Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nebraska Veterinary History Part IV


By Dr. Leo L. Lemonds

From 1900 to 1918 most Nebraska veterinarians could be pictured as large animal practitioners. Until automobiles and roads became more reliable, those in rural Nebraska still traveled dirt roads by horseback, buggy or cutter. There were some creditable animal hospitals developing in a few towns and interest in doing some small animal practice began following World War I and the demise of horses for farm horsepower. The tractor was here to stay.

However, by and large, an office in a livery stable was still common. There were few partnerships. The solo practitioner was the usual and the totality of veterinary medicine was what he could do with his hands, his back, and his little black bag. His treatments were often secret and jealously guarded although the components were usually commonly known.

During every disease epidemic – notably equine encephalomyelitis, hog cholera, tuberculosis, infectious abortion and others there were all kinds of unscrupulous persons taking advantage of the situation with magic remedies that would cure anything. The food animal practitioner in Nebraska has a long history of competing against non- professional interests with a system of standards hostile and inferior to his own.

It was during this same era that another development occurred that was to reshape the character of many large animal practices, the production of anti-hog cholera serum. A demonstration at the Kansas City Stockyards was brought about in 1909. Shoats were injected with live virus alone or with anti-serum concurrently. The serum – treated pigs remained healthy while the others died. Soon after the conclusion of this experiment, the development of commercial hog serum companies began at Kansas City. From this point, many practices in Nebraska’s heavy swine producing areas became principally concerned with the administration of great volumes of hog cholera serum and virus. However, in retrospect, it may be seen that this activity may have caused some damage to the total usage of the practitioner. Many did not even own a stethoscope.

Small animal medicine began during this period in Nebraska, but was still an adjunct to large animal medicine, primarily equine medicine. Only a small number of veterinarians gave any considerable portion of their time to small animals and a few hospitalized dogs and cats. Most well-qualified veterinary practitioners did not feel complimented when their horse-owning clients requested them to give attention to ailing dogs. In such instances, attention given to a dog or cat was usually gratuitous.

In the period just prior to 1900 and during the early part of the 20th century the Department of Veterinary Science at the University of Nebraska developed many scientific breakthroughs including the production of blackleg vaccine and hog cholera anti-serum.

From the standpoint of the graduate veterinarian in Nebraska the passing of a licensure law in 1905 marked the beginning of the end of non-graduates practicing veterinary medicine. While the “grandfathers clause” permitted many to continue practicing with a permit, they could no longer attach the title of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine to their names.

Bibliography: A Century of Veterinary Medicine in Nebraska By Dr. Leo L. Lemonds

Further readings:
Dr. O.M. Franklin
Horse Doctor — Compliment or Insult

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nebraska Veterinary History Part III


By Dr. Leo L. Lemonds

The year 1896 has been accepted as the official beginning of the NVMA (Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association). However, from the pages of the American Veterinary Review, it is clear that the NVMA was active for several years before 1896. As early as 1888, the NVMA had a meeting and adopted a constitution and by-laws and elected a set of officers. At that meeting Dr. Julius Gerth Jr., adequately stated the objects and purposes of establishing the NVMA.

Again in 1891, the American Veterinary Review gives reports on three NVMA meetings that year. The first meeting in January never mentions the 1888 original organization of the NVMA. Again it adopted a constitution and by-laws and elected a set of officers. This group also discussed having only graduate veterinarians as members of the NVMA and to obtain legislation favorable to professional veterinarians. The earlier meeting that put out a call to veterinary surgeons to meet, apparently included reputable or established non-graduates also.

At this time it is not known whether the 1888 and 1891 groups failed to keep going or for what reasons the 1896 meeting claimed to be the first official meeting. It may be that the first charter was then granted and that legally that was the first years of the NVMA.

The following report on the 1888 NVMA meeting taken form the June, 1888, American Veterinary Review:

"Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association
Pursuant to a call issued some time since, a meeting was held at the Paxton Hotel for the purpose of forming an organization of the veterinary surgeons of Nebraska. The following gentlemen were present: Drs. L.H. Simpkins (Kearney), WS.M. Osborn (Fremont), C. Brittel (St. Edwards), M.A. Bailey (Albion), A.W. Carmichael (DeWitt), W.S. Brayton (Beatrice), G.R. Young, Richard Ebbitt, H.L. Ramacciotti (Omaha), J. Gerth Jr. (Lincoln)."

The meeting was called to order by Dr. Julius Gerth Jr., who was made temporary chairman. In taking his seat Dr. Gerth stated that the object of the proposed Association was to promote a fraternal feeling among the members, elevate the standard of the profession by scientific discussion and intellectual intercourse and that by organization it would bring the profession into notice and add to it more responsibility and give it more dignity and honor. He thought the profession a very important one, and that organization was necessary to keep it from retrograding.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Homestead National Archives Goes Digital

Partners to Begin Records Digitization

by Todd Arrington, Historian
Homestead National Monument of America

Homestead National Monument of America and several partners recently announced plans to begin digitizing some of the estimated 30 million homestead records housed in the National Archives. Homestead case files contain valuable historical and genealogical information about homesteaders, their families and daily lives, property, and much more. The records also shed light on the lasting changes initiated across the country by the Homestead Act of 1862. The plans were announced at a public event held September 18 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).

The Homestead Act allowed any qualified individual to claim up to 160 acres of public land for the purposes of settlement and cultivation. After a five-year residency period and the successful completion of improvements, the land became the private property of the claimant. The law became effective January 1, 1863 and remained in effect until 1986. Over those 123 years, the U.S. government distributed 270 million acres of land in 30 states. Every homestead claimed generated a paper record that still exists in the National Archives.

Two major developments were announced on September 18. The first was the unveiling of an online index to approximately 65,000 homestead records from the Broken Bow, Nebraska U.S. land office. The National Archives microfilmed these records in partnership with the monument and UNL in 2006; volunteers and staff from those organizations spent over a year indexing them. The online index is available at

The second development is the creation of a new partnership to digitize homestead records and put them online for public research. The National Archives has agreed to the digitization of the records of the Nebraska City/Lincoln land office, which operated from 1868 to 1925. This project will create digital copies of approximately 300,000 documents and will involve several partners.

FamilySearch, Inc., is based in Salt Lake City and is the genealogical research organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Trained FamilySearch volunteers will work in the National Archives to make the digital copies. is based in Lindon, Utah, and will host the images on its website. FamilySearch and Footnote are both official online partners of the National Archives. Visitors to Homestead National Monument of America, all FamilySearch libraries, the UNL libraries, and all National Archives locations will be able to access the homestead records on free of charge; those researching from home will be subject to Footnote’s monthly subscription fee. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities will provide corrections and enhancements to the general Footnote index. Funding for digital cameras was provided in part by the Federation of Genealogical Societies. Representatives of all partners were on hand for the September 18 announcement.

“This project is absolutely outstanding and is an important undertaking for the National Park Service,” said Director Mary Bomar. “The legislation that created Homestead National Monument of America specifically states that it should be a repository for literature applying to settlement that occurred under the Homestead Act. What more important literature is there than the actual records of everyone that homesteaded? We are proud to work with the National Archives and the other great project partners to make the vision of having these records available to the monument’s visitors a reality.”

Lincoln land office documents should begin appearing on by early next year. Once those 300,000 images have been completed, the monument hopes to keep the project moving forward and eventually have digital images of all 30 million homestead records available for public and scholarly research.