The Medical Profession

Flesh is heir to many ills, especially when it seeks to maintain a normal existence in a new country. The pioneer, by force of circumstances, was compelled to brave untold hardships, of which insufficient food, crude habitations, rigors of climate, held no small part, and all of which often super-induced illness and death. The "regular" physician was almost an unknown quantity. Doctors - self-styled - were few and far between. "Yarb" (herb) doctors were more in evidence and many of the older women, intelligent and brave, ministered to their sisters in the hour of deepest physical travail. The settlers were in small numbers at the start and their cabins often miles apart. In times of sickness great distances had to be covered by the "doctor," often on foot, over the trackless prairie, or through forests by way of a blazed trail.

In the days of "first things" in Sheboygan county, the man who plied the healing art, compounded his own medicines and relied upon his own judgment, for there were no drug stores or expert specialists to lend a helping hand. As the settlements grew and villages sprung up, the general store put in a stock of "nostrums" and the young medical graduate hearing of the new village, made that point his first stopping place, often to stay awhile and then leave in disgust, owing to the lack of calls upon his professional services. Others had the stick-to-a-tiveness that was necessary to gain a foothold, and became known far and near for their knowledge of the healing art, their conscientious application to the needs of a growing clientage, and acquired many of the graces and benevolences that characterized the early physician.

Unfortunately, no one has had the temerity to collect the data and write of the pioneer physician of Sheboygan county. The task at this time is not an easy one, for the reason that no matter how much the early doctors of "these parts" may have been appreciated no record of their settlement in the community has been kept and many of them have either died or left for other fields of industry, without any one having the grace or inclination to write their biographies.

The names of a long list of physicians who early practiced their profession in the county have been obtained, however, and if nothing can be related of their experiences, when the county was young, this work will serve at least as an enduring tablet to their memory, as it will preserve for future generations the names of the noble men, of a noble profession, who ministered to the physical ailments of a generation of men and women, who opened this splendid country and made homes for the thousands who followed them.

In all probability many names will be omitted from this article that should appear. But, if such is the case, it must not be ascribed to any feeling or neglect on the part of the writer. His failure in the premises is due to lack of information. Many interesting incidents of the early-day practice are probably extant. They would add greatly to the value of this article. In this again, the writer is unfortunate in the absolute dearth of details concerning the professional careers of these worthy members of the medical profession.


A Pioneer Doctor

One of the first settlers in the town of Lima was Dr. Hoffman, who located in 1840.

Guy Benjamin Shepard was in Sheboygan Falls as early as 1839, and lived in the third frame house built in the village.

Dr. Coela settled at Sheboygan Falls in 1844.

Dr. C. Van Altena located in the village of Cedar Grove in 1850.

Dr. Joseph Mallory located in the town of Lyndon in 1844.

Dr. Cephas Whipple settled in Sheboygan county in 1845 and by many of the pioneers he will be remembered for the many virtues which make a life worthy of imitation. He was born in Solon, Maine, March 11, 1807. With his wife Lois he came to the county in 1845, ^s before mentioned, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of government land in Lima town. He studied medicine under Dr. Lapham, of Gibbsville, and soon acquired an extensive practice. In 1866 he removed to Sheboygan Falls and thereafter practically lived a retired life. He died in 1878.

John J. Brown was one of the pioneers of Sheboygan, coming here in 1846 from New York. In his native place he had made a special study of physiology. He attended Geneva (New York) Medical College and read one year with Dr. Burwell, of Buffalo, New York. Soon after he became assistant in the office of Dr. Parsell, of Akron, New York. In January, 1845, he graduated from Geneva Medical College and then returned home, where he was married to Miss Miranda Hadley. Though the Doctor bought a farm near the village of Sheboygan, he pursued his chosen profession until after the breaking out of the war. In raising troops for the service he took an active part and in recognition of his services was commissioned in 1862 by Governor Salomon lieutenant colonel of the Twenty-seventh Wisconsin Infantry. After the war the Doctor became interested in scientific work, especially conchology. While in the West Indies and journeying in adjacent countries, he secured a collection of shells that is acknowledged to be the finest in the western states. In 1891 his collection was removed to Lawrence University, at Appleton.

Henry Bodenstab was one of the pioneer physicians of Sheboygan, coming here when Indians, wolves and deer were numerous and when there were but about a half dozen houses in the village. He was a man of fine scholarship and well versed in the science of his profession. Dr. Bodenstab was born in 1804, at Diedersen, Germany, near the city of Hanover. He attended lectures at Hanover and graduated from a medical college at Goettingen in 1828. He took up the practice of his profession at Ronnenberg. Coming to the United States in 1847 he chose Sheboygan as his future home and place of activity. A few years later, however, the Doctor removed to a tract of land in what is now Herman town. He was successful in his profession and gained an extensive practice but his vocation becoming distasteful, he took up farming. Dr. Bodenstab was widely and favorably known as a physician and surgeon. Such was his reputation that the citizens of Manitowoc offered to give him a building site if he would locate there, but to no avail.

The first physician to settle in Plymouth and one of the earliest in the county was Dr. A. S. Doolittle, of Ohio, who came to the county in the summer of 1847. He remained but a short time, as the people there were robust and had no use for his services. He soon afterward left for a place of more strenuous activity.

Dr. Louis Bock was one of the "emegries" of the year 1848, being compelled to leave the "faderland" by reason of his political activities during the revolt against autocratic tyranny. He came to Sheboygan and remaining a few years, then went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He finally returned to Sheboygan, however, and became one of the leading physicians of the city. Dr. Bock was a member of the leading national medical societies and the first president of the Sheboygan County Medical Association, organized in 1867.

Dr. Franklin Bond, a native of Vermont, was graduated from Castleton Medical College of that state. He located in Plymouth in June, 1848, remaining a little more than two years, when he removed to Sheboygan Falls, very much to the regret of his Plymouth friends.

In 1851 Dr. George Bissell settled at Rymouth. He was a man of fine education and winning ways but after remaining a year or perhaps less, he became discouraged and left for other scenes of activity. Report has it that he became distinguished in his profession.

Dr. Haffenreffer came to Sheboygan county in 1857 and settled in Plymouth, where he remained several years, practicing medicine with skill and success.

Dr. A. C. Gibson began the practice of his profession at Plymouth in 1859 and remained there for many years. In 1863 John N. O'Brien commenced the practice of medicine at Plymouth and became prominent in the profession.

Dr. William Franke came in the spring of 1850 from Germany and settled in Sheboygan. He located on the corner of Center avenue and North Eighth street, where now the German Bank is located. In 1852, at the time of the cholera epidemic, he was one of the last victims. He died in the fall of 1852. He and another physician, Dr. Alberti, were the only German physicians here and the latter left when the cholera broke out. He later returned but eventually went west. The wife and baby and a brother-in-law of Dr. Franke all died within three days of cholera.

Dr. Seeley was one of the early physicians of Sheboygan, living west of the city on what was called Seeley's hill. He was a good physician for those days and had a large country practice. At one time he served as chairman of the town board. He has been dead a number of years.

Dr. L. H. Carey came to Greenbush in 1847.

Frederick Hahn located in Sheboygan in 1853 and began the practice of medicine. He was a native of Germany and was educated there and for five years practiced medicine at Weimar. He came to America in 1847.

Adolph F. St. Sure Lindsfelt was bom in Finland, in 1806, came to America in 1840 and graduated from Rush Medical College in 1852. He came to Sheboygan in 1854 and practiced medicine up to 1861, when he was appointed surgeon of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Volimteer Infantry. He served until the close of the war and returned to Sheboygan county, taking up the practice. He was one of the earliest and successful physicians of the county.

In 1857 Dr. Emerson, a recent graduate from a medical institution of the state of Maine, settled at Glenbeulah.

William H. Gtmther came to Sheboygan in 1863. He was educated in the public schools and studied medicine under Dr. J. J. Brown and L. Bock. He entered Rush Medical College in 1880 and graduated in 1883. Upon receiving his degree of M. D. he at once began practice in Sheboygan and attained success.

Almon Clarke began the practice of his profession in this county in 1866. In that year he settled at Sheboygan Falls, where he remained until 1874, when he removed to Sheboygan. He was a native of Vermont, bom in 1840. He was graduated in 1862 from the medical department of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, and returning to Barry, Vermont, where he began the practice of his profession. In 1862 he was commissioned by Governor Holbrook assistant surgeon of the Tenth Vermont Infantry. He was a member of the State Medical Society and of the American Medical Association.

Carl Muth is a native of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, bom in 1842. He came with his parents to this country in 1847. During the Civil war he was hospital steward of the Twenty-seventh Wisconsin Regiment and served in that capacity until the end of hostilities. He then entered Rush Medical College at Chicago and graduated with the class of 1868. In 1866 he had engaged in the drug business with Thomas M. Blackstock, in Sheboygan. In 1873 ^' Muth spent some time attending lectures in the medical department of the university at Goettingen. Returning, he disposed of his interest in the drug store and then devoted his whole attention to his profession, in which he secured a large practice and a splendid reputation.

Lyman T. Coller was a native of the Empire state, bom in 1845. He received his primary education in the common schools and in 1863 entered Lawrence University. Subsequently he came to Sheboygan county and studied medicine one year with his uncle, Perry Coller, who was a physician of note. In 1867 he permanently located in Hingham, where he began practice. Feeling the need of further study the Doctor went to Chicago in the fall of 1878 and spent a year in Chicago Medical College, after which he took a post graduate course at Rush Medical College in 1882. His practice became extensive and as a physician his reputation was all that could be desired.

J. L. Shepard began the practice of medicine at Sheboygan Falls in 1867. He was United States examining surgeon for pensions and served in the legislature.

Goodwin T. Loomis, who received his professional training in the medical department of the University of Michigan, took up the practice of medicine in Cascade in 1873.

Charles B. Cody took up the practice of medicine at Sheboygan Falls in 1872.

Dr. Levi H. Pelton was born in the town of Lyndon, July 10, 1848. He received most of his professional education at Rush Medical College but was graduated from Bellevue Medical College in 1873. He practiced three years at St. Cloud, Fond du Lac county, and then located at Waldo.

Henry D. Squire is a homeopathic physician, who began the practice of his profession in the city of Sheboygan in the fall of 1873. He is a native of the state of New York, having been bom on Long Island, September 6, 1839. He attended his first course of lectures at Hahnemann Medical College and graduated from the Westem Homeopathic College at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1864. He is one of the prominent practitioners of this county.

Henry A. Pitcher was a graduate of Hahnemann College and began practicing his profession in 1876 at Sheboygan Falls.

Samuel W. Mead, a native of New York, and a graduate of high standing from the Long Island College Hospital, located in Pl3rmouth in 1878.

Alfred T. Blackbum, a graduate of Chicago Medical College, engaged in the practice of his profession at Hingham in 1881.

Herman Reineking was born on a farm near Franklin, Sheboygan county, in 1856, the son of Herman F. and Charlotte Reineking, pioneers of Herman town. After leaving school he engaged in teaching and in 1876 began the study of medicine with Dr. J. F. Pritchard, of Manitowoc county, and the following year entered Rush Medical College, from which he was graduated in 1880. He then located in Franklin, this county, where he remained five years. On the expiration of that time he went to Europe and took up special studies at Goettingen, Vienna and Heidelberg, where he was honored with the degree of M. D. in 1886. In 1887 he began practice in Sheboygan and became one of the leading physicians of the county.

Arnold W. Kratzsch located at Cascade in January, 1887, succeeding Dr. N. C. Hall, a pioneer physician of the county, long deceased. He spent two years in Wisconsin State Normal at Whitewater and was subsequently principal of the Thiensville schools. In 1882 he entered Rush Medical College, from which he was graduated in 1884. He then located at Plymouth, where he was successfully engaged in the practice of his profession for some three years, when he removed to Cascade.

Otto J. Gutsch began the practice of his profession in Sheboygan in 1888. He was born here in 1865. He attended lectures at the Minnesota College Hospital at Minneapolis, and in 1884 entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the city of New York, from which he graduated in 1886. After his graduation he spent eighteen months as interne at Bellevue Hospital. In 1893 the Doctor was appointed one of the surgeons of the United States pension examining board at Sheboygan. He made for himself a name in his profession here.

Anton Zeiss was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1858. His medical education was obtained at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, from which he was graduated in 1884. After completing the course he practiced in the university for some time. In 1888 the Doctor emigrated to the United States, coming directly to Sheboygan, where he at once began the practice of his profession and became successful.

William George Grasser was educated at St. Francis Seminary near Milwaukee. On the expiration of his college course he entered upon his medical studies under Dr. J. J. Brown, of Sheboygan. He entered Rush Medical College, of Chicago, in 1887, and in 1890 received the degree of M. D. He immediately began practice in Sheboygan and has become proficient and prominent.


At a meeting called for the purpose of organizing a medical society for the county of Sheboygan and held at the county court room in Sheboygan; on the 19th day of August, 1867, the following physicians were present: J. J. Brown, H. J. Young, W. B. Huson, Almon Clarke, J. N. O'Brien, Frederick Hahn, Louis Bock and Henry Bodenstab. The meeting was called to order by Dr. Bock. Dr. Brown was chosen chairman and Dr. O'Brien secretary. At this meeting the association was practically organized, the various committees were appointed and by-laws adopted. The following officers were chosen: President, Louis Bock; vice president, H. J. Young; recording secretary, Almon Clarke; corresponding secretary, W. B. Huson ; treasurer, A. F. St. Sure ; censors, Henry Bodenstab, W. B. Huson, J. N. O'Brien. Dr. St. Sure had previously been admitted, also Dr. L. D. Mcintosh.

There was some diversity of opinion as to the admission of Dr. C. A. Hageman to membership. A vote was taken upon the question and the Doctor's application was rejected by a vote of five to four.

Up to 1870 the following increase of membership had taken place: Drs. G. B. Shepard, Charles Muth, W. D. Moorehouse, A. W. Whitcomb, J. H. McNeal, C. M. Hamilton, S. A. Mellen, of Hingham; S. S. Hall, G. T. Loomis, C. B. Cody and L. E. C. Pelton.

At the time of the organization of this society there was no law on the statute books requiring a license to practice medicine, and the term "regular" hardly had the force and effect and significance in the profession as it has today. To the younger members of the profession it might be interesting for them to know that a diploma from the Sheboygan Medical Society at the time and for a year or so after its formation, was considered necessary in order to gain favor from the society and give the holder thereof a standing in the community as a practitioner of medicine. One of the resolutions early adopted by this association of physicians would seem rather harsh in this day and generation. In fact it would create a smile from many of the profession at this day. It read as follows: "Resolved that any person practicing medicine and surgery in this county who fails to become a member of this society within six months from the date of its organization shall be considered a quack by the society." Hence, it was that most, if not all, of those practicing the profession in the county deemed it at least wise to subscribe their names to the constitution and by-laws of the Sheboygan County Medical Society, and those not having been graduated from some medical institution, accepted the diplomas issued by this society. To give an instance: "Stebbens Alvemo Mellen, of Hingham, having applied for a diploma from the society, the censors after giving him a thorough examination, pronounced him duly qualified and on motion of Dr. Moorehouse he was granted a diploma with the title Doctor of Medicine."

The society still keeps up interest in its organization and has regular meetings. Others of its early members not mentioned are: F. Hahn, Eugene Le Sage, Herman Reineking, W. F. Tifft, A. T. Blackburn, C. William Stoelting, Samuel W. Mead, of Plymouth, David Birkhoff, W. H. Gunther, J. Schmitz, N. C. Hall, Arnold W. Kratzsch, Albert J. Fuchs, Charles Schaper, E. E. Was, Philip M. Sinz, John H. Dawley, of Plymouth, W. Juergens, Edward Bemis, Lyman T. Coller, J. V. Johnson, H. Schaper, P. Herriges, P. B. Leason, A. H. Machleith, H. C. Reich, William L. Goeth, E. S. Ryan, W. H. Winchester, Anton Zeiss, G. E. Knauf. Robert M. Nichols, George H. Scheer.


Sheboygan, E. J. Barrett, O. B. Bock, J. C. Elfers, E. J. Festerling, M. A. Froney, A. E. Center, E. Gunther, O. J. Gutsch, J. A. Junck, J. R. Kingsley, C. Muth, G. H. Stannard, J. Tasche, C. T. Tasche, A. H. Voigt, G. B. Wiles, W. Van Zanten, W. F. Zierath ; Plymouth, E. Felter, C. R. Nutt, H. F. Deicher; Cedar Grove, L. Van Altena, Sr., L. Van Altena, Jr., A. Vosquil; Sheboygan Falls, C W. Pfeiffer, R. M. Nichols; Adell, K. T. Bauer, J. W. Hess; Kiel, D. F. Nauth; Random Lake, T. E. Malloy ; Franklin, A. W. Sieker ; Glenbeulah, J. Hansen ; Howards Grove, J. E. Franzel; Elkhart Lake, L. W. Egloff, W. C. Schmitz ; Cascade, A. C. Rogers.


Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL

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