Sue Young Histories

The Guilbert Family and Homeopathy

January 10, 2008

Homœopathic Medical College of
MissouriEDWARD AUGUSTUS GUILBERT 1827 - 1900** **an orthodox doctor who converted to homeopathy and became a lecturer at the Cleveland Homeopathic College, and the founder of the Homœopathic Society of Iowa, Professor of Obstetrics at the Western Homœopathic College, founder of the Homœopathic Medical College of Missouri and Professor of Diseases of Children, in the Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago. Guilbert was also President of the Liberal State Convention, and its candidate for Secretary of State in 1872.

was born in Watertown, Jefferson Co., N.Y., on the 12th of June, 1826; he attended public schools, and also received instruction in the Black River Institute, at Watertown; in 1837, his father’s family moved to Chicago.

His professional studies were commenced in the year 1843, and, after a four-years course, he graduated at Rush Medical College, Chicago; for several years he was the confidential student in the office of the late eminent Prof. Daniel Brainerd.

In 1847, he married Miss Kathleen Somers, a young lady of education and refinement, having had the benefit of a course of study in the famous academy of Mrs. Emma Willard, of Troy, N.Y. Nine children have been born to them, six of whom survive.

He practiced medicine and surgery first in Ottawa, and afterward in Waukegan, Ill. In that time, 1847 to 1852, he still pursued medial studies and investigations with all the interest of an enthusiastic student. About this time, Dr. Guilbert resolved to practice medicine upon a different system- that of Hahnemann, and since known as homeopathy.

He soon afterward removed to Elgin, Ill., and commenced his changed practice, having thoroughly studied the literature and theory of that school of medicine. In 1857, he came to Iowa and located at Dubuque, and engaged in the practice of his profession. (where he became one of the foremost homeopathic practitioners in the State).

In the war of the rebellion, he was appointed Surgeon of the Board of Enrollment for the Third Congressional District of Iowa, and discharged the responsible duties of that position from 1862 to

  1. During the war, he gave his influence to encourage enlistments for the volunteer service, and was chosen Captain of Co. A, of the 46th I.V.I.

In that capacity he passed five months in the military field service, in 1876, in establishing as institution in Dubuque, known as the Northwestern Sanitarium, with a view to afford medical and surgical relief for that class of patients who might not be able to secure proper treatment for local physicians, and to prevent the necessity of long journeys to more distant hospitals.

Dr. Guilbert has been prominently connected with the Masonic Fraternity for over a quarter of a century. In 1857, he was elected Master of Dubuque Lodge, No. 3, and was re-elected five or six times; in 1858, being a delegate to the Grand Lodge, he was elected Junior Grand Warden, and was re-elected in 1859; in 1861, he was elected Senior Grand Warden, and, in 1862, was appointed Deputy Grand Master; in October, 1862, he became Acting Grand Master, and, in 1862, was elected Grand Master.

He was re-elected for the two following terms, and thus managed the affairs of the Grand Lodge of Iowa for nearly four years. He has served eight years as the High Priest of Dubuque Royal Arch Chapter, seven years as Eminent Commander of Siloam Commandery and also for five years as the “Thrice Illustrious,” of Dubuque Council No. 3.

His connections with the Grand Chapter began some years ago, and he is now it Grand High Priest. He was the accepted orator before several of the grand bodies named, on the annual conventions. Dr. Guilbert has been a voluminous writer of Masonic literature. His reports on foreign correspondence, and other reports and papers presented to the four grand bodies in Iowa, have been very full and complete to advance the interests of Masonry.

He edited and published the Evergreen, at Dubuque, for three years. There are very few persons who are connected with the Order who have done so much to advance its interests as Dr. Guilbert.

In 1872, Dr. Guilbert became interested in the Liberal Republican movement. He was unanimously chosen Permanent Chairman of the first Liberal Republican Convention held in Iowa; was unanimously nominated for Secretary of State on the joint ticket presented by the Liberals and Democrats; was made a candidate for Congress in 1874, and was defeated in convention, by a combination, only by a few votes, after many ballotings.

In 1875, he was, despite his disinclination, proposed as a candidate for Governor on the Anti-Monopoly ticket, and, though not present himself, he was complimented with a large vote on the first ballot.

Dr. Guilbert has practiced his profession in Dubuque over twenty-three years, and is one of the leading physicians in the city. He has been professional lecturer in the homeopathic colleges in Cleveland, St. Louis and Chicago.

Guilbert was the proprieter of Guilbert’s Homeopathic Pharmacy and the founder of the Homœopathic Society of Iowa:

The association was organized in 1870 under the name of “Homœopathic Society of Iowa.” Dr. E. A. Guilbert of Dubuque sent out a letter inviting a few homœopathic physicians of the state to meet at Des Moines for the purpose of holding a conference to promote the interests of homœopathy.

The result of their deliberation was the organization of the Homœopathic Society of Iowa, the election of officers and also of a legislative committee, whose members were instructed to confer with the regents of the university for the purpose of establishing a homœopathic department in the university.

At the annual meeting held at Davenport, May 22 and 23, 1879, the homœopathic society, having obtained a charter from the state, changed the name to “Hahnemann Medical Association of Iowa,” which is the official title at the present writing -1905…

Again and again did the officers of the association go before the regents and ask that two chairs of homœopathy be established and maintained, as in the College of Liberal Arts, but the regents refused to grant the request. At the annual meeting in 1872 a committee known as the legislative committee was appointed to go before the legislature and ask it to direct the regents to establish the two desired chairs and appropriate money for the support of the same.

Drs. E. A. Guilbert of Dubuque, W. H. Dickinson of Des Moines, and C. H. Cogswell, then of Clinton, constituted that committee. They had a bill drafted which was presented to the general assembly in 1874. The bill was looked after all through the session, but was defeated on the final vote.

The committee again appealed to the regents, and again their request was refused. Nothing daunted, these determined men presented their bill to the general assembly in 1876, and again urged its passage, The dominant school had several members in the legislature and the fight was a bitter one. After many amendments and substitutes had been offered, some of which were defeated and others of which were successful, the following was finally passed as a rider to the appropriation bill for the biennial support of the university.

The record may be found in the “Laws of Iowa, Sixteenth General Assembly,” Chapter 168, Senate File 103, and reads as follows :

"The board of regents of said university are hereby authorized and directed to establish a department of homœopathy in connection with the medical department of said university as soon as practicable, to consist of two chairs, and may appropriate the sum of $4,100 for the payment of two professors and the necessary appurtenances to the said medical chairs."

The physicians of the dominant school and their friends fought to the end, making their last stand by moving to strike out this second section of the appropriation bill. The motion was made by Senator Dashiell…

At the annual meeting of the Hahnemann Medical Association of Iowa in 1877 that society voted to ask the regents to appoint E. A. Guilbert of Dubuque and W. H. Parsons of Burlington to fill the two chairs which the regents had established. The selection of these men was also urged by the committee which had secured from the legislature the act directing the regents to establish the chairs. The regents, however, appointed Wilmot Horton Dickinson of Des Moines, one of the members of the legislative committee, and Allen C. Cowperthwaite of Nebraska City, Nebraska. continue reading:

Guilbert’s relative Samuel was also a homeopath:

He is the second son of Samuel H. Guilbert, of Waukegan, Ills., who was born in Bath, England. After receiving a good general education, he began the study of medicine in the office of Dr. E. A. Guilbert, of Elgin, Ills.

In the winter of 1854-‘55, he entered Rush Medical College, where he attended lectures during two sessions. Toward the close of the second session, he applied for his final examination with a view to graduation, but it having become known to the professors, through the students, that his views concerning the dominant practice were heretical, they refused to admit him to an examination unless he would sign a paper renouncing his errors in this respect.

This of course he declined to do, and his connection with that institution ended. The following winter he went to Cleveland, where he was graduated by the Western Homœopathic College in the Spring of 1857.

Dr. Guilbert commenced the practice of medicine at Kenosha, Wis., but he remained there only a few months, removing to Dubuque, Ia., in the fall of 1857. There he has since resided, and by his skill, careful attention to the details of his profession, and his agreeable manners, he has succeeded in building up a large and constantly increasing practice of a very lucrative character.

He was married in 1860, to Sara M. Burden, by whom he has bad two children, of which one only, a little girl, is still living. Dr. Guilbert confines himself closely to his practice, taking no part in public or political affairs, excepting only those of the Young Men’s Literary Association ; of that institution be was elected president in 1866, and he has continued to hold the office ever since.

He is a man of considerable culture, and possessing a warm, generous nature, be has made himself a favorite in a very large circle of friends and acquaintances.