Old Settlers Club 1916

Early Milwaukee
Papers from the Archives of the Old Settlers' Club of Milwaukee County
Published by the Club

Pioneer Physicians and Druggists

By John A. Dadd.

Source: Early Milwaukee, Papers from the Archives of the Old Settlers' Club of Milwaukee County, Published by the Club, 1916.

In the year 1850 there stood on the southeast corner of Wisconsin and East Water streets a cluster of frame buildings owned by Elisha Eldred, the corner occupied by Hatch & Patterson as a drug store, while overhead Mr. Eldred had his office. Mr. Hatch being one of the earliest settlers of the city, a member, and I believe, one of the organizers of St. Paul's Episcopal church, his store was the resort of many of the most prominent and well-known citizens. There you would meet Judge A. G. Miller of the United States Court; the Eev. Akerly, rector of St. Paul's church; Cyrus Hawley, one of its wardens; James B. Martin, also a warden or vestryman of the same. Our late esteemed member, Horace Chase, was a frequent caller, coming seated behind a fine specimen of the Morgan horse, of which breed he seemed peculiarly fond.

Physicians came necessarily to procure medicaments requisite in their practice. Foremost among them were A. W. Blanchard and J. B. Dousman. Dr. Blanchard I was first intimately acquainted with, although having previously been under the care of Dr. Whitney for about ten weeks, being taken soon after coming to the city with typhoid fever, and attended by him at the hospital of the Sisters of Charity, then situated at the southwest corner of Oneida and Jackson streets, the site now occupied by the residence of Dr. W. Fox. Dr. Whitney was a very able physician, who afterwards went to California. Previous to going he associated with him Dr. Lewis McKnight, now chief examining physician to the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance company.

Dr. Blanchard was a man of marked traits of character, whom to know was to respect; his convictions were strong, but guided by high conscientiousness, he seldom erred. He had a large family, principally daughters, among them Mrs. W. P. Lynde and Mrs. John Nazro. All displayed more or less the strong mental characteristics of their father. He lived to an advanced age and died much regretted and highly respected.

Dr. J. B. Dousman was also a person of strong individuality, a good physician and a kind-hearted man. To see him and note his strong earnest gaze was to never forget it. It is many years since he passed away. Dr. E. B. Wolcott was so widely and well known that young or old have heard of him, and I could not say anything that would add to a reputation that already stands so high, as a most skilful surgeon and a generous, kind-hearted man, whose tall, lithe and active form was once so familiar on our streets.

There was also another well and widely known physician. I refer to Dr. J. K. Bartlett, who until lately was still a resident of our city. He was a gentleman of refinement and culture, and one of our best-read physicians, and occupied a very high position in his profession. His health necessitating removal to a milder climate, he went to California to reside.

Dr. C. C. Robinson was a frequent caller at the store. He has accumulated large means through investments in real estate, is still a resident of the city, and a hale and hearty man.

Dr. D. W. Gorham was one of the oldest medical practitioners of the city, coming some time about 1836 or 1837. In an early day he kept a drug store in the vicinity of Kilbourn Town. He was also, for a period, in the office with Dr. Blanchard, was very peculiar and eccentric in his ways, but a man of great capability, professionally, highly esteemed by those who employed him and knew his skill, but a mere child in business matters, and consequently never very prosperous.

Dr. Blanchard thought much of his ability, and in speaking of him to the writer, said he was one of those who would, at any time of the night, mount a horse bare backed, with coat tails flying, to go and see a case, so intensely was he wrapped up in his profession. The last few years of his life he spent on his farm at East Troy, where he died. His remains were brought to this city and interred at Forest Home cemetery.

Dr. E. D. Baker was another of that distinct cast of characters that always leave an indelible impression on the memory after they have passed away. He was a firm friend or an implacable enemy, gruff in his manner, caused, I think, by reverses in early life, losing much property by reposing too much confidence in the integrity of others, which soured his disposition and made him misanthropic. Otherwise he had a powerful mind of a metaphysical tendency. He was well and deeply read, and could, had he been so disposed, have occupied a very high position in his profession. His energy appeared to have left him after his reverses and he sank into a morbid condition, apparently at war with all the world. The epithet applied to the great lexicographer, Dr. Johnson; that of "Ursa Major" might also have aptly been bestowed upon him. It is now several years since he died.

Having reviewed some of the medical men, I must not overlook their coadjutors, the druggists. Of the firm of Hatch & Patterson, Mr. Hatch was the druggist, Mr. Patterson, having in Pennsylvania, followed the calling of a tanner. (It was common in those days and has been up to a very recent date for persons to enter the drug business whether educated to it or not.) Mr. Patterson was related to John H. Van Dyke of this city, I believe a brother-in-law.

Mr. Hatch, as said before, was one of the earlier settlers of the city, and had previously been associated with L. J. Higby in the drug business. He was a kind-hearted, genial man, lacking some-what in force of character, who originally came from Vermont. I was employed as a clerk by the firm, the situation having been ob-tained for me by our old friend, P. Van Vechten, Jr., a few days after my arrival in the city. The business was afterwards sold to Dr. J. E. Dowe, who came, I think, from New Haven, Conn., and was a brother-in-law to S. B. Grant, who was engaged in the lumber trade. Previous to his purchase of the business it had been re-moved to the new brick block erected by James B. Martin on the southwest corner of East Water and 1 Wisconsin streets, the spot now occupied by Mack's building in which is located the Golden Eagle store of Browning, King & Co. The building was then divided into three stores, the corner occupied by J. H. Crampton, dry goods, next south by Kistner & Bruno, clothing I believe, the other by Hatch & Patterson.

Dr. Dowe carried it on but for a short time. Having become involved in some way with complications in J. H. Crampton's dry goods business, Dr. Dowe's stock was sold to S. Johnson, Jr., whose business afterwards passed successively into the hands of Harrington & Dadd, C. Harrington, Swift & Smith and Geo. W. Swift. Mr. Swift ultimately sold out some eight years ago to Drake Bros.; half of their present store covers the ground on which stood the old one occupied by Mr. Swift that was erected by A. F. Clarke and occupied by him as a drug store, when I came to the city in 1850. The firm then being Clarke & Woodruff.

Mr. Hatch left the city a few years ago to reside with his son, Charles, in New Jersey, he died recently at Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he had gone to benefit his health, having been a sufferer for years from locomotor ataxia.

Concluding I would say there were a number of other physicians, whom the limits of my paper do not allow me to speak of in extenso, among them Dr. Diefendorf and Dr. J. Johnson of the regular profession, and of the Homeopathic school, Drs. Hewitt, Tracy, Douglas, Greves and R. M. Brown, the last still well known and much respected.