Thursday, February 13, 2020

Licensed Physicians in Russellville

Doctors in Russellville

 In 1870, almost all physicians in the United States were unlicensed. Anyone could hang up a shingle and practice medicine. In 1877,  Illinois passed a Medical Licensing statute that became a model for numerous states. When the law went into effect Illinois had approximately 7,400 physicians and more than 3,600 of those physicians were not graduates of a medical school. Within three years of the law going into effect, 1,923 unqualified physicians had left the state.

An earlier post listed the doctors who practiced in Russellville during the town's earliest days when a  river town could keep several doctors busy. The following describes the medical professionals who practiced there from the 1870s  until the mid-1900s.  Since the death records in Lawrence County begin about 1879, genealogists might see these doctors named as attending physicians for an ancestor.   


Dr. Andrew Jackson Haughton, moved to town late in 1870. He was born in Brighton, New York, November 12, 1828, but received his early education in Cambria, New York, as well as a degree in mathematics and surveying from the Academy at Warsaw, New Jersey when he was nineteen.  After teaching a while, he moved to Wisconsin where he worked at the carpenter’s trade and from there, set off to the California gold mines by wagon train to make his fortune. Having cheated death by missing his ticketed ship home that sank at sea, he entered the Buffalo Medical School to learn more about a disease of his heart brought about by overexertion in the mines.  Graduating in February, 1862, he began practicing medicine, first in New York state and then Hamilton, Ohio, before moving to Russellville. From then until his death, he alternated between Oaktown, Indiana and Russellville, attending to the sick and injured.  He died at his home near Russellville on January 25, 1890; his body was returned to Oaktown for burial.   

A small ad placed in the Vincennes Weekly Sun on April 26, 1873, stated that Dr. James H. Fry could be found at the residence of Mr. Sherword on the old Snapp farm; Dr. Fry would treat all cases of chronic and acute diseases. Drs. J. D. Stevens and Albert Wolf, both young professionals, formed a partnership in 1874. Their motto, according to one newspaper correspondent, was “to better enable them to kill or cure.” Dr. Thomas J. Ford, a graduate of the University of Louisville located in the village in 1874, for the practice of his profession. Drs. J. J. McKibbon and B. R. Helm were also mentioned as offering medical services to area residents in the 1870s.

June 21, 1883
However, Dr. J. J. McKibben located permanently at Chauncey in June, 1883,   He was a graduate of Rush Medical College in Chicago, and for one year was an attendant at the Cook County hospital thus enjoying a practical experience at the outset equivalent to several years of ordinary practice, according to one newspaper reporter.   

Some doctors stayed only a short time and moved on, while others made Russellville their home. Only the names of Dr. T. J. Ford and Dr. Thomas J. McGowen were listed as doctors on the 1880 census for Russellville. During this period, professional partnerships were formed and dissolved.   The Firm of Steven and Wolf, MDs ended and Dr. Albert Wolf and Dr. T. J. Ford began practicing together.  Later, this firm was also dissolved.   Dr. McGowen left to attend lectures in Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York City but returned to purchase the interests of Dr. Ford. 

In the Vincennes Weekly Western Sun edition of July 30, 1880, Dr R. J. Ford of Russellville was mentioned as a well- known druggist involved in the temperance movement.

Dr. Wm. Purdy practiced medicine in Russellville after graduating from Louisville Medical College in 1884. He opened his practice on June 1, 1885, and stayed until 1900, when he moved to Lawrenceville. His office was located on the corner of Church and Market streets one block from of public square.   He was born August 20, 1858, in Knox County, Indiana, and taught in the public schools of that vicinity for four years. Dr. Purdy practiced in Lawrenceville until November, 1908, when because of his rapidly failing health, he, his wife, and two small boys moved to Phoenix, Arizona. While the change of climate probably prolonged his life to some extent, no permanent benefit from tuberculosis was gained.  He and the family returned to Lawrenceville on Sunday and he died the following Thursday, April 15, 1909.  He was buried in Lawrenceville Cemetery.

Dr. H.W. Ziegler was also a physician and surgeon in Russellville.  Born at Fultonham, Ohio in 1855, he taught school in various places before graduating from the Sterling Medical College of Columbus, Ohio. In 1889, he moved to Russellville, where he began a medical practice. A newspaper article stated that Dr Zeigler was successful in removing a tape worm measuring 87 feet from the 11- year old daughter of Jay Leonard.  In 1897, Zeigler moved to Flat Rock, and continued to practice in Lawrence County until he and his family moved to Carthage in 1903.  Dr. Harry Sands purchased Dr. Zeigler’s office in Russellville.

The 1900 census listed Wm. A. Hodges, age 24 years, and James Kamplain, age 31, as practicing physicians in the village. Dr. Hodges formed a partnership with Dr. Ford in Flat Rock at the end of 1906. Dr. Kamplain moved to Vincennes, and then relocated in Carmi, Illinois.

Later in August of 1900, Dr. Clinton J. Sprinkle of Allison opened in practice in Russellville after graduating from the Louisville School of Medicine in June. He continued to treat local residents until his death in 1944. He was buried at Centerville cemetery.

(Ed Note:  If you have relatives buried at Centerville you may want to check out our database located at: Centerville Cemetery database   If you would like to help us set up a similar database for your favorite cemetery in the county, contact us.  Rose R. has most of the obits located for several cemeteries but we need typists and data entry volunteers to complete the task.)