page seven from the journal kept by Dr. James T. Reeve during the Civil War. The page features only cursive handwriting describing two ordinary days during the war.
A page from the diary kept by Dr. James T. Reeve during the Civil War, now housed in the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Image courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The owner of this particular cupping kit was Dr. James T. Reeve. Dr. Reeve was born near Goshen, New York, on April 26, 1834. Despite losing his father at age five and his mother five days before graduating medical school, J.T Reeve received his medical degree in 1854. He came to the new state of Wisconsin where he met his wife, Laura Spofford. After the Civil War began, he traveled to Madison to enlist in the Union army. He was appointed First Assistant Surgeon for the Twenty-First Regiment and began serving in September 1862. During the war, Dr. Reeve kept a journal that reported little, even though he was a prisoner of war for three months.

Upon returning from the war, he chose to set up his practice in Appleton because “It has a good college, is a nice town, and many members of my regiment live there.” If it was a “nice town” when he arrived, it was a great city by the time he passed away in 1906.

Dr. Reeve was very involved in the community, sitting on multiple Boards ranging from diverse subjects as banking, religion, libraries, the cemetery and medicine. Reeve became a prominent medical figure in the state of Wisconsin and was a strong proponent for public health. He held positions for nineteen years with the State Medical Society. He was also a founding member of the Outagamie County Medical Society and served on the Wisconsin State Board of Health in addition to several more local medical health organizations. One of Dr. Reeve’s six children, Dr. James S. Reeve, followed in his footsteps to be a practicing physician in Appleton. He described his father as “even-tempered, mild, placid, and kindly” and continued caring and educating the community as Dr. J. T. Reeve had been doing since he arrived.

Written by McKenzie Bruce and Eleanor Miller.


Ducklow, Mrs. William T., and Mrs. A Lewenstein. “100 Years Ago.” The Appleton Post Crescent.

Kelly, Howard A. A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography: Comprising the Lives of Eminent Deceased Physicians and Surgeons from 1610 to 1910. Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Company, 1920.

Reeve, Ann W., and John P. Reeve, eds. James Theodore Reeve: Surgeon.Soldier.Citizen 1834-1906. Appleton, WI: River Oaks, 1999.f

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