Saunders County NEGenWeb Project
Past and Present of Saunders County Nebraska, 1915



   In this enlightened age of medical science one regards the early doctor as one who had little knowledge of the profession, one who applied the home remedies of calomel, castor oil and blue pill for every ill and one who wielded the lancet with indiscrimination. However one regards the early physician there must be taken into account the times in which he worked, in other words, the knowledge of medicine and surgery which then existed in the world. Secondly, there were the physical conditions he endured; thirdly, the diseases among the settlers were distinctive; and, lastly, the remedies and antidotes at the command of the doctor were scarce and, many times, not proper for the illness for which they were administered.

   In the matter of medical knowledge in those early days, little or nothing was known compared with the present status of the science. In fact, medical knowledge has made more rapid strides in the last two decades than in the last century. In the early days of this state and county the doctors had strong faith in the use of the lancet, believing that by letting a copious amount of blood from the patient, the object of which was to destroy the tenement of the disease, a cure could be effected. Then there was the Spanish fly blister which was applied for all sorts of ills; there were blue pills and calomel as the universal internal remedies. During the patient's convalescent period, if such a period were ever reached, gamboge, castor oil and senna were administered in generous portions in order to work out of the system the effects of the initial course of treatment.

   It would be difficult to describe in limited space just how far the step has been taken from those early theories to those of the



present day. A glance at the daily newspapers and magazines will prove by numerous instances the wonderful cures being accomplished today, both in medicine and surgery. Operations upon the heart, upon the brain, and upon the other delicate and vital organs of the body are becoming of daily occurrence, whereas a quarter century ago these practices would have been ridiculed. Nor does the doctor need the splendidly equipped operating room for this work. Weekly the news filters through the censors of some remarkable operation performed in the war zone of Europe; of how some daring work upon the part of a military physician had saved the soldier's life; perhaps with the ground as the operating table and but a few simple instruments -- and no anaesthetic.

   The day of serums has arrived, and with anti-toxins and toxins, the disease is in many cases throttled in its inception. The present day doctor recognizes the transcendency of Nature, the greatest doctor of all, and he prefers to assist this unseen power rather than work independent of it.

   The physical conditions the early doctor endured is another argument in his favor. There were no roads, bridges, and, in many places, not even a marked path of travel. His trips were made on horseback or afoot, through intense blizzards, soaking rains, bitter cold, and in the teeth of the winds which swept across the prairie. Sleep was something he obtained at odd times. In reward for this service he received a very meager fee and in the majority of cases, nothing, for the settlers as a class were poor. Then again he would receive his pay in potatoes, apples, flour or whatever commodity the pioneer could most conveniently give him.

   The diseases common to the first settlers were distinctive. The rough life and exposures which were common to them did not permit entrance to the many ills and pains attendant upon civilization and large urban communities. Fevers and ague, with an occasional stomach ache, were nearly all the ills they bore. Accidents required the use of wooden splints and, of course, the physician needed a knowledge of obstetrics, though the pioneer mother often endured the birth of her child without medical assistance. When sickness broke in the family the doctor was called if within distance, but if not, the stock of simple remedies in every cabin


was put to use. If it were nothing more than a cold among the children the application of hot lard or bacon rind and the internal use of quinine or onion juice completed the treatment. Sweat powders were also taken frequently.


   Dr. T. A. Bunnell at Ashland was perhaps the first physician in the county, but was closely followed by Dr. William McClung. Dr. R. B. Morton was the pioneer physician of Wahoo, also the first proprietor of a drug store in that town. Doctor Marsh was the first doctor at Yutan. Doctor Hall came first to Mead. Other physicians and the date of their registration are as follows: M. W. Stone, May 30,1881, at Wahoo; Ira G. Stone, May 31, 1881, Wahoo; Robert Bruce Morton, May 31, 1881, Wahoo; Elijah T. Cassell, June 2, 1881, Ashland; Richard Gray, June 2, 1881, Ashland; Alex S. V. Mansfelde, June 2, 1881, Ashland; Edwin M. Park, June 2, 1881, Ashland; Daniel R. Pelton, September 23,1882; Wahoo; George W. Meredith, December 16, 1882, Ashland; Alice E. Huff, October 9, 1884, Ashland; Magnus Youngstedt, July 6, 1885, Wahoo; P. L. Hall, August 3, 1885, Mead; Russell D. Bush, November 5, 1885, Ceresco (Doctor Bush was the father of Pauline Bush, the noted motion picture actress); Andrew E. Stuart, July 20, 1886, Cedar Bluff's, and was the first physician in this locality; John C. F. Bush, September 24, 1886, Wahoo,; Charles T. Kirkpatrick, May 5, 1888, Ashland; Alex E. Jenks, October 8, 1888, Yutan; F. E. Way, November 10, 1890, Wahoo; James F. Morning, April 20, 1891, Yutan, now in Denver; C. F. Kirkpatrick, December 11, 1891, Ashland; J. D. Guttery, February 9, 1892, Valparaiso; P. E. T. Anderson, September 25, 1893, Wahoo; F. E. Stephens, January 14, 1896, Yutan; Mary A. Quincy, May 7, 1896, Memphis. This comprises the list of early physicians as accurate as possible. Medical records give the name of hundreds of doctors who have practiced in Saunders County, the most of them for a day, a week or a month. Then there are names of doctors missing and these have to be supplied from memory, which at best is treacherous as a permanent and accurate record.



   The following notice appeared in the Wahoo Wasp, issue of January 15, 1903:

Ashland, Neb., January 12, 1903.

Editor Wahoo Wasp,
   Wahoo, Neb.
   It affords me great pleasure to report the organization of the Saunders County Medical Society at Wahoo, Thursday evening, January 8th. The meeting was called to order by Doctor Bush of Wahoo. Doctor Mansfelde was appointed temporary chairman and Dr. Mary A. Quincy temporary secretary. After the reading and adoption of the constitution and by-laws the following officers were chosen by vote: Dr. A. S. y. Mansfelde, president; Dr. J. C. F. Bush, vice president; Dr. Mary A. Quincy, secretary; Dr. J. G. Smith, treasurer; delegates, Doctor Bush; Dr. Frank Tornholm, censor, three years; Dr. E. C. Keyes, censor, two years; Dr. E. Edwin Barren, censor, one year. The president appointed as a committee on public health and legislation, Doctors Pinkerton, Keyes and Tornholm.

Mary A. Quincy, M. D., Secretary.

   By the year 1910 the Association had a strong membership, composed of the following physicians: Torgney Anderson, Ceresco; M. S. Bias, Colon; L. X. Burke, Ithaca; J. W. Gorder, Weston; J. D. Guttery, Valparaiso; J. E. Kaspar, Prague; Doctor Kirkpatrick, Ashland; Doctor Koerber, Yutan; W. H. Keeney, Malmo; J. F. Lauvetz, Wahoo; A. S. V. Mansfelde, Ashland; G. W. Meredith, Ashland; E. L. Meredith, Ashland; E. F. McGuire, Mead; M. A. Quincy, Ashland; P. A. Slattery, Valparaiso; J. G. Smith, Wahoo; A. E. Stuart, Cedar Bluffs; Frank Tornholm, Wahoo; Frank E. Way, Wahoo; E. O. Weber, asylum; E. C. Keyes, Gretna; M. W. Thomas, Memphis; R. D. Bush, Wahoo. The physicians in the county, then who were not members were: B. H. Dark, Ashland: J. A. Parmenter, Morse Bluffs; A. P. Kimball, Wahoo; A. E. Buchanan, Cedar Bluffs.


The present membership consists of sixteen doctors, namely: A. S. V. Mansfelde, Rush 1872, Ashland; M. A. Quincy, University of Nebraska 1896, Ashland; C. F. Kirkpatrick, Cleveland 1882, Ashland; M. S. Bias, Louisville University 1887, Cedar Bluffs; A. E. Stuart, Detroit 1886, Cedar Bluffs; F. W. McCan, John A. Creighton 1907, Colon; J. F. Lauvetz, same, Wahoo; J. G. Smith, Ensworth 1891, Wahoo; F. G. Way, Boston 1890, Wahoo; Frank Tornholm, Nebraska 1902, Wahoo; E. O. Weber, Rush 1902, Wahoo; Joseph E. Kaspar, Nebraska 1889, Prague; Paul E. Koerber, Nebraska 1896, Yutan; E. T. McGuire, Nebraska 1908, Mead; G. W. Meredith, Indiana 1878, Ashland. The doctors in the county who are not members are: B. H. Dark, Ashland; M. W. Thomas, Memphis; John A. Parmenter, Morse Bluff; W. H. Keeney, Malmo; E. L. Meredith, Ashland; Frank Wright, Ceresco; E. L. Robinson, Ithaca; Woeppel, Wahoo; Doctor Elwood, Weston.

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