Clarence Gonstead

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Clarence Gonstead
Born(1898-07-23)July 23, 1898
DiedOctober 2, 1978(1978-10-02) (aged 80)
Resting placeMount Horeb, Wisconsin
Alma materPalmer School of Chiropractic
Years active1923–1978
Known forchiropractic technique
SpouseElvira (Meister) Gonstead

Clarence Selmer Gonstead (July 23, 1898 – October 2, 1978) was an American chiropractor. He created the Gonstead technique. He established a large chiropractic facility in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Clarence Gonstead was born in Willow Lake, South Dakota,[4] the son of Carl Gonstead (1871–1956) and Sarah Gonstead (1874–1918). His family later moved to a dairy farm in Primrose, Wisconsin. At the age of 19, Gonstead was bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis.[5] After his arthritis was cured by a chiropractor, he was motivated to enroll in the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.[6]

Gonstead became a member of the chiropractic fraternity Delta Sigma Chi. Gonstead earned a doctor of chiropractic degree in 1923 and returned to Wisconsin. He first practiced with Dr. Olson, the man who inspired him to become a chiropractor, before establishing a practice in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. His younger brother, Merton Gonstead (1902–1983), joined his practice in 1929 for a few years before starting his own practice. Clarence Gonstead remained a sole practitioner for the next twenty years.


Gonstead's method of chiropractic practice was an extension of his training at the Palmer School of Chiropractic. While Gonstead was a student, school president B. J. Palmer began promoting the neurocalometer (NCM), an invention of chiropractor Dossa Dixon Evins (1886–1932).[7][8] Gonstead assisted in various efforts to improve the quality of these two instruments. In the 1940s Gonstead became a consultant for Electronic Development Laboratories (EDL). EDL made the original Nervoscope, a competitor device to the NCM. Over the years, Gonstead helped the company define the device's sensitivity, parameters, and function. Gonstead also worked with various X-ray companies to optimize full-spine 14x36 X-ray exposure, primarily the use of split screens to account for varying patient density on the lateral film.[9][10][11]

Gonstead's first office was located above a bank building in downtown Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. In 1939, Gonstead built the first Gonstead Chiropractic Clinic (or second office) in downtown Mount Horeb. In 1964 he opened a second clinic just outside Mount Horeb which treated 300 to 400 patients per day. It was designed by John Steinmann.[12] The next year, 1965, a motel (Karakahl Country Inn) was constructed next to the clinic to accommodate out-of-town patients and chiropractors attending his seminar.

Later years[edit]

In 1974, Gonstead sold his clinic and seminars to Alex and Doug Cox. Gonstead's inventory was later auctioned. His clinic continues operation under the ownership of the non-profit C.S. Gonstead Chiropractic Foundation.[13][14]

Personal life[edit]

In 1924, Gonstead married Elvira Meister (1901–1991).[4] Gonstead died in 1978 at the age of 80.[4] He was buried at Mount Horeb Union Cemetery in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.[4][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The History of Clarence S. Gonstead, D.C". Gonstead Clinical Studies Society. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  2. ^ Baldwin, Johanna (13 August 2006). "To Her Not-Quite Friends". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-11.
  3. ^ Miramar Chiropractor Has International Patient List (The Miami Herald December 28, 1997)
  4. ^ a b c d "Clarence S. Gonstead". Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, WI. October 4, 1978. p. 36. Retrieved August 9, 2020 – via Open access icon
  5. ^ "Who was Dr. Gonstead?". Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  6. ^ "ICON Chiropractic | Gonstead | | Balanced health for a better life | Balanced health for a better life". Archived from the original on 2017-06-26.
  7. ^ Moore, J. S. (1995). The neurocalometer: watershed in the evolution of a new profession (Chiropractic History: 15: 2: 51-54) PMID 11613400
  8. ^ Chiropractic: An Illustrated History. Mosby. 1995. ISBN 978-0-8016-7735-9.
  9. ^ Amman, Matthew (2007) The Machines and Tools of Clarence Gonstead, D.C. (Chiropractic History 27: 2: 55-58)
  10. ^ "Dossa Dixon Evins - Inventor & Innovator". Chiropractic History Blog. January 23, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  11. ^ Kirk Eriksen (2004). Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex: A Review of the Chiropractic and Medical Literature. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 978-0-7817-4198-9.
  12. ^ John Steinmann Mid Century Modern Milwaukee December 2011
  13. ^ Matthew J. Amman. "Preserving the Gonstead Clinic of Chiropractic – A Case of National Support" (PDF). Gonstead Preservation Group. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  14. ^ Eager, Curious Stalk Gonstead Sale For Deals (Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) - November 15, 1992)
  15. ^ Barbara Migliaccio (January 31, 1992). "Elvira Gonstead Dies at Age 90". Dynamic Chiropractic, Vol. 10, Issue 03. Retrieved May 1, 2016.

External links[edit]