The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 1, Page 22.


In Porter County As In All The Habitats of Civilized Man Physicians Are At Mercy's Call

The births, lives and deaths of the people of Porter county are so closely intermingled with the physicians of the county that a detailed record of the medical achievement would fill a large volume.

In the settlement of a new country, the doctor is usually the first professional man to appear upon the scene. Realizing the fact that conditions upon the frontier are not always conducive to health, and that the sparse population there is far away from centers of civilization whence medical aid can be obtained, the pioneer physician often makes sacrifices to serve his fellow men and aid them in heroic efforts to extend the margin of civilization into hitherto unknown lands.

One of the first physicians to locate in Porter county was Dr. Seneca Ball, who came to Valparaiso in 1836, and practiced until age compelled him to desist. He also served as justice of the peace, probate judge and state representative.

Dr. Cornelius Blachly came to Porter county in 1838 and practiced medicine for more than forty years. He was one of the best known physicians in his day.

In 1844, Dr. Luther Atkins came to Porter county, though he had not yet received his diploma to practice medicine. After coming to Porter county he began the study of medicine in 1847, but did not graduate from a Philadelphia medical school until 1866. In 1880 he located in Kouts, where he opened a drug store which he conducted in connection with his practice until his death.

One of the well known pioneer doctors of Porter county was Levi A. Cass, a graduate of Oberlin college, Ohio. He came to Porter county in 1840 and practiced his profession. He represented Porter county in the legislature and was one of the organizers of the First National bank of Valparaiso.

Among the early physicians in the southern part of the county was Dr. John K. Blackstone, who practiced a medicine at Hebron for a half a century. He attended Ohio State university; served as second lieutenant in the Mexican war, and was graduated from the Cleveland Medical college in 1844. Shortly after that he located at Hebron where he practiced until his death in 1898.

Another early Porter county physician was Dr. Erasmus J. Jones, who, in 1851, started for Iowa but upon reaching Porter county some of the members of his family became ill, and he stopped in the "Gossett Settlement," where he remained until 1859. He then removed to Chesterton and practiced there and at Porter until his death. He was also engaged in the drug business for a while at Chesterton. Dr. Jones served as county clerk for two terms.

In 1853, Dr. J. H. Letherman located in Valparaiso. He began practice in Pennsylvania, but soon removed to Des Moines, Iowa, but came to Valparaiso in November, 1853. In 1871 he admitted to partnership his son, Dr. Andrew P. Letherman. Dr. J. H. Letherman served twelve years as county coroner.

Dr. J. M. Goodman, who had practiced in New York and Illinois, came to Porter county in 1856. Here he remained until his death. During the Civil war he gave his professional services free to members of soldiers' families. He served as justice of the peace for many year in Pine township.

Dr. Hiram Green, who in his day was one of the prominent physicians of Chesterton, located in Porter county by accident. After practicing in Pennsylvania and Ohio, he joined a company bound for the gold fields in California. At Michigan City, he fell ill and did regain his health for two years. After practicing for four years at Gossett's Mills, he located at Chesterton. During the Civil war he served as lieutenant, captain and assistant surgeon. He then practiced at Wheeler for three years, when he returned to Chesterton and opened a drug store, continuing his practice of medicine in connection with the drug business. He served as trustee of Westchester township.

In 1866, Dr. Hayes C. Coates located in Valparaiso, having been graduated from Western Reserve Medical college at Cleveland in 1864. For a number of years he was resident physician of the Pennsylvania railroad, and also served as county physician.

Dr. Henry M. Beer, a son of Rev. Thomas Beer, was graduated from a Cleveland Medical College in 1868, and immediately came to Valparaiso to practice medicine, continuing it until his death in 1903. During the Civil war he served as assistant surgeon in the Twenty-third Ohio Infantry.

In the spring of 1855, Dr. W. C. Paramore, who had practiced in his native England, came to Porter county and continued in the practice until his death in 1882. In 1853, Dr. Henry J. Ellis came to Porter county and located at Wheeler. After years of successful practice he died died in 1886.

Dr. Marr and Morrical were among the pioneer doctors in the northern part of the county. The former brought on a partial paralysis by riding in a gig while visiting his parents, and the latter gave up his practice to engage in the real estate business.

Dr. L'Mander Lewis, the son of a Revolutionary soldier who fought with Elihu Allen at Ticonderoga, came to Porter county in 1849. He had previously studied medicine at Cincinnati, O., and had been associated with Gen. William Henry Harrison in bringing the Ohio valley under the influence of civilization. He practiced medicine here until his death in 1880.

The first homeopathic physician to located in the county was probably Dr. Kendall. Dr. M. F. Sayles studied under him in 1864, and afterward attended Hahnemann Medical college in Chicago. Dr. Sayles later located in Hebron, where he practiced until 1876, when he removed to Valparaiso. Dr. W. O. Catron was another early homeopathic physician.

Other early or eminent physicians who were engaged in practice in Porter county at some period of her history were Drs. Robbins, Welch, Kersey, St. Clair, Soverign, Salisbury and Hankinson, who have been dead so long that little can be learned regarding them. Dr. J. V. Herriott, a Pennsylvania, first president of the county medical society, who was paralyzed for about two years before his death; R. A. Cameron and J. F. McCarthy, who were also well known as soldiers and newspaper men; W. A. Yohn, a veteran practitioner of Hebron; Dr. Orpheus Everts, who at one time was superintendent of the Indiana asylum for the insane at Indianapolis; Dr. George H. Riley, associated with Dr. Green at Chesterton; Dr. George W. Arnold, who located in Wheeler in 1871, and Dr. Oliver S. Wood, a native of Lake county, who practiced at Hebron and Valparaiso for many years.

The Porter County Medical society was organized on June 27, 1883, with thirteen charter members and the following officers: Dr. J. V. Herriott, president; Dr. D. J. Loring, secretary; Dr. J. H. Letherman, treasurer; Drs. A. P. Letherman, W. A. Yohn and J. C. Carson, censors.

At one time in its history the Porter County Medical society had a permanent house in the shape of club rooms, which were always open, the object being to enable the doctors of the county to become better acquainted in a social as well as a professional way.

On April 2, 1901, the Kankakee Valley Medical Society held one of its regular meetings in Valparaiso, where the members were entertained by resident physicians. The society was composed of the leading physicians of Cass, Fulton, Marshall, St. Joseph, LaPorte, Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton, White and Carroll counties.

Prior to 1891 Porter county had no hospital of any kind for the treatment of sojourners or persons who could not be property treated at their homes. In that year Dr. D. J. Loring opened a private hospital on East Jefferson street, with accommodations for twelve patients.

In 1905 the Indiana legislature passed an act which made liberal provisions for the creation and maintenance of a public hospital in each county in the state. On July 17, 1905, a meeting was held in the council chamber in Valparaiso for the purpose of forming a hospital association. William E. Pinney was elected president, and Dr. H. M. Evans, secretary. A committee was also appointed at the same time to report a plan of action. This committee consisted of O. P. Kinsey, Dr. R. D. Blount, George M. Dodge and Rev. L. W. Applegate.

Before the association had taken any definite steps for the founding of a hospital, the Christian church of Valparaiso became interested in the project. Dr. Simon J. Young went to St. Louis, Mo., to secure the co-operation of the National Benevolent Association of that denomination. The result was that an agent of the association was sent to Valparaiso to look over the field. He made a favorable report and Dr. Young again went to St. Louis, this time with a proposition to purchase the private hospital of Dr. Loring. Two representatives of the association came to Valparaiso in December, 1906, and reported in favor of the purchase. The property was valued at $13,000, of which the Valparaiso Christian hospital assumed payment of one-half and the central board the other half. For a number of years a training school for nurses was conducted with the hospital. Since the institution passed into the hands of the church a number of new beds were added. Miss Clara M. Gulbransen is the present superintendent.

An instance of the efficiency of the Porter county medical profession was seen in the small pox epidemic in 1899. On March 28 of that year a student named Cooper, of the university, came down with the disease. Other students contracted the disease. College authorities established a temporary hospital. Newspapers outside the county published sensational articles clamoring for a general quarantine against the city. About June 1, 1899, smallpox made its appearance at several points in northern and central Indiana, and it was claimed that many of these cases were traceable to Valparaiso.

On June 22, 1899, Dr. A. W. Brayton, of the state board of health, came to Valparaiso to investigate the situation. He found Dr. A. P. Letherman and Dr. H. M. Beer, county and city health officers, willing to co-operate in every way. A house at the corner of Union and Morgan streets was secured as a temporary detention hospital, and a number of persons quarantined there.

The local authorities upon the order of the state board of health issued an order that every person in the city be vaccinated. All physicians in the city and county co-operated with the boards of health and civil authorities in carrying out all orders issued. Cases were promptly reported, many persons vaccinated free of charge, and in this way the epidemic was soon stamped out.

After disposing of his hospital to the Christian church, Dr. Loring purchased the Hamel property at the northeast corner of Jefferson and Washington streets, and erected a hospital on the site. Following the death of Dr. Loring, the property was purchased by Dr. J. R. Pagin, who in turn sold it to the Elks' lodge, which occupied it for two years, and then sold it to the Valparaiso Women's club, which still owns it.

In 1925, Dr. Harvey S. Cook, who came here from Galena, Ill., leased the old Bloch homestead at the southeast corner of Academy and Park streets, and established the Valparaiso hospital. He conducted the institution for several years until a health breakdown caused him to give up the venture.

At elections held in 1924 and 1926, Porter county voters refused to approve attempts made by hospital advocates for an appropriation of $100,000 for the establishment of a county hospital. The vote was close in both instances.

A number of physicians who have either died or moved away practiced in the county. Among some of these were: Frederick W. Sassman, Charles R. Vickery, R. D. Blount, H. E. Gowland, F. W. Mitchell, S. J. Young, C. O. Wiltfong, C. E. Peirce, E. G. Rawson, J. R. Wilson, J. J. Theorell, Joseph C. Carson, Harry B. Hayward, Horace M. Evans, Otis B. Nesbit, W. A. Yohn, Paul R. Urmston, P. D. Noland, J. A. Ryan, A. W. Vincent, M. G. Boner, B. J. Callahan, L. W. Elliott, B. B. Freeman, Charles H. Johnston, Dr. Kraugrill, Frederick G. Ketcham, J. F. McCarthy, O. W. McMichaels, Samuel Pagin, Charles W. Pagel, Barney Rubin, J. R. Wilson, John J. Theorell, O. S. Weed and E. T. Yohn.

At present there are twenty-six physicians practicing in Porter county as follows: J. C. Grown, Carl M. Davis, C. H. DeWitt, A. O. Dobbins, G. R. Douglas, Ralph C. Eades, J. R. Frank, L. E. Lewis, S. H. Miller, E. H. Powell, H. O. Seipel, G. H. Stoner, M. B. Fyfe, Philip Corboy, E. A. Pack, A. J. Van Winkle, Valparaiso; Joseph G. Berkowitz, R. H. Axe, W. M. Parkison, J. W. Dale, Chesterton; F. J. Kleinman, Hebron; S. E. Dithner, Kouts; Joseph L. Gordin, Wheeler; G. C. Kasdorf, Porter.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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