1870 – Meet Iowa City’s Shrader Family.

The John C. Shrader family played a major role in Iowa City – from 1865, when the Civil War ended – well into the 1930’s. Let’s start with the good doctor – Pappa John Clinton (J.C.) Shrader (below) – who came to Iowa City immediately following his three years of service as an army surgeon during the war. In 1870, he became one of the founding doctors of the State University of Iowa School of Medicine, and later, served two terms in the Iowa State Legislature (1880-1882) representing Johnson County.

J.C. Shrader was born in Washington County, Ohio on April 24,1830, graduating from the Marietta Academy (Ohio). While young, Shrader had the strong desire to devote himself to the profession of medicine, and pursued his studies under the direction of Dr. John Hemphill in Ohio before moving westward in 1855.

At age 25, John C. settled in Linn County, Iowa, where he engaged in farming until the financial crash of 1857-8 forced him, like so many others, to fold. Opportunity came knocking however as Shrader assisted in the organization of Western College (see pic below), becoming one of its first instructors. His new occupation afforded him the opportunity of resuming his studies with renewed vigor, under the direction of Dr. Crouse, and Dr. Paimetter, then professors at the college. By 1860, J.C. had resigned his place in the school, attending medical lectures in both Keokuk, where he studied medicine in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and in New York City at the Long Island College of Medicine.

Western College was founded by the United Brethren in Christ, located one mile north of Shueyville in a small Linn County community named Western. In 1881 – due to financial problems – the college moved to Toledo in Tama County, and in 1906, was renamed after a local benefactor, Leander Clark. In 1919, under severe financial stress, Western/Clark College merged with Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

When the Civil War broke out, Dr. Shrader was commissioned (1862) by Governor Kirkwood as Captain of Company H in the 22nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and appointed surgeon of the regiment. During the Shenandoah campaign under General Sheridan, J.C. served as operating surgeon, and for a time, became the hospital director at Winchester, Virginia. Not long after that assignment, Shrader was promoted to Major, transferred to the South, and served at Port Gibson, Champion Hills, Black River, and the siege of Vicksburg. When mustered out of the service (1865), J.C. was presented, in the name of his regiment, with a complete set of surgical instruments, which were engraved –

Presented to Surgeon John C. Shrader by the officers and men of the 22d regiment – Iowa Infantry; in appreciation of his skill as a physician and surgeon, and as a tribute of love and esteem from his comrades in arms.

In a biographical account written in the late 1800’s, we find these facts…

On leaving the service (1865), John C. Shrader entered upon the practice of his profession at Iowa City, where he has, by successful practice, made himself one of the leading physicians of the city, and has built up a large and remunerative business. Upon the establishment of the Medical Department of the State University of Iowa (1870), he was appointed, by the Board of Regents, Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children. He still holds his position in the department, which is becoming so justly popular in Iowa and the northwest. He is a physician to the board of health of Iowa City, member of the Iowa City Medical Society, the Iowa and Illinois Central District Medical Society, the Eastern Iowa District Medical Society, the Poweshiek County Medical Society and the Iowa State Medical Society.

And, from another biographical report from the 1890’s….

Dr. J. C. Shrader – his name will be ‘writ large’ in Iowa’s educational history, as one of the fathers of the College of Medicine, State University of Iowa, in which he still serves as professor emeritus, continuing to honor the profession wherein he has worthily served so many long years.

Eight physicians served the Medical Department during its first year of classes on the SUI campus. Seated (L to R) are Philo J. Farnsworth, chair of materia medica; Washington F. Peck, dean and chair of surgery; and John F. Dillon, chair of medical jurisprudence. Standing (L to R) are Gustavus D. Hinrichs, chair of chemistry; John C. Shrader, chair of obstetrics and gynecology – successor of Dr. J.F. Kennedy – who turned down his appointment as chair of obstetrics; William B. Robertson, chair of theory and practice in medicine; William D. Middleton, chair of physiology; and Elmer F. Clapp, chair of anatomy – successor of James H. Boucher – who was dismissed earlier in the school year. Read more here.

Before coming to Iowa in 1855, J.C. Shrader married Lydia P. Evans – also from Washington County, Ohio – and together, they had their first child – a daughter – Lucy A. Once in Iowa, but before leaving for the war (1862), J.C. & Lydia had three more children – all sons – William E. (1856), Frank P. (1858), and Charles C. (1860). Below, in the 1870 U.S. Census, we find the Shrader household – one year before the sudden death of Lydia (1871) at age 39.

In this 1870 U.S. Census, we find the entire Shrader family of Iowa CityJohn (J.C.) Schrader, his wife – Lydia P. Evans (1832-1871), daughter Lucy A. (1853-1899), and sons – William E. (1856-1933), Frank P. (1858-1923), and Charles C. (1860-1932).

Family records indicate that J.C. remarried (1872) to Margaret (Maggie) A. Carter (1847-1914). In 1880, Shrader, who was a long-time Republican, was elected to the Iowa State Legislature, representing Johnson County for two terms (1880-1882). Upon his return to Iowa City, he continued his medical practice and served on many committees and other community organizational projects.

(P-0212) 1897 – Come to the Johnson County Fair – August 23-26 – This unique advertising card was distributed to children in Iowa City to encourage them to bring parents, teachers, and “all your friends” to the 1897 Johnson County Fair, especially on Children’s Day – Tuesday, August 24 – free admission for “scholars” under 15 years old! Interestingly enough, our card comes from the Johnson County Fair President – Dr. J.C. Shrader.

J.C.’s one daughter – Lucy A. – went on to marry Dr. J.B. Carder – living in Iowa City until her untimely death – like her mother – at age 46 – in 1899. J.C.’s middle son – Frank P. – went on to be married and lived in nearby Brooklyn in Poweshiek County. Sadly, not much more is known about his profession, but now, let’s tell you a bit about J.C.’s other two boys – William E. and Charles C. – both who stayed in Iowa City.

While records show that he worked with his brother, William, in Shrader Drug Store in the early 1900’s, J.C.’s youngest son – Charles C. Shrader – became Iowa City’s Postmaster in 1923 and was re-appointed again in 1927. So, it isn’t surprising that Charles displayed his love of stamp collecting earlier on in life.

Below are two postal covers that are tied in with that love of philately that date back to the 1890’s.

(C-0050) The return address on this cover shows that Charles C. Shrader, Esq. of Iowa City was a “Stamp Collector.” This unique cover was self-addressed and was sent from New York City – postmarked there on November 29, 1895 and the postmarked again upon its arrival in Iowa City – December 1, 1895.
(JP-025) This rare postal cover from Charles C. Shrader – Stamp Collector is dated October 6, 1897 and was registered – with 10-cents in postage stamps attached. More than likely, Charles was a stamp dealer as well as a collector and this envelope to Stillwater, Minnesota might have contained come valuable stamps that were purchased by Mr. Kusick.

On the back of Charles’ 1897 letter (above) is a colorful advertising stamp from his brother William’s Drug Store – which brings us now to his story…

J.C.’s oldest son – William Edwin (W.E.) Shrader became a pharmacist early on in life. In 1879, after serving as a druggist for another store, he opened Shrader Drug Store – located at 132 S. Clinton Street in Iowa City.

(M-0101) Above is an interesting souvenir from Our Iowa Heritage collection: A turn-of-the-century cigar holder advertising The Best 5 & 10 cent Cigars – always to be found at Shrader’s Drug Store.

Shrader Drugs was one of the many family-run pharmacies – Shrader, Boerner (see 1890 postal covers below), and Whetstone – all in downtown Iowa City. Shrader Drugs remained in Iowa City – on the corner of College & Clinton – right up until the time of William’s death in November 1933.

This 1948 article from The Iowa City Press-Citizen gives a great overview of W.E. Shrader & Shrader Drug Store.

In 1899, W.E. Shrader added a drug production company – the Shrader Drug Company – to his retail outlet – moving all production into the Hawthorne Glove and Novelty Company building (below left) prior to World War I. This utilitarian three-story brick structure was built in 1906, was located at 529 South Gilbert Street (see map below), and the back end of the building conveniently opened up to the BCR&N rail line.

During its heyday, the Shrader Drug Company was one of three drug-related factories that were located along the South Gilbert Street corridor. The company name changed to the Hewell-Shrader Drug Company in 1930, and then, after W.E. Shrader’s death (1933), the name became the Hewell-Shrader Company when farm fertilizer was added to its product line. The company closed in 1956, and the building is now listed on the National Register of Historical Places (2014).

Before we leave this Shrader family story, I must tell you about the third generation. William E. and his second wife, Mary A. Gunsolus had three children – Edwin G. (1895-1922), John C. (1898-1954), and Helen M. Only a few records have been found for Helen, who graduated from SUI in 1924, working as a social worker at SUI’s Psychopathic Hospital until her marriage to Stanley Tanner in 1930. John graduated from SUI in 1920, received his medical certification in 1922, and became a well-respected doctor and surgeon in Ft. Dodge, Iowa.

Edwin Gunsolus Shrader, on the other hand, was a star athlete who went on to become a graduate of West Point – Class of 1918, playing football for Army before becoming a Lieutenant and an early military aviator in the U.S. Army. Sadly, he was killed while attempting to land his plane at Logan Field, Md. in early November 1922.

In 1923, the Iowa City Public Schools named their new athletic field – located near Longfellow School – Edwin Shrader Field.

Well, there you have it – the Shrader Family of Iowa City.

Dr. John C. Shrader died on October 30, 1906 at the age of 76 and is buried, alongside much of his family, at Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City. Only his middle son, Frank P. is buried elsewhere – in Poweshiek County, Iowa.

Godspeed – John C., Lydia P., Margaret A., William E., Charles C., Lucy A., Frank P., and Edwin G. Schrader! From doctor to druggist to postmaster to army pilot – thanks for your many contributions to our fair city!


Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Senator John Clinton Shrader, The Iowa Legislature

John Clinton Shrader – Standard Form For Members, Iowa State Government Docs.

Doctor John Clinton Shrader, State University of Iowa, Medical Department, Iowa City, Iowa, 1871, University of Iowa Digital Library

Western College, Western, Iowa, Linn County, Iowa, IaGenWeb

1870 United States Federal Census for John C. Shrader, Ancestry.com

Death of Dr. Shrader, The Daily Iowan, October 31, 1906, p 1

Here’s Tip On Helping Post Office, Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 5, 1925, p 3

Charles C. Shrader – Iowa City – U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971, Ancestry.com

Shrader Drug Store Closes Doors: Here Over Half Century, Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 2, 1934, p 2

Prominent Druggist – A Fact A Day About Iowa City, Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 11, 1948, p 6

Lt. Shrader In Olympic Trials, Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 28, 1920, p 3

Shrader Death Inquiries Open, Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 15, 1922, p 1

Funeral of Lt. Shrader, Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 16, 1922, p 12

Taps For Shrader Here Today, Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 17, 1922, p 1

Lieut. Shrader Honored And Lamented Here, Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 27, 1923, p 10

Charles C. Shrader, Find-A-Grave

William Edwin Shrader, Find-A-Grave

Dr John Clinton Shrader, Find-A-Grave

Edwin G. Shrader, Find-A-Grave


Click here to go on to the next section…

Click here for a complete INDEX of Our Iowa Heritage stories…