Obituary of Dr. John Linton

Taken from The History of Clayton County, Iowa, Volume I, 1916

Dr. John Linton—No death affected the county more sincerely than did that of Dr. John Linton. This occurred June 27, 1878.  Dr. John Linton was born in Breckenridge County, Ky., Oct. 5, 1811, and at the age of eleven years he moved with his parents to Logan County, in the same state. Here he assisted his father in clearing up a farm, until he was nearly of age, when he was apprenticed to a tanner and furrier. In 1837, after he had learned this trade, he started to explore the county along the banks of the Mississippi River, and, in the spring of that year, he arrived at Prairie due Chien. Rev. David Lowry, agent for the Winnebago Indians, appointed him general manager of his business along the whole mission. For nearly five years he discharged his trust with the same honor and fidelity that characterized all his actions in after life. A strong friendship sprang up between Lowry and himself, which ended only with their lives.  While Linton was at this mission on Yellow River the Government had the buildings and farm sold, and moved the mission to Fort Atkinson, and Linton and his brother Thomas purchased it. In this stone mission-house the first District Court held in Allamakee County met. Judge Grant, of Davenport, presided, and Noble and Murdock constituted the entire bar. In the fall of 1842 Dr. Linton sold out his interest in the mission farm to his brother and went back to his native State, and, in the town of Springfield, studied medicine with Dr. Polin, an able and eminent physician of that place.  In the fall of 1844 he went to St. Louis and attended a course of medical lectures.  In the spring of 1845, he left that city and made an extensive tour through the different states and territories bordering on the Mississippi, finally locating at Garnavillo. He spent the winter of 1845-46 in St. Louis, attending medical college, and then returned to Garnavillo in company with Dr. Burgess, a young man of finished education and brilliant talent. They entered into partnership, and established a successful practice. Dr. Burgess, however, was of a roving disposition, and soon left the country. It is said that he went to Mexico.  After Burgess left, he formed a partnership with Dr. Andros, which continued with prosperity until Dr. Andros removed to McGregor.  Soon after the gold excitement broke out at Pike’s Peak, he made a trip to the Rocky Mountains, where he located several gold claims and made geological explorations.  In 1873, in company with the Hon. J. O. Crosby and Hon. William Larrabee, he crossed the Atlantic and visited the principal countries of Europe. He attended the great medical congress at Vienna. Toward the close of his life he associated with him in the practice Dr. Bowles, a young man of high professional attainments. His object in this was partly to give him more opportunity for study, his taste for which increased with advancing years. His death was mourned by a large circle of devoted friends, and by it, society lost one of its brightest ornaments, his profession one of its most eminent members, and science one of its most industrious and powerful intellects. Dr. Linton was unfortunate in his married life, and he and his wife separated; at which time he gave her a large portion of his estate. In his will he made many bequests for the benefit of Garnavillo and of his friends.  J. O. Crosby was administrator. The will was successfully contested by the widow after a long legal battle. In 1880, Garnavillo publicly observed the second anniversary of Dr. Linton’s death, and, at this time, prizes authorized in his will were given Garnavillo students.  Edward Kindsell received first prize, $22.00, in zoology, and Aug. Limbech received $11.00 as second prize. In geology, Chas. Fox and Edward Kindsell received like prizes. There were impressive ceremonies at the grave, the prize winners taking an oath to care for the grave of their benefactor for one year.  When the duty was to fall upon the new prize winners the estate became involved in litigation and there is no record of later prize awards or annual memorials.  The decision in favor of Mrs. Linton was made in 1883.

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