Woodburn Doctors

Dr. Calvin Blythe was born August 25, 1832, in Harrisburg, PA, the son of Calvin Blythe, Sr. who was an attorney.  He studied medicine at Newport, Ohio, and graduated in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia.  He received his diploma on November 3, 1852.  His first practice was in Wapello City, Iowa.  During the Civil War, he located at Ottawa, and later located in Woodburn where he contined his practice.  In 1886, he was listed as having the only drug store in Woodburn.  He and the Masonic Lodge built the large two-story building on the corner of Sigler and Vine in 1888.  The Masonic Lodge occupied the upper story of this building for many years, and Dr. Blythe had his drug store below. 

Dr. M.T. Martin, from Illinois, located at Last Chance in Lucas County, Iowa, after serving in the Civil War.  He later came to Woodburn where he practiced medicine and also operated a drug store.  His Iowa certificate was issued September 15, 1886, at which time he was 46 years old, and had been practicing 23 years, 21 years of which were in Iowa.  In February of 1901, he purchased Dr. Lawrence’s drug store.  Dr. Martin’s home is what is now the Mary Linderman property at 700 Sherman Street.  He later had a drug store down the hill east from his home. 

In 1878, a Dr. Sawyer located in Woodburn, but moved elsewhere after two years.

            Dr. James Proudfoot practiced in Woodburn from 1879 to 1882, when he moved to Indianola.

            Dr. T.S. Harding located in Ottawa in 1857 or 1858, and carried on farming and practiced medicine jointly until his death in 1882.  He was also something of a preacher.

            Dr. E.J. Lawrence, physician and surgeon, located in Woodburn in April, 1895.  He opened a drug store in Wm. Clark’s building on the corner opposite Blythe’s drug store.

            Dr. William Festus Swisher from West Virginia, received his diploma on April 14, 1892, from the University of Maryland at Baltimore.  He was located at Woodburn from 1894 until he was murdered there in 1898.  He owned the livery stable for a time, and his office was on Main Street  (Vine).  This new office buiding had been
built in 1896.  Earlier that year, on March 12, 1896, he lost his wife of only 11 months, Matie.  She passed away after an illness of only 3 days.  She was the only child of Mr. & Mrs. T.V. Dailey.  In 1898, the Doctor erected an office on his lot north of the livery barn.  It was while returning to this office one evening that he was murdered.  No one was ever charged with the murder.   Local lore has that Harry Carson's wife was often sick, and he thought the doctor was visiting her in an unprofessional manner and so shot him.   But this was never proven.

Dr. Claude Martin Walker, son of William F. and Irene V. (McMullin) Walker, was born August 20, 1873, in Indiana. He received his diploma on May 12, 1898, from the St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons.  He had been located at Woodburn since April, 1898, at which time his office was in Dr. Swisher’s old office on Vine.  He purchased Dr. Swisher’s new office building in 1899, and moved it to the west side of the Star Hotel on Sigler St.  (He had also purchased this hotel in 1899).  On October 21, 1900, at Osceola, he married Jennie Bonar Nance, daughter of Mosco V. and Lua (Bonar) Nance.  They had a daughter, Helen, born March 31, 1902, in Woodburn.  In September, 1901, he bought a house and lot south and west across the street (west of Cottrell’s Station). Dr. Walker used some rooms of the house for his office.  In June, 1902, he also purchased the livery barn, but sold it and his practice in October, 1902.  His practice was purchased by Dr. Willey of Blockton, IA.   Dr. Walker later practiced medicine in Kellerton, Iowa, for forty years before his death on March 2, 1945.  He and Jennie are buried at the Maple Hill Cemetery in Osceola.

Dr. Willey and his home

Dr. Wade Willey from Davenport, Iowa, received his diploma on April 6, 1898, from the Iowa College of Physicians and Surgeons at Des Moines.  He came to Woodburn in 1902, after purchasing Dr. Walker’s practice, home and office. His home was the house that is now across the alley east of the present post office.  Dr. Willey practiced in Woodburn until 1921, when he and his family moved to Dallas, Texas. 


Dr. Bowen in early and later years

Dr. Fred Bowen was born at Chillicothe, Iowa, on April 4, 1875, and received his diploma June 21, 1901, from Rush Medical College in Chicago. Dr. Bowen is the doctor that Woodburn remembers the most, as he practiced here for over fifty years.  While waiting for his license to practice from the State Board of Health, he looked around for a suitable location and finally selected Woodburn.  On October 1, 1901, he opened his office. In 1903, he bought the Trent Drug Store in Woodburn, which was on the north side of main street, and where he operated the rest of his years in Woodburn.  Rodham Lee was an early pharmicist for Dr. Bowen.  In 1904, Bowen bought out Landes and was sole owner of the drug store.  The only time Dr. Bowen was not on duty was during World War I, when he volunteered for service in the Army.  Armistice came soon after his enlistment and he was back at his practice in a few months.   He served the community for over 50 years.  

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