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Frank W. Hilscher


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"Spokane and The Spokane Country - Pictorial and Biographical - Deluxe Supplement." Vol. II. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912. (No author listed.) pgs. 178-180.

       AS EDUCATOR and practitioner through the period of his connection with the medical profession, Dr. Frank W. Hilscher has gained distinction. The scope of his professional service has embraced all branches of the practice of medicine and surgery, but at the present time he limits his practice to the treatment of diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. In that department he specializes and the concentration of his energies upon that line of practice has given him power and ability that places him with the foremost representatives of his specialty in the northwest. It is not alone as a physician, however, that Dr. Hilscher is known to the public. His efforts for the development of an irrigation system in the Yakima valley constituted an initial step in drawing federal attention to that district and gaining the cooperation of the government for the solution of a difficult, but most important problem there. He is thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the northwest and has put forth effective and earnest effort for its advancement.
       Most of his life has been spent west of the Mississippi river, his birth having occurred in Leavenworth, Kansas, October 15, 1867. His father, Charles Hilscher, was born in Germany but came to the United States in early life and devoted his energies to the occupation of farming. He was one of the pioneers of Dickinson county, Kansas, locating there during the period of the border warfare and living through some exciting experiences of that epoch. With the outbreak of the Civil war he responded to the call for aid and joined Company K of the Thirty-seventh Infantry Regiment of Ohio Volunteers which was recruited at Hamilton, Ohio, where he was then living, but after the close of hostilities he removed to Leavenworth, and later to Dickinson county, Kansas, where he spent his remaining days, his death occurring in 1895. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Susanna Yauch, was born in Wittenberg, Germany, and died in 1900. The two brothers of Dr. Hilscher are C. M. and Harry L. Hilscher, residents of Kansas City, Missouri. An only sister, Mrs. Phoebe Van Scoyoc, is living in Talmage, Kansas.
       A public-school course constituted the initial educational training which prepared Dr. Hilscher for the work done in Beaumont Hospital Medical College, now the medical department of the St. Louis University, from which he received his professional degree in 1895. In the meantime he had had varied experience in business life. He left home in 1881 when but fourteen years of age and was apprenticed to a druggist. He was employed in connection with that business in various places but spent most of the time in Leavenworth, Kansas, and in St. Louis, Missouri. His work awakened his interest in the medical profession and following his graduation from the Beaumont Hospital Medical College he entered upon active practice in St. Louis, where he remained for a number of years. He also at once became assistant professor of otology in the school from which he had just graduated and had charge of the ear clinic of the college for a year. Later he joined the faculty of the St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons in the capacity of assistant professor of ophthalmology, remaining one of the instructors in that school until he came to Spokane in 1899. His ability as an educator and practitioner was recog-nized by the profession and the St. Louis Medical Society, to which he belonged, honored him with the secretaryship, which position he was filling at the time of his removal to Spokane. In St. Louis he was also connected with the College of Physicians and Surgeons as chief of the eye clinic, was oculist to the Merchants and Manufacturers Hospital, to the Baptist Hospital, the Amelia Children's Home, the Visitation Convent and other institutions. His marked ability has gained him prominence and the high reputation which he bore in St. Louis has also been accorded him during the period of his connection with Spokane.
       Since coming to this city Dr. Hilseher has limited his practice to the treatment of diseases of the eve, ear, nose and throat and for the past four years he has conducted a private sanitarium limited to the treatment of those diseases. It is pleasantly located at the entrance of Rockwood boulevard and has splendid equipment for that depart-ment of practice. He keeps in touch with the advanced work of the profession through the proceedings of the Spokane County and Washington State Medical Societies and the American Medical Association, in all of which he holds membership.
       What Dr. Hilscher has accomplished along professional lines would alone entitle him to representation in this volume. His work in other fields, however, is equally interesting and important. Since coming to Spokane he has invested quite largely in property in this city and in the Inland Empire and has promoted a number of corporations, chief among which were the Yakima Land & Live Stock Company, of which he was the secretary; the Yakima Development Company, of which he was one of the trustees; the Yakima Land & Development Company, of which he was president for many years and is now secretary; and the Wenatchee Farms Company, of which he is secretary and treasurer.
       The Yakima Land & Live Stock Company was organized about April, 1902, by Dr. Hilscher, M. N. Kuppenberg, J. W. Oakes, G. W. Frost and George W. Stoltz. They purchased thirty-seven thousand, seven hundred and twenty-one acres of land in Yakima in the Moxie valley from the railroad company for one dollar and five cents per acre on the six-year payment plan. In this Dr. Hilscher had a third interest, which he turned over to the company and after the company was organized an assessment of eight thousand dollars was made to cover the first payment. Within four months they sold a half interest in contracts for twelve thousand dollars, thus recovering all the money expended and half as much again. Inside of six months they were offered two dollars and a half per acre but declined this. They then employed a corps of engineers to examine the irrigation possibilities of the land, the first survey including what is now known as the Titeton project. They filed appropriation notices on the water of that district. Arriving at the Yakima river, however, with the proposed canal, the engineers found that it would be a very expensive matter to cross the river to the other side where the lands were located. They then employed another engineer, who in connection with the first, made more surveys, which finally culminated in the proposal to dam the three lakes at the head of the Yakima river-the Kachess, Keechelus and Clealum, impounding the water therein and bringing the high line canal down on the east side of the river. This would command approximately two hundred and fifty thousand acres of land. The plans made were practically identical with the ones now known as the Kittitas project of the United States government, which will probably be carried out in the next few years.
       The immensity of this project necessitated the incorporation of a promoting company called The Yakima Development Company, which was then organized and was headed by the distinguished Judge Whitson, who was then a practicing attorney of North Yakima. The filing of water appropriations of this company and its plans aroused a good deal of local feeling in the lower Yakima valley, which was then suffering from a dearth of sufficient water to extend the existing canals, especially those at Sunnyside. The company soon found itself involved in a fierce fight with the previous water claimants and there were many meetings of commercial clubs in various parts of the Yakima valley, both in the interests of and against the project. In the meanwhile information requested by the company of F. H. Newell, chief of the reclamation service, resulted in surveys being made for the waters of the Yakima river and all its tributaries for a whole year, together with measurements for water actually used by the existing irrigators. Under the supervision of Professor O. L. Waller, of Pullman, a final report was made which showed to the people of the Yakima valley that many times the amount of water available had already been appropriated and each succeeding claimant was more or less at the mercy of previous claimants. The agitation resulting is now a matter of history and culminated in unanimous appeal of those interested in the valley to the United States government to take over the existing water rights of most of the claimants and make an equal apportionment. This is how the government first became interested in the Yakima valley. Thus the aims and objects of The Yakima Development Company passed out of existence and the benefits of the many thousands of dollars spent there by the two companies have thus become the property of the public.
       The lands of the Yakima Land & Live Stock Company were finally sold at various figures, netting on an average of no more than four dollars per acre, although much of the land has since been sold for prices as high as one hundred dollars per acre. This company has also gone out of existence. The Yakima Land & Development Company planted one hundred and fifty acres of orchard on irrigated land near Hayden Lake, Idaho, in 1907, and all has since been sold. The same company has bought and sold lands in Yakima valley near Kennewick and on the Quincy flats. The company is now engaged in retailing about thirteen hundred acres in the latter district and land which originally cost the company about five dollars per acre is now being rapidly disposed of at from twenty-five to fifty dollars per acre. The Wenatchee Farms Company, in which Dr. Hilscher is also interested, owns a small body of land on Rock creek in Whitman county, of which one hundred acres is now irrigated and they are planning to supply another hundred acres with water. The company is doing the actual selling of the Yakima company's Quincy land.
       In 1889 Dr. Hilscher was married and has three children, Schuyler, Earl Durand and Aubrey L., all now in school. Dr. Hilscher attends the Unitarian church and in politics is an insurgent republican. He belongs to the Woodmen of the World, the Royal High-landers and the Spokane Amateur Athletic Club. He is a broad and liberal-minded man, whose purposes of life are high, whose ambition is commendable and whose labors have been resultant for good in all of the different fields in which he has put forth his effort.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

* * * * Notice: These biographies were transcribed for the Washington Biographies Project. Unless otherwise stated, no further information is available on the individuals featured in the biographies.


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