Beloit Physician Historyback to the list
NOTE ON AUTHOR
A native of Beloit, Dr. Harold M. Helm was the third generation of his family to practice medicine. Educated at Beloit College, the University of Wisconsin, Rush Medical College, and Cook County Hospital, he began work at Beloit in 1916. This is a paper read before the Beloit Historical Society on October 9, 1942.
Dr. Helm gave credit for preparation of this paper as follows:
William F. Brown, Past Made Present (Chicago, 1900); Royal B. Way, Editor., Rock River Valley (Chicago, 1926); William F. Brown, Editor, Rock County, Wisconsin (Chicago, 1908); Charles R. Tuttle, The State of Wisconsin (Boston, 1875); The History of Rock County (Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1879); the series of Beloit city and Rock County directories; and various old Beloit newspaper files and tax lists in the Beloit Historical Society Library, and the Beloit College Library were used. Also consulted were the First Families Scrapbook, complied by Minnie McIntyre Wallace from articles appearing in the local press in 1936 at the time Beloit’s centennial was celebrated, and private scrapbooks of Mrs. Louise North, Mrs. Sarah Lunghuhn, Mrs. Carrie MacLean and Mrs. C. W. Merriman, all of Beloit. Mrs. Merton Smith, curator of the Beloit Historical Society gave every assistance in supplying material. Personal letters, supplementing conversations with early residents, physicians and physician’s relatives, are filed in the Beloit Historical Society Library, and give brief biographies of the following doctors: F. A. Thayer, T. G. Shinnick, William Hecker, George Cary, E. N. Clark, Samuel Bell, Fred Nye, L. F. Farr, Louis and Charles W. Merriman and Henderson Hunt.
Early Beloit Physicians
By Harold M. Helm
All Beloiters, even very recent arrivals, are, of course, familiar with Horace White Park; but many Beloiters, even long-time native residents, have forgotten, or never knew that the park was the fit of Beloit’s first physician, who more than any other individual was responsible for the founding of the village that has become our city of today.
In 1836 Caleb Blodgett, his sons Daniel and Nathaniel, and his son-in-law John Hackett built the historic two-room log cabin on the east bank of Rock River, in what is now the heart of the downtown section, and left the west bank to the Indians, and so established a precedent. Very soon a self-propelling ferry and eventually bridged eliminated the river as a physical barrier, but during my own boyhood the more conservative east-siders, at least those on “the Bluff,” still tended to consider the west bank Indian territory.
Also in 1836, in Colebrook, New Hampshire, as our centennial literature reminded us so interestingly, were held in the office of young Dr. White the deliberations of the New England Emigrating Company which resulted in the appointment of the doctor as the agent of the company with authority to come west into what was then part of the Northwest Territory to select a home site for settlement. He was to receive $100 per month and expenses and a horse and cutter.
Leaving Colebrook in the winter of 1836-37 Dr. White, then twenty-seven years old, drove by way of Canada because of better sleighing and arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, January 25. There he met two other members of the emigrating company, O. P. Bicknell and R. P. Crane. Bicknell rode with Dr. White as far as Calumet, Illinois. Crane and he were the first to reach the Turtle, as Beloit was then called, where the found Blodgett established; but not until the arrive of Dr. White in March, 1837, was action taken to purchase from Blodgett one third of the estimated 7,000 for $2,500.
Dr. White returned to Colebrook to report progress and, although he was urged to resume practice in his original home, soon came back to the Turtle, his family following later. His first office was in the Blodgett cabin, the south end of which was one square room which served as kitchen, dining room, bedroom, sitting room, and doctor’s office. He soon moved to a board house on the west side of the present State Street, about midway between Broad and School streets (East Grand). That was the family home until he died there, December 23, 1843. In 1837 he with others had directed the survey of the town by Kelsou, and he was the first probate judge in Rock County.
A paper written by Horace White, the son, in 1897 on the occasion of the semi-centennial of Beloit College states:
In 1843 or 1844 a school was started in the basement of the Congregational Church. The building had been erected in 1842, mainly by my father’s efforts. As the Rev. Lucian D. Mears said: “It was built with unpaid doctor’s bills,” which means that some people here about could not pay for Dr. White’s services with money, but could pay with stone, lumber, sand, lime, and the labor of their hands and teams. That Dr. White was eventually paid by the other members of the congregation there can be no doubt, since these men were not in the habit of getting anything of value for nothing, least of all their church privileges, the most valuable of all things to them. One of the early service held in the church was my father’s funeral. He died of consumption, Dec. 23, 1843. The hardships of a company doctor’s life in a thinly settled region, where he was compelled to drive long distances by day and night in a rigorous climate, with little protection against the cold, cut him off at the age of thirty-three. He was a native of Bethlehem, N.H. a graduate of the Medical Department of Dartmouth College, a man of intellectual power and heroic mold. He shrank from no duties, and I am sure that no man ever performed greater services and sacrifices for Beloit than he.
The Ellery B. Crane manuscript in the Beloit Historical Library, describes the establishment of the Congregational Church as follows:
There was one said and solemn service held in this structure prior to its dedication: it was the funeral service of Dr. Horace White, December 25, 1843; he upon whom all had been leaning on as the guiding force in all town affairs, and whose loss at this time, on account of the great interest he had taken in the building of this place of worship, came as a painful infliction upon the entire community.
At the head of Public Avenue, at the top of the hill, and facing the river flat where Turtle, then Beloit village, had its beginning, stands the monument erected in 1918 at the instigation of Professor Theodore Lyman Wright, which commemorates Dr. White and his illustrious namesake son. Beneath the bronze bas-relief of the two men is the inscription: “Horace White, Pioneer, Founder, Physician. Bethlehem N. H. 1810. Beloit, Wis. 1843.” and, beside it: “Horace White, Journalist, Economist, Author. Colebrook, N. H. 1843. New York, N. Y. 1916.” And the further inscription:
There came westward in the winter of 1836-37 the emissary of a New England community who chose this sport for a future home and gave this park to adorn the town thus founded.
The talents and labors of his son were devoted to the service of the Nation. This monument is erected to their deeds and to the beauty of their characters.
With Dr. White the New England Emigrating Company included fourteen members, there of whom were of the Bicknell family: Captain John W. and his sons, Otis P. and George W. John Bicknell was the father-in-law of R. P. Crane, and George Bicknell was Beloit’s second doctor. George arrived in Beloit in July, 1837, and for a time lived in the Crane home on the northeast corner of Race and State streets, where his brother Edward and he slept in the loft reached by a ladder. Later George’s office was in the Crane stone block in which Matt Carpenter had his law office. Dr. Bicknell was on the many who went to the California gold fields in 1849 and was one of the first wardens and vestrymen of the Episcopal Church, elected in the home of the Rev. Mr. Humphrey, with his brother Otis P. Bucknell, C. F. H. Goodhue, John C. Burr, and Leonard Humphrey.
In the Rock County Gazetteer, Directory and Business Advertiser for 1857-8 one of the conspicuous professional cards reads: “Bicknell and Knight Physicians and Surgeons, State Street, Beloit, Wis. - Grateful to the citizens of Beloit and the surrounding country for past patronage, the Subscribers still render their professional services to the public at all hours of the day and night.” A conventional pointing hand emphasized: “Special attention given to the treatment of all Surgical Cases [heavy type] and performing of all Surgical operations. G. W. Bicknell Wm. Knight”
During the Civil War Dr. Bicknell was surgeon of the Twenty-second Wisconsin Infantry. He was born in 1807 and died in 1870. A pathetic little sidelight: the large red granite Bicknell monument in Oakwood Cemetery, Beloit, indicates that three children - Aby Maria, Hattie Eliza, and Freddie - all died at less than two years of age.
In July, 1838, another Bicknell brother, Charles H., arrived in Beloit. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1818, he grew up in the East, was a farmer in Canaan, Vermont, and followed the same vocation at Beloit with his father for five or six years. He then opened the Beloit House which he conducted for five or six years before beginning the study of medicine at Rockford, Illinois, under the preceptorship of Dr. Josiah Goodhue, one of the incorporators of Rush Medical College.
Leaving Rockford, Charles Bicknell continued his medical studies at Beloit in the office of his brother George. With another brother Thomas he conducted a drug store for four year, under the firm name of Bicknell Brothers. Thereafter he devoted himself to medical practice only, being associated with Dr. George until 1861, after which time he was alone. In 1848 he was married to Elizabeth S. Goodhue of Sherbrooke, Canada. There were two children, Charles H. and Elizabeth.
Dr. Charles Bicknell died in 1888 at the age of seventy, just fifty years after coming to Beloit. The January 27 issue of the Beloit Daily Free Press contains the funeral sermon preached by Dr. Fayette Royce. Dr. Bicknell is referred to as “the last of the first settlers of 50 years before.”
While Charles Bicknell was Beloit’s first medical student, and probably the third medically inclined citizen, the third practicing physician to come here seems to have been Jesse Moore. The Ellery B. Crane manuscript states:
Dr. Jesse Moore, with his family, arrived from Yucatan, Central America, on Friday, September 11th, 1840, and immediately made plans for the erection of a house in which to reside, for there were no tenements to be let; every room in the village was crowded to over flowing. Wagons and carriages containing land hunters and visitors were to be seen almost constantly in motion in the village.
Dr. Moore is among the physicians listed in the 1857-58 Directory: he was located at Race and Broad streets. David Throne of Beloit says that he remembers a smallpox epidemic, during which Dr. Moore came to the farm, pulled David’s arm through the fence and vaccinated him. Dr. Moore was born in 1792 and died in 1869. He is buried in the old part of Oakwood Cemetery with his wife, just a short way back of the chapel. His monument indicates he was a Mason.
In the Crane manuscript roster of early settlers only one other physician is listed: Dr. Asahel Clark, who came from Benton, New York, in 1845. Born in 1809 at Amherst, Massachusetts, Dr. Clark was graduated from Geneva (New York) Medical College in 1839 and practiced for five years in Yates County in that state before coming west. At Beloit he lived on the south side of Broad Street, about midway between Pleasant and Prospect street, in the cobblestone house now occupied by the Department of Out Door Relief. He was a charter member of the Presbyterian Church and one of the first three elders. After practicing here for about fifteen years, he moved to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and later to Detroit, Michigan. He died in 1888, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery. In the old Presbyterian Church on Broad Street, when still in use, there could be seen a memorial window dedicated to him. This building later became the Beloit Hospital and is now the Lorien Hotel.
In 1847 Dr. Clark’s widowed mother, born Sybil Green, came to Beloit with her five other sons and one daughter, Mary Ann, grandmother of the writer. Three of the sons were physicians: Lucius, who practiced in Rockford and whose two sons Selwyn and Lucius were also Rockford physicians, and Dexter G., another Rockford doctor of the earlier generation. The elder Lucius was the first graduate of Geneva Medical College. During the Civil War he was in the field as president of the Board of Examining Surgeons for the State of Illinois. He was a trustee of the Rockford Female Seminary from its organization until his death in 1878. The elder Dexter Clark was graduated from Beloit College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and did postgraduate work in Vienna. He was a surgeon with the rank of major in the Twenty-fifth Illinois Infantry in the Civil War.
Elijah N. Clark, 1817-1902, was well known to many present day Beloit residents, especially members of the Presbyterian Church, which he served as elder and Sunday school superintendent for more than fifty years. While he may be thought of as a dentist, he was also a graduate physician and practiced a number of years. For a time he lived in the cobblestone house on Broad Street, recently known as the Broadway Hotel. In 1852 he went to California but practiced medicine rather than mining. Returning to Beloit in 1855 he was one of the organizers of the Wadsworth, Clark and Company Bank in the Bushnell block (later the Goodwin House.) During the hard times of 1857 the bank failed. For many years the Clark home was on what is now Oak Grove Avenue, South Beloit, just west of the Clark schoolhouse. Although remodeled, the house which was built in 1856 still stands.
As his name derived from the Bible so was there something patriarchal in the aspect and manner of living of Dr. Clark. A large, bearded, kindly man, his hospitality and love of family and friends gave to his home the appellation “Clark Hotel,” and to a great many of us, then young and others not so young, he was affectionately known as “Uncle E. N.”
The only sister of the Doctors Clark, Mary Ann, youngest of the family, was married to Woodhull Helm in the first wedding ceremony in the old Presbyterian Church. Their three sons eventually became Rock River Valley physicians, Ernest and Arthur being long-time practitioners in Beloit, and their younger brother Walter being a Rockford surgeon until his death at the age of sixty, in 1919.
In the first decades of Beloit History, one of the very early members of Beloit College faculty, Professor S. Pearl Lathrop, was also a doctor of medicine. Son of a farmer, born in Shelbourne, Vermont, in 1816, he was graduated from medical school in 1843 and became professor of chemistry and natural science at Beloit College in 1849, having practiced only a short while before turning to teaching. According to the Book of Beloit, he was the first physician here to perform an operation under general anesthesia. He went to the University of Wisconsin in 1854 and died that year of typhoid fever. He was buried in Beloit, and President A. L. Chapin preached his funeral sermon.
The 1857-58 Gazetteer lists a great many physicians; beside G. W. Bicknell, William Knight, and Jesse Moore, already mentioned, there were W. C. Benton, corner School and Prospect streets; Benjamin Durham, Jr., corner First and College; J. W. Evans, School and Prospect; M. D. Jaynes, E. Street, corner Oak; L. Merriman, homeopath, Fourth between E. (Street) an D. (Street); J. G. Phillips, Broad Street, between Prospect and Pleasant; Henry Ritchie, corner Main and Second; H. M. Scott, botanic physician, Race near Prospect; H. Smith, Broad near post office; H. P Strong, Broad over post office; S. Spence, School near Pleasant; Amos Sterns, South Race Street; and C. J. Taggert, corner School and Pleasant.
Dr. Taggert came to Beloit with his mother, a widow, from Byron, New York, in 1851 and practiced here until 1868, when he removed to Rockford, where he died in 1872. Aaron Teall, botanic physician, Fourth and Liberty, either by virtue of his system of medicine or because of an inherently robust constitution, lived to the ripe old age of eighty-five. Born in 1793, he died in 1878. The Gazetteer also lists H. Von Wagoner, eclectic, corner State and Race; M. Winter, Beloit House; Dr. Charles A. Wilbur, homeopath with office a the Bushnell House and residence with Benjamin Brown. Another physician said to have been here in 1856, but not mentioned in the 1857-58 Directory, was J. M. Tellepaugh.
According to his daughter-in-law, Mrs. C. W. Merriman, Dr. Louis Merriman was one of the very first Beloit physicians, coming in 1842, and so preceded only by Doctors White, George Bicknell, and Jesse Moore. He was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1828, was present at the laying of the cornerstone of Middle College, in 1847, and was one of the original donors to the building of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church - about 1850. He practiced in Beloit from 1842 until about 1889. He used to take his minister’s family riding up the river on the ice, and a good time was had by all.
Dr. Merriman was an inventor, but his inventions were not all that practical. He made and presented to Dr. Royce with a rustic chair that would extend so as to form a couch. But it was so large it would not conveniently fit any room, and it was kept outdoors under the appletree. Among other inventions, according to Andrew Hutchison, was a kitchen stove lid that would not crack or burn out. But neither could you heat anything on it. The doctor carried his change in a metal case, similar to the change carriers used by streetcar conductors, with compartments for 5, 10, 25, and 50 cent pieces.
Again quoting his daughter-in-law: “Dr. Merriman wore a long white beard - and looked very much as Santa Clause is supposed to look. His son, Dr. C. W. Merriman, graduate of Beloit College, 1878, and of Hahnemann Medical College, practiced here form 1890 to 1898, when he was appointed U.S. Consul, at Brockville, Ontario.” On returning to Beloit, Dr. Merriman took up real estate and later platted the Yates Addition and built more than 200 homes.
Dr. John W. Evans resided at the northwest corner of Prospect and East Grand Avenue (then school street), where he died in 1867 at the age of fifty-eight. Apart form his professional duties, he was, to quote a paragraph from his obituary, “an ardent lover of horticulture, his garden and grounds on School Street were admired by the passer by, and no man in our community has done more to create a taste for flowers, or has been more interested in the floral treasures fo the world.”
Dr. Henry Partridge Strong was long a colorful figure in the Beloit of pre - and post Civil War days. Graduated from Castleton (Vermont) Medical College in 1853, he was surgeon of the Eleventh Wisconsin Infantry and medical director of the Fourteenth Division of the Thirteenth Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee. He was mayor of Beloit for several terms; secretary and later president of the Wisconsin State Medical Society, postmaster of Beloit under several appointments by various Presidents, and a member of the Congressional Committee, First District of Wisconsin; he was a genial and well-liked man and an able physician. His hobby was breeding Kentucky thoroughbred trotters, Hambletonian strain. Strong School was named after him, he having been a school board member and active in educational matters. His tall, gray granite monument in Oakwood Cemetery is inscribed:
Henry Partridge Strong, Brownington, Vt., Feb. 8, 1832
Beloit Wis. June 20, 1883
An honored citizen.
A beloved physician.
A noble man.
George H. Carey came to Beloit in 1847. In 1850 he joined the California gold rush, going overland and returning by way of Panama. For some years he was a partner of Dr. Strong and with him operated two drug stores, one on either side of the river. Dr. Carey was a Civil War surgeon and was aboard the steamboat “Dunleith” at the time Governor Harvey was drowned attempting to step aboard the “Minnehaha.” They were returning from a relief expedition to Pittsburg Landing, where they had taken hospital supplies to Wisconsin troops after the battle of Shiloh.
The first Beloit Directory, published in 1872-73 mentions besides some of the doctors already discussed, J. L. Brenton, Henderson Hunt, Clinton Helm, H. B. Johnson, N. H. Noris and J. B. Cory, an associate of Dr. Brenton, especially concerned with the diseases of women and children, and in 1873 a member of the state legislature. The assessor’s records for 1873 indicate that Dr. George Haucks - there spelled “Hancks” - was of German birth and came to Beloit in 1857.
Dr. Brenton lived in a red brick house where the Dreckmeier and Baird drug store now stands. Born in Ohio in 1820, he located in Beloit in 1864, after serving as assistant surgeon in the 115th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, then surgeon of the Eight Ohio Infantry, and surgeon in chief, First Brigade, Third Division, Second Army Corps. When mustered out, he was an inspector of United States hospitals with a rank and pay of a lieutenant colonel of cavalry.
Clinton Helm, great-uncle of the writer, practiced in Byron, Illinois, before coming to Beloit in 1870. He had been a Civil War Surgeon and was for time a prisoner at Libby Prison. His son, Clinton B. Helm, still a practicing dentist in Rockford, says, “Beloit was suffering from a very virulent epidemic of typhoid fever when we moved there. Whether it was skill or luck or a little of both, father was very successful with the first few cases he had and his reputation was made.” In 1878 Dr. Helm moved to Rockford, where he rounded out more than fifty-five years of practice. Sometimes referred to as “the Silent Surgeon,” the writer recalls him as a serene, kindly made, found of the out-of-doors, particularly of hunting and fishing. On the infrequent occasions when he visited us at our summer cottages at Lake Kegonsa, we youngsters considered it a rare privilege to be permitted to manipulate the oars while Uncle Clinton fished.
H. B. Johnson, surgeon of the Fifteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was long an elder of the Presbyterian Church. He wore a frock coat, while lawn tie, and gold-rimmed glasses, and had a while beard, less luxuriant than those of Dr. Strong and Dr. Brenton. One of his former patients says that his favorite prescription was a whiskey sling and dose of quinine. One Thursday night at prayer meeting, it is said, he was told that his barn was on fire. He left in a hurry, remarking: “We must watch as well as pray.”
Contemporary with Doctors Brenton and Johnson and mentioned in the 1879 History of Rock County were Dr. A. Paterson and Dr. H. P. Carey. The former came from Durand, Illinois, in 1877 and during the Civil War had charge of a ward at Hospital 14, in Nashville.
Dr. Carey arrived here in 1873, after practicing in New York and Freeport, Illinois. He was a homeopath and had studied at Buffalo and Ann Arbor. He was a Presbyterian and later resided in Racine, where his daughter Grace married one of the Johnson Wax family. Black-haired and black-eyed, an immaculate dresser, Dr. Carey was distressed one morning after Halloween to find his lawn lined with tombstones, placed there during darkness by neighborhood pranksters.
Dr. T. W. Morse was graduated from Rush Medical College in 1866 and came to Beloit from Chippewa Falls. He specialized in eye and ear work. He enlisted in 1862 in the Twenty-first Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, attained the rank of lieutenant in the regular army, and was mustered out in 1866.
Dr. T. Tracey was born in Ireland, graduated at Montreal University, and journeyed to Wisconsin in 1862. His wife, Ann Eliza Kilburn, was a cousin of Chief Justice Richards of Canada.
Then there was Dr. C. C. Carleton, a native of Maine. He arrived in Wisconsin in 1847, enlisted in the Pennsylvania Reserves in 1861, served in the secret service and as a scout, and was in Andersonville Prison for eight and one-half months. He came here from Darien, where he conducted a water cure.
The 1889 Handbook of Beloit lists as newcomers among Beloit Physicians Samuel Bell; L. F. Bennett; Isaac Buckeridge and H. R. Clark homeopaths; Dr. (Mrs.) S.F. Dean, seemingly Beloit’s first woman physician; L. R. Farr; E. C. and A. C. Helm; W. A. Mellen, homeopath and bachelor, who slept in his office and whose home was at Rockton; F. W. Nye and Albert Thompson, eclectic and elecro-therapeutist.
Dr. Thompson was a graduate of Bennett Medical College and was for six years a Presbyterian elder. He died in 1896 and was the father of L. Waldo, Elmer, and Ira F. Thompson (also a physician), and Fannie Thompson.
While Samuel Bell did not locate in Beloit until 1874, he came to Rock County from New York State in 1849 at the age of eight. In 1860 he entered the office of Dr. Corydon Farr, Shopiere, to begin his medical studies, which were completed at the University of Michigan. He had a long Civil War experience and was first assistant surgeon of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry on the march with Sherman to Atlanta.
Dr. Bell was health officer for six years and a member of the school board for eight. He held may offices and appointments in professional and veterans’ organizations, was long local surgeon for two railroads, and for many years was president of the Strong Emergency Hospital. A tall, dignified, handsome man, of fine carriage, he possessed the most magnificent beard of any of his confreres. Dr. Bell died in 1913.
Most Beloit citizens remember Dr. Bennett, of florid complexion and with snow-white hair. After many years there, he practiced in Spokane, then returned after the opening of the new hospital, where he died as the direct result of over-exertion in attempting to move his stalled automobile in a snowy Burrwood Park road.
Issac Buckeridge and H. R. Clark lived near each other on Park Avenue. A son of Dr. Clark, Dr. W. T., is a well-known Janesville radiologist. Dr. Buckeridge, bald and with a rather short dark beard, was the father of Daisy (Mrs. Frank Hobart), Will, Rex and Ralph. He was a regular attendant at the Beloit First Congregational Church. Dr. L. R. Farr was the son, grandson and nephew of physicians. Born in Prairie du Sac, he later lived in Shopiere, where Dr. Dell began his medical studies in the office of Dr. Croydon Farr. Never in robust health Dr. Farr died in 1908, having practiced in Beloit since 1888.
Doctors Ernest and Arthur Helm had their offices for many years over the Second National Bank. Across the hall were Attorney Jack Rood and Dentist J. A. W. (sic) Meyers, who still survives. Dr. Ernest, besides his long professional career, was an elder of the Presbyterian Church and for many, many years clerk of the school board, which he served devotedly and often to the sacrifice of his medical work. Dr. Arthur Helm was a classmate of Dr. Farr at Northwestern Medical College, class of 1884. For three years he was associated with Dr. Johnson; then for many years with his brother Ernest. He served three years each as a councilman and police and fire commissioner, organized the medical activities of the draft board during the World War, was many years surgeon for the Northwestern Railroad, and was largely responsible for the founding and operation of the old Beloit Hospital.
The Beloit Directory of 1890 names as medical newcomers L. Burlingame, C. W. Merriman, W. A. Reed, M. G. Clark, and Doctors R. H. and Mary Stetson. The 1891 Directory lists no new physicians. In 1892 appears for the first time Ellie Van Delinder, homeopathic physician and electrician. In 1895 Water McCabe was associated with Dr. Nye and lived at the Goodwin House. C. M. Hollister lived at Mongomerie Park in 1897 and announced himself as specializing in nervous and mental diseases and electricity.
In 1900-1901 appear D. R. Cornell, B. J. Carr, W. C. Lar, and W. F. Pechuman. Ira Thompson, eclecric, and Anthony T. Schmidt were here in 1902. Minutes of the Strong Emergency Hospital staff indicate that Dr. Wilbur Cook, eye, ear, nose and throat specialist became a member of the staff in 1902. The 1904 period brought a veritable invasion: W. J. Allen, Mary Bartlett, W. W. Crockett, H. O. Delaney, Benjamin Fosse, W. H. Payne, J. T. Petrie, H. C. Rockwell, R. J. C. Strong, F. A. Thayer, and Platt Spence.
E. B. Brown, A. F. Burdick, F. J. Johnson, H. C. Mauer, and E. A. Olson are in the 1907-8 edition. In 1910 we find for the first time Harry E. Burger, F. J> Hamlin and E. J. McCloskey. In 1912-13 are noted F. E. Ellison, L. W. Elston, J. W. Keithley, and W. J. Melaas. M. P. Andrews was here in 1914; others were Benjamin Chilson, William Hecker, F. W. Leeson, T. F. Shinnick and J. Clyde Smith. In 1916-17 appear H. M. Helm and E. A. Henning.
A number of the doctors here in 1917 s well as some coming within the next several years were in service during the World War. A partial list includes Charles Beadles, Frank Brinkerhoff, Harry Burger, Charles Dawson, Thomas Clarity, L. M. Field, Benjamin Fosse, Harold Helm, William Hecker, Harry Fasten, Harvey Maurer, Albert Otto, Thomas Shinnick and Anthony Zwaska.
Dr. Beadles, an industrial surgeon, now dead, was in the Balkans, if memory is correct. Dr. Clarity, not yet a physician at that time was in the front lines with an infantry unit. Dr. Fosse, captain, then major in the Medical Corps after a training period at Fort Riley, Kansas, was in uniform for sixteen months, more than a year of it in France, first with the Red Cross Hospital No. 1 in Paris, then with Emergency Hospital No. 52 at the embarkations center at La Mons. Dr. Hecker enlisted in the Medical Reserve Corp on January 10, 1918, he was discharged overseas on January 10, 1918, as a captain. After the Armistice, he was in the office of the attending Surgeon Headquarters District of Paris.
Dr. Otto was an army doctor, with the grade of first lieutenant, of the troop transport “Freedom,” during 1918. Dr. Shinnick was commissioned a captain on December 21, 1917, and discharged as a major April 17, 1919, after serving overseas with Base Hospital No. 50 and other units from July 1918, until his return to civil practice. Dr. Zwaska was commissioned a first lieutenant in April, 1918, and after preliminary training at Fort Riley, Kansas, spent nine months overseas as regimental surgeon of the 346th Infantry.
Dr. Virgil Crone was here in 1919; in 1920 L. M. Field, Charles S. Fry and Albert F. Otto; and in 1922 Frank Brinkerhoff, L. J. DeSwarte, C. R. Finnegan, L. T. Gilmer, G. M. Henbest and Harry Fasten. The 1926 volume of Beloit directories lists C. H. Beadles, C. N. Dawson, C. H. Dodge and Herbert Raube.
This brings us roughly to the opening of the present Beloit Municipal Hospital, and the modern, high compression, streamlined era. As the decades from 1836 to approximately 1900 marked the horse-and-buggy, buffalo robe, and sleight period, when babies were born at home and surgery was done on the kitchen table, the introduction and decline of the Model T and Model A Fords were essentially contemporary with the development and closing of Beloit’s three small private hospitals conducted and administered by groups of local physicians.
First was the Strong Emergency, once referred to by a small Italian patient of mine - evidently an advocate of the phonetic method of speech - as the “German C” Hospital. Founded in 1999 through the efforts of Dr. Bell, who was for many years the president, it occupied the upper floor of the Strong building. The articles of incorporation dated February 5, 1903, are signed by Doctors Bell, L. R. Farr, L. F. Bennett, P. A. Fox, F. T. Nye, William McCabe, and W. H. Payne, and are notarized by Charles A. Gault.
The first annual meeting, January 2, 1900, was attended by President Bell and Doctors Spawn, Carr, Johnson, Buckeridge, Bennett, A. C. Helm, E. C. Helm, Farr, Nye, and McCabe. Mrs. Martha Head was hospital superintendent. At the first meeting in 1901 the annual salary for the head nurse was fixed at $500, and Miss Dawson was offered the position. The physicians of the state were charged with the duty of soliciting “the sum of $500 for the hospital care of dependent patients for the year.” In December, 1902, steps were taken to start a Nurses Training School. Dr. R. C. Strong and W. A. Crockett jointed the organization in 1904.
Mrs. Head’s report for the year February 7, 1904, to February 7, 1905, indicated that 264 patients were treated. There were ten deaths, nineteen births, and an amount of $426.50 uncollected with an additional $273.61 uncollected for 1903. Mrs. Hear’s salary was increased to $550 a year. Miss Moe resigned as head nurse. There was discussion concerning the collection of hospital bills.
In 1909 confinement cases were charged $20 per week for hospitalization, and this included a special nurse for four days. Superintendent Martha Head resigned in 1912. In May, 1913, resolutions were drawn concerning the death of Dr. Bell.
St. Mary’s Hospital at the northwest corner of Broad street and Park avenue was dedicated July 2, 1903. Conducted by a small group of Catholic sisters, it had only a brief existence. It is listed in the 1907-8 Directory but not in 1910, and was followed after several years - about 1914 - by the Beloit General Hospital. originally at the same location, which later occupied the old Bailey home, the red brick structure just east of the P. B. Yate’s mansion on the south side of Broad Street. Dr. D. R. Connell was largely responsible for its organization. One of the later superintendents was Miss Zilpah Webster, who became the wife of the Fairbanks Morse ballplayer, Eddie Holloway. I do not have the hospital records. No doubt its history essentially duplicated that of the Emergency Hospital and the third of the group, the Beloit Hospital, begun in what had been the old Presbyterian Church on the southeast corner of Broad and Pleasant streets, now the Lolen Hotel.
Original articles of organization were filed on January 28, 1907, and were signed by A. C. and E. C. Helm, D. R. Connell, F. A. Thayer, A. I. Schmidt, Isaac Buckeridge, W. J. Allen, M.C. Spawn, and H. O. Delaney. The articles were notarized by Miss Anne G. Hayes, secretary to the Doctors Helm from 1900, identified with Beloit Hospital throughout its existence, and still Dr. Fosse’s and my office assistant.
Under general information the Constitution and By-Laws booklet states: “The playing of cards and use of tobacco or profanity in the Hospital is strictly forbidden.” Rates were scheduled at $10 per week for the ward and $14 to $25 weekly for private rooms. Undergraduate special nurses received $15 per week, including board, and graduate specials $25 weekly. The training school was accredited in 1912. Use of the operating room was $3.00 for minor and $5.00 for major cases.
One of the earliest superintendents was Miss Addie F. Miner, later the wife of Dr .Robert Menzies of Chicago. One of the later ones was Miss Blanche Crowe of Evansville, Wisconsin. She writes that among the first nurses in training in 1907 and 1908 were Mae Quinn, Ella Winn, Zada Palmiter, Anne Crow, Cora Shute and Anna Williams.
The hospital had twenty-five beds. Some of the well-known nurses of a later period were Elizabeth Marks, who became head surgical nurse in a large Seattle hospital and later a public health nurse in Hawaii; Ida Wellman, an overseas World War nurse and now a head nurse in a large orthopedic hospital in New York City; and Ruth Moldenhauer and Ethel Wellsted Moss, public health nurse in Pomono, California.
From 1914 to 1922 the Beloit Hospital was administered by Dr. Arthur C. Helm and Dr. Paul Allen Fox, under the name of Helm and Fox Hospital Company. In 1922 Dr. Benjamin Fosse joined the organization, serving as business manager as well as in his professional capacity. Shortly thereafter the name was changed to Beloit Clinic, Incorporated, and Doctors J. Clyde Smith, Harry Kasten, F. E. Brinkerhoff, C. E. Smith, and for a short period D. N. Dawson were associates.
In 1928, when the present Municipal Hospital opened, the several groups operating the three institutions described were more than glad to close them and pass on their collective “administrative headaches” to the present executives in the city offices and out on Olympian Boulevard. Like the first automobiles, those first hospitals were no great “shakes” in the matter of appearance and equipment, but they had their day and played a useful and important part in the city’s development.
Naturally transportation was of first importance to the doctors of the horse-and-buggy days, even as it is to those of today. As a boy of nineteen Dr. Patterson walked all the way form Cleveland, Ohio, to Durand, Illinois, with a pack on his back. And many other physicians walked relatively long distances on their professional rounds. But the saddle horse and, particularly, the horse and cart or horse and buggy were for long decades as essential items of medical equipment as the automobile is today. Many of these rigs were so distinctive that the passer-by had only to glance at the horse at the hitching post to know which doctor was visiting that particular house.
Dr. Bicknell, says Andrew Hutchison, drove an old camel-like bay that every now and them threw out a stifle. Dr. George Cary had a team, a single buggy horse, and a saddle horse, at Miller’s livery stable. Dr. Cory, described by Miss Cora Ross as a dry joker and careless dresser, drive a large black horse named Prince hitched to an open buggy. Dr. Evans drove a pair of black ponies. Dr. Clinton Helm “drove a side spring buggy built after his own ideas; when he went around a corner fast, it felt as though it would surely roll over. He kept three horses. One was the homeliest animal I ever saw,” recalls his son, “a sorrel pacer which had stringhalt very badly, yet when he got warmed up he could do a mile in three minutes easily. This horse could never be tied to a hitching post or tree, for he would settle back on his haunches and pull till something gave way; but he would stand all day if not tied. Later father drive a very nice physician’s phaeton which was just wide enough for one; but he always found room for his pet dog.”
When Dr. Helm lived at Byron, before coming to Beloit, there was no bridge across Rock River, but a ferry, unattended at night. One black, blustering night an hour or more before dawn, the doctor drove his two-wheeled cart onto the ferry, tied his horse to the rail, and slowly worked the ferry across the stream until he felt it ground on the far shore. Then he went to the rail once more, untied the horse, climbed into the cart, and drove off into deep water, so that the horse and he had to swim for it. Wind and current had carried the ferry back into mid-stream.
Dr. Merriman drove a three-wheeled buggy of his own design. His standby was Silver Locks, a sorrel with light mane and tail. The doctor used a side bar buggy and usually drove with one foot “hanging out the side.” He had a big barn at Hubbard Court and Central Avenue. He went to Kentucky and brought back Athlete, Weeping Tom, and others. Athlete was beaten at the fair on the old mile track where Fairbanks, Morse and Company now stands, by States Rights, owned by Mosher. States Rights was of doubtful parentage, but the Honorable Clinton Babbitt fixed up his pedigree all right.
Dr. Bell also owned some fast horses. One was Nellie Gray and one, a dark sorrel, was Jim, which he drove for fifteen or sixteen years. When Jim moved, Bell had business on hand; and Jim could move.
In his first years here my father, Arthur Helm, had a chestnut mare, Nell. When I was two years old, he acquired a small cream-white horse, Billie, which was a much loved member of our family until I finished college. At the age of twenty-one he was pensioned to the country and live to be twenty-five. Never mean, but rather skittish as a young fellow, there were times when he stepped a bit too fast for comfort.
Some Beloiters may recall that the love lost between my father and the late Dr. D. R. Connell summed up to the approximate percentage of impurities in Ivory soap. One blustering, dark March night, father and Dr. Connell were hurrying into the country on an emergency consultation. A big farm dog, Billie’s particular aversion, rushed out barking and snapping, and Billie bolted. For several minutes a smash up seemed certain, but, by their combined efforts the doctors finally managed to pull the little white horse down to a more seemly pace. Recalling the incident later, Dr. Connell said: “That’s the first time Art Helm and I ever pulled together.”
Symbolic of the post-Civil War decades was the buffalo robe. Every doctor had one or two for his sleigh. Then there were the fur caps and gloves, overshoes or felt boots, and ankle length fur lined broad cloth overcoats, with big Astrakhan collars, and braid frogs and loops, instead of buttons. They were much like the garments worn by Russian officers. While I never drove a horse, I inherited such a coat and occasionally wore it in the open Ford runabout that was just about as air conditioned as a sleigh.
Many early doctors employed drivers. One time Dr. Fox and his hostler were jogging along on a country night call and both fell asleep, theoretically a privilege reserved to the doctor. The horses evidentially not on the way home, wandered into a side road and then down dead-end grassy lane, stopping at a remote farm-gate. The driver awoke with a start: “Gosh,” he said, “we’re all out of road.”
For a time some of the doctors rode bicycles. Father had one, as did Dr. Thayer. But the coming of the automobile quickly changed that. One of the early cars was Dr. Bennett’s Stevens-Duryea. He was called to the Lathers’ farm, a short way beyond the Hart bridge on the Shopiere road. Driving into the yard he hopped out and, with all the enthusiasm of a boy with a new electric train, demonstrated to a receptive audience all the “doodads” and gadgets; calculated his unbelievably fast time en route, and predicted that he would lower the mark returning. Whereupon he cranked the engine, leaped to the controls, and made ready to drive off in all directions. “Hey, wait a minute,” called Mr. Lathers above the roar of the little iron horse, “aren’t you coming in to see the patient?”
Father’s first auto, acquired in 1905, was a modified buggy, with high, hard rubber-tired wheels, regulation patient leather dash, and folding leather top. There may even have been whip socket. The two-cylinder motor was air cooled and transversely mounted, so it cranked on the side, with a crank that might have belonged to an ice-cream freezer. The very inadequate power was transmitted to the rear wheels through two rope belts, impregnated with graphite, and the equipage steered with a lever instead of a wheel.
At about this time I was a senor in the old Beloit College Academy under the tutelage of “Pa” Burr. I was attending a “rushees” dinner at one of the fraternities. One of the lordly upper classmen, Walter Ferris, later a literary figure out Hollywood way, regaled the assembled the assembled brothers and prospective neophytes with a most graphic and wholly unflattering description of the outlandish horseless carriage he had seen on a downtown street. Another upper classman, possibly Colonel Robinson, knowing the ownership of the rig was, figuratively, tying to kick Walt under the table, but without success. Shy and ill at east to begin with, I meanwhile blushed and squirmed and sweated in a very agony of embarrassment.
One could multiply such incidents indefinitely, but those described are typical. Ere long one Henry Ford had pretty much of a monopoly along these lines. Then gradually evolved the sleek, high-powered, rakish road craft of today. No Beloit physical has yet owned his private airplane, but several have flown to medical conventions, and at least one has done a bit of piloting. Now, as evidence of the truth of the dictum that life moves in cycles, we occasionally see horses along Beloit's streets.
Some of the outstanding episodes in the life of every family center about the process of being born. While the average case is routine, every now and then the exceptional one goes a very long way toward graying the hair and calcifying the coronaries of the involved M. D. Rarely there is tragedy and, also rarely, almost hilarious comedy.
During his student days, Dr. Charles Dawson was sent into the medical school district to attend a home delivery. The imminently prospective mother was a colored woman, as so many St. Louis residents are; and the domicile was a bit on the squalid side, as some many district domiciles are. With the help of a visiting nurse, however, and a couple of bags of sterile goods and equipment from the Maternity Center the humble lying-in chamber had been converted into a reasonable facsimile of a hospital delivery room. Just as Sir Stork was about to glide in for a three-point landing, and all the ground crew were very much occupied, a rickety stove-pipe which crossed transversely under the ceiling, let go and showered down upon the field of operations and all involved personnel a bushel of more of black greasy soot.
A stock pleasantry regarding the arrival of the bird with the big bill relates the eventual survival of the distracted young father, with or without the ministrations of an inexperienced young medical attendant. Many years ago when Dr. F. A. Thayer was conducting a case at the old Beloit Hospital, a certain first-time father insisted on being present at the arrival of his prospective heir. Just at the most critical moment the poor fellow fainted, struck his head on a radiator, and sustained a scalp wound which required a large share of the doctor’s attention.
Beloit has always been a dispensing town. A pleasant feature of more than twenty-five years of practice here has been the fascinated interest of a good many very small persons in the contents of assorted dispensing vials in the old medicine case. I like to think that fifty, seventy-five, almost a hundred years ago other generations of Beloit children have stood with the same keen interest at the knees of father and uncle and granduncles.
But, just as the attractively processed and packaged foods and confections of today differ from the simple and unsanitary comestibles of the fifties and nineties, so do the drugs and medicines differ from their counterparts of that earlier day. Then every dispensary involved mortar and pestle and spatula and pill tile; castor oil was its is agreeable, undisguised self; calomel and quinine must have been purchased in five pound lots; and the pungent odor of iodoform pervaded every consulting room.
Instead of neatly processed, fragrant, prettily colored tablets, almost confections, there were acrid, unpleasant powders; salol, antipyrine, cafbromilide. Besides a small spatula each medicine case contained at least two packets of powder papers, white and pink, or light blue. An important criterion of the physician’s competence was the neatness and dispatch with which he shook out, divided, and arranged in compact piles the little packets, one white to be taken on the even hour and one on the odd. And who of these days does not recall the special jumbo-sized packets, one while the other light blue, which when mixed together in a glass of water, produced the fizzing and authoritative concoction devised by one Seidlitz. In those robust days the efficacy of a medicine was in direct ration to its offensive odor or abominable taste.
Those Beloiters who were patients of my father will recall that there was never the least doubt in his mind as to who was running the show. Once my sister next younger than I, always a wee person even for her tender age, but with a decided will of her own, was ill and had been left some powders to take. She flatly refused and, when father came home, he told mother very positively that he would take over. The small patient retreated to the extreme back of the wide, low bed, and over against the wall. Father followed, held the young lady’s nose, popped the powder into her mouth, and doused after it a big swig of water. “There,” he said rather smugly, “it just needed a little firmness. That’s all.” At which juncture there erupted into his luxuriant sideburns and all over his entire gay-nineties facade a sticky, moist shower of ejected medication, and mother very abruptly choked on something and hastily left the room.
I have a formulary which belonged to Dr. E. N. Clark, and was begun by him in his student days at Geneva, New York. On the inside cover, in script almost too fades to be legible, but rewritten by another hand at a later date, is the quotation, “Be not the first by whom the new is tried, Be not the last to lay the old aside.”
On the flyleaf below the date 1842, is the inscription, Liber Medici Prae scriptorium: also the quotation from Locke, “The pictures drawn in our minds are laid in fading colors; and if not sometimes refreshed, vanish and disappear.”
And this, “Look not mournfully into the past - it comes not back again. Wisely improve the present - it is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear, and with a manly heart.” Longfellows’ “Hyperion.”
Study of the pages indicates that, while the young doctor was something of an idealist, he also had an eye to the practical. Thus in the index, in the immediate sequence, are formulae for Heaven’s Cordial and Horses Hoof Softener. It seems likely that the two could have been used interchangeable without the horse, at least, knowing the difference. The cordial comprised 1 ounce of the best alcohol, 2 of chloroform, 3/4 once of sulphuric ether, ½ ounce of gum camphor, 1/8 of laudanum, and 1/16 of oil of cloves. The exact dosage was left to the discretion of the imbiber. It must have made the patient feel like an angel if not actually be one.
The Hoof Softener recipe directed the compounder to take 1 ounce of balsam fir and 1 of venice turpentine, 7/8 of oil of tar, 5/8 oil of hemlock, 5/8 of tincture of iodine, and 3/4 of alcohol, grade not specified. It was recommended more especially for the bottom, frogs, and heels. Perhaps, had this elixir of equine hot foot been at the disposal of Alsab’s trainers, he would have lost no races whatever.
Harness oil and hair restorer were other near neighbors. Whooping cough, with commendable impartiality, was listed both under “H” and “W.” Perhaps, as symptoms subsided, the “W” was first to become silent. A practical toothache remedy was a morsel of dried salt codfish, which could be carried in the best pocket, ready for instant use.
I could go on interminably; probably you feel I already have. Yet much has been left unsaid and much may seem trivial and irrelevant. I have recalled to some of you your contacts with these folks, who pushed Beloit door bells at unconventional hours and kept discreet silence about the osseous denizens of family closets; folks who more or less faithfully and more or less successfully, but with inevitable eventual futility, did what they could to checkmate the infiltrative tactics of the spare-shanked, sparse-bearded old fellow whose scrawny but tireless arms manipulate with sudden thrust or slow, relentless sweep the ever keen and ever deadly scythe.
Dr. Harold M. Helm