American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier


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 John E. Owens, M.D.

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 Name: John Edwin Owens
Cause of death: bronchitis
Death date: Dec 21, 1922
Place of death: Chicago, IL
Birth date: 1836
Place of birth: Charlestown, MD
Type of practice: Allopath
Practice specialities:GS General Surgery, ORS Orthopedic Surgery
States and years of licenses:IL, 1877, WI, 1912
Places and dates of practices:Chicago, IL, Aug 5, 1911
Hospital affiliations: St. Luke's Hosp., 1865
Medical school(s): Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, 1862, (G)
Professorship: Rush Medical College, Chicago, 1882, orthopedic surg., IL-06 Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago: Chicago Medical College, surgery, clinical surg., IL-09 Northwestern University Women's Medical School, Chicago: Women's Hosp. Med. Coll., 188
Journal of the American Medical Association Citation: 79:2246


John Edwin Owens, M. D., is the son of a Maryland planter, and was born on his father's farm at Charleston, Cecil County, in that State, on October 16, 1836. His parents were John and Martha (Black) Owens. The former, although a graduate of Dickinson College, at Carlisle, Pa., and in every way fitted for a professional avocation, preferred the life of a farmer. He had an extensive plantation, and, as was the universal custom in the South in those days, was a large slave holder. Soon after the close of the war Mr. Owens removed to Baltimore, where he died in 1874. The Owens family originally came from Wales, the American branch having been established by Dr. Owens's great grandfather, Jonas Owens, who came to this country early in the present century. Dr. Owens passed his boyhood on the farm in Charlestown, and his first schooling was received in the private schools of that section. He next attended the West Nottingham Academy, and afterwards was a student at the Elkton Academy.

His education was completed under the direction of Edwin Arnold, LL. D., at Mount Washington, Md., and shortly thereafter he began the study of medicine at Elkton with Dr. Justice Dunnott, and his son, Dr. Thomas J. Dunnott, the former at that time being considered the most skillful surgeon in that section of Maryland. One year of study under the Drs. Dunnott was followed by two full courses at the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, from which he graduated iu 1862. While at the college Dr. Owens took a special course in surgical anatomy and operative surgery with Dr. D. Hayes Agnew, the distinguished surgeon of Philadelphia, and made rapid progress in his profession. Soon after his graduation he was elected resident physician at Blockley Hospital, in Philadelphia, and there he remained thirteen months.

Dr. Owens tendered his services to the hospital branch of the medical department of the Union Army early in 1863, and was sent to Chicago and assigned to duty in the military hospital there. Shortly after he was placed in charge of the newly-organized St. Luke's Hospital, and is still senior surgeon of this institution.

Dr. Owens has been a prominent instructor in Chicago medical colleges for many years. His first connection as a teacher with any medical college was as lecturer on the Surgical Diseases of the Urinary Organs from 1867 to 1871 in Bush Medical College. In the same institution he lectured on the Principles and Practice of Surgery in the spring course from 1871 to 1882. He was also appointed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1879, and resigned in 1882. He was appointed Professor of Principles and Practice of Surgery in the Woman's Medical College in 1877, and resigned in 1883. In 1882 he severed his connection with Bush Medical College to accept the chair of Operative Surgery and Surgical Anatomy in the Chicago Medical College, the medical department of the Northwestern University. In the fall of 1891 he was transferred from the chair of Operative Surgery and Surgical Anatomy to that of the Principles and Practice of Surgery and Clinical Surgery in that college. Dr. Owens is a member of the American Medical Society, the Chicago Medical Society, the Chicago Medico-Historical Society, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Medico-Legal Society, and a Fellow of the American Surgical Association. For twenty years he has been the superintending surgeon of the Illinois Central Railway, and has been for a number of years the chief surgeon of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. In addition to these positions, he is the medical director of the World's Columbian Exposition, his commission bearing date of June 1, 1891.

Dr. John Edwin Owens is recognized as one of the leading authorities in the surgical and medical profession in Chicago, and has attained a degree of eminence which is given to but few men. A distinguished gentleman, who has known Dr. Owens long and closely, says : " Dr. Owens stands in the front of his profession, in which he is conceded to be not only a leader in Chicago, but to rank amongst the eminent surgeons of this country. He is an indefatigable worker and an enthusiast in his profession, devoting to it his ripe experience, his untiring energy, and his great skill. He is a man of broad reading, liberal culture, and keen perceptions, to whom travel in this country and abroad has been a potent factor in storing with knowledge a receptive and reflective mind. He is a clear thinker, a logical reasoner, and speaks well and to the point on any subject under consideration. He is genial in disposition and social by nature; possesses generous impulses, combined with deliberate judgment, and has a large circle of warm friends and admirers, both within and outside of the medical fraternity.

Dr. Owens combines excellent executive and administrative ability with his great professional skill, and these characteristics have contributed to his success in the organization and supervision of the surgical departments of the great corporations by whom he is employed. The possession by Dr. Owens of these organizing and administrative qualities led to his selection for the important and prominent position of Medical Director of the World's Columbian Exposition. This afforded him a wide field for the display of his powers of mind, his skill, and executive ability. Dr. Owens was married on December 30, 1869, to Miss Alethia S. Jamar, the daughter of Keuben D. Jamar, of Elkton, Md. They have one child, a daughter, Miss Marie Girvin Owens.


(The personal edited research notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or may not be completely documented)

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Civil War Medical Collections 


Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
Medical Lecture Cards: 1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX

Medical Faculty and Authors:


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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