Thursday, December 02, 2010

William Henry Gibbon

He was born January 31, 1832 at Ellicott's Mills, Md.  He spent three years working in a dry good store as a clerk before he began reading medicine under his uncle Dr. Quinton Gibbon. 

William H. Gibbon graduated with honors from Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia in 1857.  The following year Dr. Gibbon came to Chariton.  He married Laura H. Gibbon at Beaver Dam, Wisc. in 1861.  They had one child, Anna.

Two months after their marriage, Dr. Gibbon was commissioned as an assistant surgeon of the 15th Iowa Infantry.  He was promoted to surgeon early the following year.

Dr. Gibbon and the nearly 1000 men of the 15th Iowa Regiment wintered in Keokuk.  Dr. Gibbon was in charge of the hospital with a measles outbreak one of the most serious of their problems.  There were 335 men down with the disease, and 20 soldiers died from it.

While treating many wounded, Dr. Gibbon and his makeshift hospital amongst the battles of the Civil War, became separated from his regiment along with the wounded.  They were attacked by an advancing line of Confederates and forced to flee.  Dr. Gibbon noted that he was a good runner as a boy, but never felt as satisfied with his speed as on this occasion.  While this group was fleeing, they came upon four abandoned cannons and with the help of Dr. Coynyne of St. Louis commenced firing at the rebels.  Dr. Gibbon and his squad then regrouped and fell back to Pittsburgh Landing.  Dr. Gibbon and the 15th Iowa Regiment saw plenty of action.  Besides the Pittsburgh Landing, there was Corinth, Shiloh and they were on Sherman's March to the Sea.

Dr. Gibbon told of visiting a friend who was in ill health during the siege of Atlanta.  While they chatted, Dr. Gibbon noted one could hear the occasional pink of a rebel bullet landing in the nearby dirt.

Less than 10 minutes after Dr. Gibbon left his friend, a stray bullet killed the friend.

One other occasion that characterizes the trials accompanying that Great Rebellion concerns Dr. Gibbon and his wife Laura.  Dr. Gibbon was captured in the swamps of Louisiana in September of 1863.  He suffered greatly from malignant dysentery and was delirious at times.

Upon hearing of her husband's capture and suffering, Mrs. Gibbons obtained a flag of truce from Gen. McPherson.  With the general's escorts accompanying her they reached the rebel camp after much delay and danger.  The rebels proved very difficult to manage and only by the clever strategy of the escort commander were they able to escape.

Dr. Gibbon was in an ambulance while the rebels pursued the group firing upon them until the rebels were outdistanced.

In 1879 the Doctor built the Gibbon Drug Store on the northeast corner of the square.  The brick building pictured here still stands in 1991 and was occupied by the Klaassen Health Mart.

Dr. William Henry Gibbon died October 2, 1895.  Ben Johnson of Keosauqua was the only member of the 15th Iowa regiment present at the funeral.  Johnson confided that during the War when he was exhausted from disease and hard marching, that Dr. Gibbon insisted he ride the doctor's horse while the good doctor walked.

After the death of her husband, Laura Gibbon ran the drug store until October of 1912 when R.W. Ady purchased it.  Laura Gibbon gave much time and labor to the marking of the Mormon Trail.  She died December 24, 1915.

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