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Boone’s first surgeon

Posted June 25, 2014 in Community Featured, Boone
Army surgeon and Civil War veteran Dr. Levi J. Alleman was Boone’s first physician. He is shown here with his wife.

Army surgeon and Civil War veteran Dr. Levi J. Alleman was Boone’s first physician. He is shown here with his wife.

Boone’s first physician and surgeon died on Aug. 26, 1888, after suffering from a long and debilitating illness.  He was only 47 years old.

During a post mortem he conducted in Council Bluffs, Dr. Levi J. Alleman scratched himself and contracted an illness or infection from the corpse. Over the ensuing 10 to 12 years, Alleman suffered repeated bouts of illness, and in the last year of his life took to his bed where he “suffered untold agonies.” Doctors never fully diagnosed his illness. Some claimed he had Bright’s disease; others, “ossification of the veins.” All predicted it would prove fatal

Alleman was born in Fayette, Seneca County, New York, on Dec. 12, 1842. He grew up on a farm, attended local schools and eventually an academy in Waterloo, New York. At age 17 he began to read medicine, attended medical lectures and studied at the University of New York in New York City. He graduated in 1862 at the age of 20. His diploma was withheld for a year because he was underage.

He practiced for a time in Waterloo, New York, but with the Civil War raging, he soon entered the army as assistant surgeon of the First New York Veteran Cavalry. He served in that capacity for the duration of the war, finally being mustered out in 1865. Like many other Civil War veterans, he decided to seek his fortune in the west. The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad was laying tracks across Iowa and ran through what would soon become Montana and later Boone. Alleman stopped in the Boone area and decided to stay. During the next few years he established a large medical practice.

Alleman was married twice, first in 1866 to Margaret O’Neil of Waterloo, New York. She died two years later, leaving one child.   He married Flora L. Coleman or Colman, a native of Elliotville, New York, in Boone on June 16, 1870.  The couple had three children:  Joseph Colman Alleman, Grace Blair Alleman and George Nelson Alleman.

Alleman was instrumental in establishing the first Boone County Medical Society in 1866, which was subsequently disbanded, but reorganized in 1871 with Alleman serving as its president. Once again, the organization failed, but a third attempt to establish a medical association stuck. In June of 1874, in Alleman’s office over the City Bank in Boone, 721 Story St., the Central District Medical Association was formed.  The association served Dallas, Calhoun, Webster, Greene, Story and Boone counties. It operated until 1903 when individual county medical societies were formed.

Alleman and his wife, who died at age 90 in 1942, are buried in Linwood Park Cemetery.

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