A Frontier Doctor Rides into Rockford

Dr. William P. Grubbe Settles Down and Builds a Medical Practice

In 1880, Dr. William P. Grubbe and his companion were attacked by a band of Indians.  His friend and his horse killed, Grubbe grabbed the other horse and rode for his life. In Rockford, Washington he found a town in need of a doctor.

The early Spokane region lacked qualified medical doctors. In frontier towns, anyone could nail a diploma on the wall and begin treating patients. Townspeople saw having a skilled doctor as important as a saloon or newspaper for the growth of their communities.  When Dr. Grubbe rode into Rockford in search of safety, he found a village in need.  Upon hearing that this stranger was a doctor, the townspeople asked him to stay.  He agreed and settled down.

Grubbe, born in Missouri, was no stranger to frontier life.  As a boy, his family immigrated to Portland, Oregon and then to Oakland, California.  After finishing school, he attended a medical college in Salem, Oregon.  Upon graduation, Grubbe started his first practice in Pendleton. In the late 1870s, he relocated his practice near Amity.  After his arrival in Rockford, his built a large rural practice including Spokane, Teoka, Fairfield, and other small towns.  On May 16, 1884, he married the “prettiest girl in Rockford,” Miss Minnie Tozier.  Together they had four children, a boy and three girls.

In  1895, Dr. Grubbe hung up his stethoscope and went into real estate development.  He was elected as Spokane County’s Auditor in 1897 and served one term.  Tragedy struck the successful pioneer doctor when he fell ill with acute meningitis in 1889. He died within days, at the age of fifty-four.  

Minnie, now a widow, was expecting their fourth child.  Just over two months later, she gave birth to their youngest daughter, Willettie. Minnie remarried and moved away.  Their youngest daughter died in 1903.  Despite his premature death, Dr. Grubbe’s story demonstrated the need for qualified doctors in early Spokane.



20 W. Emma Street Rockford, WA 99030 ~ Location is approximate. There is no known address for Dr. Grubbe's office.