BAKER, DR. J. H. ~ PIONEER PHYSICIAN
One of the most well-known physicians in Rush County was Dr. J.H. Baker. Dr. Baker came to LaCrosse in the summer of 1915 and practiced until leaving two years later to serve in World War I. He returned to LaCrosse in 1919 to resume his practice, remaining in the Reserve Corps. He again left his practice to serve his country from 1942 to 1945 in World War II. During that time, he served as Chief Surgeon in four different military hospitals.
In 1924, Dr. Baker built a modern twenty-eight patient hospital in LaCrosse on the southeast corner of Main and Seventh streets. When reminiscing about Dr. Baker, locals who grew up in the community during the '30s and '40s have not-so-fond memories of a stay at the hospital for everything from a bout of the flu to a “trip downstairs to the surgery room.” Many Rush Countians were brought into this world with a slap of Dr. Baker's hand. His hospital served the area until 1950, when the county constructed a new hospital on the west edge of town. In later years the old Baker hospital building served as a rest home and apartment complex.
One of his most famous prescriptions was a homemade concoction known simply as “Brown Salve.” Many locals claim the salve, which was sold in a small metal tin with a handwritten label, was a virtual cure-all. The ingredients of the miracle medicine were a secret known only to the doctor himself.
Dr. Baker faithfully served the community for over fifty years. Like many country doctors, he is remembered for responding to calls throughout the county using various forms of transportation: wagon, horseback, automobile, and walking. It was a customary site in those days to see Dr. Baker “driving fast over the dirt roads of the county, raising great dust clouds behind him.”