Local dentist promoted modern technology and the Spring Valley community
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 4:00 AM
The pictured dental x-ray machine was a truly modern invention when Dr. Carey acquired it for his dental office in Spring Valley. In the historical society file is a story on Dr. Jacob Carey from the 1964 Tribune. Carey graduated from a three-year dentistry course at Chicago College of Dental Surgery in 1901. He established a dental office in LeRoy, where he stayed for two years before moving to Spring Valley. Just before Christmas in 1903, this young lad opened a dental practice in our modest-sized town of 1,600 residents.
Dentistry was somewhat primitive in nature compared to the wonders we experience now. His first drill rotated only as fast as he could operate the foot pedal that powered it, compared to the high-speed drills of today. Modern methods of anesthesia were unheard of and his first patients might have gotten a cocaine injection to curb any pain. At one time, a capsule of anesthesia was broken into a cloth bag and placed over the patient's face. To really relieve a patient of awareness, he could use a "sleeping gas" called nitrous oxide. Fortunately, times changed.
When not serving as a dentist, Dr. Carey was an avid promoter of sports in the community. Some may have read about the indoor baseball team playing in the large upstairs hall of Andersen's opera house, later the Oriole Ballroom. The team used a large soft ball, and Carey played shortstop for the team. For many years he was manager of Spring Valley's semi-pro baseball team. His friends said of him, "Anything good for Spring Valley, Doc Carey was working for it." During the month of July, Carey closed his office and went on lengthy fishing trips with friends, among them Webb Huntley, the druggist; Sam Pattridge, attorney; John Hawks and Ben Ruesink. They had many stories to tell of their exploits.
Dr. Carey was an active member and promoter of the local fire department. According to the story, he served as fire chief for over 25 years, and was known to actually leave a patient in the chair when the fire alarm called him to duty. Carey told that after 25 years of firefighting, he "retired," hoping some of the other older men on the crew would also quit and let younger men take over. He noted, "Only trouble was, my plan didn't work too well, and none of the other older guys quit!"
Dr. Carey practiced dentistry from 1902 to 1947. His wife, LeNora Sullivan, died in 1945, and he continued to live with his sister-in-law Cecelia Sullivan in her home on West Jefferson. Later he moved to Meadow Manor Nursing Home in Grand Meadow, where he died in October 1966 at age 90. His funeral at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Spring Valley with Father Weir officiating was directed by Jorris Funeral Home and his pallbearers were Harold Morem, E.B. Peterson, Emery Hall, Dr. E.L. Morse, Dr. Harry Esklund and Dr. Harold Page.
He and his wife are buried in the Catholic cemetery southeast of town.
Many items of local interest in the medical displays can be seen in the lower level of the Methodist Church Museum on West Courtland.
Also seen in the accompanying photo is the arthritis cure machine. This Rube Goldberg device with its electric generator is attached to a frame that sports electrical devices to create a forcefield. When you sit next to it and place your hands under the rods, you can feel the impulses to relieve pain. We're told by medical folks that indeed it probably felt good, but definitely was not a cure.
At one time, a doctor in Cedar Lake, Iowa, had a whole room full of these machines that people paid to use. Dr. Zittleman told that he bought and assembled the machine, but never used it professionally. However, two elderly members of his family came to sit near it and do their crochet work.
A nearby case contains a portable "manipulation table" used by Dr. Julia Handberg, chiropractor, when she made house calls in the 1920-1940 era. The medical bag Dr. Thornhill used faithfully is displayed as well. He was a local doctor from 1872 to 1912, highly respected, and once served as city mayor. Also seen, a spring-loaded sharp gadget that was used for drawing blood from the knee, from the days of "letting blood" for cures.
There are many items of interest and curiosity - come see for yourself.
What else showed up in the paper that contained Carey's obituary? A couple of items that caught my attention: The F.F.A. boys - Steve Sheldon, Darol Heidlebaugh and Tom Fowler - were taking soil samples to send to the University of Minnesota for testing; a service project to benefit the area farmers. Their instructor was Leroy Battcher. Also pictured were the fall of '66 Homecoming queen candidates: Kathy Gill, Jill Reps, Gina Weber, Peggy Anderson and Diane Highum. Co-captains of the football team were Charlie Lichty and Dave Rathbun. Of note: "the largest class in history" graduated in June - 87 grads!
The historical society museum remains open daily through Labor Day, l0 a.m. to 4 p.m., with guided tours in all four buildings. Stop by for a fun look at Spring Valley history - the price is right.