America and entered the federal army as assistant surgeon of the 39th New York Volunteer Infantry (Garibaldi Guards), and continued in the service till 1864. In 1865 he came to Prairie du Chien and entered upon the practice of his profession. He was married in that city, March 15, 1870 to Mary E, daughter of John B Plummer. Mrs. Steiger was born in England. Dr. Steiger has built up an extensive practice, and is counted among the leading members of his profession in western Wisconsin.

Frederick Jaeger, a native of Wurtemburg, Germany, studied medicine before coming over, and upon arriving in this country he first settled in the practice of his profession in Albany, NY. He afterwards removed to Woodville, Ohio, where he practiced many years, and came from there to Prairie du Chien in 1867. He only remained about one year, then went back to Ohio, settling in the town of Elmore, where he died in 1877.

Alexander F Samuels, M D, B D, son of S H Samuels, was born Sept. 11, 1842, in New Orleans, La. When four years of age he removed with his parents to Memphis, Tenn., where he was educated. He attended lectures in medicine in the old Memphis Medical College, and at the breaking out of the war entered the hospitals as contract physician and served in both armies as such from Ohio to the gulf of Mexico. He graduated as M.D. from the University of Nashville, Ten.., in 1867. He is also a graduate of Nashotah Theological Seminary, of Wisconsin, and officiated for some years as an Episcopal clergyman. Dr. Samuels has practiced medicine in Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis, Mo., and has traveled in nearly every State in the Union. He has officiated as clergyman in Maine, Missouri, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Mississippi. He settled at Prairie du Chien, Wis., in 1875, and is now practicing medicine. He was married in October, 1881, to Margaret E Dietz, of La Crosse, Wis. They are the parents of one child.

J S Barry was an Irishman by nativity. He graduated with the degree of M.D. from Rush Medical College, Chicago, and located in Prairie du Chien in 1877 in the practice of his profession. He moved from here to Vulcan, Mich., where he died in the summer of 1883.

L C Halsted, of Wauzeka, is a native of Genesee Co., NY, where he was born April 19, 1819. He received a common school education; began teaching at the age of seventeen; was engaged in teaching and farming till twenty-three years of age, when he began the study of medicine; attended lectures at Geneva Medical College, Geneva, NY, graduating in the class of 1843; spent several years in traveling after graduation, after which he established himself as a physician at Colesville, Wyoming Co., NY; thence to Clarence Hollow, where he remained two years. In 1848 he came to this State and located at Wauwatosa, where he practiced his profession till 1854, when, his health failing he retired for a time from professional duties. He enlisted as a private in April 1861, in the 1st Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, for a period of three months. At the expiration of his three months' service he was appointed surgeon of the 7th Wisconsin Battery, in which capacity he served till the spring of 1864, when he resigned and soon after located at Wauzeka, where he has since resided. He engaged in other occupations than the practice of medicine till 1875, when he returned to medical practice. He was married in the State of New York to Harriet Sawin, who died at Wauwatosa in 1856.

During the existence of Fort Crawford, there were a number of surgeons in charge successively; but the most of them never mingled much among the citizens outside, and very little was known of them by the early settlers.

A Dr. Moore was surgeon in the fort a number of years prior to 1840, in which year he died. He practiced some among the early settlers, and was a very skillful physician for those times. He erected a brick dwelling on the east side of south Church street, which still stands nearly opposite to what is now (1884) L Case's residence.

It is a notable fact that Dr. William Beaumont, in the United States army service was at one time located at Fort Crawford, and there conducted some of his experiments upon Alexis St. Martin, who was wounded at Michillimackinac, Mich., in 1822, resulting in a fistulous opening into the stomach, whereby the process of digestion could be observed; and some of these experiments were made at Fort Crawford. The subject of these experiments (Alexis St. Martin) is still (1884) living; he resides at Oakdale, Mass.

Dr. Elwees succeeded Dr. Moore as surgeon in Fort Crawford, taking charge about 1840. He remained surgeon of the post until the 5th regiment went into the Mexican war, then went off with it.

There was also a Dr. Wood, who had surgical charge of the fort for a time. Dr. Wood was a son-in-law of Col. Zachary Taylor. He had some practice outside the fort among the citizens.

Charles McDougal came as surgeon to the military post of Fort Crawford, in the fall of 1841, and retained that position until the war with Mexico commenced, when he accompanied a regiment into the field. He was also a surgeon in the late war, and attained considerable celebrity in that capacity.

In the last years of the war of the rebellion, a military hospital was established at Prairie du Chien, and named the Swift United States Hospital. The hospital comprised several wards, and at times contained a number of sick and wounded soldiers.

Dr. F W Kelly was surgeon in charge, and Dr. Baxter, Dr. B D Eastman, Dr. J B Carey, Dr. John Conant and Dr. Charles True, were ward surgeons.

Dr. Kelly remained in charge till late in the year 1865, when he went to Chicago, where he has resided and practice medicine up to the present time.

Dr. Baxter is a brother to Dr. J H Baxter, of Washington, DC, medical purveyor of the United States army. He left here soon after the close of the war, and is now (1884) in Washington city.

Dr. Casey came here from Patch Grove, Grant Co., Wis., and when he severed his connection with the hospital, he returned there; but having asthmatic trouble, he went in search of a more agreeable climate to Salina, Kan., and leaving there, he finally located in Denver, Col., and engaged in practice, combining the drug business with it. He was an able physician and a successful practitioner.

Dr. True studied medicine with Drs. Conant and Eastman, and after graduating, took charge of a hospital ward in the spring of 1865. After the hospital was wound up, he moved down into central Illinois, where he is still practicing medicine.

James Dinsdale, M.D., of Soldier's Grove, was born in Yorkshire, England, November 18, 1848. He came to this country and to Wisconsin the following year. Mr. Dinsdale attended the State University of Wisconsin during the winters of 1867, 1868 and 1869. In the fall of 1871, he entered Lawrence University, at Appleton, Wis. He graduated from this institution in 1875. He studied medicine the three following years, ending by a graduation at Rush Medical college in the spring of 1878. He then settled at Soldier's Grove, where he at once entered upon the practice of his profession and where he still resides.

The first physician to locate in the practice of medicine in the town of Utica, Crawford county, was Dr. Fredrick Corfu. Soon after him came Dr. Isaiah Roberts, who moved from Mount Sterling to Richland Center, where he died some time after. Dr. Frederick Corfu went into the army in 1862, as assistant surgeon in the 1st regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. After the war he returned and continued the practice of his profession in that portion of Crawford county until 1881, and then removed to the village of Union, Hardin Co., Iowa. He was born in England in 1823, and was there educated. Dr. Corfu was an able and successful physician.

There was also Dr. F J Briggs, who resided in Mt. Sterling and practiced medicine a short time.

Dr. C V Porter, the only resident practicing physician in Utica, located at Mt. Sterling in 1881. He is a native of the State of Maine, and was born in 1849; came to DeSoto, Vernon county, Wis., in 1871, and deciding to enter the medical profession, he graduated from the medical department of Michigan State University in 1875. Since which time he has been in active practice.

A number of other physicians have practiced at various times in Crawford county: --- Simeon F Huntington, in Freeman; Dr. Fredett, in Eastman; Dr. Ross, in the town of Scott; and Drs. Oviatt, Brand, Hammond and Wood in Prairie du Chien.


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