News: Spencer History - Doctors


Surnames: Andrews, Waldron, Hawkins, Haddy, Doolittle, Wendell, Clark, Graves, Strayer, Miller, Soles

Source: Spencer Centennial Book (1874 – 1974)

The first mention made of a doctor in town is a reference to a Dr. Green.
In 1881 Dr. J. M. Adams had an office over the Heath Drug Store. He married Mary Thayer, a mill owner's daughter, and they moved into a home on Main Street, the former Schofield residence, now occupied by Verland Schneider.

In an advertisement in the Spencer Tribune Accoucheur: " Often called the "boss surgeon," he was considered a skilled surgeon and made out-of-town calls as far away as Medford and Fond du Lac.
In 1882 Dr. D. H. Waldron had an office in the Blackstone Hotel and his advertisement reads: "Women's and Children's Diseases; Specialty - Surgery and Chronic Disease."

Dr. Hawkins had an office in the back of Heath's Drug Store.

Dr. G. H. Haddy had an office in Whipple's Drug Store and later moved into a residence next door, on the east. He then ran this ad: "Orders may be left at Whipple's Store as before. Obstetrics practice. All calls promptly attended to-strictly cash."

Dr. S. W. Doolittle, who was here in 1884, married a local girl, Cora Wendell, in 1897. A few years later, after leaving Spencer, they and Cora's sister, Lila, spent a year in Europe where Lila took advanced work in the education of the deaf.

At times Dr. Clark of Unity attended patients in Spencer but his transportation had to be provided. Spence Graves used to recall the trip he made via field and road to "fetch" Dr. Clark to the John Graves home to deliver their son, Harley.

Dr. F. G. Strayer's first office was on West Main Street next to the railroad tracks and then east of the tracks. He practiced here for a number of years, was health officer and was elected trustee on the village board at the time of the incorporation of the village in 1902. Mrs. Strayer was active in the cultural and social affairs of the town.

Dr. D. C. Miller, who was here but a short time, had an office in his home located on the site of the present Trinity Lutheran Church. He moved to Marshfield in 1915.

In 1905 Dr. F. A. Soles, who had practiced one year at Granton, bought Dr. Strayer's practice and moved to town with his wife, Elizabeth, and small daughter, Bernice. He had studied one year each at Ripon College and Oshkosh Normal before entering Hahnenam Medical School of Chicago where he graduated in 1901. This young, vigorous and energetic doctor did not confine himself solely to the practice of medicine but became actively involved in anything which would promote the welfare of his community. As will be recorded elsewhere in the book, he was instrumental in getting a telephone exchange in town, in the organization of the bank, and getting the Spencer Record back in circulation. Having come up the hard way by working his way through school, he had a compassion for the needy, often donating his services to them. He was interested in the cultural life, too, and sang tenor in a men's quartet which was often in demand for Literary Societies and Musicals. When a guest speaker was late for some public occasion, he had been known to speak extemporaneously to a restless audience until the belated speaker arrived.
In 1923 he sold his practice to Dr. H. T. Callahan and went to Chicago for further study, specializing in ear, eye, nose, and throat. He later located in Platteville where he remained in practice until the time of his retirement.

The familiar bit of verse doctors were wont to post in their waiting rooms in those early days hardly applied to Dr. Soles:
"God and the doctor we alike adore Just on the brink of danger, not before.
The danger past, both are requited God is forgotten and the doctor slighted."

He would be well remembered and appreciated in the community which he had served so faithfully and well. There would be memories of a village doctor singing in the Methodist Church Choir, who upon receiving a signal from the usher, would leave his place in the choir to answer a sick call. There would be memories of a young doctor riding along a country road with his redheaded daughter beside him. He would make a follow-up call to a farm home where he had recently delivered a newcomer. The little girl would be permitted to go in and see the new baby, a red letter day for the farm family and one for the doctor's daughter who would later become a registered nurse.

After graduating from Marquette University School of Medicine with B.S. and M.D. degrees and a year of internship spent at St. Joseph's Hospital, Marshfield, Wisconsin, Dr. H. T. Callahan went to Lewiston, Minnesota, where he was in private practice for one and a half years.

On May 17, 1923, he moved with his wife and seven months old son to Spencer where he engaged in the practice of medicine for nearly forty years. (38 years to be exact.)

For a number of years Dr. Callahan and his wife operated a small hospital, above what at that time was the Spencer Bank building.

He served as President of the Village for a short time and, in 1942, enlisted in the U. S. Military forces. In 1944 he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. Returning to Spencer he continued to serve the community as its only doctor until his unexpected death on February 1, 1961.

These are the brief facts regarding Dr.Callahan’s medical career but those who lived here throughout his years of practice remember well his service among us. Our first doctors traveled on horseback or in a buggy or sleigh and sometimes part way on foot. Our last two had cars, but country roads were not at first maintained for year around travel by auto as they now are. Dr. Callahan often drove on a main highway to a cross roads, there to be met by a farmer with team and sled to drive him to the bedside of a patient. He worked closely with the Marshfield Clinic and St. Joseph's Hospital and will be remembered for his skill in diagnosis. His patients were confident that whatever he pronounced their ailments to be, it was 100% correct. He delivered scores of babies at the hospital, many more in homes, in which case he was accompanied by his wife, a registered nurse. He loved children; loved to take care of them and watch them grow up into maturity. Being a family doctor for nearly forty years, he had the added pleasure of ushering into the world some of their children. Because of his concern for our youth, he was very much interested in their school, especially their athletic teams and their bands. He was a staunch Republican and, being an Irishman, he was a witty and articulate one.

A doctor holds a very special place in the life of his community and the hearts of his people. Thirteen years after his death, Dr. Callahan is still greatly missed and Spencer is still without a doctor, all efforts to obtain one having failed.



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