SOME OF THE EARLY DOCTORS OF OLYMPIA
by Dr. T.R. Ingham
(Used with permission from Thurston County Historic Commission)
Charles E. McArthur was born July 9, 1901 on a Kansas wheat farm near Walton,
some ten miles north of Wichita. He attended the one room school at Walton and
worked on the farm with horses until he was 16; severe allergy to horses drove
him from this occupation which he loved, and he probably would have been a
farmer for life but for that problem. Working nights as a time keeper for Santa
Fe gave him sufficient funds to complete an AB degree at Bethell College in
Newton, Kansas with his major interest in physiology.
He secured a master’s degree in biochemistry in 1928 and became the professor of
chemistry and physiology at the Palmer Union College (Albany, Missouri, not
chiropractic). From there, Charles went to the University of Oklahoma in 1930
and continued to teach physiology, during which time he studied medicine,
obtaining his MD degree in 1938. He also completed sufficient work to receive a
PhD in physiology but doe to minor technicalities, did not receive this degree.
A year at Seattle General Hospital starting in 1938 followed by an additional
year—before coming to Olympia to take office in the National Bank of Commerce
building in 1940. When World War II closed upon us, Dr. McArthur and I were the
only reasonably healthy doctors left to treat the community, now bulging with
many military attached personnel, particularly from Brooklyn, New York. We
alternated nights on call, which meant that on nights on call we did not have
time to go to bed.
After the war was over, Charles became very active in that area of medicine
which emphasizes the need for doctors to first be doctors, and second to be
specialists. He was co-founder of the Academy of General practice in 1947, and
its first president of the state chapter in 1948. He became chairman of the
General Practice A.M.A. section in 1948: he instituted the “yearly physical
exam for every MD” at AMA meetings in 1955, and was awarded an AMA appreciation
certificate in 1964 on its tenth anniversary for a program that has been growing
in scope and now does screening physical examinations on over 2,000 doctors a
year. He was the first president of the American Board for Family Physicians,
and this organization is apparently growing in strength, emphasizing the need
for all doctors to carry on a certain amount of general practice.
For some eight years, he was editor of the World Wide Medical Abstracts, has
been on the advisory committee of the National Heart Institute, and is a Fellow
of the American College of Cardiology.
Despite repeated negative biopsies of a personal problem in his parotid gland,
Charles insisted on pursuance of the matter over a five year period and as a
result recently received successful curative operation which has left him with
the mark of facial paralysis, but has preserved his health and life. He has two
daughters, five grandchildren, and one great grand child by a previous marriage.
He now lives in a very well designed attractive home on Capitol Boulevard with
his wife Mary Ho.
Copy of faded copy of note for St. Pete, call Bell about 1968.[image]
LAWRENCE M. WILSON
In keeping with our policy of presenting members of our staff, here is the story
of Dr. Lawrence M. Wilson:
Dr. Wilson was born and raised in the mid-west and was married just after
graduating in medicine from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1933.
After a three-year residency in surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital, St. Louis, he
and his wife, Colette, set out for the Pacific Coast. Neither had been West
before, but after hearing reports from friends they decided that was where they
wanted to live.
Incidentally, they traveled in a brand new 1936 Ford. Cost: $652, deluxe
model, at that time! He took basic science examinations in Oregon and
Washington and started touring the coast. However, they were so taken with the
Puget Sound area, particularly with Olympia, their decision to settle here was
At that time, Olympia had about 8,000 residents and a dozen doctors, as well a
fine new hospital.
Dr. Wilson had the first oxygen tent brought to Olympia. A couple of years
later he used the first intravenous anesthetic in St. Peter Hospital–after
considerable controversy with Sister Benosa who was in charge of surgery at that
In those years doctors furnished all their own instruments as well as their own
scrub suits. The procedure of surgery furnishing the surgical gloves had just
Dr. Wilson’s practice was interrupted in January 1942, to star his four years’
service in the Army, having been a reserve officer for several years previously.
Upon his return to Olympia after the war, he found office space unobtainable, so
he bought the old Coulter home at 1502 Capitol Way and converted it into an
office site. This he still maintains.
He was chief of the hospital staff in 1941, again in 1946, and served several
years as a member of the board of the Medical Bureau. He was secretary and
president of the Thurston-Mason County Medical Society.
While serving as secretary he inserted the last minutes, closing the record book
of the society that had been in service nearly 100 years.
This county society was the first one established in the State of Washington.
Over the years Dr. Wilson has been a member of the American Academy of General
Practitioners, serving as the first Speaker of the State House of Delegates for
two years, at the time the House of Delegates was established. He is also a
member of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, the Washington
State Obstetrical Society, and a member of the American Society of Abdominal
He is a past president of the Active Club, and the Kiwanis Club. He served as a
member of the YMCA Board of Directors for seven years, the last four as its
present, at which time the new swimming pool was built as its first major
addition in 50 years.
He is an avid yachtsman and belongs to the Olympia Yacht Club where he keeps his
42 foot boat the “Willie.” His wife is a widely known golfer here and has won
championships and city titles. They have two sons and a daughter. Four
grandchildren round out this closely knit family. They are active lifetime
members of the Christian Church.
HUGH S. WYMAN
Hugh Wyman was born in 1858 and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended
school and received his medical degree there from the Michigan College of
Medicine in 1882. He came directly to Olympia and associated in practice a
short time with Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander at 515 Main Street.
Shortly thereafter, as a surgeon attached to the Marine Corps, he embarked on
the gunboat, S.S. Pinta at Tumwater. This was before the long dock which
extended for years to the area now occupied by the Jacaranda, and gunboats and
similar ships regarded Tumwater as the port, and negotiated the narrow channel
up to vicinity of the present Crosby Museum Home.
The Pinta took Dr. Wyman to Sitka, where he met Henrietta Milsner. She was the
daughter of Governor Milsner, who went to Sitka in 1867 to deal with the
Russians directly, in purchase of Alaska (Seward’s Folly) from Alaska.
Milsner’s other daughter became interested in Admiral Koontz, Chief of Naval
Operations, and marriage of these two to their corresponding suitors occurred in
1885. Henrietta and Hugh had but the one child, Prudence Wyman, born a year
after their marriage in Treadwell.
Hugh left the Marine Corps service shortly after marriage, and went to
Treadwell, a small community across the bay from Juneau, to render medical care
to the gold miners. Treadwell had a fabulous load, and was an exceeding
prosperous gold mine until its termination by a landslide, that washed the mine,
settlement and all into the bay; despite many subsequent attempts, this lode has
not been rediscovered, and is said to contain a tremendous amount of gold ore –
(Maybe we should move Fort Knox to that location now!).
In the meanwhile, Hugh also took part in starting the Alaska Juneau mine, which
operated on a lower grade ore for many years with multiple “shaker tables” which
many of us have been privileged to see; the finely ground concentrated ore
flowed across a washboard like shaking table and collected in a pocket at one
corner, like pool balls hitting a corner pocket. Bag samples of this collection
were not given to visitors in 1929 when the Capital-Capital cruising race
terminated in Juneau.
In 1892, Dr. Wyman returned to Olympia and lived in a small home at 112 West
10th. Prudence then age six, started kindergarten with Winnie Lang (Schmidt)
held in the basement of St. John’s Church. Dr. Wyman became the leading surgeon
and performed appendectomies and similar operations in the old St. Peter
Hospital (209 West 11th). In 1896, he purchased the Sylvester home from the
Sylvesters, and moved to that location.
He was a good student and travelled to New York City nearly every summer for a
refresher course, first learning general surgery (hernia repairs and
appendectomies), and later concentrating on eye, ear, nose and throat. Shortly
after moving to the Sylvesters home, Dr. Wyman built his own office (708 Main
Street) which was a neat gleaming white office.
Diabetes mellitus plagued Dr. Wyman and lead to his death in 1913 shortly before
his fifty-seventh birthday. Mrs. Wyman left Olympia for a time, to be with her
sister (Mrs. Koontz, the Admiral’s wife), and her daughter Prudence married
Captain Howard of the U.S. Navy – The Sylvester home was rented to Harry
Heermans (founder of the Moxlie Creek water system, later taken over by Olympia
for its city owned water supply). During the next decade, this house was filled
with music generated by the Heerman boys (Joe, Jack and Don) and their sister
Ruth. While the Heermans were living there, Mrs. Wyman returned to Olympia to
live in a brown two story frame home, standing nearby (771 Washington).
Prudence Howard became a widow from her husband’s death in World War I, and
later married Joe Wohleb; these two moved back to the Sylvester home, and
converted Mrs. Wyman’s home into an architectural office. Some years after Joe
Wohleb’s death, Prudence married Admiral Greene, moved to Virginia. She
returned to live in the Olympian Hotel, following the death of Admiral Greene,
and lived out her days as a charming sophisticated person who knew much of our
town in its early days.
Robert Kincaid was a Canadian, born in 1863, who graduated from Queen’s
University Medical Facility, Kingston, Ontario. He came to Olympia in our year
of statehood, 1889, to live in a small white house surrounded by picket fence,
on northeast corner of “Tenth & Main”. At that time, the grade was about eight
feet below Main, causing the house to be down in a hollow.
Doctor Kincaid and his wife were alleged to be brilliant and studious, and yet
his practice did not flourish well. His office was reached by “rickety” stairs
to the second floor of a small white frame building just west of Toklas and
Kaufman (Mottman) store. Low cash flow was always a problem. The Kincaid’s had
two children, a daughter Adria and son Trevor. Trevor was well known around the
town as the youngster forever chasing butterflies with a net. He later became
better known as a zoologist of world fame, and was professor of this subject for
many years at University of Washington.
ALBERT MILLER TREAT
About Civil War time a Boston orphan went to Minnesota to live with his uncle
Mayo (no Mayo Clinic relative). His uncle, Oscar Rhodes, was a giant of a man
(7 feet 300 pound plus) who farmed inn Delphi Township. This orphan grew to be
a man, settled in the 1,200 people town of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota and
increased the population by one on January 23, 1887, with the arrival of Albert
After clearing the hurdles of a one room school, Albert attended University of
Minnesota, then took an additional year to receive his MD degree at Jefferson
University in 1910; a one year internship at Fairview, Minnesota followed.
A.M. specialized in general practice in small town for the next 21 years, except
for a two year World War I interruption. Two years at Bickleton, Washington
(near Goldendale) where he married Maude Hosfelt, a Seattle Minor Hospital
nurse; five years at Pingree, North Dakota; two years in U.S. Army (1917-19)
attached to British Army in Birmingham, England, hospital; 13 years at Fairview,
Montana, in Yellowstone Valley near Dickinson, North Dakota.
The barter system brought on in full swing by the depression “blew it” in 1932.
A.M. packed his bags and went to Vienna, the medical center of the world, and
under Professor Hajek in EENT and Sallman in eye, acquired a specialist training
in ENT by 1934.
Olympia appeared the best location to Dr. Treat with this training fresh in
mind. George Ingham who had taken the same ENT training in 1908 was now backing
away from mastoid work, now in 1934 largely handled by Frank Gibson. John
Mowell, deceased, left Gibson, Longakeer and George Murphy to handle the eye
department, with no one doing more in that field beyond refractions (fitting of
glasses). From 1934 to 1951, A.M. Treat was the stead dependable ENT man of our
town who handled his referrals smoothly, and understood the promise of the
generalist in a small community.
When asked about war experiences, A.M. told me it was more psychological than
physical. Rumor claimed 14 transports had been torpedoed off the Jersey Coast
when Captain Treat started overseas from New York in 1917. He asked the ship’s
captain about “abandon ship drills” and was promptly assigned direction of this
project. Life boats were insufficient to handle the passenger list. A large
life raft rested on the top deck for the excess. A.M. found that all hands on
deck still had insufficient strength to lift the raft, let alone launch it!
Conclusion: if torpedo strikes, go to the top of ship, jump in raft, and hope
same floats if ship sinks. Ship did not sink.
In 1942, Dr. Treat again served in war duty – chief of the Washington Junior
High emergency hospital – consisting of that school building’s basement with a
few old fashioned operating tables, and abundance of triangle bandages, splints
and old instruments. A cold dark January 1943, Sunday morning was the time he
drove through the sleet to station because of red alert, inadvertently flashed
to the “fan-out” phone system of medical division by Message Control Center,
when the practice alert in Seattle operators forgot to close the switchboard
keys to lesser control centers in Puget Sound cities. I found Dr. Treat in
charge which all personnel present and accounted for on station at 8:00 a.m. on
inspection grounds, with everything in readiness for all out disaster. (It was
still pitch dark for we were on War accelerated time and without street lights,
and all windows masked.)
The car he drove for this War II service was mirror image of his present
favorite, a 1947 Chrysler coupe.
Two sons carry on the Treat name. George Nathaniel is an executive for Crown
Zellerback in San Francisco. William Albert is an Ob Gyn specialist in Oxboro.
CHARLES E. MCARTHUR
Charles E. McArthur was born July 4, 1901, on a Kansas wheat farm near Walton
some 30 miles north of Wichita. He went to the one room school at Walton and
worked on the farm with horses until 16; severe allergy to horses drove him away
from this occupation which he loved — and he probably would have been a farmer
but for that problem. Working nights as a timekeeper for Santa Fe gave him
sufficient funds to complete an AB degree at Bethel College in Newton, Kansas,
in 1927 with considerable emphasis in physiology.
He secured a master’s degree then in biochemistry in 1928 at the University of
Kansas and became the professor of chemistry and physiology at Palmer Junior
College, Albany, Missouri. From there, Charlie went to the University of
Oklahoma in 1930 and continued to teach physiology during which time he studied
medicine, obtaining his MD degree in 1938. He also completed sufficient work to
receive a PhD in immunology, but because of minor technicalities did not receive
A year at Seattle General starting in 1938 followed by an additional year with
Roger Anderson in 1939 completed his formal training; he arrived in Olympia to
take office in the National Bank of Commerce Building in 1940.
When World War II closed upon us Dr. McArthur and I were the only reasonably
healthy doctors left to treat the community bulging with many attached military
personnel from Brooklyn, New York. We alternated nights on call, which meant
that on nights on call we did not bother to go to bed.
After the war was over Charlie became very active in that area of medicine which
emphasizes the need for doctors to first be doctors and second to be specialist.
He was a founder of the Academy of General Practice in 1947 and its first
president of the state chapter in 1948; he was chairman of the General Practice,
AMA section, in 1958; he instituted the Yearly PE for every MD at AMA meetings
in 1955 and was awarded an AMA appreciation certificate in 1964 on its tenth
anniversary for a program that has been growing in scope and now does screening
physical examinations on over 2,00 doctors a year. He was the first president
of the American Board for Family Practice. This organization is apparently
growing in strength, emphasizing the need that all doctors do a certain amount
of general practice.
For some eight years, he was editor of World Medical Abstracts, has been on the
Advisory Committee of the National Heart Institute and is a Fellow of the
American College of Cardiology.
Despite repeated negative biopsies of a personal problem in his parotid gland,
Charlie insisted on pursuance of the mater over a five year period, and as a
result recently received successful and curative operation which has left its
mark of facial paralysis but preserved his health. He has two daughters, five
grandchildren and one great-grandchild by a previous marriage. He now lives in
a very well designed, attractive home on Capitol Boulevard with his wife, Mary
HEBER WILSON COULTER
H.W. Coulter practice in Olympia from 1924 until his death December 21, 1953.
There is a bit of mystery about this man’s birth – the dates ranging from 1878
(AMA Directory), to 1880 (Medical School diploma), to 1883 (Who’s Who,
Washington, 1934), but all are agreed that November 13 was his birthday. His
Irish ancestry father, Henry, married a Scotch gal, Martha McLaughlin, settled
in Lewiston, Maine to practice law and had Heber Wilson as their only child. A
railroad accident near Lewiston suddenly made H.W. an orphan at age 13. During
his childhood, he had spent his summers on one uncle’s large farm near Lewiston
and learned to love animals; during the winters, he often rode in the surrey
with the local family doctors, and learned to love medicine. This combination
developed a powerful, muscular man who loved animals and people, and with the
help of his bachelor attorney uncle, James Coulter (Lewiston, Maine), he
completed his elementary schooling and secured doctorate of medicine at Trinity
College (Toronto School of Medicine) in 1903. This four year stint coincided
with the Boer (South African) War, in which he served some time there in the
Canadian Army, sufficient to receive personal congratulations and handshake from
After medical school, hospital service in Toronto,, H.W. travelled in Europe and
Asia, then started practice in Maine (1907), South Dakota (1908), Idaho (1912),
North Dakota (1913), and finally State of Washington in 1920, starting first in
Seattle, then Montesano, and finally Olympia in 1924.
A Deep Lake (Millersylvania) dairy farmer’s daughter caught Wilson’s eye,
leading to marriage in 1928 – but she seldom saw him after that for H.W. was on
the road night and day seeing patients. He loved to drive, and not uncommonly
would make 20 to 40 home medical visits night, carrying for young and old with
little concern about financial reimbursement. With the advent of welfare
payments to doctors for home visits to recipients in 1945, Dr. Coulter’s
caseload became open knowledge to the auditors who were thoroughly astounded at
his long hours of activity with little time for rest; his hobby other than
practice of medicine, was watching hockey and basketball; a Sunday drive to
Vancouver, BC to see a game and return, was about the only time wife, Anna, saw
him for any lengthy time.
Obstetrics was one of his first loves and many a delivery he accouchered in the
old Maxwell Maternity Home (SE intersection 4th & Olympic Way).
Diabetes mellitus with heavy insulin requirements starting in 1932 did not slow
him down, but did make him thinner. Fulminating uremia following minor cold
took him rather suddenly December 20, 1953. Following his desires, notice urged
that expression of condolence be gifts too the Thurston County Humane Society,
rather than flowers.
Ref. AMA Directory 13 Edi. 1934 T.R. Ingham, MD
Who’s Who, Washington & Oregon, 1934
Widow Anna Langford Coulter, 2816 Otis, Olympia
Sunday, Olympian, December 20, 1953
JOHN W. WAUGHOP, MD
Practiced medicine in Olympia 1871-1880
First Supt. Western Washington Hospital for Insane, 1880
John W. Waughop was born in Tazewell County, Illinois, October 22, 1839 and grew
up on a farm. His parents of Scotch ancestry had come there by team from their
Portsmouth, Virginia home by team, were exemplary members of the Methodist
Church, hardworking farmers with family of ten, plus a homeless waif whom they
took under their care.
After a country school education, John entered Eureka College, but his studies
were interrupted by “The Rebellion”. After a 90-day volunteer service answering
President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 men, he enlisted “for three years or during
the war, unless sooner discharged”, during which time he served in battles of
Donelson and Shiloh, and then did hospital service at Lake Providence, LA.
In July 1864, his honorable discharge permitted him to take a course of medical
lectures at the University of Michigan, followed by formal medical training at
Long Island Hospital, Brooklyn, where he graduated in 1865. (Ed. note, the
record does not indicate whether he was Board Certified, but people in Olympia
agreed that he was an excellent doctor.)
In July of 1865, John Waughop started practice in White Cloud, Kansas, became
mayor of the town, and left in 1866 to practice at Blue Island (near Chicago)
for five years. (Ed. note – there must be a good story to this, but I do not
have the information).
Eliza S. Rexford became his wife in 1866; she was the daughter of the prominent
citizen, the Honorable Stephen Rexford of Cook County, Illinois. This marriage
yielded a son, Philip, who graduated from Harvard College in 1890, and Harvard
Medical School in 1893.
After coming to Olympia where he practiced from 1871 to 1880, Dr. Waughop was
offered and accepted the appointment for the new hospital for the insane at
Steilacoom. While there, it is said many fine buildings were constructed to
create an institution for 600 inmates as well provided as in any state in the
Union. He was president off Washington State Medical Society in 1893, and
member of many honorary societies before his death, the date of which I do not
Source Illustrated History State of Washington
Chicago, Lewis Publishing Company, 1893, Page 88
NATHANIEL JAMES REDPATH
Dr. Redpath was born January 19, 1860 in Cowlitz County, Washington on his
father’s homestead, near the present town of Kelso.
His grandfather, Adam Redpath, was born in Scotland in 1803. In 1818, he came
to America with his parents, James and Isabel (Hay). She died and was buried at
sea. They settled in Randolph County, Illinois, in 1821. Adam and his two
sons, James and Robert came West around 1852 and settled on a Donation Claim in
Cowlitz County, Washington. Their claim was adjacent to the Dr. Nathaniel
Ostrander claim, and in 1856 James Redpath married Priscilla Catherine
Ostrander. They had two children, Nathaniel James born January 19, 1860, and
Lilly born in 1857. The family moved to Albany, Oregon where his father had a
market until his death in 1869. Mrs. James Redpath, with her two children moved
back with her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Ostrander, at Freeport,
Washington, for about two years then returned to Albany, Oregon. She worked as
a seamstress to support her children. Nathaniel worked at any job he could to
help support the family and gain his education. He attended a private school
because his first day in public school he was seated with a young negro. His
mother being from Missouri could not tolerate this so he attended a private
school. In 1879, Mrs. Redpath married Mr. Charles Bruce Montaque, a widower
with six children. They moved to Lebanon, Oregon, where Mr. Montaque was in the
mercantile business and had real estate holdings.
Young Nathaniel worked hard for his education. Among the various jobs he held
were working as a Telegraph operator and in his grandfather Dr. Ostrander’s
drugstore in Tumwater. He attended Albany Collegiate Institute, at this time he
decided on a life devoted to the Medical Profession. He attended the Medical
Department of Willamette University, graduated from Jefferson Medical College –
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1887.
In 1882, he married Anna R. Bridgford, a sister of Dr. Wayne Bridgford. He was
in charge of a general mercantile store for one year at that time.
After graduation from Jefferson Medical College in 1887, he immediately opened
his office in Olympia, Washington. However, in September of that year he was
offered a position at the Western State Hospital for the Insane, located at Fort
Steilacoom, Washington. He stayed there until 1896. While there he had a most
interesting life and learned a great deal about treatment of mental patients.
However, his wife died there and he did not want to continue. He took a
position as ship’s doctor on a sailing vessel to Japan. At the time he left
Western State Hospital, the patients gave him a beautifully carved oak cabinet
for his surgical instruments. The initials N.J.R. are carved as part of the
decoration on the cabinet. Also, the staff gave him a beautiful sterling silver
water pitcher tray and goblet as a token of their appreciation of his friendship
and devotion to patients and staff alike.
In 1897, he again opened an office in Olympia for practice of medicine and
surgery. His offices were located in the Chambers Building at the Northeast
corner of 4th and Main Streets. He remained in these offices until he purchased
a building known as the Columbia Building located at 206-208 East 4th Avenue.
He remained in that office until his death in April 1924.
He was always eager to leave and better himself for the good of his professional
ability. He took many post graduate courses such as N.Y. Post-graduate
Institute, Philadelphia Polyclinic and later Columbia University and Mayo’s
He enjoyed swimming, tennis, golf, photography and fishing.
In 1903 he married Miss Lucy Elizabeth Maynard, daughter of Mary Alice
(Buchanan) and Charles W. Maynard. Mr. Maynard was at that time Treasurer for
the State of Washington. Their previous home having been Chehalis, Lewis
County, Washington. The Maynard home was located on the north side of 11th
Avenue across from the old St. Peters Hospital. A most convenient spot for Dr.
Redpath to drop in for a cup of coffee after his hospital rounds. Dr. and Mrs.
Redpath had three children, 1 – Catherine Alice born July 22, 1906, 2 – James N.
born 1909 but he died at 10 months of age. The third child was Nathaniel J.
Jr., born December 7, 1910.
Both Dr. and Mrs. Redpath were active in civic affairs. He was a member of
Pierce County Medical Association, Thurston-Mason County Medical and Washington
State Medical Association. He was Past Master of the local Masonic Lodge #1 F &
AM, member of the Afifi Shrine and 32nd degree Mason.
Also an original member of the Olympia Golf and Country Club and local Elks
Dr. Redpath’s life extended over an interesting period of time in our
transportation, from the days of the horse and buggy, bicycle, motorcycle, and
finally the automobile. Before the automobile became the general means of
transportation, the doctor was expected to go to the patient rather than the
reverse as is common practice today. Names such as Gate, Malone, Oakville,
Tenino, Porter, Rochester, Yelm, Rainier, Littlerock, Tono, Bucoda, Kamilche,
McKenna and many others were well known in the Redpath household. Much of the
time the calls for help came from places with no other direction as to how to
reach them than by the names of farmers along the way. In those days appendix
were apt to be removed by the light of a kerosene lamp with the kitchen table
used as the operating table. Babies were born at home – not in a hospital.
Many times Dr. Redpath would drive himself or ride his bicycle to the end of the
road, where he would be met by someone in a rowboat or a launch to take him
across a river or across the bay to the home of the ailing patient. Sometimes
he would find an entire family stick with say smallpox. He would often stay
with them for several days if no other aid were available. His patients seemed
to love him for his kindness and devotion as well as professional knowledge.
One incident Dr. Redpath enjoyed telling concerned an Indian and his wife; the
wife had suffered a broken leg. The couple lived in a small one room house at
Kamilche. When the doctor entered the room, it was so dark he could hardly see.
He finally located the bed, only to discover the husband, who pointed to a heap
of rages in the corner of the room. When Dr. Redpath went over to the corner he
discovered his patient. Upon investigation he found the broken leg seemed to be
in perfect position and was bandaged expertly with a bandage of kelp. It is my
understanding the bandage was left intact and resulted in a perfect healing.
However, during his diagnosis the doctor wanted to compare the broken leg with
the normal one to check the amount of swelling. However, at this time the
husband, who had been watching from the bed, called to the doctor “Only one!
These were also days of the booming logging camps. Many terrible accidents
occurred due to the lack of safety features in the logging methods used.
Bordeaux, Mud Bay Camp #2, McCleary, Shelton, Vail and Fir Tree were among the
many places calling for help. Shelton eventually established a very fine small
hospital which made treatment of many logging accidents much simpler and I’m
sure helped in saving many lives. The hospital was made possible through the
generosity of Mark Reed.
Then came the era of the shipyards with more crippling accidents. This was
during the days of World War I. Many a time in the middle of the night, a
worker would awaken Dr. Redpath to remove a piece of steel from his eye. This
same period was the time of the very real “flu” epidemic. This “flu” struck
very suddenly, a worker would often leave the shipyards and by the time he
reached the doctor’s office he would have a temperature of 1030 or 1040.
Hospitals were full and patients had to be cared for at home. House calls could
not possibly be completed in the course of a normal day, in fact there were
times when it was almost continuous day and night.
How the medical men of these days managed to survive as long as they did is a
marvel to me. They must have received a great deal of satisfaction from the
knowledge that they were doing their best to serve mankind.
corner of 7th Avenue and Washington is now located on southeast corner of Water
and 17th Avenue. It still contains the original furnishings which are receiving
loving care by its current owner.]
JOHN FRANK GIBSON
“Well, mah boyee, what’chu lookin’ so sad about?” – a drawl coming from a tall
lanky more broad-shouldered graying sandy-haired man with twinkle in his eye –
reminds me of only one man – John Frank Gibson – and the feeling of warmth,
friendship and uplift this kindly inquiry imparted. Would that I could recall
the many friendly quips starting “We fellers down from Texas…” that would
bring a roar of laughter to his fellow Rotarians when he dropped a friendly barb
to conclude some preceding speaker’s comment:
J.F. was born in Paris, Texas, July 9, 1880, son of Dr. and Mrs. David Gibson,
attended University of Texas (Austin) and studied medicine at John Sealy
Hospital (Galveston) where he also interned. Graduate work in Chicago and
Vienna (Austria) gave him specialized training in eye, ear, nose and throat.
Following marriage in 1909 to a Virginian, Imogene Pace Nickell, he started
practice in Paris, Texas, had an only son (Frank), and served in the U.S. Army
Medical Corps throughout the entire World War I. When his mother died in the
early 20s, Dr. Gibson came to the Northwest for cooler climate, at suggestion of
Mr. Long (Longbell Lbr., Co., Longview) and moved to Olympia in 1923.
Munson’s Drug Store counter, and later the Security Drug store counter were kept
in an uproar as J.F. handled the dice box (Ship, captain and crew) against old
friends during short quiet periods between patient calls. I have a warm spot in
my heart for the prompt attention he gave my son, Cap, whose ears needed
surgical drainage 2:00 a.m. one Sunday morning (par for the course). The
Thursday and Friday gang poker clubs counted on J.F. to supply the wisecracks
for the evening and make the friendships priceless.
As President of the Thurston-County Medical Society, Ralph Highmiller wrote a
memorium which merits repeating: “Measured by Eternity, the span of life is but
a fleeting experience. To mankind, however, life is measured by years and by
achievement. Some lives are so filled with useful service that they stand out,
even as the flame exceeds the spark. Such was the life of our friend and
fellow member, John Frank Gibson.
A prominent member and past president of Thurston-Mason County Medical Society,
and a member of the Washington State Medical Society for more then 25 years.
He retired in June 1950 because of impaired health. In his profession he was
highly esteemed for his ability and he had the confidence and goodwill of all
our members. We think of him as a friend, counselor and a physician well
qualified in his chosen specialty. As a friend, he was faithful, loyal, and
helpful in many ways. As a counselor his wisdom could be trusted. He had the
prize of human wisdom, a deep knowledge that comes from being continually
exposed to the pitiful frailties of mankind. His sharp wit, and his sense of
good humor made him indeed to those who knew him.
He passed from our midst April 2, 1951, but he left us such a rich heritage of
memory that we, his brother members, find it difficult to believe that he has
gone. We will miss his presence, wise counsel, calm deliberations and ready
advice in the everyday problems of living.
Be it therefore resolved that this report be spread upon the minutes of our
Association, and that a copy be sent to his wife as an expression of our great
admiration and gratitude for his loyal service to our Association, as well as
our deep sympathy for those who remain and feel so keenly his absence.”
Information source: Frank Gibson, PO 337, Spokane, 99211
The above-named is one of the early physicians in this area whose history was
well recorded by his great granddaughter, Catherine Redpath Weller, as follows:
“Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander, who was one of our early pioneer doctors, was born in
Ulster County, New York in 1818. His grandfather David came from Holland and
settled in New York. Nathaniel’s father, who was Abel Ostrander, was born in
1776 and died October 3, 1859 at age 84. Abel was married to Catherine
Easterly, and they had six children, three boys and three girls; Nathaniel was
the youngest of these.
Young Nathaniel was raised by his Uncle Nathaniel until at the age of 18 he went
to Missouri. There he clerked in a store in a town called Sweet Springs that
was located in Saline County. When 19, he married Eliza Jane Yantis on April
11, 1838. They lived in Sweet Springs and had three children before Nathaniel
decided to study medicine. After he received his medical training at St. Louis
University, he returned to Sweet Springs to practice medicine.
However, the urge to come West was too much for him. So in 1849, he made a trip
to California. He wasn’t a good miner but continued to practice medicine among
the miners until he made enough money to bring his family out west.
When the family finally started west, they had five little girls: Pricilla,
Catherine, Mary Ann, Susan Charlotte, Sarah Teresa and Margaret Jane. They left
Missouri in April 1852 in the same group as the Yantis family which made it very
nice for Mrs. Ostrander, since she was a Yantis. Abel Ostrander, Nathaniel’s
father, also accompanied them on the trip. Among others who were in that wagon
train were Gilmore Hayes and Tom Prather.
Along the way a dispute arose as to whether they should travel on Sunday or take
that day for rest for themselves and their stock. The Yantis group decided to
rest on Sunday and the Hayes crowd decided to go on and travel each day. Dr.
Ostrander decided to take his family with the Hayes group and try to hurry
through. However, he later agreed it was not the best plan as the Yantis group
arrived in Portland at about the same time and didn’t experience as much
sickness and didn’t lose as much stock.
The entire party with the Hayes group suffered terribly from diseases and the
hardships of the trip. They all had black measles which later turned into
cholera. When they reached the Snake River in Idaho, Mrs. Ostrander and her
five little girls were all sick with the measles. Susan, eight years old, died
and was buried on the river bank. Here, too, Eva was born; she weighed only
three pounds and was so tiny that they Indians wanted to buy her. They offered
a few pennies and some blankets as pay. Even this newborn baby had measles.
Mrs. Ostrander also lost a sister-in-law, the wife of her brother Franklin
Yantis, the grandmother of George and Robert Yantis and also for George and
Robert Blankenship. She herself was so miserable she told later that at the
time she wished they could all die.
However, after six months of constant travel they finally arrived in Portland in
September 1852. From the Dalles, they made the trip to Portland in canoes down
the Columbia River.
They spent the winter in Portland, then in the spring of 1853 they moved up to
the Cowlitz where Dr. Ostrander and his father took up a homestead of 640 acres.
That claim was later known as the town of Ostrander in honor of the doctor.
Later they moved to Freeport which is now Longview. Dr. Ostrander was the first
probate judge of Cowlitz County and also served several terms in the Territorial
Legislature. During this period he continued his practice of medicine and often
had to travel 25 to 50 miles by horse to visit his patients. At that time, the
usual fee for a maternity case was $5.00.
In 1872 the family moved to Tumwater where they bought the home of Nathaniel
Crosby, who incidentally was Bing Crosby’s grandfather. They lived in Tumwater
for five years and Dr. Ostrander ran the Drug Store in connection with his
Finally in 1877 they left Tumwater and moved to Olympia where they spent the
remainder of their lives. They built their family home which is still standing
in the block bounded by Franklin, Adams, 8th and 9th, with the house facing 8th
Street. He became the first mayor of Olympia. Mrs. Ostrander died February 22,
1899 and Dr. Ostrander died three years later on February 7, 1902.
In those early days drugs were not as carefully labeled and there were no laws
controlling such things. Dr. Ostrander always claimed he never gave anyone a
prescription without first testing it himself. That way he could always make
sure it was the right thing.
Another incident I have enjoyed hearing had to do with my grandmother Priscilla
Catherine. Being the oldest of the children, she always thought it was her duty
to introduce all sisters whenever her mother had callers. She would introduce
herself and give her age, then say, `this is my sister Mary Ann, she is 15 years
old; this is Susan Charlotte 13 years old; this is Sarah Teresa, 11 years old;
this is Margaret Jane, 9; and this is Maria Evelyn who is only 5 – Pa was in
California that year.’
The Ostrander family consisted of ten daughters and one son:
1. Priscilla Catherine, my grandmother was the oldest and she married James
Redpath and lived in Kelso where my father Nathaniel James Redpath was born
January 19, 1860.
2. Mary Ann, married Thomas Roe of Longview and later moved to Forest Grove,
3. Susan Charlotte was the little girl who died on the plains.
4. Sarah Teresa married Charles Catlin, a pioneer of Cowlitz County for whom
the town of Catlin was named.
5. Margaret Jane married Michael O’Conner and lived here in Olympia. He had a
stationery and bookstore here and also was the first telegraph operator in
6. Maria Evelyn married W.W. Work of Olympia.
7. Isabella May married E.E. Eastman of Tumwater.
8. John Yantis, the only boy in the family, married Fannie Crosby and spent
most of his life in business in Alaska.
9. Florene Eliza married Walter Crosby and lived in Olympia.
10. Fanny Lee married C.M. Moore and is now living here in Olympia as you all
know (written later) died January 7, 1951 at age 84.
11. Minnie Augusta died in infancy.
In bringing this to a conclusion, I would like to read part of what Mrs. George
Blankenship wrote of Dr. Ostrander in her TILLICUM TALES: `He was every strong
for the right’ are the words that came most readily to the compiler’s pencil
when attempt was made to draw a pen picture of that veteran old war horse in the
medical profession, Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander. For many years while living on his
homestead on the Cowlitz River he was the only doctor to minister to the
distress of the people for many miles. His daughters can still remember their
father hurrying out, sometimes in the dead of night, saddling his faithful nag,
filling his saddle bags with medicines and frequently used surgical instruments
and starting on a trip of perhaps 20 or even 50 miles in response to a summons
for medical aid. Many of the men and women today in Cowlitz County, with heads
white with scar of age were ushered into this world by the genial doctor.
Brusk, sometimes gruff in his manners, all who best knew this grand old man,
knew his heart was of pure gold, his moral life beyond reproach and his family
relations loving and pure; a staunch friend, loyal to his political and
fraternal affiliations. Dr. Ostrander’s memory is still fondly cherished by his
Before I close I want to tell you I am indebted for all my information to my
Aunt Fanny Moore, who is the youngest of the Ostrander children, and she is here
This was a biography written by Catherine Weller sometime in the 40s and prior
to Fanny Moore’s death in 1951. The Ostrander home in Olympia has been replaced
today by the Timberland Olympia Public Library.
Not mentioned in this otherwise very comprehensive biography is the part Dr.
Ostrander played in medical politics. At the preliminary meeting for
organization of the Washington Territory Medical Society on January 4, 1873, Dr.
Ostrander together with Rufus Willard and J.W. Waughop were censors. The
meeting was held in Olympia with A.H. Steele as its president. Action taken was
to have 100 circulars printed so as to send one to each doctor of medicine in
the Territory and urge attendance at the next meeting. This was held again in
Olympia on February 19, 1873 with adoption of constitution and by-laws and
election of permanent officers for the year. Censors Drs. Ostrander and Waughop
were appointed as essayists for the next regular meeting to be held in six
months. Dr. Ostrander continued to be a leader in the organization until his
T.R. Ingham, December 1991
ALDEN HATCH STEELE, MD
Dr. Alden Hatch Steele long ranked with the most progressive, capable and
honored physicians of Western Washington and Oregon. He was born in Oswego, New
York, February 10, 1823, a son of Orlo and Fanny (Abby) Steele, who were native
of Connecticut. After mastering the common branches of learning, Dr. Steele
determined upon the practice of medicine as a life work and began reading under
the direction of P.H. Hurd of Oswego, New York, and subsequently continued his
studies under direction of Dr. James R. Wood, noted surgeon and medical educator
of New York City. He then entered the medical department of the University of
New York and was graduated in 1846, after which he located for practice in his
native city. Subsequently, he opened an office in Kenosha, Wisconsin and in
1849 started for Oregon with a stage company, and while en route overtook the
Rifle Regiment U.S.A. He was invited joint the officers and traveled with them
to Vancouver. He settled in Oregon City, Oregon in 1849, and for 14 years
successfully engaged in practice there. He was a most progressive physician, in
research and practice. He was the first to administer chloroform in amputation
north of San Francisco, this being the first time anesthetic was used in
surgery, the operation being performed in 1852. Dr. Steele not only figured
prominently in professional circles in Oregon City, but also took active part in
public life, serving for 11 years as a member of the city council and for three
years a mayor.
In August 1854 was celebrated the marriage of Dr. Steele and Miss Hannah H.
Blackler. Her grandfather was a captain in the Revolutionary War and commanded
the flotilla with which Washington crossed the Delaware. Dr. and Mrs. Steele
became parents of two children but only one Mrs. Russel G. O’Brien, widow of
General O’Brien, is mentioned elsewhere in this work. (Grandmother of Mrs.
Virginia Aetzel (Truman) Schmidt, Mrs. O’Brien died in 1932.)
For a short time in 1857, Dr. Steele was with General Palmer in the Grand Ronde
Indian reservation and there, as at Oregon City, he had wonderful influence over
the Indians who came to him to settle all their difficulties. In 1863, when the
troops in Oregon were called east, Dr. Steele was appointed surgeon of Fort
Dalles, when the post hospital was virtually a general hospital. After three
years service there, his own health becoming impaired, he was transferred to
Fort Stevens, at the mouth of the Columbia River. In June 1868, he was sent to
Fort Steilacoom, but the fort there was abandoned in 1869, and the troops were
sent to Alaska. Declining further service in the army, Dr. Steele came to
Olympia, where he spent the rest of his life.
In 1869-1870 when Colonel Sam Ross of the United States Army was Superintendent
of Indian Affairs in Washington territory, Dr. Steele was appointed physician to
the Indians of Nisqually and the Chehalis reservation. He was, for 15 years,
examining surgeon for pensions for both the Army and Navy, beginning in 1873,
and in 1876 he was appointed by Governor Ferry regent of the Territorial
University, which position he filled for two terms, or until 1880. He was
likewise for six years medical inspector of the Territorial penitentiary and for
25 years, he was medical examiner for the New York Mutual Life Insurance
Company. For a considerable period, he served as one of the directors of the
First National Bank of Olympia, continuing in that office from the organization
of the bank until a few years prior to its failure in 1893. He was one of the
organizers of the first gas and power companies and a stockholder in the
railroad to Tenino (T.M. Reed, President) and also in the Olympia Hotel built by
the citizens to help leap the capital here in Olympia. He did important work
for the government as a pioneer physician of the northwest and for his fellow
townsmen as well.
He was a man of the highest character, thoroughly reliable, just, considerate
and kindly. The Indians came to know that they could trust him fully, and he
enjoyed in equal measure the confidence and goodwill of the white men. He died
in Olympia, June 29, 1902.
The above was published in Volume III of 1917 edition of Washington West of
Cascades, S.J. Clarke Company, Chicago.
The Dr. Steele home exists at its original site, 1010 Franklin, perhaps one of
the oldest houses in Olympia today (1994).
DR. U.G. WARBASS
Dr. U.G. Warbass would respectfully announce to the citizens of Olympia and
Washington Territory that he was fitted up a large and commodious building as a
hospital for the convenience of the sick and afflicted, on Third Street, one
door east of the Pacific house.
Having relinquished all business of a public nature, the doctor is determined to
devote his entire ability and energy to the wants and comforts of his patients.
Being a Lycentiate and member of the State Medical Society of New Jersey, and
having had 13 years of an extensive practice (six of which have been devoted
almost exclusively to surgery) he feels satisfied that the wants of the
community are entirely supplied in an operation of a surgerical nature, as well
as medical advice.
Office in the same building of the hospital. For further information and terms,
address by letter Dr. U.G. Warbass, Olympia, Washington Territory.
From advertisement appearing in Pioneer and Democrat newspaper, July 20, 1860.
GEORGE WILLIAM INGHAM, MD
My father, Dr. G. W. Ingham was a well-known physician and surgeon in Olympia
from 1891 to 1954. He was born at the Ingham homestead in Algona, Iowa in 1868
the sixth of eight children. Dad often told me how he had to use a rope to find
his way to the nearby barn during Iowa blizzards to feed the Ingham horse, “Old
Nell” and chop ice out of the barrel of water so the latter could get a drink.
As a youth, he was an active, muscular boy whose bosom pal was a Sioux Indian
youth. They both earned pocket money shooting nickels out of the air with their
Sioux Indian arrows (1).
G.W.’s father was retired Civil War captain who started out as a surveyor and
finished life as Kossuth County banker and large Iowa farm owner. He was the
first settler in Algona after negotiating United States purchase of northern
Iowa lands from the Sioux. Dr. G.W., as a youth, developed great muscular
strength working on these farms.
After getting his degree in surveying from University of Iowa, Dr. Ingham spent
the hot Iowa summer carrying a heavy transit a mile at a time to establish
section corners. “There must be a better way to earn a living” entered his mind
and led to his MD degree in medicine from University of Michigan in 1889. In
the Fall of 1891, he started medical practice in the Chamber’s Building (4th &
Main). This was just before the depression of 1893, and his many letters to his
father are now on record at Henderson House in Tumwater filled with accurate
history of that era.
During the next 40 years, Dr. Ingham had a very busy medical practice which
included delivering many babies, taking care of St. Peter Hospital’s contracts
for care of injured loggers and serving on many medical activities (2). His
hobbies included fly fishing (of which he was an expert) with Dr. P.J. Carlyon
on the Deschutes River, duck hunting with his Seattle friends at Nisqually and
McAllister Gun Clubs, and rummy games with his Shelton friends. The latter
tried to keep his earned fees in town when he joined them at Bill Smith’s saloon
for a friendly game after making a medical call to that area.
Dr. Ingham married Emma Reed in 1895, took post-graduate work in Vienna 1907-08,
and became a pioneer expert in mastoid surgery in Olympia, for which he used
chloroform as anesthetic (3). In addition to medicine, G.W. became heavily
involved in business which included Fredson Brothers Logging Company (Kamilche),
Olympia Knitting Mills, Reed-Ingham Investment Company with building of Liberty
Theater and Liberty Garage, and founder of Olympia Oyster Investment Company at
Oyster Bay. The latter consumed much of his interest and time (4).
The severe economic depression of the 30s took its toll on Dr. Ingham’s business
ventures: Knitting Mills became bankrupt in 1932; logging company closed down;
and oyster business nearly destroyed by pulp mill pollution and importation of
Ill health with multiple surgeries compounded Dr. Ingham’s problems during the
30s, from which he gradually recovered during the 40s and returned to limited
medical practice until his retirement in 1949. A home fire in 1954 caused his
death on May 21.
The above is just a brief synopsis of the life of George William Ingham, whose
biography together with multiple pictures has been written for his descendant’s
JOHN WILSON MOWELL
Next to my father, I consider John Wilson Mowell the greatest doctor. He
attended my mother (home delivery with aid of forceps and chloroform), and dad
carried on the resuscitation – but that’s another subject.
Dr. Mowell was born March 5, 1861 in Shemmokin, Pennsylvania but since his
parents moved to Missouri when he was five, he has been regarded here “J.W. from
Missouri” and lived a life true to that inquisitive “show me” spirit. He
attended school at Dell until age 17, then taught school for four terms, then
entered normal school at Warrensburg, Missouri for a year. In 1882, Dr. Mowell
married America Feaster in Lincoln, Missouri on December 26, and moved to St.
Louis where he worked as a shipping clerk for Brownell and Wight Car Company,
and later for Brown Woodworking Company. In 1885, he entered Missouri Medical
College in that city and graduated with his MD in 1888. While in school, he had
two sons: Arthur who died from poliomyelitis at age one and Shelley. The
marriage soon fell apart thereafter; Shelley stayed with his mother, and later
came to Olympia in 1902 to serve as cashier in C.J. Lord’s Capital National Bank
for many years.
After medical school, J.W. practiced a few months in Warsaw, Missouri, then Lind
Creek, Missouri, then visited awhile in Texas, and came October 7, 1890 to
Tumwater, alone, to live with his maternal aunt and start practice of medicine
here. He married Ada Albertz Sprague in 1898, built his home on the northeast
corner of Union and Washington in 1907, and in addition to medical practice,
became a leader in the community in many ways: vice president of Olympia
National Bank, member of Olympia Golf and Country Club, Married Folks Dancing
Club and City Council (Knight of Court Honor, 1924).
As a person, John Mowell drove himself and those about him in a likeable but
intense manner. He made friends easily, being a competent musician with many
instruments and singing a good tenor. His zeal for care of the injured workman
carried him on a collision course with many doctors who predicted socialized
medicine. Nevertheless, he was a founder of the first Industrial Insurance
Company in this state. Mark Reed and his associates saw that a private company
could never secure full participation by all industry for prepaid industrial
insurance, and this led to the Washington State Industrial Insurance in about
1911, with Dr. Mowell as its first medical director.
Meanwhile, with his thirst for knowledge, Dr. Mowell secured a telescope and
became an expert in astronomy; secured a billiard table and became a local
champion in three cushion baul. (Jerry Kuykendall and I spent many hours
playing billiards on this table, always taking care to have the basement room at
proper temperature to protect the quality of the perfectly matched set of ivory
billiard balls.) Later, J.W. studied criminology and became so proficient as to
solve a baffling embezzlement problem that occurred in the Industrial Insurance
Department, which led to the TRUE DETECTIVE story recorded by Hollis Fultz.
John was health officer here for several years, and chairman of the Medical
Reserve Board during World War I. During this period, he contracted pneumonia
requiring surgical drainage of empyema at Camp Lewis. With his physical
capacity limited, he returned to private practice in 1921 and confined his work
chiefly to eye refraction and supplying of glasses. Thyroid carcinoma befell
him and his thyroidectomy left him with a permanent tracheostomy, with which he
trained himself to talk again.
Dr. John is remembered as a very kind and gentle person. The story is oft
repeated, that when he had to leave his home before his wife returned from
Women’s Club, he left a note on the door, “Ada, the key is under the mat.”
As of 1994, the Mowell (6) house is still standing at the northeast corner of
Washington and Union Avenue.
T.R. Ingham, MD
January 22, 1994
DR. J.R. JOHNSON
The above named is perhaps one of the earliest doctors to practice medicine in
Olympia as noted by the following Columbian newspaper advertisement:
J.R. JOHNSON, MD
About Fifteen miles below Olympia on
Puget Sound, has opened for the
benefit of the sick and afflicted a
HOSPITAL at his “point” where he will be in
readiness at all times to attend with
counsel and medical assistance all who
may make application.
March 26, 1853,–29ly
Although we know little about this man, that little suggests he was an
interesting individual as noted in the Columbian two months later on May 7,
“A man whom Dr. Johnson once reproved for following a useless and
demoralizing business, said in excuse: ‘You know Doctor that I must
live!’ The brave old hater of everything mean and hateful coolly replied
that ‘he did not see the least necessity for that.’
“A lady sent for the doctor in great trouble to say she had a frightful
dream and seen her grandmother.
‘What did you eat for supper? Madam.’
‘Quarter of mince pie, Doctor.’
‘Had you ate two, Madam, you would have seen your grandfather, also.'”
Pioneer Ezra Meeker wrote in his 1905 edition of Pioneer Reminiscences of Puget
Sound [page 43] “At the point a little beyond where we landed we found next
morning J.R. Johnson, MD, with his cabin on the point under the pretentious name
of JOHNSON’S HOSPITAL, opened as he said for the benefit of the sick, but
which, from what I saw in my later trips think his greatest business was in
disposing of cheap whiskey of which he contributed his share of the patronage.”
Some 90 years after the above when Johnson’s Point ceased to be Poncin’s Joint
(private estate) the area again became location of a doctor, but this time an
excellent one, the late Dr. Ralph Brown.
DR. WAYNE L. BRIDGFORD
Dr. Wayne LeSeuer Bridgford was veteran a colorful physician who practiced
medicine in Olympia for nearly 36 years and died at age 59 in his home, Tuesday,
February 22, 1938 some three months before his 60th birthday.
The Bridgeford name was well known in Virginia before the Civil War which
divided many families. Those members favoring the North retained the name but
those who favored State of Virginia and supported the South dropped the E. Dr.
Wayne made sure there was not an E in his name Bridgford.
His father crossed this country in a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail to
homestead in the Willamette Valley in what is now Scio on current Highway I-5.
It was there that Wayne was born May 25, 1878. At Albany College in Oregon he
played football and was a tuba player in its band. After receiving his BA degree
at Albany, (now Lewis and Clark) in 1897 Wayne earned his MD degree at San
Francisco’s Cooper Medical College in 1902. This school later became Stanford
University’s Medical School.
On July 26, 1902, he married Adalene Chamberlain. During his college days he had
become acquainted with “Addie” who lived in her home town of Albany in her
mother’s boarding house. After spending two more years in medical training in
Portland, Oregon hospitals, he moved to Olympia.
Initially Dr. Bridgford associated with the well established physician, Dr. N.J.
Redpath, and then set out on his own, taking office on second floor of the
Pacific Building with reception room shared with Dentist Dr. Curtis Egbert. When
the Security Building was completed in the 20’s Doctor Bridgford took an
independent office on the fourth floor, the move being occasioned because of
Like Dr. John Mowell, Dr. Bridgford fitted glasses for many patients with aid of
a box of assorted trial lens. As the leader inn internal medicine in Olympia,
he later installed in his office the town’s first large x-ray machine (7) with
its diagnostic table that permitted gastro-intestinal and kidney studies and led
to his great interest in treatment of peptic ulcer. For this he created special
anti-acid preparations which were prepared by Carlton Sears pharmacy, and far
more pleasant to take than the usual Sippy powders and very popular in this
area. It became patented as Neutroacid and sold extensively throughout the
The good doctor played a large part in local activities, He was elected
coroner for Thurston-Mason Counties November 10, 1904 (Morning Olympian),
elected Grand Exalted Ruler of Olympia’s B.P.O. Elks #186 March 8, 1908, a
“32nd degree Mason.and an important force in the work of this order, being
active in Scottish Rite work as well as the Masonic Blue Lodge. He was a former
wise master of the lodge of Rose Croix, Scottish Rite body. He was a Shriner.”
(8) Dr. Bridgford also served on the City Council and as Mayor.
The doctor’s first residence was on north side of 15th Street between Sylvester
and Water when his first child Waynette Schmidt) was born At that time
Governor Hayes kept a cow near the nearby Mansion, and it was killed by Dr.
Bridgford’s pit bull. In 1920 the family moved to 203 West 17th when State of
Washington constructed the Insurance Building. His second child, Wayne “Buzzie”
was born after this move an active musically inclined youth who played drums
professionally and is now deceased Buzzie apparently inherited his father’s
keen ear and musical talent. The doctor’s daughter like this author, failed to
have musical expertise. Both did poorly despite piano teacher Mrs. Helen
Phillips (9) efforts.
This house which started out as a cottage (10) with received considerable
expansion: the living room was enlarged, and permitted an open air bedroom
upstairs; later a master bedroom with separate bath and side entrance with small
hall was added to west side of the home. Between backyard and garage a large
playhouse filled with children’s toys was constructed, but curtains on the
windows were not permitted. Waynette later learned her father was able to
observe children activities from his bathroom window; he kept a close eye on the
Dr. Bridgford was a strong character about whom there were the usual number of
anecdotes, of which the best known is his confrontation with Mel Morris who ran
a store for lady’s clothing. Mel sent the doctor a month over-due bill with
the large letter PLEASE written on same; Dr. Bridgford, without bothering to
take off his white office jacket, marched up the block to Mel’s store and handed
him this bill together with Mel’s much larger and longer over-due statement for
medical services rendered by the good doctor; the accounts were settled promptly
and the Doctor returned to his office with additional money in his pocket.
Ill health cause Dr. Bridgford’s retirement from practice in 1936 and he died
peacefully in his home February 22, 1938. His wife Addie died a few years
later, and his daughter Waynette Schmidt is living today and supplied me with
most of the above information.
T.R. Ingham, MD
January 19, 1994
1 These were made from a straight shaft of hickory without feather tale, with
sharp flint embedded in chestnut for its leading point, extremely accurate in
flight, and with rawhide bow string had sufficient penetration to drop a bison.
2 Head of hospital staff, head of the Thurston-Mason County Medical Society,
World War I Draft Board Medical Examiner, State Board of Medical Examiners, etc.
3 Chloroform was the preferred anesthetic in parts of Europe because of its
freedom from fire, a risk associated with ether in hot climates.
4 More can be found in E.N. Steele’s book, The Rise and Fall of the Olympia
5 “Slipper shells” with importation of eastern oysters and Japanese oyster
drills with import of pacific oyster seed. These continue to be problems today,
but pulp mill residues essentially gone.
6 It is typical of the many fine homes built in Olympia by Bill Ogle in the
first decade of this century.
7 Drs.G.W. Ingham and H.W. Partlow preceded Dr. Bridgford with x-ray machines,
but they were only good for diagnosis of fractured extremities, bulky and poor
in quality. St. Peter Hospital installed an x-ray machine similar to
Bridgford’s at his urging, and Dr. Ralph Brown used Bridgeford’s machine for
many years when he took over that Security Building office after Bridgford’s
8 Olympian February 23, 1938
9 Nick-named Mrs. Phitt-lips by her less talented students.
10 This home started out as a small cottage built by Sprague, who later became
Governor of Oregon.