Doctor Saves Others from Diphtheria, Loses Two Daughters

Sep 6, 2016

An 1872 graduate of Hahnemann School of Homeopathy in San Francisco, Dr. James Spence, and his wife settled in 1874 in Josephine County’s Bridgeview, Ore.  His practice included caring for the miners and farmers at Althouse Creek, Brownstone, Kerbyville and Sailor’s Diggings.

In 1883 he pulled many families through a diphtheria epidemic, but lost his own two young daughters to the disease.

Spence saved the life of neighbor, farmer and miner, Bruce Kitterman, several times. On one occasion Kitterman fell 10 feet from a hay wagon, nearly breaking his back. He hemorrhaged from the lungs for eight days, but survived under Spence’s care.

Spence saved Kitterman’s life again when he nearly bled to death from a gunshot wound in a thigh. 

Another time Kitterman swallowed a piece of glass from a fruit jar that created an open wound in his side that kept him in bed for a year.  But Dr. Spence gave him three doses of a last-resort medication and the hole healed in 10 days.  The medication was nothing more than table salt.

The best part of this patient/doctor collaboration was that Spence’s daughter married Kitterman’s son, resulting in many generations of productive people.

Sources: Kitterman, Donald G. "Early Day Doctor." Daily Courier 15 June 1992 [Grants Pass Oregon] , a ed.: 9. Print.  Kitterman, Donald G. "Early Day Doctor." Daily Courier 22 June 1992 [Grants Pass Oregon] , a ed.: 7. Print.