Did You Know? 1839.

Iowa City’s Good Doctor – Henry Murray & Chief Poweshiek.

While there were a handful of other pioneers who preceded him in assisting those with minor medical issues, it was the good Irishman – Dr. Henry Murray – arriving here in the spring of 1839 – who became Johnson County’s first resident physician.

According to historical records, Chief Poweshiek and the Meskwaki Tribe – who lived here long before the white man came in – greatly appreciated Dr. Murray, calling him “Little Medicine,” since he was a short, thin man who carried his medical bag everywhere he went.

The University of lowa Museum of Natural History has in its possession a beautiful feathered cape (above), that according to museum records, was made for Chief Poweshiek by his youngest daughter in the winter of 1839. It was subsequently given to Dr. Murray as payment for medical bills for treatment of members of Poweshiek’s family – probably for smallpox.


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