top of page

"White Beaver" Powell 

Room 214

Frank Powell, M.D. was born in Kentucky, near the Tennessee line, on May 25, 1847. His father, C. H. Powell, also a physician, was of Scottish descent and it’s told his mother was a woman of extraordinary beauty. She was the child of a full-blooded Seneca Indian, “Medicine Chief,” who had married the daughter of one of the early pioneers of New York. The daughter took the maiden name of her mother, Miss Tompkins.

Frank never went to elementary school, instead relying on his parents for his education. His father died when he was eight years old, and his mother began to move the family of four around the country to keep all the mouths fed. The family spent time in Ithaca, Chicago, and Omaha. It was in Omaha where Frank met Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, and Texas Jack Omohundro. His period of residence in Omaha, however, did not last very long. In 1868 Frank entered Louisville University, in Kentucky, and graduated in 1871 at the head of his class in medicine.

As legend has it, Frank Powell got his famous nickname from riding into the camp of a hostile tribe, just days after killing a couple of the members in hand-to-hand combat. His intention was to vaccinate the entire assembly against smallpox. For this gallant action, the natives accorded him the honorific “White Beaver.” In 1876 he was made Medicine Chief of the Winnebagoes and demonstrated in his final days an actively egalitarian empathy for Indians in a society that sought to eradicate them. Buffalo Bill was quoted as saying, “a natural-born doctor, and don’t you forget it.”

When Powell was not acting as a physician in Wisconsin, he was touring with Buffalo Bill as a camp doctor and exhibiting his skills as a marksman. Cody and Powell were also associated with a number of business ventures. They founded a cereal company that produced a coffee substitute from roasted bran called “Panmilt”. The primary target market was Mormons who did not drink caffeine. They also made, marketed, and patented “White Beaver’s Cough Cream, The Great Lung Healer”. The name played on Powell’s ancestry, claiming ancient Indian herb preparations for part of its unusual healing powers. Powell was elected mayor of La Crosse in 1885 and served until 1887. Powell died May 8, 1906, on a train en route from Los Angeles, from heart failure.

(The Frank “White Beaver” Powell room is a suite that features 1 Queen Size bed, a single lavatory, & tub with a hand shower.  All rooms have wired and wireless internet & individual heat/ac.-Facing North Towards 5th Street)

bottom of page