When a diagnosis requires a good cry

Posted 7/14/20

The following is a repeat from a couple of years ago. After my first Musings about doctors appeared in print, a friend complained that I had missed some of the earlier doctors. For some, information was scarce, but I had “dug in.” Then I kept finding about others that interested me too. So we continue to dive deeper in the world of doctors.

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When a diagnosis requires a good cry

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The following is a repeat from a couple of years ago. After my first Musings about doctors appeared in print, a friend complained that I had missed some of the earlier doctors. For some, information was scarce, but I had “dug in.” Then I kept finding about others that interested me too. So we continue to dive deeper in the world of doctors.

Dr. W. G. Williams was born in Mississippi in 1884 and came to Grimes County with his family in 1884. He attended and graduated from Memphis Medical School in 1902, did graduate studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, and returned to Texas to practice in Grimes and Madison counties. He drove a horse and buggy to make his calls. He married a lady from the Cross community, which is in Grimes County and south of North Zulch, and then moved to North Zulch. His first office was over the barber shop and when that burned, he moved his office to the back of Stell’s Drug Store. He was a dedicated physician, making house calls day and night and never asking if he’d be compensated. Sometimes he was compensated in cordwood or farm products. During a flu epidemic of 1918, Williams sometimes did not see any of his six children for days. In 1924, he moved to Coleman County, where he practiced for many years and died in 1959. He kept a motto on his desk always, saying, “For when the one great Scorer comes to call your name, He writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”

Dr. William Angus Cole, 1875-1945, went by the name of Gus. He was born in Mississippi but I cannot find when he came to Texas. He married Eliza Bledsoe who came here as a child and lived in the Ten Mile community. Our county history book contains the information that he bought one of our county’s first autos, a Sears Roebuck Buggy. I’ll bet he was a meticulous doctor, because he strained gas through a chamois before putting it in his car! Joyce Cole Batson said that Dr. Cole was her grandfather’s brother. When Joyce was small, Dr. Cole practiced out of his home, called the Price House, which had two stories and was cut into several living quarters, with the front room being Cole’s office. The building stood just north of where Stanley Feed is now, across Highway 21. Batson related, “Dr. Cole could not hear, and we children would be pinched so that when we cried, the Doctor could listen to our lungs and heart. Although he was a sweet and gentle person, we children certainly hated to hear our parents tell us that it was time to see the doctor.” Later Dr. Cole moved to Normangee where he practiced until his death.

The first volume of our county history book contains some recollections of North Zulch stating that doctors there included Drs. J.E. Burney, Jim Hill, Arthur Barlow, Ethelbert Barlow, C.W. Williams, and J.H. Scruggs. Burney had an office and drugstore in North Zulch, as did Williams, who practiced in the rear of Stell’s Drug Store. Dr. Ethelbert Barlow had an office in his home, but I don’t know about Arthur Barlow or the others.

Findagrave.com answered many of my question but not all. I found Drs. Arthur and Ethelbert Barlow were brothers, both born in Illinois. Neither were blessed with long lives. Dr. Arthur Barlow, 1866-1906, died of uremic poisoning (kidney failure) while Dr. Ethelbert Barlow (1873-1932) died of pneumonia, and they are both buried at Willowhole. Dr. J.E. Burney, 1877-1957, died of prostate cancer and is also buried at Willowhole. (At Findagrave I was able to look at death certificates!)

The J. H. Scruggs may have been one of the earlier doctors around here. There is a grave at Willowhole for Elizabeth Burney Long Hankins, who was married to John Hawkins Scruggs who was born in 1820 and killed in Mississippi during the Civil War. I have no verification that Dr. Scruggs is the same as the Civil War casualty, Scruggs, but it sounds logical to me. I also could find no proof that Dr. Burney’s wife was any relation to Dr. J.E. Burney, but they are both buried at Willowhole.

It was news to me that we had a chiropractor here as far back as the 1920s. Dr. George Washington Knox (1896-1969), born in Houston County, attended the Texas Chiropractic College in San Antonio. After graduating, he began practicing in Madisonville, at some time before 1929. He treated patients here until 1953, when he moved to Bryan and then Hearne. He returned to Madisonville in February 1968 and was semi-retired, with an office in his home on West Trinity Street until his death March 4, 1969.

I’ve seen the Civil War records etc. for my great-grandfather Abner Stout Wilson (1828-1909), and somewhere it says that a Dr. J.D. Jordan, M.D., of Madison County, performed an operation on Wilson for cataract of right eye. I’ve been unable to find anything about Dr. J.D. Jordan. I’d love to know more.

Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison St., Madisonville, TX, is closed at this time.

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