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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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PHYSICIANS. As early as 1830 Dr. Frank Jarret was present in Dubuque. While no mention can be found of his practicing medicine, he was given power to arbitrate disputes arising from MINING activities.

The first practicing physician in Dubuque is considered to be Dr. John S. Stoddard who came to this region early in 1833. This proved a fortunate event for the settlers as July, August, and September of that year were times of a CHOLERA epidemic. Stoddard charged one dollar for office calls during the day, two dollars for night calls, and ten dollars for consultations with other doctors. A mileage charge was added to country house calls. Stoddard also maintained a supply of medicines for sale and practiced surgery.

In 1835 during a quarrel, Stoddard shot Captain Edward White with a load of coarse salt. The captain died leaving a large family. Stoddard's escaped from a lynch mob.

Dr. Stephen Langworthy, father of the famous Langworthy brothers, came to Dubuque in 1834. He became Dubuque's first permanent physician who also served the nation. Langworthy had been a surgeon during the War of 1812. As a Dubuque resident until his death in September 1848, he was also a United States land officer.

The year 1834 saw the arrival of Dr. Frederick Andros. Years later, Andros would claim he was the first fully registered and licensed physician in Dubuque because the others had not been officially licensed. Andros remained in Dubuque until 1837 when he moved to Clayton County and began farming.

The arrival of Dr. John FINLEY in 1836 marked the coming of one of Dubuque's most remembered physicians. Finley practiced medicine for almost forty years including three as a surgeon with the 37th Infantry during the CIVIL WAR. The greatest monument to his life was the founding of FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE).

One of the first physicians to keep vaccine on hand was Dr. O'Ferrall who came to Dubuque in 1837. One of Dubuque's first medical specialists was a Dr. Lurton who came here in 1838 and concentrated on diseases of women and children.

Early Dubuque suffered from the brief tenure of its physicians. Many practiced in Dubuque only until some means of transportation west with other immigrants could be found. In 1846 Dubuque could count on only Drs. R. R. Campbell, Charles KEOPFLI, and R. W. Lewis. There were nine doctors in the community by 1847 including the locally renowned Asa HORR.

A rapid growth in medical practice occurred in Dubuque after the 1840s. Among those who came to the city was Dr. Nancy HILL. Following a meeting of Dubuque doctors, the Dubuque County Medical Society was founded on November 4, 1852. The Society's first officers were Asa Horr, G. W. Richards, and F. C. Smith.

Dubuque's first hospital, a private institution, was established by Drs. McMahan and N. B. Matthews in the spring of 1854. It specialized in the care of SMALLPOX victims. Finley Hospital, the city's first nonsectarian care facility, was made possible through provisions in the will of Mrs. Ellen Finley, the doctor's widow.

Instrumental in the founding of SUNNYCREST SANITORIUM in 1921 was Dr. A. M. Loes. Dr. J. C. Painter directed the work of the sanitorium for its first twenty-five years. Drs. John B. HELES, Clarence LYNN and Wayne A. JOHNSTON established MEDICAL ASSOCIATES CLINIC PC (THE).



1. "Iowa's Medical History Began in Old Dubuque," Telegraph-Herald, September 15, 1946, p. 54