Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Physician and Drug Store Operator William Anderson [otd 02/14]

Dr. William Hopkins Anderson was born February 14, 1835, in Florence, Pennsylvania, 20-25 miles west of Pittsburgh. He had family roots back to Revolutionary War times and his paternal grandfather participated in the War of 1812. His mother, Dorcas Hopkins, had a distant relationship with the founder of Johns Hopkins University.
Country Doctor. National Archives.

Anderson graduated from the Eclectic College of Medicine and Surgery at Cincinnati  in 1855. [See blog, February 12, for a brief discussion of Eclectic Medicine.] He immediately opened a practice in a rural section of Iowa, about seventy miles north of Des Moines. Four years later, he moved to Utah, settling in an area 25-30 miles south of what would soon become Franklin, Idaho. He married in September 1861 and their first child was born about a year later in Wellsville, Utah.

About the time Dr. Anderson arrived in the Cache Valley, Mormon colonists founded Logan. In April of 1860, settlers spread north to establish Franklin. (Of course, as noted elsewhere [blog, Jan 10], they thought they were in Utah.) As a country doctor, Anderson spent nearly forty years treating patients in Utah's Cache and Malad Counties, as well as across the Idaho border in Oneida County.

Dr. Anderson also held the position of Regimental Surgeon for the Cache County unit of the Nauvoo Legion (Utah militia). He served as a Justice of the Peace for over a quarter century, a long period as notary public, and many years as a Trustee on the local school board.
Dr. Anderson. H. T. French photo.

Although Dr. Anderson lived in a sparsely populated and rather isolated locale, his contemporaries often remarked on how carefully and thoroughly he kept up with the latest advances in medical techniques.

In 1897, he moved to Soda Springs, Idaho. Located on the Oregon Short Line railroad, the town was already known as a major shipping point for sheep and cattle. Within a few years, Soda Springs would ship more wool than any other railway station in Idaho.

Dr. Anderson bought an existing mercantile establishment and expanded it to include what was reported to be the first drug store in the town. Besides that, he made other investments in the area, including a share in a rural telephone company incorporated in 1907. The doctor remained fully active in his profession for about a decade before advancing age led him to suspend his general practice. He did remain available for consultations and emergencies.

The Idaho Falls Times reprinted (August 3, 1909) an item from the Soda Springs Chieftain about one such emergency. The little daughter of the local sheep association manager had suffered an attack of ptomaine poisoning. The town’s “practicing physician” was absent, so the manager asked the railroad for a speed run to bring a doctor from Montpelier. However, old Doc Anderson stepped in and “the child was practically out of danger before the train arrived.”

Ironically, the Soda Springs item highlighted the “Record Run” of the special train as much as it did the effective medical intervention. The engine, a passenger car, and caboose had “covered the thirty-one miles between Montpelier and this city in thirty minutes.”

Anderson also continued an active role with the drug store trade. In fact, in 1912, the Idaho State Pharmaceutical Association – an organization pledged "to promote better conditions in retail drugstores” – elected him to be their Vice President. He passed away in December 1914.
References: [French], [Hawley]
"Obituary: Dr. William Anderson," Soda Springs Chieftain (Dec 24, 1914).
Progressive Men of Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Fremont and Oneida Counties, Idaho, A. W. Bowen & Co., Chicago (1904).
“Telephone and Telegraph,” Electrical Review, Vol. 50, No. 14, Electrical Review Publishing Company, New York, New York (April 6, 1907).
“Wellsville, Utah,” Utah History Encyclopedia, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake (1994).

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