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Medical Services: Doctors, Emergency Medical Services, Dentists,Veterinarians, and Eudora Nursing Center

In early Eudora, medical accreditation could be loosely obtained. Mail order companies promised medical cures in newspaper advertisements, and drug store operators also dispensed medical advice and products. For example, Homer White’s drug store at the turn of the century promoted Hollister’s Rocky Mountain Tea and Pills for indigestion, constipation, dyspepsia, and kidney and liver disease. The product also promised to give young ladies, “laughing eyes, red lips, and sweet breath,” White claimed. Also among White’s wares was fresh sassafras bark.

Both Rena Conch, who lived one mile east of Hesper and two miles south, and Emma Schleifer, who lived just east of the city of Eudora, offered “Vital Science Treatments” promised to alleviate rheumatism, chronic constipation, and nervous prostration. G. W. Moll, in 1887, promoted his electric battery invention that he claimed would cure headaches and neuralgia.

Accredited or not, Eudora’s healers had to deal with whooping cough outbreaks and serious medical conditions such as the diphtheria that broke loose in 1889, with nine cases in May alone and would resurface throughout the years with yellow flags on the homes of infected families. Charley Conger, Hesper, lost four children to a diphtheria epidemic, leaving him with only one child, Evelyn, wrote neighbor Mildred (Davis) Watson in her 1977 account of her parents’ life, Samuel Hunt Davis and Emma Stubbs Davis. Scarlet fever, which had a major outbreak in 1917, and other threats typically caused a house to be quarantined. Flossie Everley Smith wrote about quarantines during these times:

“The red cloth flag tacked to the front of our house read “smallpox” and we were quarantined for, I think, 28 days. It really was only chicken pox we kids had but the doctor insisted smallpox so the sign was put up. Dad and my brother Ike both worked every day on the railroad so they moved a block north to live with Grandma Everley. . . When the sign finally came down we had to fumigate. You lit a formaldehyde candle in each room of the lower floor and then kept the whole house shut tight for several hours. Then the doors and windows were all opened to ‘air the house out.’”

Besides diseases, physicians kept busy tending to the painful accidents of everyday life. Within the span of a few months in 1905, for instance, Ed Miller, “Keystone,” dropped a piece of heavy iron that smashed his foot. A wagon wheel ran over Herbert Gerstenberger’s ear; and an entire carriage ran over Robert Vogl in Kansas City. A Mrs. W. Musgrove had the skin come off her hands protected only by her woolen mittens after transferring hot coals from a stove. The 25-year-old wife of section foreman Laird, when putting oil on kindling, spilt oil on herself, and suffered severe burns. She died several days later. Several Eudora women also met their death by household burns such as Henrietta Arnold, 77, whose clothing caught fire from a lamp in 1909 at the house of her brother, August Gabriel.

As for mental illness, news accounts typically stated that a person “went insane” and were taken to the state insane asylum. For example, Joseph Madl in 1899 increasingly had showed signs of instability. When his wife returned to their farm two miles south of Eudora and one mile east, she found him holding an ax to their infant; she called for neighbors who transported him to the state asylum. In a similar incident, Charles Westerhouse, 33, in January 1914, asked his wife to play the organ and sing. When she did, he hit her on the head with his hammer six times, before she dashed a quarter mile from their home, one mile west of the Weaver train stop, to the Bernitz neighbors. When they returned, Westerhouse had slashed his throat with a razor, decapitating himself. About the suicide of this father of two sons, ages three and five, it was said he was acting “queerly” two weeks up to the incident and had incurred a lot of debt from a farm purchase.

Eudora had a physician from its very start. Abraham Still, the pioneer missionary who came to Eudora in 1851, worked as a physician, as many of his children. In his writings, Abraham Still said he and his son, Andrew, “doctored the Indians all fall [of 1853]. The erysipelas, fever, flux, pneumonia, and cholera prevailed among the Indians.” Still, who claimed to speak their language, said many Indians died while pursuing their traditional remedies. He ridiculed their passed-down cures such as this one for cholera: Lay the patient face down over two holes in the ground and have the patient vomit in one and urinate in the other.

Dr. Still home in downtown EudoraAlthough Still left Eudora in 1857, his son, James, stayed and practiced medicine in Eudora at 806 Main Street (see photograph) for several decades. Around 1860, A. A. Woodhull also practiced in the area. The 1957 Kansas Historical Quarterly article by George Omer, Jr., titled “An Army Hospital: From Dragoons to Rough Riders ― Fort Riley, 1853-1903” mentioned Woodhull, the son of a New Jersey physician, who graduated in 1859 from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. During the two years following his graduation, he practiced medicine, first in Leavenworth, and later at Eudora. When the Civil War began, he recruited a Kansas militia company and went on to be a brigadier general and Princeton University professor.

Carl Neumann also provided medical care during this time. Born in Tentobroda, Bohemia, Neumann studied medicine in Prague with the Brothers of Mercy and came to the Baltimore, Maryland, in 1861, and Eudora in 1864. The next year, he moved to Lawrence and made medicinal drinks at his Central Drug Store. Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas listed Neumann and D. H. Kemper, who came to Eudora in January 1865, stayed until 1871, and then moved to Newton to farm and market garden. He had studied medicine when he was 15, opened an office at age 17, and added to his education with a later course of lectures in the “ Eclectic School.” Also dispensing medical advice during this time, according to the 1875 U.S. census, were William Allen, 58; S. O American, 33; C.O. Gause, 45; James Still, 59; and Summerfield Still, 23. Albert Newman joined the list in the 1880 census.

Gause, born in Preble County, Ohio, November 26, 1830, studied medicine in 1848 with another doctor in Spiceland, Indiana, and attended lectures in 1851 and 1852, at Ann Arbor, Michigan. He returned to Spiceland in 1852 to practice medicine, then moved to Lynnville, Iowa, to follow his profession from 1855 to 1860. In 1866, he was appointed superintendent of the “Insane Asylum” in Kansas.

A Quaker, he moved in 1872 to Hesper, where he practiced medicine for several years except in 1877 and 1878 when he was physician to the Sac and Fox Indians, according to Cutler's History of the State of Kansas. J.J. Woodard was another physician who practiced medicine in Hesper and also in Prairie Center during the 1890s and up to 1917 when he then moved to Olathe.

Edwin Rice, Prairie City historian, remembered that Woodard’s office was in a two-room house. He saw patients in the front and kept his medicine and a dentist’s chair in the back as he also pulled teeth. He collected wild plants for medicine and had shelves lined with brown bottles, some gallon-sized.

Polk Directory of 1878 listed James Still but not Allen, American, or Summerfield Still. It did list A. W. White and Alvin Shellack, who had a Main Street medical office until 1913. Another “White” may have been D. A. White, who opened a pharmacy in 1875 that carried stationary, school supplies, sundries, toiletries, as well as medications. Fresh sassafras bark, which he advertised in the local newspaper, was one example of his medicinal stock.

“Alvin” was Carl Louis Alvin Schellack (born July 2, 1839 in Berlin , Germany) who served in the War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. After his wife died of tuberculosis, he attended medical school to be a doctor. Alvin with his brothers, Emil and George, migrated around 1870 to America where their two sisters already had settled in New Jersey. Alvin and Emil tried living in Nebraska , but found it too cold. They decided to come to Eudora because they heard it was a German settlement. Around the same time, Alvin met Rosanne Kanzig, from Bern, Switzerland, who had settled on a farm with her parents in 1866. They lived near Hesper, and later moved three and one-half miles southwest of Eudora in Belleview. They next bought 120 acres on the little Wakarusa Creek and a house in Eudora. Roseanne wanted to raise her children Harvey, Alice, Ella, Grace, Louise, Alvin, Jacob, Bertha Rose, and John in the country. Except for a four-year stint in Fort Dodge practicing medicine, Alvin worked from his 736 Main Street office where he charged 25 cents for an office call, 50 cents for a house call, and $10 to deliver a baby, said John Musick, his grandson, in Douglas County, Kansas, Family Histories.

BischoffC. N. Bishoff (1838-1912) also started practicing medicine during the 1870s. A physician and surgeon, Bishoff settled at Eudora’s Keystone area in 1877 and practiced medicine in the Hesper area. He was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and worked in the woolen manufacturing business as a boy. In 1862, he enlisted in the Union Army in Company C, One Hundred and Seventy-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, on a nine-month call. After his service, he returned to the woolen mills in the summer season and taught school in the winter. During 1870-1871, he attended lectures at the Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania. Upon graduation in 1871, he began practicing medicine. In 1873, he opened a drug store in Lykens, Pennsylvania, continuing his practice at the same time.

Another Pennsylvania-trained physician was R. S. Hittell, who came to Eudora in 1881 after a short stay in Kansas City. Born in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, near Allentown, on December 7, 1849, he received his preliminary education at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Then he studied medicine from 1867 to 1868 at the Bellevue Hospital College in New York and graduated in 1870 from the Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia. He then became an assistant surgeon in the German Army. At the close of the Franco-Prussian War, Hittell returned to the United States and was a surgeon on the Black Ball Line in Gibsonburg, Ohio. Hittell died in Argentine, Kansas, in 1888, where he had moved to from Eudora after first trying another Kansas location. He and his wife were buried in the Eudora Cemetery. In 1882, a Dr. White set up a Eudora practice before he left for DeSoto in 1897.

As to when he started it’s unclear, but W. L. Newlin, who lived north of the Kansas River, said in 1887 that he often slept away from his house to get some sleep and rest. C. Bernhard and Everett Weed joined the list of Eudora physicians in 1886. Weed, 49, died in 1893 of consumption and is buried in the Eudora Cemetery. H. J. Gemm, an advertised “German” physician specializing in chronic disease, practiced on Church Street during this time. He left in 1889 to practice in Eureka.

William Henry Robinson came to Eudora in 1888 and practiced medicine for three more decades. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans said Robinson was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, May 17, 1848 to John Robinson and Katy (Hutt) who had 11 children and adopted three more. He studied medicine under E.S. Dickerson, a physician in Kansas City, and graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Kansas City on May 4, 1872. He then moved to Monticello in Johnson County for eight years. He was postmaster there for two years and married Sallie Stone of Liberty, Missouri. They had two sons: John and Charles. In 1880, he moved to Liberty, Missouri, to be a physician eight years and postmaster for two and one-half years.

RobinsonsOn March 28, 1890, he married Lizzie Kunkle, who came to Eudora from Newton to teach at the Farmland School. With sister Emma, she lived in the American House and opened a millinery store there where Robinson had his office. After marriage, Lizzie served on the Eudora board of education and was active in campaigning for the women’s vote and temperance as was her husband. It was said she was such an ardent Republican that as an invalid she was carried to the polls in 1952 so she could vote for President Eisenhower. The Robinsons had one daughter, Marie, who owned and published the Eudora News Weekly from 1934 to 1958.

On the Republican Party committee, William served as mayor twice and was justice of the peace. He died at the age of 70 at the Swedish Hospital in Kansas City in October 1918 with blood poisoning, pneumonia, and heart trouble. A Eudora Weekly News tribute read:

“Dr. Robinson was a typical old-time country doctor, very influential and highly regarded by the entire community. He drove Mac, a sorrel horse, hitched to a buggy and treated the sick in their homes, giving sympathy and encouragement as well as pills. When he died, he left more than $4,000 in uncollectible accounts.”

James Childs was another 1890s physician (as were D. H. Melcher and A. L. Fetterling who came in 1898 from Chicago). Childs had a Main Street office until at least 1897 where Robert Bartusch had his bakery. P. A. Pierson, Louisburg , moved to Hesper to practice medicine from the house of B. P. Cosand in 1899. Also appearing in 1899 was E.M. Own, an osteopath, who saw patients at Mrs. Hammert’s house. J.W. Cooper was listed in the 1900 Polk Directory, but didn’t appear to practice long. He left his office above 700 Main Street to practice from home in 1901. Homer White, son of D. A. White, bought his father’s pharmacy in 1893 and prescribed medical treatments. He worked in a drug store in Overland Park after he graduated from Kansas University and in Leavenworth. Euna White, Homer’s sister, worked with him for many years at the store that also had a soda shop. Homer, a member of the school board, I.O.O.F. Lodge, and Masonic Lodge, married Carrie Abels, the daughter of Henry Abels. Their children were: Donald, Marjorie (Kadlic), Dorothy (Knowles), and Mildred.

Robinson and Schellack continued to be medical mainstays as Eudora entered the 20 th century. A B. S. Watson was said to have been here in 1907, the same year Charles came to Eudora with his office hours from 2 to 5 p.m. each day. Apparently popular, Payne, who taught massage and hydrotherapy at Kansas University and graduated from the Philadelphia School of Osteopathy and Anatomy, was in practice until 1911. After a two-year alcoholic problem, Payne, 38, shot himself at the house of his sister-in-law after trying to shoot his wife. The name J. G. Lee, Bonner Springs, appeared in directories around 1909. He practiced off and on until 1918 until C. J. Ryan took over his practice for two years in the upstairs of 701 Main. Julius Krieg took over Payne’s practice on Church Street but lasted less than a year in Eudora, and W. D. Moore, Topeka, took his place. Clarence Ryan came to practice in 1916 in the Robinson Building. He had a “nervous breakdown” before coming and appeared to have another after being here a year. C. B. Miller, who practiced in Vinland and Buffalo, started his practice in 1918. In 1920, the Mutual Telephone directory listed Dr. Mary M. Miller practicing with Miller, and two years later, the Millers advertised “electric treatments, eyes tested, and glasses fitted” from their location over William Trefz’s plumbing shop. M.O. Peters, a physician at a New York City hospital and ship surgeon, took over the Miller practice in 1923.

Chase B. Johnson came in 1921 and stayed until 1946 at his 727 Main Street office. His advertisement in the telephone directory said he was open every day and from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays. Alexander Haggart, who practiced in Ottawa for 20 years, relocated to Eudora in 1921, also. His office was over Kaw Valley Bank and specialties were “eye, ear, nose, throat, and chest.” During this time, too, physicians, optometrists, and other medical specialists would visit Eudora on a certain days advertised in the newspaper. J. F. Brock, for example, saw optical customers in the 1920s at Schubert’s furniture and barber shop. Eudorans also visited physicians in Lawrence and Kansas City.

After Johnson, a series of physicians made short stops in Eudora including Lewis Blackburn, Milton Dodge, Ralph Hale, George Learned, Bernard Harden, Richard Nelson, and J. O. Osborne.

The one who stayed was Kenneth Holladay, originally from Lawrence with an undergraduate and medical degree from the University of Kansas. Before coming to his Eudora office in 1961 at 101 West Tenth Street, Holladay practiced at Dwight Paterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio . He and his wife, Elisabeth, a native of Switzerland, had four children: David, Kevin, Felix Matthias, and Thais. He credited pharmacist Alf Oleson for encouraging him to open his office in Eudora. At that time, there hadn't been a doctor in Eudora for two years, and Eudora had 12 doctors in the last 15 years. The first baby Holladay delivered was Dona Randal, and he later delivered her children. Others who have shared an office at 110 W. 10th Street with Holladay, include Pete Bock, Steven Nolker, and Daniel Dickerson. In 2006, Lawrence Memorial Hospital bought a 21-acre piece of property along Kansas Highway 10 east of Church Street to house Eudora Family Care, which it owns. Initial plans were to have facilities for three physicians and x-ray equipment. When the facility opened in 2011, Dickerson was joined by Elizabeth Stamper, a physician, who began working for Eudora Family Care in December 2010. Joe Hawkins assumed the position of Daniel Dickerson in 2014.

Chiropractors. Practicing chiropractors include L. H. Harris who came in early 20th century, left, and returned in 1915; David Matheney, who opened his chiropractor office in 1981 at 110 W. 10th Street; and Timothy Mirtz who opened his chiropractor office in 1990.

Eudora Emergency Medical Services. This volunteer service with its first response vehicle, spine board, diagnostic equipment, automatic external defibrillator, and medical supplies serves as a first-responding unit for Eudora and Eudora Township. The group is currently under the jurisdiction of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.According to the agreement, the city fire department will oversee the management, operation rules and personnel policies of the medical service. Lawrence--Douglas County Fire Medical will continue to set the medical protocols, continuing education and training for service. In 2007, Randy Ates, Rene Barta, Yvette Gadberry, Kristy Keezer, Kim Kerby, Dustin McAfee, Sarah Nordin, Doug Rhoades, Avi Elpern, and Bill Vigneron staffed the service.

Dentists. Records show these dentists in Eudora: Dr. Brown (1867-no later than 1909); Franklin White (1870s-1880s); L. B. Brown (1888, practiced at Copp House); Styles Wherry (circa 1896), E. C. Hostetter (circa 1898, made visits to Dolisi boarding house); Dr. Ubeilan (circa 1899, practiced at Kaw Valley State Bank); F.A. White White(pictured right) (1901-1907, who had his office over the Kaw Valley Bank at one time and moved to Clovis, New Mexico, where he died in 1912); J. E. Zimmerman (1907-1910, moved to Park City, Utah); A. J. Butel, (graduate of Kansas City Dental College who came to Eudora in 1910); J. H. Duffy (1914-1916) who moved to Crete, Nebraska; Frank Hagenbuch (1916-circa 1920); L.C. Cox (1917-1924); Dr. Goheen (1924-1927); J. W. Howard (1927-1929); I. E. Bailey (1929-1936); C.B. Johnson (circa 1936); Lawrence Bunsick (1964-1966); Roger Smith, who graduated from University of Missouri-Kansas City dental college in 1966 and housed his practice on Tenth Street beneath the pharmacy, was aided by Pat Snow (1967-past 1976); Richard Wittenauer, who practiced in Eudora during the 1980s and 1990s; and Richard Vidan, 105 West 10th Street. Some dentists such as A. L. Ashby in 1892 who saw clients at the Eudora Hotel made regular visits to Eudora. Sometimes they came for a week at a time such as A. C. Russell, Kansas City, in the first years of the 1900s or on certain days each week.

WolfBesides Brown, George Wolfe, pictured here, has the distinction of being one of Eudora’s longest-practicing dentists. Wolf was born in Ohio on March 30, 1875 and received his degree from Kansas City Western Dental College. He practiced in Ottawa, then came to Eudora in 1936. His office was at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Main Street and he and his wife, Elizabeth (“Sue”), lived in an apartment adjoining the office for awhile. He moved to Edgerton for one year, but returned. In the mid 1940s he bought the Home State Bank building at 707 Main Street and practiced there until his retirement in 1950. He and his wife also bought a home at 807 Elm Street and grew beautiful flowers. “Wherever she lived, she always managed to have a garden with vegetables and always lots of flowers,” wrote her son, William. George died January 17, 1958.

Veterinarians. George Rogers was listed as a practicing Hesper veterinarian in 1890. Around that same time, A. W. Chinn practiced at the southwest corner of Eighth Street and Main Street. From 1907 to 1929, W. R. Shannon worked out of the Bismarck Hotel. His 1910 advertisement read: “If you have any cholera, black leg, or vaccinating to be done.” A.A. Brecheisen also was a veterinarian in the 1920s. I.J. Pierson started his practice in 1929, claiming expertise in large animals, small animals, and poultry. In 1975, Eudora got its first veterinary clinic: Eudora Animal Hospital. For the first eight years, Ron Lee, an Oklahoma native, worked by himself. Then Paul Grosdidier joined the clinic and left 10 years later to be a state veterinarian. Others who have worked at the clinic are Mike Tarrant, George Schriener, Jon Haggard, Curt Wisnewski, Doug Skivers, and Natalee Beck. In that time, the clinic moved from its original location at 527 Main Street to 1905 Elm Street .

Eudora Nursing Center. The Eudora City Council meeting June 10, 1974 authorized the issuance of a $65,000 in revenue bonds to acquire a site, construct a 68-bed nursing facility, and equip the facility. Built at 1415 Maple Street, the now 100-bed Eudora Nursing Center admitted its first residents in March of 1975. C. S. Fuller was the first resident along with Agnes Vitt, Martha Dow, Vera Parker, Grace Hargadine, and George Taber. Civil Gray was the administrator and Sylvia Neis, Mary Coppedge, Barb Stiffler, Ruby Dalyrimple, and others have been its long-term employees. In 2007, the facility was offered for sale because of financial loss attributed to increased regulation. Medicalodges Eudora bought the facility and operates it.

Copyright 2014. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.