Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Doc George Goodfellow For Western Wednesday...!

We often overlook an important factor in the wild west...the good doctor.

Often a well trained doctor could make the difference between life and death. George Goodfellow seems to have been a very knowldgeable doctor and evidently had a good sense of humor as well!

George Goodfellow investigates earthquake

Reflecting a scientific spirit that was rare among frontier physicians, Tombstone doctor George Goodfellow rushes south to investigate an earthquake in Mexico. Though keenly interested in earthquakes, Goodfellow is best remembered today for being one of the nation’s leading experts on the treatment of gunshot wounds, a condition he had many opportunities to study in the wild mining town of Tombstone, Arizona.

Born in Downieville, California, in 1855, Goodfellow studied medicine at Cleveland Medical College and graduated with honors in 1876. He practiced briefly in Oakland, but then went to Prescott, Arizona, where his father was a mining engineer. After working for a time as an army contract surgeon, he relocated to Tombstone in 1880, one year before the Earps and McLaury-Clantons shot it out at the O.K. Corral. Since Tombstone was also home to dozens of other gunslingers and criminals, Goodfellow’s skills as physician, surgeon, and coroner were in steady demand.

Although he was a serious and studious physician, Goodfellow was not above indulging in a bit of gallows humor, which was well suited to a town like Tombstone. Describing the condition of one murder victim, he wrote that the corpse was “rich in lead, but too badly punctured to hold whiskey.” In his role as coroner, he deflected guilt from a vigilante lynch mob by officially ruling that the victim “came to his death from emphysema of the lungs, a disease common to high altitudes, which might have been caused by strangulation, self-inflicted or otherwise.”

Yet Goodfellow did much more than perform autopsies on murder victims and treat bullet wounds. He developed new methods of operating on the prostate gland and performed the first successful prostatectomy in history. He was among the first surgeons anywhere, much less in the remote regions of the Wild West, to use spinal anesthesia. He advocated an open-air treatment of tuberculosis that soon made the desert climate of the Southwest the home of hundreds of sanatoriums.

In a time when many self-professed doctors had little or no formal training and used treatments that often did more harm than good, Goodfellow was a dedicated scientist who believed diseases could be cured with rational methods. He made frequent trips east to remain abreast of the latest medical breakthroughs. He was also a talented linguist and an avid student of geology, rushing to the Sonora Desert on this day in 1887 to study the effects of a powerful earthquake.

After 12 years in Tombstone, Goodfellow returned to California and became a leading physician in San Francisco. For those 12 years, though, Tombstone—today best known for its gunslingers, gamblers, and desperados—had one of the most scientifically advanced doctors in the West. Goodfellow died in Los Angeles in 1910 at the age of 64.

Sounds like the kind of doctor I would want around if I lived back then. Many folks needed all the help they could get!

Coffee outside this morning. We may have to fight off the 'skeeters, but that's OK.


Judy said...

If you can ever get a hold of a copy of "What Next, Dr. Peck?" by Joseph H. Peck, M.D. or any of his earlier books for that matter. You are in for a delightful read about being a doctor in a mining town in Utah before WWI up to right after WWII when he retired to be a farmer in the foothills of California. By the way the book was published in 1959.

Chickenmom said...

He must have been good - graduated medical school at only 21. Not too many skeeters here yet, but the gnats are horrible this year.

JO said...

Great Dr. to have in the wild west back then. Going to look into the book Judy recommended running out of good books to read.

I'll spray myself down good skeeters think I am their blood donor.

HermitJim said...

Hey Judy...
Thanks for the heads up on the book. As much as I read, this book should be a great addition.

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Phyllis...
One thing you can count on after the kind of rain we've had lately...the 'skeeters are gonna come.

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Jo...
This should be a great book to add to your library.

Thanks, sweetie, for the visit today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

I happen to be watching a recording we made of the Wyatt Earp TV show from the other day when we went to town and missed it. That show has "Doctor Goodfellow" on it. I like the old westerns that are on the Western Channel which is on the Dish Network... And mosquitoes?? They are really bad this year. We have had an exceptional amount of rain.

Mamahen said...

Great post...sounds like he would have been all you could asked for in the day and then some....skeeters are getting bad here already pesky critters :))

HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
Guess that some real characters make their way to some Television shows. That's a good thing!

Watch those flying vampires, buddey.

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Mamahen...
His kind were pretty rare, I would imagine.

Thanks for coming by today!

Judy said...

Dr. Peck wrote 3 more books besides the What next Dr. Peck?
All About Men - A very tongue in cheek look at the male from birth to death from a doctor's point of view.
Life With Women and How to Survive it - Same Delightful tongue in cheek look at women.
Let's Rejoin the Human Race - A look at retirement from his point of view. This one is a little drier then the previous two but still a fun read.

I really enjoy reading books written by people born around this time period and raised in the KS, MO, OK geographical area. Rex Stout, Ruth Stout, Dr. Peck, Louise Riotte