The Dreaded Doc Lottes

Today would have been the 131st birthday of Dr. Edward Lottes, who served the East Perry County area as a dentist for over 50 years.  He was born on February 1, 1886.  Because he was in the profession of dentistry in an era when there was not much available to deal with the pain involved in that practice, people, especially children, would dread their visits with him.

It is reported that Dr. Edward Lottes began practicing in Altenburg sometime around 1915, and he continued in that practice until the late 1960’s.  Here is a photo taken when he graduated from the Washington University School of Dentistry.

Dr. Edward Lottes

In 1912, Doc Lottes married Phoebe Estel.  The Estel/Lottes connections with medical practitioners in Perry County is pretty amazing.  Edward had a brother named Leo who was a dentist in Altenburg for a while, and he also married an Estel.  Dr. Palisch, who was a medical doctor in Frohna for many years, was married to a Lottes.  There was a Dr. Estel, another medical doctor, who served the Altenburg community for several years.

Doc Lottes had his dental office on the second floor of the building that is now the home of the Mississippi Mud Saloon.  Interestingly, Doc Lottes’s father, Gabriel, ran a saloon in Altenburg for many years which later was known as Pete’s Place.  Many old-timers around here talk of making that dreaded trek up those miserable stairs to visit the dentist.

Edward’s brother, Leo, practiced there for a while also, but he would leave dentistry to become a cashier at the Altenburg Bank.  Here is a photo I took today which shows the old bank building in the foreground and the Mississippi Mud building in the background.  For many years, the Lottes brothers worked this close to one another.


Here is an interesting photo containing both Edward and Phoebe Lottes.


Phoebe is standing in the back on the left.  Edward is squatting in front of her, and Leo is squatting on the right.  This photo is said to have been taken on a Fourth of July on the Old Appleton bridge.

Edward and Phoebe’s home in Altenburg was located right next to where the Log Cabin College now sits.  In fact, it was built in 1912, the same year that the College was moved to this location.  Here is a photo of that house with Phoebe standing in front.


Here is a delightful photo of the two Lottes daughters, Thelma and Virginia, on a sled in the yard of this house.


You can see the Log Cabin College and the steeple of Trinity Lutheran Church in the background.  Based on the apparent ages of the children in the photo, it must have been taken sometime around 1920.

Here is what this Lottes home looks like now, once again with the College and the church included.


We have the old foot-powered dentist drill in our museum that was used by Doc Lottes in the days before the electric drill was developed.  This photo may just send chills up and down your spine.


We know that Doc Lottes had another interest.  He was an avid historian, and our historical society has been blessed with items that help interpret this area’s past history.  A while back we published a post which told of some hand-drawn maps done by Doc Lottes.  That post was titled, Altenburg’s Holy Grail, and it made the top ten list in number of views for the year.

There are still people walking around East Perry County who can claim that they are carrying silver fillings around in their mouths which were put there by Doc Lottes.  I have yet to run across anyone who speaks kindly of their trips to their old dentist.  I was just talking to a person this morning who lived in the Lottes house for a while.  She said they would often find old discarded extracted teeth in the back yard of that home.

One of our museum docents, Caroline Littge, related a story to me this morning also.  It is also her birthday today.  She told me that she would bake birthday cakes for Doc Lottes.  Once, she delivered such a cake to the dentist on the same day that she had an appointment to sit in his chair.  What a way to celebrate a birthday!


6 thoughts on “The Dreaded Doc Lottes

  1. Remember my Dad taking me to the dental office. Everything was the color brown. Do remember a flame of sorts to sterilize his instruments. Was scared to death, and do not know If I let him work on my teeth or not. Had a fear of dentists for years.


  2. Yes, just reading your blog, made my mouth hurt. And oh those dreaded stairs. I’m sure I still have fillings, well, maybe not I probably don’t have those teeth anymore!
    Caroline was my neighbor when I was a baby, she was 17 and my babysitter!
    Great lady!


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