EARLY CALCASIEU DOCTORS 1850 - 1912
By Maude Reid
Transcribed by Leora White
Note: There are two copies of this book by Miss Maude Reid in the Archives Department. One is her handwritten draft; the other is a typed transcript by an unknown typist. Discrepancies exist between the two copies. Whether the transcript was typed by Miss Reid who made the changes is unknown. This online version is from that typed transcript.
This information was first compiled in 1965 by Miss Maude Reid. For many years, "Miss Maude" was with the Red Cross and her work brought her into contact with many people over Calcasieu Parish. From these contacts came some of this material on the doctors - some of these men the author knew personally. And some material came from "Miss Maude’s" fabulous and famous notebooks, eight in number, and a veritable gold mine of history of this area.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Anderson, Dr. J. C. - 1888
Arceneaux, Dr. Rosamond R. - 1900
Arnold, Dr. J. P. - 1880
Ayo, Dr. J. J. - 1900
Bland, Dr. Joseph J. - 1897-1898
Brashear, "Dr." - 1880
Brom, Dr. W. E. - 1888 [Brown in original transcript]
Carter, Dr. Stephen O. - 1893
Chevalier, Dr. Anthony - 1860
Clement, Dr. Elisha Lyons - 1900
Coley, Dr. J. D. - 1859
Cook, Dr. Eleanor - 1927
Crawford, Dr. Jefferson Arthur - 1912
Espaglier, Dr. Louis - 1860-1880
Farquhar, Dr. William - 1852
Fisher, Dr. W. L. - 1900
Ford, Dr. John Heard - 1900
Goodlett, Dr. James G. - 1880
Gray, Dr. Reuben Flanagan - 1869
Hamilton, Dr. ___ - 1879-1880
Hargrove, Dr. Mathew Vernon - 1909
Herisson, Dr. A. C. - 1875
Hilliard, Dr. J. H. - 1879
Holcombe, Dr. Richard Gordon - 1909
Iles, Dr. Dempsey C. - 1901
Kibbe, Dr. W. G. - 1867
Kirkman, Dr. William Harrison
Kreeger, Dr. George Samuel - 1902
Lafargue, Dr. Alvin Henry - 1910
Lambraith, Dr. ____
Lyons, Dr. Augustus - 1895-1920
Lyons, Dr. Erastus - 1860
Lyons, Dr. George Schuyler - 1900
Lyons, Dr. Samuel Madison - 1891
Martin, Dr. Claude A. - 1912
Martin, Dr. John Greene - 1890
McCall, Millege [Milledge] – 1830-1870
McMahon, Dr, J. B. - 1888
Medical "Trust" - 1888
Miller, Dr. Laurent - 1908
Mims, Dr. Larkin - 1868
Monday, Dr. J. Cornelius - 1878
Moss, Dr. Abram - 1879
Myers, Dr. ____ - 1880’s
Niblett, Dr. ____ - 1840
Perkins, Dr. Allen J. - 1888
Perkins, Dosite Samuel - 1890
Richardson, Dr. Clement Lanier - 1884
Rigmaiden, Thomas - 1840 [Rigmaiden is listed here, but is incorrect. The entry is about Dr. Niblett, not Thomas Rigmaiden.]
Saunders, Dr. J. E. - 1850
Singleton, Dr. M. E. – 1860-1890
Singleton, Dr. Seth B. - 1880
Smith, Dr. Weedon - 1890
Strother, Dr. Randolph - 1903
Sweeney, Dr. Alvin Randolph - 1906
Traer, U. E. - 1888
Turincher, Arnault - 1875
Tuten, Dr. Joseph D. - 1910
Ware, Dr. James A. - 1888
Watkins, Dr. Thomas Henry - 1895
Weatherby, Dr. ____ - 1876
Zawadsky, Dr. R. W. - 1888
Dr. Gordon Holcombe of Lake Charles received a letter in the fall of 1927 from Dr. Rudolph Matas, the famed New Orleans surgeon, in which he said he was preparing to write a medical history of Louisiana, and asked for Dr. Holcombe’s assistance in securing the names of early doctors in Calcasieu Parish and the area in which they lived and served.
I was then a Red Cross public health nurse and my work carried me all over the parish, and occasionally into adjoining parishes. So, naturally, Dr. Holcombe asked that as I made my visits to make inquiries of old families and of the doctors who cared for them when they were ill.
This proved to be a delightful experience, rewarding me not only with the desired information, but with a glimpse of pioneer life in our parish that became a fascinating hobby that I have pursued for more than thirty-five years - the Early History of Calcasieu Parish.
I am deeply grateful to Dr. Holcombe for enriching my life through this hobby and am happy to give such information as I have on early doctors to his son, Dr. Gordon Holcombe, Jr.
The information for this article was obtained from old newspapers: the Lake Charles Press, the American, and the Lake Charles Echo, from old diaries, letters, and family papers, and from the memories of old inhabitants among whom were: Mrs. Mollie Richardson Iles of Sugartown, Drew Collins of Sulphur, Will Hanchey of Dry Creek, Mrs. J. B. Holleman and the MacMillian family of Barnes Creek, Dan Harmon and his son-in-law, Elanson Clark, or as he was better known "Long" Clark, two old-timers each blessed with a rare memory of old days. Mrs. Joe LeBleu and her daughter Mrs. Beatrice Richard, Mrs. Oliver Moss of Rose Bluff, John H. Poe, Simeon O. Shattuck who taught school in old Imperial Calcasieu in the 1860’s and ‘70’s, and who had the gift of almost total recall of that period. Members of the Daniel Goss family and the D. J. Reid family, Evalina Pujo, Mathilda Gray, Mrs. George Ryan, and many others.
And, my own recollections of the Lake Charles doctors of the late 1890’s and early 1900’s whose names were household words for many years. In looking over this material I find these early physicians had many things in common. They were pioneers in every sense of the word. They not only played their part in conserving life, but they helped materially in the development of communities in which they lived. They, just as surely as the ministers and the school teachers, were a potent factor in the taming of the wilderness that was old Calcasieu in the 50’s and 60’s.
With one exception, Dr. Erastus Lyons of Big Woods, they were from far away Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, and from France and the Province of Poland. They were usually men of some education and of superior intelligence. Many were veterans of Indian and Mexican wars and of the Civil War. All were active in politics and most of them from the hour of their arrival in Louisiana were developers - on the alert always for opportunities that would not only improve their own condition, but that of the community and state.
They were brave men, inured to hardship by their war experiences. Their territory was our old "Imperial Calcasieu" which embraced an area of almost two million acres, larger than the state of Rhode Island and larger than the Kingdom of Belgium.
In those days buggies were few and roads were mere trails and in rainy weather these trails became impassable so they traveled mostly on horse-back or mule-back. I am told an old time doctor would fill up his saddle bags with medicines, with no thought of a change of garment for himself, and start off on a sick call. Reaching his destination, by the "grapevine telegraph," word would reach him of another sick person some miles beyond. Upon his arrival there he would hear of yet another call a little further away, and so it would go on until his supply of medicines were gone and he, worn and unkempt, would turn his horse’s head toward home, perhaps a week later.
Drug stores were few and far between, only in the larger settlements. The supplies he carried with him, mostly in bulk, cane by schooner from Galveston or overland from Opelousas. He prepared his own powders, and mixed his own tinctures, improvised his own instruments for the few surgical cases he was called upon to perform, rolled his own pills with the aid of a dinner plate, the syrup pitcher and the housewife’s flour.
He had received five months training at the Old Charity Hospital in New Orleans under the Medical School Department, and returned to the wilderness, or at best, a small village, meeting all the problems that now face the medical profession of today, with nothing more than the background of that brief experience to guide him. No laboratories, no x-ray, no medical research to refer to, seldom a brother practitioner to confer with. Indeed, they were brave men.
DR. J. E. SAUNDERS - 1850
Just who was the first doctor in Calcasieu it is not possible to say with certainty, but Dr. Saunders is the first remembered in this parish.
He came to the Sallier settlement, as Lake Charles was then known, in the early 1850’s from North Louisiana, but was originally from Virginia.
He lived alone, except for his servants, about where the J. G. Gray ranch is today near the Ged oil field. He attended the sick from the Sabine River to Alexandria, Louisiana.
Among his patients were the families of Henry Moss and the brothers Amedie and Paul Pujo. Little Margaret Rose, daughter of Amedie Pujo, became a great favorite of the doctor and he gave her name to the family home-place, "Rose Bluff," a name it retained until it was sold to the Cities Service Corporation a hundred years later.
Margaret Rose was Mrs. Oliver Moss when I talked with her of the old doctor. She recalled that Dr. Sanders was a quiet, cultured gentleman, familiar with the classics.
He never spoke of his antecedents and little is known of his background. She only recalls the he was considered a good doctor, that he gave aid and comfort to those who needed it no matter how far the distance nor how bad the weather. What more could anyone say of a doctor?
DR. WILLIAM FARQUHAR - 1852
Dr. William Farquhar was certainly another of the earliest doctors in Calcasieu.
Born in Virginia, August 12, 1812, he received his educational and medical training in Cincinnati, Ohio and practiced there for 15 years, then came to Louisiana, settling at Burr’s Ferry in 1852. Burr, incidentally, was a cousin of Aaron Burr and his descendants still live at the Ferry.
In 1856, Dr. Farquhar left Burr’s Ferry and moved to Sugartown, practicing there until 1864 when he moved to the settlement at Choupique, remaining there until his death October 14, 1889.
He was the father of George Farquhar who married Medora Moss, came to Lake Charles in the ‘70’s and for many years worked as a printer on the old Lake Charles Echo.
George Farquhar built the house on the lake front where his descendants live today.
DR. J. D. COLEY - 1859
In 1859 Dr. J. D. Coley came to Calcasieu, making his home where the town of Welsh is now, but was then called "Welsh’s Post Office," a place where the mail coach stopped to change horses on the route from Lake Charles to Vermilionville, as Lafayette was then known.
Dr. Coley graduated from the Philadelphia Medical College, the first school for doctors in America, in 1857 and practiced medicine in Alabama and Texas, migrating to Calcasieu in ’59 where he remained.
He served throughout the Civil War with the Confederacy, returning to Welsh’s Post Office at its close. He had a large farm, paying particular attention to fruit, oranges chiefly.
He attained a large professional following, a host of friends and was one of the prominent men of the community.
He died tragically. He poisoned himself after being jailed for a crime of which he claimed to be innocent.
There were those to be sure, who treated the sick and made no pretense of being a doctor but who were given that title by the grateful citizenry.
MILLEDGE MCCALL - 1830-1870
In 1830 Milledge McCall and a John B. Smith came to what is now Cameron Parish, but was then a part of Calcasieu Parish. They settled in Grand Chenier and for many years were the only families in that immediate vicinity.
McCall was quite a remarkable man for the period. He was an old-time doctor and practiced considerably in an old-fashioned way, meaning he had received no medical training and his pretensions to the healing art came to him largely through his knowledge of herbs and roots.
He was justice of the peace and the only one in Grand Chenier prior to the organization of the parish (1870).
One of McCall’s daughters married Andrew J. Kearney, who later became district attorney in Lake Charles in the ‘80’s.
He, too, practiced medicine as a sideline, and equally, of course, without medical training. He was called "Dr. Kearney" and he was also know as "Judge Kearney," a pleasant custom the early settlers had of calling every attorney "Judge" and every school teacher "professor."
DR. NIBLETT - 1840
In 1840, Thomas Rigmaiden, an Englishman, who lived near the present day settlement of Mossville, on the west side of the Calcasieu River, wrote in his diary: "Paid a visit to Dr. Niblett’s at Niblett’s Bluff."
Niblett had a store at a strategic point on the Louisiana side of the Sabine River, where travelers along the Old Spanish Trail stopped to rest and perhaps get fresh supplies. Indeed, it was from this spot that two men, James Mason of Virginia and John Slidell of Louisiana, commissioners for the Confederate Army, left on their mission to England and France to obtain recognition and aid for the Confederacy.
They boarded a schooner that took them to Cuba, where they boarded a British ship bound for England.
An incident followed that almost caused a war with Great Britain. Read about the "Trent Affair" in your history books.
Niblett’s Bluff was an important and busy settlement for many years. Cattle drovers came by with their herds on the way to New Orleans market. Missionary priests, settlers from both Texas and Louisiana seeking home sites, and adventurers of all sorts paused here for a while.
Beyond doubt, Niblett did a thriving business until the 1880’s when the completion of the Southern Pacific railroad took away most of the travelers.
His store no doubt carried drugs and patent medicines of the period as well as other sundries, and he may have suggested certain remedies and so acquired the title of "doctor."
Today no one can recall what happened to "Dr." Niblett or where he went when
the villagers moved in closer to the new towns springing up in the parish.
However, I feel certain that he was not a trained medical man.
DR. ANTHONY CHEVALIER – 1860
Young Daniel Goos, son of Captain Daniel Goos, in a diary he kept while running the blockade during the Civil War, in one of his father’s three-masted schooners, on his way to Central America for supplies for the family, makes this notation:
March 22, 1865---Campeche
"Filling out a Bill of medicine for Doctor Shivaleer."
This was for Dr. Anthony Chevalier who was the family doctor for Captain Goos, his wife and fifteen children.
Dr. Chevalier’s parents were refugees from the revolution in France in 1803, and he was born at sea while they were en route to America. The settled in Michigan where he grew to manhood. He first attended school in Cincinnati, where he studied law, then took up medicine. He married while in Cincinnati, and had two children, Henry and George. His wife died while the children were very young.
Later he married again, and because of his political views he came South, settling in Natchez, Mississippi, where the family lived six years. Here his wife died during a yellow fever epidemic while he was away on a medical mission.
Heartbroken over her death, he put his two young sons in care of a lawyer, John Underwood, instructing him to handle the estate and keep the boys in school and he left Natchez for Florida.
He remained away two years and when he returned to Natchez, the boys and the lawyer were gone and his home was in ashes. No one could tell him where they had gone. He began a search for his sons that lasted many months. Finally, a friend in Louisville, Kentucky read an advertisement his oldest son had placed in the Courier Journal asking for information of Dr. Chevalier and, happily, he and son Henry were reunited, but he never found his youngest son for whom he never ceased to grieve.
In 1856 he came to Harrison County, Texas where he met and married Miss Eleanor Rovell, and aunt of Mrs. J. B. Holleman, Sr., of Lake Charles.
When the Rovell family moved to Calcasieu in 1860, Dr. Chevalier came with them, settling at Barnes Creek (now Ragley), where the doctor, among the French population, formed his dialect and was at home with them in his profession.
In 1866 Dr. Chevalier left Calcasieu and returned to Texas, for a six months stay in Houston, then to Galveston and finally to Belton, Texas, where he died of yellow fever in 1873.
A strange man with a strange past.
DR. LARKIN MIMS - 1868
At the close of the Civil War a number of doctors came to this section and established themselves either in Lake Charles, or in the villages of the parish.
Among them was a Dr. Larkin Mims who settled in the village of Big Woods and a place in the piney woods now called Starks.
He was one of the old calomel and "Blue Moss" doctors, dearly beloved by the people he served. To this day one can trace the territory of the people he served. To this day one can trace the territory of the old practitioner by the children, now old men and women, who were named for him by grateful parents.
Born in South Carolina in 1812, he was a small child when his parents moved to Alabama, where, as a young man he took part in the Creek War.
In the 40’s he was in the Mexican War with Sam Houston, and in the ‘60’s he was with Jefferson Davis in the Confederacy.
After the "surrender" he came to Calcasieu and, as so many doctors did, bought a farm and raised stock that yielded a good income aside from his medical practice.
He was twice married and the father of ten children. He received his medical training from the Medical School of Louisiana in New Orleans, now Tulane Medical School.
DR. ERASTUS LYONS - 1860
A contemporary of Dr. Mims was Erastus J. Lyons, the first native born son of Calcasieu to graduate from the old Medical School in New Orleans.
Born in Big Woods, Calcasieu Parish in 1839, he attended school in Jasper, Texas, then went to New Orleans for training as a physician. He graduated in April 1860, in time to serve as assistant surgeon in the Confederate Army.
This was probably for home service, as an old newspaper of the ‘60’s carries the following notice:
Lake Charles Press - July 1864
"Dr. E. J. Lyons, who resides in Big Woods, is detailed as a physician, and obligated not to charge the families of officers and soldiers absent in the army, more than the customary rates before the war in said locality, and if his charges are extortionate to others, his detail will be revoked."
Gus Breaux, Colonel
G. D. Engineers of Calcasieu Parish
1870 to 1899
After the war, Dr. Lyons returned to Big Woods for a few years, then moved to Lake Charles where he bought a home on Pujo Street near the lakefront.
He is remembered for his success in treating pneumonia cases, advocating fresh air, open windows, regardless of the season, and this at a time when fresh air for the sick was considered radical treatment. He used stimulants freely in the form of "hot toddies - one for the patient and one for the doctor." How well I recall this daily prescription for my father when Dr. Lyons was attending him for pneumonia.
My recollection of Dr. Lyons is that he was meticulous in dress. He wore a long frock coat, then known as a "Prince Albert" in honor of Queen Victoria’s consort. On his head was a tall black beaver hat that was a match for this pointed black beard. And rarest of all in our small town, at least for men, he wore gloves!
As were the other doctors of his day, he was active in politics. Served as a member of the city council, member of the city board of Health, and served a term as parish health officer.
He was the father of eight children, one of whom, David Lyons, became a doctor, graduating from the Kentucky School of Medicine at Louisville.
Dr. David Lyons (pronounced Da-veed) practiced in Lake Charles in the 1890’s
and early 1900’s.
DR. J. H. HILLIARD - 1879
Dr. J. H. Hilliard is well remembered in Lake Charles by old-timers. He came in 1879 and soon had a large following because of his claims to cure the incurables.
Just where he received his medical training, if any, it was not possible to discover. But there are citizens in Lake Charles who will tell you, quite seriously, that this man had a cure for cancer. They knew of specific instances of persons so afflicted who were cured.
He used herbs extensively in the treatment of his patients, and the remedy he used for cancer was a combination of herbs found near his home. He wrote out the treatment as a legacy for his family, but he died at Vincent Settlement on April 1, 1882 at the age of 65 years. No one of his large family could find any record of the cure. He had hidden it well.
Hers is Dr. Hilliard’s advertisement in the Lake Charles Echo, March 8, 1879.
"Having permanently located in the town of Lake Charles, Dr. J. H. Hilliard respectfully offers his professional services to the citizens of Lake Charles and country.
"Diseases of he throat and lungs treated on an improved plan. Also Rheumatism and Neuralgia. Cancer removed without use of knife and without pain."
Alas! He died without leaving this cure which would have made him world famous!
In Sugartown, a village that in the 1860’s to the 1890’s was an important factor in Calcasieu Parish affairs, there were a number of doctors who lived and practiced there and who became traditional. Dr. J. A. Crawford has given me this information of them.
DR. WEATHERBY - 1876
He came about 1876 and soon had a large following. So far as anyone knows he never saw medical school. He never even bought any drugs, but collected herbs and roots and the bark of trees from the nearby forest.
His knowledge of the healing art was obtained from books he had read, remedies he had gleaned from "old grannies," and from his own experiences with the trail and error system.
He is yet remembered as a jovial fellow, full of jokes that the old-timers yet recall to the present generation. And, although he probably never heard of the word "psychology" old "Doc" Weatherby had a good understanding of human nature.
One story of the old doctor yet told by the villagers is that of a housewife who had recovered from a brief illness but refused to get out of bed. No doubt she was enjoying a brief rest from the heavy duties of a pioneer housewife, and found it pleasant to be waited upon.
Her husband went to Dr. Weatherby for advice and was told to find the prettiest girl in the village and hire her to care for the home until his wife recovered. The man demurred because of the expense, but the good doctor assured him it would be small. And he was right. The wife got up the next day after the girl arrived, and resumed her household duties.
No doubt the old doctor told this story and always got a laugh, but it has
overtones of pathos.
This man came to Sugartown in the late 1870’s, lived only a few years there, dying at about 50 years of age, leaving no family and little more than his name to present day residents of the village.
DR. MYERS - 1880’s
Came to Sugartown about the time Dr. Lambraith did, coming from Dry Creek where he had been in the logging business.
He had some training in a medical school and was a much better practitioner then either of the two preceding men.
He was a plain spoken man and much given to playing practical jokes, on of which is yet told in Sugartown.
It seems that a man named Watkins who lived near the village liked liquor exceedingly well, but could not afford it.
One day in the general store in Sugartown, the proprietor had just opened a barrel of vinegar when in walked Dr. Myers, followed by Watkins. Now, in these pre-Volstead days, every little store sold, besides groceries and sundries, wines and whiskey, too.
Dr. Myers, who knew what was in the barrel, watched the store-keeper insert a spigot in the side, and he had a great idea.
Giving Watkins a sly wink, he took the tippler off to one side, and draining a small glass of vinegar, asked Watkins if he wanted a drink. "Sure," replied the unsuspicious Watkins. "Well, drink it quick before they see us," advised the doctor. Without further persuasion Watkins threw the full contents of the glass down his throat before he knew what it was. It took his breath and he was badly strangled, but the doctor let him recover in his own good time.
Incidentally, the old store is still standing in Sugertown, still serving the villagers as a general store for more than a hundred years.
Dr. Myers served the settlers for some 15 years and then moved to Arkansas.
DR. M. E. SINGLETON - 1860 to 1890
Dr. M. E. Singleton was born about 1854 in Sugartown, received his education at Jefferson College in Mobile, Alabama and where he studied medicine.
He returned to Sugartown to begin his life’s work among friends and kindred.
There was probably no other pioneer practitioner of medicine who traveled over as much territory as did Dr. Singleton.
He was considered the best doctor among all the pioneers in this vicinity. A favorite mount of his was a little brown mule which he rode for several years. He often attended horse races and raced his mule, winning against ponies of many occasions.
He was considered a "high-strung" man, self-willed and stubborn on occasion.
He was tall, slender, very talkative, and rarely seen without his beloved pipe, was much given to droll remarks that were not funny to him, but which others thought very amusing.
He enjoyed the full confidence of his clientele and loved his people. He not only prescribed for his patients, but he nursed them, too. He had been known to remain days in a home of a very sick person needing nursing care, that he realized the family did not know how to give.
He bathed babies without number, and sometimes grownups, too, when he found it necessary.
He could make poultices and teas for the sick and remain at the bedside to wait for the reaction -good or bad.
He was with many a family when the loved ones closed their eyes in their last sleep, remaining to comfort the living and perhaps assist in the last rites of the dead.
A typical old-time family doctor. He wore himself out at the age of 55 years. Many of his descendents still live in Southwest Louisiana.
DR. SETH B. SINGLETON - 1880
Dr. Seth B. Singleton (no relation to Dr. Singleton of Sugartown) was born at Bayou Toro, Louisiana in St. Landry parish, May 28, 1848. He graduated from the Kentucky School of Medicine at Louisville in 1880, married Ada Poe, sister of John Poe of Lake Charles, in 1880, moved to Welsh, Louisiana where he practiced medicine over an area of 40 miles by horseback and buggy.
Mr. Poe, his brother-in-law, in telling me of Dr. Singleton, made the understatement of the year -"Successful surgery was done with very limited equipment."
Dr. Singleton died at Welsh, Louisiana, March 17, 1901.
DR. HAMILTON - 1879-1880
Dr. Hamilton settled in Ten Mile Creek area in the late 70’s, practicing medicine without any training, as so many did in the early days.
He was young, handsome, with a proud temperament. Someone called him a quack and he heard of it. Touched to the quick, he resolved to go to college. He told the country people "he would show them medicine."
As soon as he had accumulated enough to pay his expenses, he went to Jefferson Medical College in Mobile, Alabama and graduated with honors.
Returning to the Ten Mile area, where once someone had dared to scoff at him, he began the practice of his profession with dignity, winning the respect of the entire community by his efficiency. On one occasion he was called to see a "sick man." On arrival he found a badly mangled leg that needed amputation. With a handsaw and a pocket knife he amputated the limb, giving the anesthetic of chloroform as well.
He was involved in the famous "Red Bone Riot on Ten Mile Creek" that took place in 1880 between the Red Bones and the whites. He is said to have killed more of the Red Bones than anyone else.
He was absolutely fearless, but for his family’s sake, he moved to Pollock, near Alexandria, Louisiana, to keep out of further trouble.
He died in the late 1880’s. His widow still survives in Alexandria, Louisiana.
"DR." BRASHEAR - 1880
At Marion, in the 60’s the original parish seat of Calcasieu, but at this time the Parish Office, was changed to Lake Charles, there was a man by the name of Brashear, known as an herb doctor.
He was killed by a man named Cole who lived not far away. When Cole was captured after the murder, he claimed that Brashear was in love with his life [wife] and had made several attempts to poison him (Cole).
At last Brashear persuaded Cole’s wife to leave him and join Brashear at his cabin on the river. Cole followed her and attempted to bring her back. He was unarmed and did not intend to kill Brashear, but the herb doctor advanced upon him with the small, sharp knife he used to dig herbs with.
In fact, Brashear was digging herbs in the woods along the river bank when Cole came up to him. Cole managed to get the knife and in the fight that followed, killed Brashear with the weapon.
The hanging of Cole, which was conducted on the courthouse square, drew an immense crowd. The case was the occasion of much comment in the little village of Lake Charles. Circuit riders preached sermons about him, held him up as a type to serve as a warning to evil-doers.
Long articles appeared in the Lake Charles Echo, his last moments were graphically presented, and the whole town turned out to see him hanged.
And "Dr." Brashear was eulogized, for no one could find the rare plants or how to use them as could he, and the country-side missed services.
In the early days of our parish there were no drugstores. The first drugstore was in Lake Charles in 1875.
The woods were the drugstore for the pioneers. The settlers, and the early doctors, knew of certain plants, roots, and seeds that were helpful in easing pain or effecting cures.
The leaves of the dogwood tree were taken for quinine as they contained the alkaloid properties of cinchoma. Peruvian bark was an effective cordial for dysentery. Another soothing cordial for dysentery and similar ailments was made from blackberry roots, although ripe persimmons, when available, were thought to be superior.
An extract of the barks of wild cherry, dogwood, and poplar trees was useful for chills and ague.
For coughs and lung diseases, a syrup made of leaves and root of the mullein plant and wild cherry bark was considered infallible.
We always had a number of mullein plants in our front yard when I was a child, to be used for coughs and colds. The leaves were stewed in honey. An old-time "pick-up" was wild cherry bark steeped in whiskey.
Sassafras tea was made from the tender young roots of the sassafras tree and taken in the springtime to thin blood against summer heat.
When I was a child my mother had us drink lemonade with a small amount of cream of tartar in it (a teaspoonful to a big pitcher of lemonade) from July to September, to keep us cool.
If you think that herbs for medicine went out with great-grandma, you couldn’t be more mistaken.
I have been told that one-third of the herbs used by the old-time doctors and "yarb women" are listed in the U.S. Pharmacopocia.
Herbs are yet being gathered but they go to pharmaceutical manufacturers and come to us refined, with additives, that we take in capsules, pills and syrups. Now read this:
"Lake Charles American Press - August 27, 1965
"Guymon, Oklahoma. ‘This year’s crop of cockleburr blooms was excellent,’ said the president of a laboratory which uses the blooms in medicine for treating allergies.
"Cockleburr bloom pickers gathered 1200 barrels of the crop in three days in the Oklahoma Panhandle."
DR. WILLIAM HARRISON KIRKMAN
Dr. Kirkman, longtime resident of Calcasieu Parish, was a native of Kirkmansville, Kentucky, a town named for his ancestors.
At the age of 16 he was a soldier in the Mexican War. One of his favorite stories in later life was connected with his adventures during this war. In Texas he met Gail Borden, then, too, just a lad. Together they fought cactus spines and Mexicans, carrying the scars of both for life.
Later, young Kirkman went to New Orleans and began the study of medicine, later coming to Lake Charles to spend the rest of his life adventuring for health in those primitive days when our city was young.
Young Gail Borden went to New York and curiously enough, he too, was interested in health, and in contriving a method to make milk safe for babies when necessity compelled the mothers to travel, he invented the process of "condensed" milk and in time became a millionaire.
In the possession of one of Dr. Kirkman’s descendants, Mrs. Mathilda Gray, are a number of old yellow cards dated 1855 - 56. The engraving thereon gives the subject taught in the medical department of the University of Louisiana, the name of William Kirkman written in faded ink and on the backs of each the autograph of the doctor who lectured on that particular subject. They form an interesting souvenir of the period before Tulane Medical School was established and when Charity Hospital formed the school and the residence of the medical student.
There was a fee of $15.00 for each ticket. New matriculants paid an entrance fee of $5.00 and the Diploma $30.00.
Lectures began in November and were completed in April the following year - five months training. Museum apparatus and library services were included in the fees. Practical anatomy was extra and cost $30.00.
The teachers were:
Dr. Gustavus Nott - Materia Medica and Therapeutics.
Dr. James Jones - The Theory of Medicine and Clinical Practice.
Dr. A. N. Cenas - Midwifery and the Diseases of Women and Children.
Dr. T. G. Richardson - Anatomy.
Drs. Beard & Chippin - Demonstrators of Anatomy.
Dr. Thomas Hunt - Physiology and Pathology.
"New Orleans Picayune - August 8, 1865.
"An advertisement appeared in the above newspaper saying that lectures would commence November 13, and that facilities were in ‘admirable preservation for Anatomical instruction and Hospital Clinics in Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics, Museum Apparatus and Library.’
Dr. James Jones, Dean
University of Louisiana
Dr. Kirkman came to Lake Charles sometime in 1858 and very soon endeared himself to the community by his skill in his profession, his kindness of heart, and integrity of character. He was really one of the first trained physicians in this section, and for his time and day was an exceptionally good doctor.
He performed in the ‘70’s what was probably the first appendectomy in this section of Louisiana, although it was not called such.
His foster daughter (who afterwards married Dave Lyons) who often accompanied Dr. Kirkman on his calls, told me that the patient, a woman living in a cabin in the piney woods, was placed outside the cabin that the light might be sufficient for the doctor to see how to work. His instruments were boiled and the incision made and the operation completed. The patient was then brought in the house and nursed by the doctor until recovery was established. Dr. Kirkman later made this entry in his diary: "I have this day amputated the elongation of gut." A good description of the appendix.
This operation took more courage than is apparent today. Medical instruments were inadequate, knowledge asepsis was limited, and over all, there was definite and strong opposition by early preachers and by the laity as well, to operations of the abdominal cavity and with good reason. Infections were frequent and deadly. Operations were confined to amputations and opening and draining abscesses. It would have been easier to give the patient some soothing medication and let her take her chances.
But Dr. Kirkman had the courage and the knowledge to operate and remove the offending appendix on a kitchen table in the yard, and the only asceptic surrounding was the clean, fresh air and God’s sunshine.
Dr. Kirkman was the first, perhaps the only, man in this section of the period in which he lived who attempted surgery other than amputations and the incision and drainage of an abscess, and his ventures into the field were usually fortuitous. His surgical instruments were unusually fine for a country doctor and had been given to him by a surgeon in Mexico City whom he had nursed through an attack of yellow fever during one of his several visits to that city.
His field covered the entire parish (don’t forget the size of the old parish) and as money was scarce he was often paid in vegetables, fruit, and chickens for his services.
Mrs. Lavinia Lyons told me she recalls one family that always paid Dr. Kirkman in peaches - an annual fee that paid for the medical care of the family during the year when the peach crop matured. Another paid his debt in sweet potatoes.
Although supplied with excellent tools; he never hesitated if found without his instruments when a surgical emergency presented itself to use any substitute at hand.
One old resident told me of the successful amputation of a man’s leg at Edgerly by Dr. Kirkman, who used a knife made from a saw used in a nearby sawmill.
I do know he won the everlasting gratitude of my grandfather, David J. Reid, whose right arm had been badly injured in the accidental discharge of a shotgun.
Dr. Hilliard, who was called in, advised amputation. Grandfather refused to have his arm taken off and with Scotch bluntness dismissed Dr. Hilliard and sent for Dr. Kirkman who, at that time, was a newcomer to the village of Lake Charles.
Dr. Kirkman promised to do his best to save the arm and by daily attention, dressing the wound himself until recovery was established. The arm was left with limited motion, but it was not cut off. Forever after, no member of the Reid family dared have any other doctor and Dr. Kirkman remained my grandfather’s closest and most intimate friend.
And on that February afternoon in 1881 when Judge Reid suddenly passed away, Dr. Kirkman labored for more than an hour trying to revive his old friend and comrade of many a political battle.
Dr. Kirkman was, in time, one of the leading spirits in civic affairs in early Lake Charles. Records made frequent mention of him. In 1872 when a new courthouse was being considered Dr. Kirkman was one of the three men appointed to draft the size of the timbers and make the preliminary plans.
A few years later he was State Senator. His name appears on the first Board of Health of Lake Charles.
In August 1879 a West Indian hurricane destroyed more than half of the settlement at "Leesburg," as Cameron was then known.
A fever developed among the survivors and a number died, the young sheriff of the parish, Tony Jones, among them.
Dr. Kirkman visited the settlement at the "Pass" to investigate the nature and cause of the disease. He agreed with Dr. Shelton, the settlement physician, that it was not yellow fever but "bilious congestive fever seriously aggravated by lamaria [malaria] resulting from the August hurricane and particularly by what of quinine for treatment." (This was undoubtedly typhoid fever that came to the village when the waters receded and the wells that supplied drinking water had been polluted.)
My mother was in Leesburg at the time and was seriously ill with the fever and her description of it was that of the symptoms of typhoid fever.
"Lake Charles Echo - June 13, 1885
"Dr. W. H. Kirkman, Erastus J. Lyons, A. H. Moss, J. E. Goodlett, C. L. Richardson and W. L. Brown are creating a Board of Health for the town of Lake Charles, which shall call a meeting of the Town Council to put into force such regulations as shall be referred to them by the same board." Dr. Kirkman is elected president of the board.
This is the first Board of Health to function for the sanitary good of the town. Later sanitary regulations were drawn up, being largely matters of drainage. The Town Constable was delegated the duty of reporting all unsanitary conditions about town. Citizens were warned to clean toilets and to use lime or copperas freely about them. This was the extent of the initial activities of this first board.
A man of liberal views and great observation, he predicted the time would come when all the wilderness about Lake Charles would be settled and he urged his friends to buy land. He said that he had twelve members in his family and wanted to leave each of them 100 acres.
He transmitted this love of land to his son-in-law, J. G. Gray. Dr. Kirkman’s daughter, Mary, married the son of Dr. Reuben Gray, and this son-in-law followed Dr. Kirkman’s advice, accumulating large tracts of land.
When Dr. Kirkman died, he was one of the largest land owners in the parish, leaving his children much more than 100 acres each.
The Sulphur Mines and the Ged Oilfield are part of his original land purchases. He was one of the first persons to advance the theory that oil was present on these lands, much to the amusement of the more conservative element in Calcasieu.
Today the land he bought and wanted to develop for oil is in the possession of his grandchildren and is one of the best coastal oil fields in America.
Kirkman Street that bisects Lake Charles from North to South, the longest street in town, is named in memory of Dr. Kirkman.
DR. LOUIS ESPAGLIER - 1860 to 1880
In the 1860’s Dr. Louis Espaglier, who claimed to have received his medical education in Paris, France, was established in Lake Charles on South Court Street (that now forms the south lawn of the Parish Courthouse.)
He spoke no English and his practice was limited to the French speaking citizens. A few years later, however, he moved to Welsh, Louisiana, married Miss Fontenot who spoke both French and English, and his practice expanded. He took his wife with him on calls to the sick and acted as interpreter. She also helped him in the care of the patient.
Dr. Espaglier died in the 1880’s leaving no descendants.
DR. REUBEN FLANAGAN GRAY - 1869
Reuben Flanagan Gray was born in Abbeville Country, South Carolina, in 1811.
He received a college education, graduating from the University of Maryland at Baltimore. He then studied medicine under Dr. Geddings, of Baltimore, and later went to Medical College in Philadelphia where he received his diploma.
In 1857 he came to Louisiana, going first to Bienville Parish. While here, he enlisted in the Confederate Army, his three sons enlisting also.
In 1867 he went to St. Landry Parish and two years later, in 1869, came to Calcasieu Parish.
However, before coming to Calcasieu, he visited British and Spanish Honduras with the idea of selecting a home site there. A cholera scourge broke out, and he gave his services there until the epidemic subsided.
Few names are more widely known or more gratefully remembered than Dr. Gray’s. When suffering humanity came his way they were never passed by on the other side. And the fact that the sufferers were poor and friendless was a guarantee that they might rely on Dr. Gray for sympathy and relief.
He was known to take a sick railroad laborer from the roadside to his home and place him in a room, sometimes to the serious inconvenience of his own family and to minister to his needs for weeks until health was fully recovered, without hope of other compensation then the gratitude of the sufferer.
Mrs. Frank Haskell, who as a young girl (Lily Dade) made her home with her uncle, Dr. Gray, said she could not recall the week that her uncle did not have someone in the house that he was nursing back to health. Some poor person who had no one to look after them, of course.
Dr. Gray not only prescribed for his patients but he nursed them in a very real sense. She said their home suggested a private hospital more than anything else.
As thousands of others, Dr. Gray lost everything in the Civil War, and when the family came to Lake Charles they brought all their possessions in a covered wagon.
His granddaughter, Matilda Gray, said that her father, J. G. Gray, has often described for her that episode in his life when they first reached the little village that was then Lake Charles in the late ‘60’s. He was 19 years old.
They reached the outskirts of the village in the late afternoon and because of his poor clothes, he had a huge patch on the seat of his pants, waited until dark before he came into the Court Square to inquire of the townspeople as to the best place to stop for the night. The distressed family met with such friendly hospitality the decision was made to remain in the village, although the original plan had been to go on to Texas.
A fire was made; hoecakes cooked and eaten with the honey that had been gathered from a bee tree earlier in the day along the road.
After camping for awhile, a home was built on the Northeast corner on what is now Broad and Bilbo Street, where in 1889 Leopold Kaufman built a fine home for his son to be born in, E. R. Kaufman.
The Gray home was moved across the street and was torn down only a few years ago.
The lad who came into that village that evening so long ago in such shabby clothes he was ashamed to be seen in the daylight, died some years ago owning one of the richest oil fields in America, and his children are living in a beautiful home not far from where the family first camped when they came to Lake Charles.
The accounts of Dr. Gray’s kindness to the sick and the unfortunate are innumerable. He never sent a bill, and he grew very angry at parents who frightened children by telling then "the doctor was coming to give them nasty medicine." "Never," he said, "make children dislike their best friend, the doctor." And he, himself, loved children.
During a raging winter storm, when sleet, wind and rain lashed the vast prairie, Dr. Gray had an urgent call from Lacassine Prairie. He could find no one to accompany him into the winter night, so he saddled his horse, strapped on his medicine bags and set out into the bitter winter night.
When he reached the Joe LeBleu home, six miles out, he stopped and called for help - his feet were frozen to the stirrups. He had to be lifted from the saddle and taken into the house to be thawed out. After a steaming cup of hot coffee and warmed by the big fireplace, he climbed back on his horse and continued on his journey across the wind-swept prairie, to the sick man’s home and saved the life of a man who might otherwise have died.
When the Southern Pacific Railroad was being built in the ‘70’s, workmen were attacked by an epidemic of sysentery. [dysentery] (Cholera?) Many died of the mysterious infection. You can read their names on headstones in the old Corporation Cemetery on Moss Street. Dr. Gray spared himself no rest, taking many of the stricken men into his own home to nurse them back to health.
On August 2, 1872, the town was quarantined against New Orleans and Morgan City. No one was permitted to enter the town unless an interval of 10 days had elapsed since leaving the infected towns.
If one entered sooner than this, he was at once fined $50.00 and expelled from town. And if anyone harbored such a person he, also, was fined $50.00 and in default of payment was to be incarcerated in the calaboose for 48 hours. Equal punishment was meted out to those who knew of the infraction of the town ruling. The Town Constable was to keep a strict watch to see these orders were obeyed. Dr. Reuben Gray was appointed quarantine officer.
Again in August, 1878, the town was quarantined against yellow fever in New Orleans. A Board of Health appointed to see that proper "sanitary precautions be taken." The board was composed of Dr. R. F. Gray, Dr. J. E. Hilliard, Dr. J. G. Manday, A. H. Moss, and J. W. Bryan.
Again in August, 1879, the town was quarantined against infected districts where yellow fever existed. Not even mail was permitted to come into the town unless it was first fumigated. The postmaster threatened to sue the town for holding up mail, but city authorities got in touch with Washington and Federal authorities ruled that in health matters the board was paramount.
A group of mill owners, and Lake Charles in this period was a thriving mill town, protested loudly against the rigid quarantine. It was affecting their contact with Galveston, Texas, the principal market and base of supplies for the mills. But the Town Council had the courage of its convictions and upheld the Board of Health. *
Dr. Gray continued the practice of medicine until a few years before his death, which occurred in May, 1881.
A street in Lake Charles memorializes the kindly doctor.
*The above accounts were copied from the old minute book at the city hall and was referred to as "The Old Shotgun Quarantine."
THE LAST CASE OF YELLOW FIVER
The last case of yellow fever that we had in Lake Charles was in the late 1890’s, I forgot the exact date, but I was a school girl and recall the closing of schools because of yellow fever.
The case was that of a young man, a traveling salesman out of New Orleans, who became ill at the Howard Hotel. The streets leading to the hotel on Pujo Street were roped off, no one was permitted to enter or leave the building and all public places of gathering were closed and guards stationed to enforce the order. Lang Clark, a deputy sheriff in my father’s office, told me no one tried to enter the hotel; in fact, with one exception, everyone avoided the streets near the hotel, going blocks out of their way.
The one exception was Will Ramsay, wealthy mill owner of the Bradley-Ramsay Mill, who, under the influence of stimulants, thought nothing of exposing himself to "Yellow Jack." He came tearing up Bilbo Street at a great rate of speed with his famous pacer "Tutwillow." When the horse ran into the rope stretched across the street, stopping suddenly, the impact almost threw Ramsay out of his buggy. Demanding in a loud voice to know why the rope was there, he was told of the quarantine and the case of yellow fever in the nearby hotel.
Somewhat sobered, he backed his horse off, but a moment later he came back and called to Clark. "It’s all right, Lang, I don’t want to go in there. Just tell Bill Downs (the bartender) to send me out two quarts of champagne." However, Mr. Ramsey did not get his champagne.
The patient was cared for by a negro nurse named Gus and was getting along favorably, until he asked for food, saying he was starving. Gus asked the patient what he should bring him and the man said anything in the kitchen. And Gus did just that. He brought him a loaded tray with among other things, corned beef and cabbage, which was on the bill of fare for the guards. Twenty-four hours later the man was dead.
So frightened were the two negroes the city hired to bury the body, they did not dig the grave long enough or deep enough and for weeks afterward the shocking sight that met the eyes of passersby was that of a coffin sticking upended in the cemetery.
When the quarantine was lifted, the young man’s relations from New Orleans were permitted to come to Lake Charles and the body was decently interred.
This was our last hysteria about yellow fever. Not long afterward a group of young doctors, Walter Reed among them, proved conclusively that yellow fever was caught only from certain infected mosquitoes and all our absurd methods of prevention went out of existence.
DR. GEORGE HOUSE - 1870
George House was born in Huntsville, Alabama in 1833. He attended medical school in Nashville, Tennessee about 1856, and served in the Medical Department of the Confederate Army from 1861 to 1864. He cane to Louisiana in the ‘70’s and began the practice of medicine at the Sulphur Mines, after a brief period in St. Mary Parish.
In a short while his practice was extended to Dutch Cove, Bayou Deinde [D'Inde] and Vincent Settlement. He died at the home of his son G. W. House in Sulphur in 1898. He was the grandfather of Claude House.
DR. J. CORNELIUS MONDAY - 1878
In the spring of 1878, Dr. Cornelius Monday came to Lake Charles, a recent graduate of the New Orleans Medical School. One year later this advertisement appeared:
"Lake Charles Echo - March 8, 1879
Dr. J. Cornelius Monday
Physician, Surgeon and Druggist, having established a Drug Store in the building of J. W. Bryan on the corner of Ryan and the Public Square, I am prepared to sell drugs for cash, cheaper then ever offered before in Lake Charles.
Particular efforts made to always have on hand a full supply of Quinine, Calomel, Opium, Morphine, Castor Oil, Alcohol, a superior article of Brandy, Brandy, Whiskey, Gin, Wine, etc., kept exclusively for medicinal purposes.
Can be found at Drug Store during the day and at residence on Bilbo Street at night, if not professionally absent.
N. B. Physician’s prescriptions carefully compounded."
This advertisement is enlightening as to drugs used by doctors in those days. The drugs advertised were those most commonly used, although one may doubt if all that whiskey, etc. was "used exclusively for medicine."
Quinine for chills and fever, supposedly caused by malaria, and could have been a kidney infection or some other septic symptom, but your old-time doctor was often unaware of this; chills followed by fever was malaria. If the quinine did not work, calomel was given
There was a comic song of the day that went like this:
"If Willie feels chilly,
"Double the dose of CAL-0-MEL"
And it was often done.
Dr. Monday’s drug store was not the first in town. A German trained pharmacist by the name of William Meyer opened the first drug store about 1875. It was a large, two-story building, painted white, on the corner of Ryan and Pujo Streets, where the Charleston Hotel is now. The family lived upstairs over the store. The post office was in Meyer’s Drug Store at that time and the local paper had a corner where its weekly editions were sold.
The first telephone, and for several years the only one in town, was here too.
It was a popular place for the men of the town to meet. Dr. Monday’s drug store did not last long with this competition.
In 1888 he has a notice in the Lake Charles Echo, that his office is on Ryan Street, next to Knapp’s Drug Store. Since he would hardly advertise the location of another store if he had one of his own, we may assume he had given up the drug store in Jim Bryan’s store.
However, Dr. Monday was one of the most popular doctors in Lake Charles in the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s.
As I recall him, he was a tall, handsome man with sharp black eyes, dark hair and beard, flecked with gray. He had a soft, soothing bedside manner that may have accounted for his popularity, especially with the female members of a family.
He drove a typical "doctor’s buggy"- a black one-seated affair with curtains on each side. But his buggy had glass windows in each curtain, round and big as a saucer. He drove a lovely white horse, the only doctor to have such a horse. You could always spot Dr. Monday’s buggy even thought you might not see him.
He had been a soldier of the Confederacy and the rigors of army life had its after-effects.
In the latter part of 1890 his health began to fail. He moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he died a few years later.
DR. ABRAM HUGH MOSS - 1879
"Lake Charles Echo - April 5, 1879: "We are pleased to note that A. H. Moss returned to us in a new guise and we bid him welcome.
"Known to everyone as a popular and successful merchant, he is now a graduate of the Louisiana Medical College in New Orleans, whither he went last winter to complete his studies."
This, of course, refers to the five-month training period given those interested in becoming physicians, at the first medical school in Louisiana and now the famed Tulane Medical School.
Dr. Moss came to Lake Charles from Opelousas, Louisiana, in 1877, and at first conducted a small store with a partner, E. L. Riddick, on the corner of Ryan and Pujo Streets where the Gordon Drug Store was years later.
Dr. Moss practiced his profession until the late ‘80’s when his health began to fail. He went to San Antonio, Texas, remaining there a number of years.
Returning to Lake Charles, he resumed his practice and with Peter Platz opened a sawmill on the lake, where later the Bel Mill was established.
In 1895, Dr. Moss, again in failing health, went to California, where he remained until his death in the early 1900’s from pulmonary tuberculosis.
Dr. Moss was married three times and had ten children. His eldest son, Leland H. Moss, studied medicine at Vanderbilt College in Nashville, Tennessee and practiced medicine in Lake Charles for several years. He then gave up medical practice and became an attorney.
DR. JAMES G. GOODLETT - 1880
In the 1880’s we began to have an influx of doctors. Among them was Dr. James G. Goodlett, who, as a number of them, was a veteran of the Civil War, returning home to find home destroyed and people penniless, looking for a new home to begin life anew.
He came with his wife and five children, secured a little cottage on Bilbo Street near Pujo Street, built a tiny office alongside of his home and began medical practice in our town.
He was successful in practice and soon was active in village affairs. He was particularly interested in working for the establishment of an Episcopal Church in Lake Charles and his name appears on the Church records as one of the first vestrymen.
His wife gave the name "Church of the Good Shepherd" to the new building, in memory of the church in her hometown in Mississippi which bore the name.
The family was never able to forget the past and dwelt largely on memories of a happier and more affluent past.
Dr. Goodlett died November 11, 1887, and was buried in the old Moss Street Cemetery. He was not quite 40 years old.
DR. R. W. ZAWADSKY - 1888
"Lake Charles Echo, Friday October 26, 1888:
Dr. R. W. ZAWADSKY: HOMEOPATHIST - Also Magnetic
Appliance of every style from U. S. Magnetic Co.,
furnished to order. Calls answered promptly - day or night. Apply at office next to Metropolitan Market* - Lake Charles, Louisiana."
Dr. Zawadsky was born in the Province of Poland, July 25, 1828. He graduated from the Warsaw Medical School and after completing his education the Hungarian War broke out. He enlisted in the army, fighting on the Hungarian side until the cause for which he fought was lost.
He then fled to America to escape punishment. He landed in Richmond, Virginia and practiced his profession in various sections of the country, coming to Lake Charles in 1888.
In September 1890 he moved to Welsh, where he remained until his death. He married Miss Julina Mathewson in Newton, Kansas. He had no children, but raised two nephews of Mrs. Zawadsky’s, Orvin and George W. Matthewson.
Dr. Zawadsky’s father was a commissioner officer in the Prussian Army. There were 16 children in the family - twelve daughters and four sons, of whom, in 1890, Dr. Zawadsky was the only living one.
*This market was on Bilbo Street near the corner of Broad.
DR. W. G. KIBBE - 1867
Dr. Kibbe came to Lake Charles after the Civil War, one of a number of physicians who selected Lake Charles for the practice of their profession, in the decade following the surrender.
He had served in the Confederacy, entering at the age of 18 years.
He remained in Lake Charles for five years and while here studied Latin and the classics under Father Kelly, a Catholic priest.
He was a member of the first city council, July 5, 1868, and with Joe Bilbo was appointed a committee to select a burial ground for the protestants of the town.*
He moved to Perry’s Bridge in 1874 and in 1876 moved to Abbeville, Louisiana.
*The site selected was the old Moss Street Cemetery now.
DR. CLEMENT LANIER RICHARDSON - 1884
Dr. Richardson came to Lake Charles in February, 1884, and for a short period he was in partnership with Dr. A. H. Moss. Their office was at Dr. Richardson’s residence on the corner of Hodges and Division Streets. Later he bought the residence on Hodges Street near Pine, and lived there for many years.
His office was next to his home following a typical "before the war" pattern. It was a two-room building, with a large front window and nice gallery with a railing around it.
That wide window and inviting front porch often lured the youngsters of the neighborhood, and I was among them, to peek surreptitiously into the doctor’s office and wonder at the queer specimens preserved in jars on the shelves inside. There was a tiny fetus in a glass jar what we especially wondered about.
Dr. Richardson is one of the vivid memories of my childhood days. For many years he was our family physician. Called in when malaria attacked us, as it did every autumn; when the new baby arrived; when my brother Kinney pushed a bean up his nose; when I ventured too close to a frisky colt and had my eat split open for the venture, all the perils of childhood he helped us through safely. God bless his kindly heart!
And when we grew up, he still retained his interest in us and in our doings. How well I recall the November day when he came over to see me about "the crazy idea" as my father called it that I was entertaining about becoming a graduate nurse. His pleasant sympathetic talk made things easier.
Dr. Richardson was born in Wadesboro, South Carolina, August 1, 1841. He attended school first at Anson Academy in Wadesboro, then in 1859 he entered the University of North Carolina.
When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the North Carolina Regiment, C. S. A., serving under Wade Hampton and W. E. Lee until the close of the War. He was in campaigns around Richmond and Petersburg. At the Battle of Gettysburg, he was made a prisoner of war, and for the succeeding nine months of the war was confined in a Federal prison at Point Lookout and at Port Delaware.
After the war he began the study of medicine with his brother, a physician of Wadesboro, then completed his studies at Baltimore, graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1880.
He came, shortly afterward, to Jeanerette, Louisiana, coming to Lake Charles in 1884.
From the first, Dr. Richardson enjoyed a large practice and bore the reputation of an eminently successful physician. He was a man of broad intelligence, with a great sympathy for the sick and for the unfortunate.
He served as parish physician, city physician, and city health officer at various times.
About 1922, Dr. Richardson moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where he and his wife lived with their son, Dr. Shaler A. Richardson, a prominent nose and throat specialist of that city. He had three sons, William, Lanier and Shaler, and two daughters, Helen (Mrs. Walton Wall) of Stuttgart, Arkansas, and Betty Sherrod of California.
Dr. Richardson died at Jacksonville, Florida on November 10, 1926.
DR. J. P. ARNOLD - 1880
The Lake Charles Echo Friday, October 26, 1888
"Dr. J. P. Arnold - Eclectic Physician and Surgeon.
Calls answered day or night. Office at residence near the Depot."
His home was on Lawrence Street (619 it would be now.) These old papers make no mention of numbers on houses, of course, and rarely do they even give the street address. Usually they picked out a landmark and used that as a point of direction. For example, Dr. Arnold states in the paper that his office and residence is "near the Depot." Actually the Depot was on Reid Street and Railroad Avenue, fully seven blocks away and not in a straight line either. But then there were so few houses, I suppose it was not difficult to find one’s way about.
Dr. Arnold was 26 years old when he had that advertisement printed. He died July 25, 1890, aged 28 years. He is buried in the old cemetery on Moss Street.
This is all I know about him. But somewhere, somehow there is more that could be told of this young adventurer in our pioneer town.
DR. J. B. MCMAHON - 1888
Lake Charles Echo Friday, October 26, 1888
"J. B. McMahon, M. D., Physician Surgeon, Obstetrics
and Diseases of Women and Children a Specialty. Office on
Ryan Street, over Block’s Store."
Dr. McMahon was born May 6, 1861, at Newton, Texas, where he was educated and lived until manhood. His father, David McMahon was a native of Kentucky and a well known lawyer.
Young McMahon came to Merryville, Louisiana in 1883 to keep books for M. C. Frazier and Bros., who were extensively engaged in the merchandise and timber business. In 1884, he went to the Medical College of Alabama, spending three sessions there and graduating in 1886. He then moved to Lake Charles and began the practice of his profession.
In December 1886, he took a post-graduate course in medicine at the Medical School of Tulane University in New Orleans.
He returned to Lake Charles, married a native Lake Charles girl, had one son,
Rhett, who is now a physician in Baton Rouge. Dr. Rhett McMahon in 1956 was
president of the Louisiana Medical Society.
DR. ALLEN J. PERKINS - 1888
Dr. Perkins was born November 14, 1865 about seven miles north of Lake Charles on the West Fork of Calcasieu River. With the exception of eight years at college, he has spent his entire life in Calcasieu Parish.
Graduated from Southwestern University at Georgetown, Texas in the class of 1886, taking second honors (and a gold medal for best work in drawing and painting.)
In the fall of that same year, he entered the Medical School of Tulane University in New Orleans, graduating in 1888. He came to Lake Charles in April of that year, and a few months later was elected Coroner for the parish, a position he held for several terms. He was also appointed surgeon for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Dr. Perkins was a great-grandson of Rees Perkins, the first Justice of the Peace in Calcasieu. He was active in local and state politics but never permitted this to interfere with his medical career.
An exceptionally good physician and surgeon, his hobby was painting and in this he showed such skill that had he not chosen medicine for a career, he might have been a successful artist.
Financial reverses in the 1920’s, family troubles, and the discovery that he had cancer depressed him terribly. In 1926 he shot himself with a revolver, dying instantly.
R. W. E. BROM - 1888
Dr. Brom practiced briefly in Lake Charles in 1888. He move to Orange, Texas, where he married a Miss Lutcher, whose father accumulated a fortune from the lumber industry. He remained in Orange.
DR. J. C. ANDERSON - 1888
He also practiced medicine in Lake Charles briefly in 1888, and then gave up the practice of medicine, becoming a dentist.
DR. JAMES A. WARE - 1888
Dr. Ware was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on September 26, 1826. His first job was that of a clerk in a post office in Columbus, Ohio. At 21 he was one of the operators of the O’Reilly Telegraph Company’s office, the first telegraph company west of the Alleghany Mountains. In 1849 he went to Cincinnati as a telegraph operator and gave valuable aid to the stricken city during the famous cholera epidemic of that year.
Remaining in that town until 1852, he decided to go to the Starling Medical College at Columbus, Ohio, possibly because his experience during the cholera epidemic aroused his interest in the field of medicine.
From this school he graduated as a physician in 1855, and moved to western Illinois to practice his profession. The following year he came to Louisiana, settling in Avoyelles Parish. Years later he said he came to Louisiana to get rid of two things - cold weather and abolitionists!
At the opening of the Civil War he enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in the 16th Louisiana Infantry, serving under Generals Braxton Bragg, Joseph E. Johnston, and Hood. Soon after enlistment he was made surgeon of his regiment.
He delighted in the telling of an incident that occurred toward the end of the War, when his company was forced to surrender to the enemy at Meridian, Mississippi.
The commander of the Federal troops at Meridian happened to be a boyhood friend of his, General McMillian, and he received Dr. Ware with warm friendliness and invited him to join the staff at dinner, a kindness that the half-starved Confederate soldier was glad to accept. They all felt the relief from the terrible strain of four years of fighting. Jokes were exchanged at the expense of both sides.
After a while, although Dr. Ware was doing his best to uphold the South, there were too many against him and the Southerners were on the losing end. Dr. Ware decided to put an end to it, so he said, "Gentlemen, I have a conundrum for you to answer." "Why is the Southern Confederacy like Lazarus?’ No one could see the affinity. "Because," said Dr. Ware, "both were licked by dogs."
The Yankee officers proved themselves good sports and laughed heartily, but the Brigade Champlain of McMillian’s army never spoke to Ware again. He took the joke seriously.
Dr. Ware loved jokes and I can recall his twinkling gray eyes as he retold this story. He described himself as a "Reconstructed Yankee." And he was - he presented the perfect picture of a typical Southern gentleman of the old regime. I have seen him escort a country woman from his office to her wagon and assist the sun-bonneted patient from his office with the courtesy and deference he might have shown the President’s wife.
After the War, returning to Avoyelles Parish, he found his little hometown, Holmesville, practically depopulated. He decided to move to Lake Charles and he came here to a press convention, and attracted by its beauty and the prospect of future growth, he remained here permanently.
He was interested in the affairs of the town, especially public schools and was later on the school board for eight years. Many present-day men and women will recall the courtly old doctor, who as member of the school board presented the diploma to each young graduate with a graceful speech and a warm handshake at Commencement.
Those were the days when school board members made regular visits to the schools and conducted oral examinations to determine the progress of the pupil. Dr. Ware’s speeches always contained many references to the classics and much poetry. I particularly recall his oft-repeated statement that no one could consider himself educated who had not read Gibbon’s "Rise and Decline of the Roman Empire."
Dr. Ware passed away long ago, but his is yet remembered in Lake Charles as a kindly, courtly gentleman of the old school who had much success in treating the ills of little children.
He compounded a medicine known as "Ware’s Baby Powder" and "Ware’s Black Powder" that had an immense sale. He prepared the medicine, the formula of which was closely guarded, in the little back room of his office on Pujo Street (it would be next to the Charleston Hotel now.) He ordered his supplies form New Orleans so that local druggists might not learn the ingredients.
With mortar and pestle, he prepared the powders that proved so helpful in intestinal disturbances. After his death, a relative from Texas secured the formula and sold it to a commercial concern.
Dr. John Mathieu, a druggist in Lake Charles and an old friend of Dr. Ware, tells me that the chief of the famous "powders" were charcoal and bismuth.
After eighty useful years on earth, Dr. James Ware, the wise, kindly gentleman, breathed his last May 10, 1907.
"Lake Charles Echo - August 5, 1875
"DR. A. C. HERISSON, French physician specializing in Chronic diseases."
"ARNAULT TURINCHER - Medicine Doctor."
Lake Charles Echo - March 30, 1888
" U. E. Traer - Phrenologist and Hygienic Physician of Vinton, Iowa, on Thursday evening commenced a course of highly interesting lectures at the Methodist Church on Phrenology, Physiology, and Physiognomy. (Editor’s Comment) We would advise all citizens to attend these lectures as it is not only a source of amusement, but a genuine source of instruction, as Dr. Traer is a good speaker and thoroughly understands the analysis of humanity." **
** True! And it might apply to all three advertisements above.
Lake Charles Echo - July 24, 1888
An organization of doctors called "The Calcasieu Parish Medical Association" was formed on July 24, 1888.
The next day, July 25, 1888, The Association met again and outlined a Fee Bill, a copy of which is given herewith from The Lake Charles Echo - August 10, 1888.
Lake Charles, La. - July 25, 1888
"The organization was called to order by Dr. J. C. Monday, President. On motion of M. B. McMahon the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
"Whereas: It has become necessary for the physicians of Lake Charles to adopt some plan of self-protection: Therefore be it resolved: That we furnish each member of this association, at the end of each quarter the name and amount due by all parties who have not paid their bills and show no disposition to pay same; that each and every member of this association do hereby pledge themselves no to visit professionally such parties until they have made satisfactory settlement with their former physician or physicians.
"Whereas: the mill men of this vicinity employ a class of transients, men we have repeatedly failed to be compensated for our medical services, therefore be it,
"Resolved: That for self-protection, each member of this organization will require all transient employees to secure from their employers, a written order to the physician that may be called, payment for any and all medical services that he may render."
"On motion of Dr. Richardson, the following Fee Bill was adopted as the fee-bill of the Calcasieu Medical Association:
"A visit and prescription to any city $2.50
"For each additional prescription for other patients
in the same home at the same time $1.00
"Consultation in the city $10.00
"Each subsequent one for same $2.50
"For each hour of required delay at a patient from $1.00 to $2.00
"Attention to cases of smallpox, cholera or yellow fever $25.00 and upwards
"Night visits charges double office consultations from $1.00 to $5.00
"Consultation by letter Same
"For each mile traveling in the country, first mile or less $2.00
"Subsequent miles or parts of a mile $1.00
"Charges at night in the country – mileage double
"Each ordinary prescription in the country $1.00
"A call visit in passing in the country $2.50 and upwards
"Physical examination of chest from $5.00 - $10.00
"Digital or instrumental examination for diseases of the
Rectum $10.00 and upwards
"For instrumental examination of larynx and contiguous parts $5.00 - $25.00
"Urinary analysis $5.00 -- $10.00
"Examination to decide mental condition $5.00-- $10.00
"Labor, normal $25.00
"Labor, difficult or instrumental $50.00 and upwards
"Labor in the country, mileage extra.
"Removal of placenta $10.00 - $20.00
"Digital examination, per vaginum $2.50 - $5.00
"Cauterizing per specimens of injection of womb $3.00 - $5.00
"Reduction of uterus and application of pessary $5.00 - $10.00
"Minor surgical operations $5.00 - $10.00
"Reducing a dislocated or broken arm, forearm, hand, wrist,
or shoulder $15.00 - $25.00
"Reducing a dislocated or broken leg or ankle $25.00 - $50.00
"Reducing a dislocated or broken thigh or knee $25.00 - $50.00
"Amputation of arm or forearm $25.00 - $50.00
"Amputation of shoulder joint $50.00 - $100.00
"Amputation of leg $50.00 - $100.00
"Amputation of hip $75.00 and upward
"Amputation of thigh $75.00 - $150.00
"Reduction of hernia $10.00 - $50.00
"Operation for strangulated hernia $50.00 and upward
"Syphilitic cases $20.00 and upward
"All visits to the country extra.
"All subsequent application of bandages $3.00 - $5.00
"For all plastic operations $10.00 - $500.00
"Introduction of catheter, bougie or sound
under ordinary circumstances $2.00 - $5.00
"Operation on the bladder and after treatment $10.00 - $500.00
"Trepanning and operation on the skull $50.00 and upward
"Operation and treatment of disease of the eye,
or injuries to the eye $2.50 - $500.00
"To go to Lockport $8.00
"To go to Deesport $5.00
"To go to West Lake Charles $5.00
"To go to Norris Point $5.00
"To go to English Bayou $5.00
"To go to Bagdad $5.00 to $8.00
"Treatment of gonorrhea Acute $10.00
"All other charges for services rendered and not specified in this fee-bill will be left to the discretion of the attending physician and in case of any difficulty about charges; the decision of the association shall be final."
"J. B. McMahon, M. D. Graduated from the Medical College of the University of Mobile, Alabama, March 25, 1886.
"J. P. Arnold, M. D. Graduated from the Eclectic Medical Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 4, 1885.
"W. J. Brom, M. D. Graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical School Session of 1884, March 18.
"J. C. Monday, M.D. Graduated from the Medical Department of the University of Louisiana, March 17, 1872.
"E. J. Lyons, M. D. Graduated from the New Orleans Medical School, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 1861.
"C. L. Richardson, M. D. Graduated from College of Physicians and Surgeons, Baltimore, Maryland, March 1880.
"Approved: J. C. Monday, M. D.
President, Calcasieu Medical Association
"Attest: J. B. McMahon, M. D.
There was much protest from the community when the Fee Bill was published and the following week two notices appeared in the Lake Charles Echo. One from Dr. Ware and one from Dr. Allen Perkins, stating that they "regretted signing the Fee Bill and were withdrawing from the association, and shall practice medicine as they have done in the past, uncontrolled by obligations to any association."
The Echo remained discreetly silent about the famous Fee Bill. But no so its rival paper, the Lake Charles Commercial, whose editor and owner, John McCormack has this to say: (An Irishman loves a fight!)
Lake Charles Commercial August 25, 1888
THE MEDICAL TRUST
"We have the Oil Trust, the Sugar Trust, the Soap Trust, and many other Trusts, but Lake Charles can’t be beat. We have the Medical Trust!
"Rates are advanced…nobody will be seen without full pay being guaranteed. Everyone will have to take the precaution to carry in their pockets the written guarantee for paying their medical bills for fear of accident, otherwise, the doctors will let them wait until security is furnished. Up with the trusts, a trust does not mean to trust, it means to pay!
"How English is changing. We want trust. What would a newspaperman do without trust? Let us make a trust all ‘round…Grocery trusts, dry-goods trusts, butcher trusts, and when - O Heavens! - when will we have and Editors’ Trust?"
Nothing further appeared in the daily papers about the Fee Bill after this and it is assumed that conditions became normal again.
But the brief editorial in the Commercial has a decidedly modern
sound. It might have been written in 1965!
DR. JOHN GREENE MARTIN - 1890
Dr. J. G. Martin was born December 18, 1863 in Toronto, Canada. His father, John W. Martin, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, was a learned and distinguished man of letters, who in 1859 came to Canada to accept a position as professor of mathematics in the University of Toronto. After his death in 1886 his widow returned to Ireland.
Dr. Martin received his education on private schools in Ireland and in France. In 1885 he matriculated in medicine at the Royal University of Ireland, served an internship at Mercer Hospital, Dublin. In 1889 he came to America and spent one year at Dartmouth, from which college he graduated in 1890.
Dr. Martin visited Sydney, Australia in 1889, married Miss Lydia Smith, and returned to the United States, coming to Lake Charles in 1890.
Dr. Martin distinguished himself through the years for his ability as a physician and surgeon, for the kindness and attention to duty. He was held in high esteem by his fellow physicians and his patients.
During World War I he was captain in the Medical Service, one of the first to go from Lake Charles. Stationed first at Fort Oglethorpe at Chattanooga, later at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington.
After the war he served as commander of the American Legion, W. B. Williamson Post here.
He was a fellow in the American College of Surgeons, as well as a member of national and state and local medical societies.
President of the City Board of Health for 8 years, 1921 - 29, and was largely responsible for many sanitary and health measures. He also served for a number of years as a member of the State Board of Medical Examiners.
Dr. Martin, who had been the most active worker in furthering the hospital movement, also made the address of welcome at the opening ceremonies of St. Patrick’s Hospital, and it was he who suggested the name of the Hospital.
Dr. Martin performed the first major operation in St. Patrick’s, the removal of a fibroid tumor and appendectomy, with Dr. Jeff Miller of New Orleans assisting. The patient was Miss Mary Goudeau. This operation occurred on the first day the institution was opened for the use of the public - March 17, 1908 - St. Patrick’s Day.
On November 19, 1936, Dr. Martin died in St. Patrick’s Hospital where he had been a staff member for many years and after 48 years of service to humanity.
On his tomb is Orange Grove Cemetery is the inscription: "He leaves behind him, freed from grief and fears; far nobler things then tears."
DOSITE SAMUEL PERKINS - 1890
Born at Rose Bluff on the Calcasieu River on December 12, 1866. His father was Eli Perkins who operated on of the first mills in Southwest Louisiana. Eli Perkins who moved to what is now the town of Sulphur and established the first store there. His son, Dosite, was educated at Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas. From there he went to Tulane University Medical School, graduating in 1889. He studied pharmacy and was assistant to Dr. LaPlace in New Orleans, a specialist in antiseptic surgery.
Dr. Dosite Perkins was the first mayor of Sulphur when the town was incorporated in 1912, and for four years was President of the Calcasieu Board of Health.
He had four children, one of his sons, Phillip Samuel, after graduating from Staunton Military Academy in Virginia, went to Tulane Medical School and upon graduation, joined with his father in the practice of medicine, largely among the employees of the Union Sulphur Company at Sulphur Mines.
Dr. Phillip Perkins, after practicing five years, died of Muscular dystrophy.
DR. AUGUSTUS LYONS - 1895 - 1920
A member of the large Lyons family, early settlers in Calcasieu Parish, and who had many representatives in the field of medicine, was born near Big Woods. Practiced his profession during the ‘90’s and early 1900’s west of the Calcasieu River. In 1920 he was parish health officer.
DR. WEEDON SMITH - 1890
I do not know the background of Dr. Smith, or his medical training. But I have a picture of him and his wife in my scrapbook that tells me much.
It was taken about 1890 and the couple are standing on their front porch. Their home was on Ryan Street, about where the entrance to the Arcade Theater is now. The house had a canvas awning on each side of the porch and printed in large black letters: DR. WEEDON SMITH, SURGEON, SPECIALIST…WILL HEAL ALL DEFORMITIES AND CHRONIC DISEASES. CANCERS AND TUMORS REMOVED…PILES CURED WITHOUT PAIN. CROSSEYES STRAIGHTENED IN PAINLESS OPERATION.
He had a brother, Dr. Temple Smith, who lived in Lake Charles briefly. His wife killed him with a rifle during a quarrel sometimes in the early 1900’s. However, Mrs. Smith was found to have acted in self defense.
DR. SAMUEL MADISON LYONS - 1891
Madison Lyons, popularly known as "Maddy," was born at Big Woods where his family settled in the early part of the 19th century. His father, Oscar, was born on the Sabine River near Niblett’s Bluff, and his mother was the daughter of Thomas J. Lyons, one of he pioneers of Calcasieu.
"Maddy" Lyons attended Professor Baldwin’s Academy in Sugartown, and early school that was noted for the success of it pupils in later life.
Later he went to Tulane University and upon graduation entered Tulane Medical School in 1889. He began the practice of medicine in Sulphur in 1891. Dr. "Maddy" Lyons was active in politics and served on the Police Jury for many years.
He had three sons, all of whom became doctors, graduating from the same Tulane Medical School as their father did.
One was Samuel Benson Lyons, who became a nose and throat specialist, living in Beaumont, Texas, and was highly regarded in his chosen profession form 1921 to 1961 when he retired. He died in Beaumont on September 5, 1965.
The second son was Dr. Shirley Lyons who is now associated with the Ocshner Clinic in New Orleans.
The third son is Dr. Kyle Lyons who follows his father’s chosen profession in Sulphur, Louisiana.
DR. STEPHEN O. CARTER - 1893
Old soldiers may "fade away," but good doctors live on and on. And so it is with Cameron Parish’s grand old Dr. Stephen Orlando Carter.
His first visit to Cameron was made in a little mail packet that went once a week from Lake Charles to Cameron, carrying the mail and the few passengers, going to that lonely spot. It was his last year at Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee.
He had no intention of settling in the Gulf Coast parish, but had come at the request of a classmate, a young doctor who had promised the people of the parish to set up his practice there. He had done what a lot of medical students did then, practiced medicine between semesters, and he had done this in Cameron Parish. There was no doctor there and they wanted him to return.
"Before we were to graduate," said Dr. Carter, "he came to me and explained that he girl he was about to marry refused to live in Cameron Parish, so he asked me to do him a favor and fulfill his promise to the people of Cameron for at least a year, trying it out as a medical field."
He went there to look things over and came back later with horse and buggy. Not long after, he married Miss Selika Penoville, a French girl of Cade, near New Iberia. This was the area in which Dr. Carter grew up.
When he was 19, he recalls, Cade and Smeed, owners of Oasas Plantation, hired him as overseer of the plantation, at $25.00 a month, room and board.
He saved his money and when he had what he thought was enough, he left for Nashville and Vanderbilt College, where he attended classes in the same building as his father did when the school was known as Nashville College.
He stretched his money as far as it would go and worked his way through until he simply had to have help to complete his student work. Then he borrowed $2,500.00 from his father and paid it all back, every cent, as soon as possible after he began his Cameron practice.
It was then he learned to ride horseback through and across the marsh, in many places having to walk, and lead his horse to higher ground. For the first two months, Dr. Carter and his bride lived at a small, and the only, hotel in Leesburg, as the town of Cameron was then called.
Dr. Carter went by horseback to Creole, 15 miles distant, and remained there several days each week to serve that community and adjoining settlements of Grand Chenier, Little Chenier, Oak Grove and Chenier Pardue.
Dr. Carter eventually built a home at Creole on the same site where he now lives.
In those days Cameron was completely isolated from the outside world, except for the mail boat that came once a week from Lake Charles.
Creole was so small that in order to insure survival of the post office and the rail service, the doctor, his wife, and her sister who lived with them, wrote letter each week to relatives everywhere and urging the relatives to write back as many letters and often in return. In this manner, there was a sufficient flow of mail to warrant keeping a post office in Creole.
In those days Creole consisted of not more then a few houses scattered about and a combination store and post office. Much of the territory the physician had to cover was boggy marshland, reached only by horseback and sometimes not even the horse could traverse them. Then he would have to get off the animal, throw his saddle bags full of medicine over his shoulders and lead his horse over the marsh to the next ridge of highland.
Many were the dangers which confronted the doctors in those early years. On one occasion when crossing the marsh on his horse, it stumbled leaving him with one foot caught in the stirrup and exposing him to the danger of being dragged to death. The doctor got his knife from his pocket, opened the blade with his teeth and cut himself free of the saddle.
Obstetrical cases have been high on the doctor’s practice. He estimates 4,000 babies delivered by him, but he number could be larger. Says Dr. Carter, "I would not attempt to guess how many babies I’ve delivered, but I will say this…practically all the people here now under 68 years of age who were born in Cameron Parish, were ‘my babies!’"
In 1952 citizens of the area held a special "Dr. Carter Day" for him and erected a marble and granite monument to him. A huge tablet with a sun dial and the medical emblem on it. Several thousand people were there that May 25, 1952 to honor the man who was never too tired or grew too old to serve them.
Dr. Carter has seven children, four sons and three daughters, all of whom live in Cameron except one daughter who lives in New Orleans.
None of his children followed the medical profession, but one of his grandsons, Dr. S.E. Carter, is a practicing physician at Creole where he conducts a clinic within shouting distance of his grandfather’s home.
Dr. Carter retired from active practice in 1955, two years before "Audrey" struck and almost removed the entire population of Cameron, where his home is now. The raging water, forced through the house by howling winds was so intent on wrecking his property that it lashed the heavy piano about the large living room and eventually worked it through the doorway and to the outside. Lighter pieces of furniture were merely swept away and never found. But the house stood and today is one of the few houses that did resist the terrible hurricane, to continue serving its owners.
Almost symbolical of the old doctor who "came to stay a year, and remained a lifetime."
DR. JASPER J. BLAND - 1897 - 98
Dr. Bland, a native of Mississippi, born in 1850, he studied medicine first as an apprentice to Dr. Wroten in Magnolia, Mississippi for two years. The attended the University of Tennessee, graduating as valedictorian of his class. Then desiring to settle in Louisiana he attended the Medical School in New Orleans, afterwards Tulane Medical School.
He practiced his profession for a few years in Houma, Louisiana, then he moved to New Orleans, where he lived for 12 years. While living in New Orleans, he served as Chief Diagnostician for the State Board of Health of Louisiana, while Dr. Edmund Souchon and Dr. S. A. Oliphant served as presidents of the Board. It was while serving in this capacity that he did meritorious work during the yellow fever epidemic of 1897 - 98.
As Chief Diagnostician, he was summoned to Wilson, Louisiana to investigate a mysterious fever. As the doctor descended form the train, he was met by a delegation armed with shotguns. A burly spokesman from the crowd advanced and said, "Are you the health doctor?"
"Yes," said Dr. Bland, "I’m from the State Board of Health to investigate."
"Well, this gun’s for the first man that calls it yellow fever," announced the townsman.
Dr. Bland said later he felt none too safe because the gun looked formidable.
Two days later this man had fallen victim to the disease and called loudly for Dr. Bland to treat him. Every home in that town of 1,000 inhabitants had one or more cases of yellow fever.
He quickly mustered a couple of doctors and nurses and this was not easy to find those who were immune or were not afraid of the disease. Of the 200 persons he personally cared for, all recovered. The citizens of Wilson afterwards presented him with a gold headed cane with the inscription, "Doctor J. J. Bland, from the citizens of Wilson, Louisiana, 1898 where he treated 200 cases of yellow fever and cured them all."
Today it is difficult to imagine the paralyzing effect of a quarantine as it was maintained in the ‘90’s. Each infected home was guarded closer than a prison. No one must leave or enter. Business was dormant. Two men sat at entrances of homes where the fever cases were and handled the furnishing of food and medicines needed. Prices were enormous because the guards were often unreliable and took advantage of their position as sole agents to the outside world.
Twice during his career, Dr. Bland represented the State Medical Association at annual meetings of the American Medical Association. He was forced to retire from practice for health reasons in 1908.
In 1918 he resumed practice coming to Vinton, Louisiana, just in time for the flu epidemic. During that harrowing winter, the two doctors and both druggists of the town developed the disease and for a period of six weeks Dr. Bland carried on alone, catching snatches of sleep wherever he happened to be, most often sitting in his car, remaining in his car, remaining at home only a few hours without sufficient rest or food.
At one time during the epidemic when all of his colleagues were sick, he held keys to both drug stores in Vinton, filling prescriptions in gallon quantities. In one particular lumber camp, 40 laborers were stricken at once, and just as in the yellow fever epidemic, Dr. Bland lost not a patient.
In 1930 Dr. Bland retired from practice because of failing health and in 1932 he died in Beaumont, Texas, a pioneer in the field of modern medicine.
DR. THOMAS HENRY WATKINS - 1895
Dr. Watkins came to Lake Charles on May 1, 1895 from Lorman, Mississippi, a small town where he received his preliminary education.
At fifteen years of age he went to work in one of the two general stores in the town. After several years work, he saved Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars which he used to enter Tulane University. He lived with an uncle who was a doctor and who may have inspired him to take up the same profession. He graduated form Tulane with honors, and there is an interesting story connected with this.
It was found at the conclusion of the term that young Watkins and another medical student, a Dr. Batchelor, had the same credits and the faculty in an effort to determine which one would be valedictorian of the class, had each write an essay on a given medical subject, the best essay would give the author the coveted honor. Alas, both essays were equally good.
In a final effort to select the winner it was decided to have both students give a talk based on the essays written. Dr. Batchelor won. When young Watkins made a disparaging remark about the winner, one of Dr. Batchelor’s friends took offense and challenged Watkins to a duel.
The two young men, with their friends, went to a lonely spot on the river bank and engaged in a fist fight in which young Dr. Watkins got the worst of it. No doubt, he was the one who graduated with a black eye.
During vacations from school he interned at the Natchez Hospital. After graduation he was an intern at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans.
He made a visit to Lake Charles and decided to make that town his home. Because he was so slender and boyish looking, he grew a beard which he hoped would give him a more mature appearance. His hair was light brown, flecked with auburn tints, but his thick beard was a vivid red and it was not long before his friends had given him the nickname of "Red." He wore this heavy beard until long past the time when he wanted to inspire confidence among his clientele, only shaving it off in the years of late middle life.
In 1895 he hung out his shingle in the old Calcasieu bank building and purchased a bicycle on which he made his calls. Soon his practice grew to a point to where he could afford a horse and buggy, permitting him to make calls far and near all over the parish. In a few years he could purchase an automobile and he did, having the second car ever driven in Lake Charles.
The first automobile was purchased by William Ramsey, a wealthy mill owner, and Dr. Watkins has the next car in 1904. But he had to hang onto his horse and buggy for paved roads; even good roads were few and far between in Lake Charles then.
He was eminently successful in the practice of his profession, particularly in surgery, which was his first love.
One of the fine things recalled of Dr. Watkins was his interest in placing unwanted babies in homes where they would be loved. Among his practice he knew of childless women who longed to be mothers. If he thought they were right for it, some night or early morning some woman would get a telephone call to make preparations for the baby, new born, that he was bringing. And he followed these children with watchful care as they grew to manhood and womanhood.
Kind and generous, he also helped young doctors in the community to get a start, either with a loan, or referring patients to them or having them assist in surgery.
In May 1946, he became a member of the 50-Year Club of Tulane graduates who had practiced 50 years. He was also made a member of the "Paul Tulane Society" established to honor men who were outstanding in their field of work.
He helped organize, later became president, of the Gulf National Bank, and for 39 years was a director of the Calcasieu Savings and Loan Association.
He was a life-long member of the Methodist Church and was active in the building of the present fine church building on Broad Street.
On February 12, 1917, he assisted in the organization of the Seventh District Medical Association, in the Rigmaiden Hotel. Dr. Watkins was made president and Dr. George Kreeger secretary.
In 1949 he retired, spending the last months of his life quietly at home. On October 29, 1949 he died of cancer, at the age of 77 years.
DR. ELISHA LYONS CLEMENT - 1900
Dr. Clement was born in Lake Charles on August 12, 1875, the son of Stephen Henry Clement and Talisma Lyons Clement, pioneer citizens.
After his preliminary education in Lake Charles schools, he attended Tulane University, graduating from the Medical School in 1900. Fifty years later in 1950, he celebrated his Golden Anniversary with the school when Dr. Rufus Harris, president of Tulane, presented him with an honorary degree for a half-century of service to his section of Louisiana.
This honor awarded him at gradation ceremonies at Tulane reminded him, he said upon returning home, of his feelings that June 6, 1900, when he, a slim, young man, stood before the dean of the school and proudly accepted his coveted sheepskin.
One of the most painful and traditional habits of the time was haranguing the young graduate. His dress, his bedside manner, etc. It seems the dignified members of the medical profession were prone to don top hats and Prince Albert coats as a badge of their profession. Dr. Clement made up his mind that he would never be guilty of this supercilious tradition. Living up to the determination, he is credited with being one the first doctors in Lake Charles to wear a plain business suit while conducting his practice.
After graduation he returned to his hometown and rented an office, which was not used for six years. Due to the illness of a fellow doctor, Dr. Clement was called to Sulphur and attended the former’s patients. The towns he served during that time were widely scattered, such as Sulphur, DeQuincy, Starks, Merryville, and Hackberry. He knew every hog trail between the Calcasieu and Sabine Rivers.
Transportation was by horse and buggy, but there the doctor had an advantage. His horses were always of a superior breed. Among the first horses Dr. Clement owned were a Hamiltonian standard bred horse, an Arabian horse, and a polo mare. One might say his transportation was in the speedier class of the day.
But every doctor of that period with a practice that took him over the uncharted prairies, through dense woods, frequent bayous, and mud holes, knew it required a good, smart horse to get him to his destination and home again.
Dr. Clement was a little ahead of his fellow physicians in the choice of horses. He enjoyed telling in later years of those country trips. He usually took his hunting dog with him and his gun. In those days Calcasieu was a hunter’s paradise. Wild game was plentiful everywhere. And he seldom returned home without quail, or other game birds, or even a wild turkey, so plentiful in the area between Sulphur and Hackberry that the section to this day bears the name of Bayou Dinde [D’Inde], Turkey Bayou. He could shoot then without leaving his buggy and his dog would retrieve them.
In 1906 he returned to Lake Charles and promptly took a trip to New York where he enrolled at the New York Post Graduate Hospital, remaining there for three and a half months. Resuming his practice in his native town, he could say in later years that he knew and could call by their first names every person in town, Lake Charles not being as big as it is now. And he retained always an interest in his country friends.
He was elected coroner for the parish in 1920, a post that he held for 20 years. He was married in 1901 to Miss Fannie Harmon of Orange, Texas, and they had one child, Mrs. D. C. Warner of Lake Charles.
Dr. Clement was an honorary member of St. Patrick’s Hospital and of Memorial Hospital, and a member of Parish, State and National Medical Associations; a member of the Masonic Order and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Dr. Elisha Clement died at the age of 77 years at his home in Lake Charles on June 25, 1953.
DR. DEMPSEY C. ILES - 1901
Dr. Iles was born July 27, 1873 in Sugartown, Calcasieu Parish. As a lad he attended the Baldwin Academy in his home town, then went to East Texas College at Nacogdoches, Texas, also at Draughn’s Business College in Nashville, Tennessee. Following this he went to Tulane where he began the study of medicine.
With the exception of ten years medical practice in Vinton, and two years in World War I Dr. Iles practiced in the Lake Charles area since his graduation from Tulane School of Medicine in 1901.
At first he devoted himself to general practice largely in the Vinton-Sulphur area. His many kindly acts are yet recalled by residents of these small towns.
His first case was when he rode a mule to Dry Creek to deliver a baby, finding no layette had been provided for the infant. In exasperation he threw his instruments across the room after the birth, then rushed home and sent the family clothing for the child. Dozens of stories could be told of similar acts of kindness.
Deeply dedicated to his calling as a physician, he put feeling and warmth into his efforts to alleviate human suffering.
Deciding to specialize, after ten years of practice at Vinton, he then took a two-year course at the "Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital" in New Orleans. In 1912, he began practice an that special field in Lake Charles where he practiced until his retirement April 1, 1949.
Highly skilled in his profession as nose and throat specialist, each patient was blessed with his kindness and personality, as well as by his medical skill. In the 37 years of his specialized practice, thousands of his patients were children and many grew to a healthy maturity as a result of Dr. Iles’ skilled care.
Throughout his life he was a great humanitarian. The attention he gave his patients reflected his kindly nature and understanding of the fears that haunt the hearts of the sick. No one can ever take his place in their esteem and affection.
And when he retired after a 47-year career, he gathered a great stack of unpaid accounts of long standing, and as a parting gesture and a gift to his former patients, who, for some reason or other had not paid them; he tore them in shreds and forgot them.
He was honored with a 50-year pin marking his Golden Anniversary from Tulane in 1951.
He was past president of the Calcasieu Medical Society, a 32nd Degree Mason, a Fellow of the Louisiana-Mississippi Opthalmological and Otolaryngological Society, and a Fellow in the Southeastern Surgical Congress. After his retirement he was written up in "Who’s Who in Medicine."
He returned to his beloved Sugartown when he gave up his practice, "for time to live." He said, "I was born in the hilly, rolling country, and I love it. I’ll have time now to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do."
Building a house on a 20-acre farm, he planned to raise quail and pheasants and he planned other small scale farming. Then, too, he planned for time for his hobby of cooking. He said he discovered that he liked to cook when, as a small boy, he hunted deer and cooked venison in the woods. He prided himself in that he could make anyone like venison - barbecued. It was this early hobby that laid the foundation for his reputation as a culinary artist.
He said the proper seasoning of food was the real secret of a successful cook. He could not think of cooking without garlic or green onions - "they must be green."
He had a special place in the swamp where he gathered bay leaves, and dried them for use in seasoning stew and gumbos, and of course, to give to his friends. He also grew small red peppers which he put up in jars for his friends. The seeds were sent him from Guam and were especially hot.
Dr. Iles died Monday, February 17, 1962 in a DeRidder Hospital, aged 89 years. He was laid to rest with his forefathers in the Iles Cemetery in Sugartown.
He made his mark be enriching the lives of others. It is a good thing to remember.
Dr. Iles was the first trained specialist in his field in Lake Charles.
DR. W. L. FISHER - 1900
Dr. Fisher was born in Franklinton, Louisiana on May 21, 1865 at the close of the Civil War. Educated in the schools of that community, he then went to Tulane Medical School for his training in medicine, graduating in 1895. That same year he married Miss Mary Elma Godwin of Glenmora, Louisiana.
After graduation from Tulane, he was a candidate for coroner in Washington Parish, which he won. In fact, he was successful in every civic post in which he offered himself for service.
In 1900, he moved to Lake Charles and shortly afterwards became a candidate for coroner of Calcasieu Parish. He was elected and held the post for 28 years.
Dr. Fisher was a kindly, generous-hearted man who endeared himself, not only to his patients, but to the general public and all those whose work brought them in contact with him,
A general practitioner of medicine, his remarkable success in maternity cases made him almost a specialist in obstetrics. He was held in high regard by the medical profession and not infrequently was called in consultation with difficult obstetrical cases.
It was traditional with many women in Lake Charles and adjacent areas who had their own physician for the family, but when the babies came would none other then Dr. Fisher for that important event.
He often administered the anesthetics for many of the surgeons operating in St. Patrick’s Hospital; especially for those he laughingly called "The Big Three," meaning Dr. Martin, Dr. Watkins, and Dr. Holcombe, prominent surgeons. He was also staff member of St. Patrick’s.
During World War I he served as the examining physician on the Draft Board in Lake Charles.
In 1935 he retired from practice due to failing health. And on March 7, 1937, a lifetime of devoted service to the public good, ended with his death.
The First Baptist Church of Lake Charles noted:
"The church lost one of its old guards, and the community one of its oldest and most honored citizens in the passing of Dr. W. L Fisher.
"Every citizen of this town who knew him loved and trusted him, both as a friend and as a physician.
"In his passing, a good many members of our congregation have lost a real friend. He was the family physician of many of our members and was held in high esteem by all of them. He was ever ready and willing to serve, no matter what the condition or circumstances might be.
"From the time of his coming to Lake Charles until his last illness, he was the family doctor of every pastor of this congregation and all services without pay. We will always be grateful for this. He will be kept in cherished remembrance by all who knew him as a kind and loveable man - a man faithful in the performance of his duties."
An editorial in the Lake Charles American Press, March 8, 1937 has this to say:
"Dr. W. L.. Fisher, parish coroner for 28 years, won and retained the respect and friendship of the people of Calcasieu Parish whom he faithfully served while in that office.
"He could have asked no better testimonial to the esteem in which he was held than the fact that they repeatedly returned him to public office where his undoubted talents could serve all the people.
"In the death of Dr. Fisher, Calcasieu Parish has lost a valuable citizen. Not only has he ministered to the ailing of the parish as any other doctor, he has also contributed much to the law and order in this parish which was sparsely settled when he came here in 1900.
"It has been during the period in which he held office that the parish has grown so rapidly, and his was a directing hand in its development.
"Dr. Fisher will be mourned by all those who knew him as a personal physician and a public servant."
Dr. Fisher had eight children: five daughters and three sons. One of his sons, Dr. William G. Fisher, is a successful physician and surgeon in Lake Charles.
DR. J. J. AYO - 1900
Dr. Ayo was in Lake Charles for a short period in 1900. He moved to Raceland, Louisiana, where he conducted a drug store.
DR. JOHN HEARD FORD - 1900
Dr. Ford was born in Lisbon, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, December 17, 1869. His father was Floyd Ford and his mother was Catherine Heard. Both families immigrated to Louisiana from Perry County, Alabama in 1850. They were cotton planters and comfortably well off, but they realized the War Between the States was imminent and they wished to take their slaves and movable property where they would be less likely to be caught up in the war.
They settled in North Louisiana, bought and homesteaded large tracts of land and settled down to become prosperous cotton planters.
John H. Ford was given his preliminary education in Lisbon, and then went on to the Louisville Medical College in Kentucky, to prepare himself for his life’s work. He graduated from there May 30, 1893, receiving an honorary degree with gold medal for outstanding knowledge and skill in obstetrics and diseases of women.
On December 19, 1893, Dr. Ford was married to Miss Claudia Eliza White of Lisbon. Shortly afterward the young couple moved to Sibley, Rapides Parish, and here their first child, Lillie Mae, was born on November 15, 1894.
Later Dr. Ford was offered the practice of a large industrial lumber company in Woodworth, near Alexandria, and he moved his family there.
There were no telephones by which to summon a doctor, consequently he was sent for by a messenger. On many occasions by the time the doctor arrived the patient was too ill to be left and the doctor had to remain to care for the patient and to teach the family what to do when he left for home.
In such cases not infrequently he was often away from home for days. His young wife would be left alone with her small children until his return, and then he would be off on another call.
Later, with the opening up of the timber lands, towns were built, and then roads constructed.
When automobiles were built, Dr. Ford had one of the first in Vinton, where he later moved. However, the roads were so poor that he never gave up his buggy and two fine horses. In 1900 Dr. Ford left the lumber company with which he had been associated and moved his family to Vinton, Louisiana, where there was a need for a doctor in the area of Orange, Texas, and Ged, Big Woods, Edgerly, Starks, and Choupique, Louisiana.
The Ged Oil Field had just been discovered and there was a great expectation that Vinton would become a large and thriving town.
Dr. Ford built a home in Vinton and enjoyed a favorable practice and made many friends. He also built a store in the business district which he rented to a mercantile firm using the upstairs for his own office.
His children all attended school in Vinton and later all went to college. One son, Claude Heard Ford, followed his father’s profession, becoming a well-known surgeon in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Claude Ford died in Birmingham on September 30, 1951, at the age of 50 years.
Dr. John Heard Ford died in Vinton on August 2, 1917, at the age of 47.
Always concerned about the community affairs he took an active part in civic and church work. He was beloved by his patients and all who knew him as a kindly, patient, generous man.
Mrs. Ford died on September 5, 1946. One daughter, Lillie Mae (Mrs. Elmer Shutts) and two sons survive, John F. Ford in Vinton, and James Miller Ford in Houston, Texas, four grandchildren and seven great-grand children.
DR. ROSAMOND R. ARCENEAUX -1900
Six miles below Welsh, just east of the confluence of Bayou Chene and Lacassine, stands the 1,400 acre farm and livestock ranch of Francois Arceneaux, and here on January 24, 1877, Rosamond R. Arceneaux was born, one of 12 children.
The Arceneaux are true Acadians, their ancestors coming to Louisiana from Nova Scotia in the exile of the French people from the British Colony in 1760. They are the descendants of that Gabriel Arceneaux, whom Longfellow immortalized in "Evangeline."
The Arceneaux settled in Louisiana and in what was later Calcasieu Parish, but was then the "forest primeval," an empire of unbroken forest and untamed prairies, where roads were mere trails or even non-existent, leading from one trading post to another. They saw this section develop and grow into what it is today and, to their credit, always doing their part in every progressive movement.
The Arceneaux family is now spread out over Louisiana and East Texas, and the history of this remarkable family is largely the history of Southwest Louisiana.
Dr. R. R. Arceneaux, one of this well-known family, attended school in Welsh as a small boy, later coming to the schools in Lake Charles, graduating from high school in 1895. In 1896 he went to Bowling Green for one year, and began the study of medicine at Louisville, in 1896, receiving his medical degree in 1900.
Returning to Welsh to engage in general practice, the young doctor traveled throughout this section of the state to administer to the needs of the sick in Jennings, Lake Arthur, Lake Charles, and other communities.
Many of his calls to Grand Chenier, Big Lake, Sweetlake , Lowry, and along the Cameron Coast entailed long, tiresome trips, sometimes taking three or four days.
There were no hospital facilities in this area until St. Patrick’s Hospital was opened in Lake Charles. Seriously ill patients were sent to New Orleans.
One of Dr. Arceneaux’s daughters was the second baby born in St. Patrick’s Hospital. The first was Katherine Rosteet. Dr. Arceneaux himself has delivered more than 6,000 babies and recalls that many prominent doctors, lawyers, and business men he saw daily in later life got their first sound spat where it would do the most good, at his hands when they came into the world.
He said once that he had worn out 50 automobiles in the years of his practice, largely in a race with the stork.
In March 1950, Dr. Arceneaux celebrated 50 years of general practice. His home at Welsh was open to the public and no invitation was necessary, and the entire community joined in the celebration to honor "Doctor Rosamond."
DR. GEORGE SCHUYLER LYONS - 1900
Was born at Hickory Branch, Calcasieu Parish, February 16, 1878, 14 miles from DeQuincy. His father was a rafter for a sawmill, and when George was four years old, moved to Sugartown.
The young boy received his elementary education attending the Lake Charles public schools. Upon graduation he went for his medical training to Memphis, Tennessee. In summers he worked in the office of Dr. E. E. Oden in Kinder, Louisiana.
When he received his medical degree he went to DeQuincy, married a Miss Webre and had two children, Mrs. Eddie Harris of Sulphur and Leonard Lyons of Crowley, Louisiana.
When he came to DeQuincy, he was the only doctor between Lake Charles and DeRidder and the Sabine River. He had no time to keep a record of his calls or of the fees due him. I’ve been told that many times Dr. Lyons would have patients ask for their bill. He would say, "How many times have I been to see you?" Upon receiving an answer, he would scratch his head, look out the corner of his eye at the patient’s clothes, and then state a figure that would be about half of what it should be.
Although he preferred to be known as a general practitioner, he was respected by the medical profession and the laity alike for his skill in obstetrics. It is estimated that in the 50 years of his practice he has delivered at least 5,000 babies.
He served as the town’s only dentist for the first 20 years of the century. When he had a tooth to pull he took his patient to the rear of Jeff Perkins’s barber shop, set him in a barber chair and proceeded with the extraction while the hangers-around looked on.
During the flu epidemic of 1917 when people were dying by the score and knew of nothing to combat the dread infection, Dr. Lyons compounded a medicine which he gave to all his patients, according to a druggist who prepared the prescription for him for many years. This medicine, know as "Doctor George’s Flu Medicine" can be found in half the homes of DeQuincy during the flu season each year. It has become as familiar as any advertised flu treatment known.
Everyone who knows Dr. George has a favorite story about him. Some years ago, about 1930, he had a call from the country to deliver one of his "woods colts" as he called those babies born in the backwoods. He drove as far as he could, walked a foot-log across a creek, and then another mile and a half to get to the house.
In this process, he met a woodsman who had accidentally chopped half-way through his thumb. He asked Dr. George to finish cutting off the thumb. The doctor wanted to bring the man into town, but he fellow didn’t have time for that; he wanted the job done right then. The doctor looked around, found a clean pine stump to use as an operating table, laid the hand on it, and proceeded to amputate the thumb, take several stitches and sent the man back into the woods to finish his job!
On a call to Starks at 2:00 A.M. he started out and ran into a log truck without lights. Unable to use his badly damaged car, he flagged down a passing motorist who took him the rest of the way, where he delivered the baby. Next morning, arriving back at DeQuincy, he discovered he was not only very badly bruised and shaken, but he had received a fractured rib as well.
He thought nothing of going 30 miles into the country, over muddy roads, bog down two or three times, sit up all night with a baby case, and then receive as payment "one of them watermelons in that patch over there."
Dr. George said, "There were two houses, two boarding houses (for the mill hands) and a half-dozen shacks when I came to the town as their only doctor. But the town was surrounded by the prettiest pine forest you ever saw. I hated to see that pine forest go."
He has had to ramble through that pine forest day and night, swim creeks, look our for snakes and alligators, traveling over mere trails that in rainy weather had to be laid over with small logs, "corduroy roads," to keep from bogging down helplessly. "And, he said, "it was important that you have a smart horse to ride, or to hitch to your buggy if you wanted to get where you were going."
And he said, "Old Doc Singleton, in Sugartown, was sort of an ideal with me. I wanted to be like him, not particularly a doctor, but since he was a doctor, then I had to be one, too."
Referring to the doctors of today, Dr. Lyons said, "They have all the advantages, and I had none. Compared to what I know and what I had when I started the practice of medicine, they know it all."
Dr. Lyons has served as alderman and mayor of DeQuincy and vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce. He organized and is the principal stockholder of the Lyons Planing Mill Company and a partner in a retail grocery in DeQuincy.
His favorite recreation is hunting and although he has tried several times to retire from practice of his medical profession, his patients still call for his services, which he has rendered in some instances to three generations of families.
In 1950, DeQuincy had a day devoted to "Dr. George" as everyone calls him. He had his picture taken with his "babies" and many hundreds came for the occasion, the oldest was 50 years old and the youngest was 7 days old!
DR. GEORGE SAMUEL KREEGER - 1902
A native of New Orleans, and a graduate of Tulane Medical School, Dr. Kreeger interned at Touro Infirmary and later studied in Paris, France and Vienna, Austria before coming to Lake Charles in 1902.
His practice was first in the field of general medicine, later as an anesthetist at St. Patrick’s Hospital.
He assisted in organizing the Seventh District Medical Society February 12, 1917, and was made secretary, serving in that capacity until 1925, when he was made president of the organization.
In 1924 Dr. Kreeger assisted Sister Mary Beatrice in organizing the staff of St. Patrick’s Hospital and in meeting the requirements of the American College of Surgeons. In recognition of his work, Sister Beatrice appointed him first chief of staff. The following year he was elected to that position by the staff and had the distinction of being the only chief of staff to have served two terms.
In 1950 he was honored by the hospital staff on the occasion of the anniversary of 50 years in the practice of medicine in Lake Charles, and was a special guest at a dinner in his honor at the Pioneer Club.
The widely known anesthetist was also health officer from 1910 to 1915 and was the author of the first ordinance providing for the inspection of dairies, dairy herds, and slaughter houses and their products.
Dr. Kreeger also acted as registrar of vital statistics prior to 1918, when the U. S. Bureau of Vital Statistics placed Lake Charles in a registration area, and was the first official registrar, continuing in that position until 1928, when the duties were designated to the Board of Health. Dr. Kreeger retired in 1946. He died September 7, 1952 at the age of 81 years, of cancer.
DR. RUDOLPH STROTHER - 1903
Dr. Rudolph Strother for many years served the village of Pitkin, not far from Sugartown, where many of our early doctors had their start.
A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Memphis in 1903, he received in 1953 a golden "T" certificate, in recognition of his service to his community during the fifty years since his graduation.
DR. ALVIN RANDOLPH SWEENEY - 1906
Dr. Sweeney was born in Cameron Parish, the fifth of 12 children born to Columbus Carter Sweeney and Aurelia Miller Sweeney.
His grandfather, John W. Sweeney, a native of Baltimore, and his wife, Sarah Jane Hickok, were among the first settlers of Grand Chenier. His father, Columbus Sweeney was likewise a doctor and for many years was the only practicing, licensed physician of Grand Chenier and adjacent islands in that part of Louisiana.
Dr. Sweeney was educated in private and public schools on these same islands, and taught school there before leaving to attend Acadia College in Lake Charles in 1900. After two years in Lake Charles he attended Texas Central University at Greenville, Texas, graduating in 1904. That same year he enrolled in Vanderbilt Medical School, transferred to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduating in the class of 1906.
He practiced in Lake Arthur and Enid, Oklahoma, and was then commissioned in the U. S. Public Health Service in 1912, serving almost 33 years.
In 1908 he married Rilla Adele Ingram of Fort Worth, Texas. He then served in the following places: Ellis Island in New York Harbor, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, St. Louis Marine Hospital, Chattanooga, Tennessee, New Orleans, Louisiana, Galveston, Texas, Port Arthur, Texas, Stapleton Marine Hospital, Commanding Officer of U.S. Quarantine at Gallops Island, Boston Harbor.
Special lecturer at Harvard School of Public Health, Quarantine Station of Delaware Valley, U. S. A. At Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, commanding officer, also commanding officer at U. S. Marine Hospital, Ellis Island, U.S. Marine Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, Medical Director, 9th Naval District and others.
In 1945 he accepted the position of Superintendent of Gallinger Hospital, Washington, D. C., where he served until April 27, 1949, when he became ill. He died at the U. S. Marine Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, April 17, 1954.
He was a member of the Washington Health Council, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the American Medical Association, Washington Medical Society, Association of Military Surgeons, American Public Health Association, and a 32nd degree Mason.
Funeral services were conducted at Fort Meyer Chapel and he was buried in Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
Of his four children, one son lives in Los Angeles, California, another in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Two daughters live in Washington, D.C. His widow, Mrs. Adele Ingram Sweeney, lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
DR. LAURENT MILLER - 1908
Dr. Miller was a South Louisiana version of the typical country doctor. Instead of traveling by horseback or buggy to treat his widely scattered patients, he traveled by boat. Gray dawn or late night would find this 65-year old doctor in a little speedboat know locally as a "mudboat" hurrying through the narrow canals which criss-cross the Cameron Parish to reach the bedside of some remote patient.
Dr. Miller, who was regarded with deep affection by the community he serves, graduated from Tulane Medical School in 1908. He started practice that same year among the people with whom he grew up on Grand Chenier, an island in the marsh, located about six miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr. Miller did use a horse and buggy in the early days of his practice. Many of the canals that chequer the marshlands now had not been cut at that time. The young doctor would set out wearing hip boots because he knew he would have to get out before the trip was over and lead the animal through the deep water and tangles, shoulder-high marsh grass. Often he would slip and slide in the cold salt water, and his boots would fill up.
Many times he longed to turn back to retrace his way to a soft bed and a warm fire, but he never did.
The pathways of those early trips are marked on his kindly grizzled face. "The weather never did keep me back," he says. "I always went through, irregardless of how it was. It was often bad. These little islands on the edge of the Gulf are lashed by fierce storms."
The mosquitoes were a terrible plague, too, at that time. Old time settlers say that at some seasons they infested the marshes in clouds, so bad there were days when no one dared venture outdoors - no one but the doctor! Or the harassed messenger who came to fetch him.
The nearest hospital at that time was a hundred miles away by water, so Dr. Miller was called on to do just about everything. Malaria was always his people’s chief enemy, but on the whole they were a healthy, rugged people, living a vigorous outdoor life.
Many islanders will show long, nasty-looking scars and say, "Doc Miller saved my life when I got cut on my boat." Everybody in the community has a boat. Most of these make their living by trapping and accidents are frequent.
Once the doctor was held over almost a week on a nearby island at the bedside of a woman desperately ill. There was no question of his going home overnight; home was 27 miles away through the marsh, a trip which would take a day to accomplish with luck.
There have never been any nurses on Grand Chenier, or on the nearby islands. The women of the community are good practical nurses. They have to be.
The worst time the doctor ever had was during the flu epidemic of the First World War period. The parish was hard hit and the doctor himself was worn out with the fight to save lives, finally he came down with the disease. The people came to his bedside and he sat up and mixed medicine for them. Not one patient was lost.
Dr. Miller never faced any financial struggle in getting his practice established. His patients had known him all their lives, and he was the only doctor in the community from the time he first returned from his schooling in New Orleans. Grand Chenier has always been a well-to-do community, and his patients paid him in cash, rather than in chickens and hogs some country doctors received in lieu of money. These country people are scrupulously honest about their debts, too. "You don’t need to keep books over here," says the doctor.
Dr. Miller has always been thrifty. At one time he was doctor, rancher and farmer - all at one time. He had 400 head of cattle, grew 20 to 25 bales of cotton on his place, and 200 to 300 bushels of corn each year. As he grew older the extra projects became burdensome and sold the cattle in 1938. He is still a businessman, lending money to the people in the country and receiving a good average interest on it. Many boys on the islands have gone to college on One Thousand Dollars borrowed from Dr. Miller. They work to cover the rest of their expenses, and their brothers and sisters pitch in to help pay the debt until it is their time to go away for some schooling.
There are no drug stores on Grand Chenier, or on the nearby islands which the doctor serves. So he keeps his own dispensary, missing and compounding his prescriptions.
When he goes on a call be takes two bags, stuffed full of drugs and medicines. He throws these up on the bow of the boat, and they stay there miraculously while the little boat turns and twists like a greased muskrat among the canals that thread the marsh.
Seventy- five per cent of Dr. Miller’s patients speak French, and all speak English. When he visits a patient the conversation skims casually from one language to the other.
His arrival is regarded as a rare social event as well as an errand of mercy, and coffee is instantly brewed so the doctor can be offered a cup. He usually takes time to join the family in a cup of the strong black brew and a spot of gossip.
Dr. Miller married in 1909, a year after he started practicing. The bride was a local school teacher, Miss Annie Tabechick, a Czecho-Slovakian girl, who had come to the United States when she was six years old. They have three daughters, Annie Laurie, a WAVE, Emily, who is now Mrs. Theriot and lives in Lake Charles, and Marilyn (nicknamed Tecum), who lives at home with her parents.
The doctor, in 1937, felt the weight of his years and he notified his people he could no longer make the difficult trips about the islands. So they cut the canals which makes it easier for him to reach them. Now, he whips through the narrow ditches on his "mudboat," while moccasins as thick as your arm, scuttle for cover, and the marsh grass lashes out at his weather-beaten face. He claims his life has been uneventful. "Nothing ever happens on these islands. We are a quiet folk."
He has lost count of the babies he has helped into the world in his 36 years of practice, but it runs into hundreds. He is godfather to many of them, watched over them as they grew up, treating them for measles, whooping cough and other childhood diseases, and sewing up the cuts and setting the broken bones which are common with the active, venturesome youngsters. (From an article in the New Orleans Times Picayune March 24, 1945.)
Dr. Laurent Miller died in August, 1949.
DR. RICHARD GORDON HOLCOMBE - 1909
Dr. Holcombe was born July 3, 1881 at Jackson, Louisiana. He had his preliminary education in the Jackson schools, then went to Centenary College in 1900, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
While a student at Centenary, he prepared and passed an examination for registered pharmacist in order to work his was through school. However, it was found that under the Louisiana state law, he would not secure a certificate of registration until the minimum age of 21 years, and he was 18 years old at that time.
Having learned that the laws of Mississippi would permit him to apply for registration, he went across the state line and qualified for registration. After becoming a legally qualified pharmacist, in strict conformity with the laws of both states, he transferred his registration to Louisiana. Thereafter, he paid his college expenses by working as a pharmacist in drug stores in his spare time.
He studied at Tulane University and received his doctor’s degree in 1906. From 1904 to 1906 he served as intern at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. In 1906 he became resident house physician at Hotel Dieu, New Orleans.
Dr. Holcombe came to Lake Charles in 1909 with Dr. William Sistrunk as his associate and established offices in the Kaufman Building on Ryan Street, where he remained until his retirement.
These two brilliant young doctors began their professional careers with every prospect of success and many years of happiness in their chosen field. Dr. Sistrunk, after a few years in Lake Charles, became a member of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Some years later, following the tragic death of his young son, he left the Mayo Clinic and went to Dallas, Texas, where he went into partnership with a friend and opened a clinic of his own. He was on the way to success in Dallas when the depression period of the late 1920’s set in, and he became deeply involved financially. This, with the over-riding despondency that had never entirely left him after the death of his son, proved to be more than he could endure. He took his own life by shooting himself.
Dr. Holcombe remained in Lake Charles and soon built up a large practice locally and throughout Southwest Louisiana. He was recognized by the medical profession as one of the leading physicians in the state and a highly proficient surgeon. And, too, he had that rare gift so desired by doctors, a good diagnostician.
No 9 to 5 doctor, he was available to all the sick who needed his care, whether they lived near or far, or whether the call came at 2:00 A.M. or midday, and he spared neither strength nor energy in caring for his patients. A man dedicated to his calling! Every patient was special, blessed with his kindness and understanding, as well as his medical skill. He was, as one person put it, "the epitome of the much-beloved physician, the loss of whom our community becomes more aware with the passing of time."
Dr. Holcombe has been the recipient of biographical sketches, the recipient of many honors in state and national medical and surgical fields. His name appears in several reference works and his biography in "Who’s Who in World Medicine."
Dr. Holcombe married Miss Roseina Davis, a graduate nurse of New Orleans, and they have two children, Roseina (now Mrs. Oliver Stockwell of Lake Charles), and a son R. Gordon Holcombe, Jr., now a surgeon practicing in Lake Charles.
While his son was completing his internship in New Orleans, Dr. Holcombe built a handsome office on Hodges Street, equipping it with a fine medical library, with the thought of retiring, perhaps when his son would take over his practice. In October, 1945 he had a second cerebral hemorrhage which necessitated his retirement permanently from practice.
The office on Hodges Street was never used for the purpose for which it was built. Dr. Holcombe died following a third stroke on February 3, 1947, at Poche Memorial Hospital, Jackson, Louisiana, aged 66 years.
His son, Dr. R. Gordon Holcombe, Jr., is following in his father’s footsteps. As was his father, he is a fine surgeon, but as a specialist. His interest in the field of surgery has led to the development of two instruments used in surgical cases, bearing his name, and manufactured by two of the largest surgical instrument makers in the world.
DR. MATTHEW VERNON HARGROVE - 1909
Dr. Hargrove was born in Sugartown on November 22, 1880, the son of Rev. and Mrs. W. R. Hargrove, one of eleven children. He began his career as a schoolteacher in Old Calcasieu Parish, before it was divided into four parishes.
During the last three years of teaching, he was principal of the Oakdale High School. Entering the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee in 1904, he received his degree in 1909 from the University of Tennessee at Memphis with the highest class honors among the 119 graduates in the class.
He began the practice of medicine at Marionville, about 8 miles from Oakdale. This settlement does not exist now. It was a logging center for the Industrial Lumber Company. The entire town was moved into what is now the town of Elizabeth, Louisiana, in 1912, and it was during this year that Dr. Hargrove came to Oakdale. In 1912 this town was a beehive of activity. There were big sawmills in operation, the Bouman-Hicks, the Forrest Lumber Company, and the Industrial Lumber Company operated two big mills. The town had a population of about 5,000 at that time and Oakdale was the largest lumber shipping center in the United States. It was not until 1918 that the Hillyer-Deutsch-Edwards Lumber Company came here.
There were other doctors in Oakdale when Dr. Hargrove moved to the town and he laughs at the memory of a young father-to-be becoming excited and calling all ten of the town’s doctors at the same time to "come to my house - quick!"
Roads were few and those that existed were deep rutted and full of mud holes. You had to ride your horse over or around the trails, as well as swim the streams, to get to your patients, and he served over a 15-mile radius.
Then he bought a horse and buggy and used this means of transportation when the roads permitted. At night he would hang a lantern under the buggy "so the horse could see the road," and sometimes, on cold days, he would put he lantern under his lap robe, or he heated bricks to put his feet on to offset the biting cold.
He found, too, as other country doctors did, how important a good horse was to him. He recalls "Old Prince, the best horse I ever had. All I had to do was turn the reins loose and he would bring me right back home. I knew I could trust him, and if I was tired I would take a nap while he slowly brought me home."
There was no hospital in Oakdale in those early days. Maternity cases were taken care of in homes, as were emergency operations completed by lantern light. Dr. Hargrove recalls he did amputations and abdominal operations on kitchen tables. On one occasion he removed an eye for injured man on a commissary store counter. He has delivered 4,557 babies, many of whom still live in Oakdale.
He bought a Model "T" in 1920, but he says it did not help much; the roads were yet few and generally impassable for even Mr. Ford’s new marvel. In that same year (1920) he built a five-bed clinic, which has grown to a 70-bed clinic at the present time.
His son, Dr. Rigsby Hargrove, practices with his father. Dr. Hargrove has in his veins the blood of his buccaneer forefather, William R. Hargrove, who served under Sir Francis Drake in the English War against Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries. The doctor has proven his adventurous heredity by his activities in local civic affairs. A leader in every undertaking, he held the office of City Alderman, City and Parish Health Officer, member of the Police Jury, Parish Coroner, and State Representative from Allen Parish. He is a 32nd degree Mason and, of course, a member of parish, state and national Medical Associations. A charter member of the Eastern Star, Past Patron, and holds a life membership. Past Grandmaster of the I. O. O. F. Industrial Lodge and a member of W.O.W. for 45 years. The St. Matthew Baptist Church was also named for him, and another church, the Mr. Vernon Baptist, was also named for him. "I feel greatly honored and very humble that the two churches were named for me," Dr. Hargrove said.
He married Miss Jennie Lawson Rigsby, and two sons were born to them, Dr. Rigsby Hargrove, and Vernon Hargrove, deceased.
He is now 84 years old, and scoffs at the idea of retiring. "I am as interested in life as I was when I was a young man, more so, I think!"
DR. ALVIN HENRY LAFARGUE - 1910
Dr. LaFargue was born in Marksville, Louisiana, October 14, 1883. His mother was the daughter of a former congressman, A. B. Irion, of Eola, Louisiana. His father, A. J. LaFargue, was a district judge, lawyer and newspaper publisher. Dr. LaFargue’s grandfather founded the Marksville newspaper, one of the earliest weekly newspapers in the state.
After graduating from high school, he attended Louisiana State University and the Memphis Hospital Medical School (now the University of Tennessee Medical School) and later, Tulane Medical School, graduating in 1910.
He began practice first at Baldwin, and while there married Miss Florestine Richard, daughter of a prominent St. Mary Parish sugar planter. While in Baldwin he was also the company doctor for a sawmill, and he recalls that the mill kept him well supplied with accident victims and that he had to perform many operations and amputations with little more than whiskey for an anesthetic.
He moved his family to Sulphur in 1916 and the doctor opened his office in the Paragon Drug Store. His practice covered an area of some 25 miles, and over few roads, mostly trails, on horse back, or in a buggy, and later in a Model "T" Ford.
He remembers sleeping nights on the road after getting lost, or stuck in the mud. He said on the occasion he was honored at an annual meeting of the Louisiana Medical Society in Baton Rouge May 2, 1960, by initiation into the "Fifty Year Doctors Club," "Fifty years of being a doctor adds up into lots of buggy trips on cold nights and hot days, long hours of waiting for babies to be born, tears, laughter, and a heap of satisfaction."
Dr. LaFargue has retired now, but as he looks back on the varied experiences of 50 years, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he never turned away a patient.
He enjoys recalling incidents connected with early practice. Perhaps no present day doctor has ever danced a baby into the world, or traveled miles in a buggy with only heated bricks to keep you warm in 25-degree weather, nor has been paid off in farm produce. All these things, like the horse and buggy and the folks who drove them, are gone now.
Dr. LaFargue recalls one bitterly cold night when he was called to attend a woman some 18 miles away. Buttoned tarpaulin around the sides of his buggy, put some heated bricks inside the buggy to keep his feet warm, and started off. Arriving at the patient’s home, it was evident he was in for a long wait. While waiting, he noticed an old phonograph on a shelf. He got the husband to start it playing. Then he told him to dance with his wife. Things did not progress to the doctor’s satisfaction, the husband may have been tired after a day’s work on the farm, so Dr. LaFargue, who loved to dance, took the man’s place, dancing with the expectant mother, and by 5:00 o’clock the next morning the baby had arrived! No medical books give instruction for dancing a baby into the world, but doctors have to be resourceful!
For that hectic trip, Dr. LaFargue was paid two chickens, a bunch of onions, a bag of peanuts, and a pumpkin.
Aside from his medical practice, he has been active in many civic programs of Sulphur. The Calcasieu-Cameron Bi-Parish Fair held annually, is not only his chief hobby, it is one of the important parts of his life. He has been president and general manager since its origin in 1925. He was elected mayor of Sulphur in 1926 and served 12 years. He initiated many improvements in the town. He recalls the time the town was in debt and he made so many visits to Lake Charles to the bank that people in Lake Charles thought he worked there. But he helped put the town budget in the black ink column.
He organized the Business Men’s Club, now the Southwest Calcasieu Association of Commerce. He is the physician for the Southern Pacific Railroad, was instrumental in having the West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital built in Sulphur, and served as the hospital staff’s first president. He was Parish Health Officer in 1934-38 and City Health Officer for many years. Was a member of parish, state and national Medical Societies, and a director of the staff at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Lake Charles. He has four children, Alvin, Myra, Irene and Prudence.
"Dr. Alvin Henry LaFargue - Civic worker, humanitarian, and vanish American - a family doctor."
DR. JOSEPH D. TUTEN - 1910
Joseph Tuten was born October 17, 1877, in Jasper, Florida, the youngest in a family of ten children. He attended the public schools of Jasper, graduating with honors as valedictorian of his class. His address on that occasion was on the "Grand Old Heroes of the Confederacy," and he never forgot the thrill of that occasion, nor the subject matter of the speech.
That fall he entered the Medical School of Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tennessee, graduating in 1900. Later he went to the New York City College for two years, doing post-graduate work in surgery, particularly neurological surgery, and skin grafting. This latter type of surgery was then done only in the larger cities, and he was preparing himself for work in a small town and wanted to be equipped to meet all demands of his profession.
Returning to Florida, seeking a community to settle in for practice, he was offered the position of physician and surgeon for a large lumber mill at Pickering, Louisiana. In order to accumulate funds to establish himself, he accepted the work and had valuable experience with the many and varied cases a mill community can supply.
Two years later he went to New Orleans where he was associated with Dr. Lewis Stone for four years.
In 1910, at the urging of Dr. Allen Perkins, he came with his family to Lake Charles, Louisiana. About a year and a half later, he established his own office independently and soon had the reputation of being one of the outstanding physicians of Lake Charles, and one of the outstanding surgeons of this section of the state.
On doctor who saw him operate said, "He sure is pretty with a knife." Referring to his skill as a surgeon.
He performed the first Caesarian Section by a local doctor. Heretofore, such cases had been sent to New Orleans for special surgery. His skin grafting training in New York proved invaluable in the case of a young women badly injured in a boat explosion. A fine bit of skin grafting saved the girl from disfigurement.
In the hurricane of 1915, a child had a bit of shingle blown into the scalp and penetrating the skull. Dr. Tuten’s expert surgery saved her life. That woman is alive today and normal, thanks to Dr. Tuten’s skill.
For years, until his death, he was the surgeon of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. A kindly, generous man who loved his profession, constantly studying, and giving his best, he was highly regarded by laity and the medical profession. He never hesitated when a call for help came, whether or not he would be paid for his services. He once told of a patient out in the country who had called him on a number of occasions, but always forgot to ask for a bill which the doctor never sent. But one day he met Dr. Tuten with a big smile and said, "Doc, at last I can pay you something for all you have done for us. Just wait a minute." And the man went out of the room, returning shortly with "the doctors pay" - two stalks of sugar cane!
He married Miss Leila Adams and they had three children, two daughters and a son. A daughter, Martha, married Dr. Stakely Hatchette, a radiologist in Lake Charles, now deceased.
Dr. Tuten died suddenly of a heart attack, July 13, 1932, aged 55 years.
DR. CLAUDE A. MARTIN - 1912
Dr. Martin was born on a plantation in 1892, educated in the public schools of Louisiana and was in the first class entering what is now Southwest Louisiana University at Lafayette, when it opened its doors in 1901, where he remained until graduation.
Speaking French and English equally well, he worked in his uncle’s store in Welsh (Martin Bros.) where the population is largely French-speaking. He worked, he saved money, but suddenly he wanted to be a doctor, and in 1908 he went to old Dr. Rosamond Arceneaux for advice. That graduate of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, sent him there.
He had money enough to carry him through two years, so he sold his town lot and his horse and buggy and banked the amount for the remainder of his tuition.
When that money went, he got a job as an orderly in St. Joseph’s Infirmary in Louisville and studied medicine between hours. He won his M. D. in 1912 when he had just Ten Dollars in his pocket. He got his internship at St Joseph’s where he had been an orderly.
He returned to Welsh with Three Hundred Dollars he had saved from special pay as a male nurse in a mental case in 1914. On June 20, 1917 he offered himself to the United States Army, received a Medical Corps First Lieutenancy, went to the Army Medical School in Washington, was ordered to the 23rd Infantry Regulars at Syracuse, New York and sent to France with the Second Division A. E. F.
He came back from France a major in the Medical Corps, where he won as surgeon the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Order of the Purple Heart for bravery in treating and rescuing wounded under heavy artillery and machine gun fire. He then went back to Welsh where he continued to practice as a country doctor.
He drove countless miles on his ministrations as a physician and surgeon. And he had a joke and a smile for everyone. He fought disease and death with a laugh and a jest that helped more than medicine and a lancet.
But in the archives of the United States and France, where the records of brave men are kept, there is a record of Major Claude Martin and his work as a surgeon of the 23rd U. S. Infantry, hero of five major offensives in France during the First World War.
In a little village near Vaux, called Bourbelin, in a cottage on the ground floor was his operating room. It was close back of the American fighting lines where it caught the German artillery barrage that sent crashing down a curtain of flying, shattered steel, and high explosives. The wounded poured in. Blankets covered the cottage windows, double blankets the doors, least a flicker of light give target for German gunners. Glittering thick candles alone gave light by which Martin and Dr. Brown, his assistant-lieutenant, probed, amputated, operated, sewed up, bandaged on plank tables, elbow to elbow.
Outside the air shuddered and throbbed with American and German artillery fire and shell explosions. The flames in the sky were like jagged bolts of lightning. Inside the air was thick to the point of choking and nausea with the stenches of high explosives, blood, sweat, bodies long unwashed, cigarette smoke, anesthetic, seeping gas from German gas shells. On the floor wounded men writhed, moaned, screamed, cursed. Behind the cottage, ambulances waited for their loads.
CRASH! Dr. Martin looked up from his work of cleansing, disinfecting and bandaging the wound of an infantryman with a shell splinter through his groin. Dr. Brown, who had been working at his elbow, was no longer there. A German shell had made a direct hit on the cottage roof, came through, struck Dr. Brown squarely in the chest, and had literally torn him to bits. Dr. Martin shook his head and went on working. He was astride a man now, fastening a difficult body bandage. Another shell came through the roof. The table collapsed under them. Picking up the 180-pound infantryman, Dr. Martin carried him down to the cellar, finished his work. They repaired the table. The work went on.
Lieutenant Thomas of the Medical Corps came up to take the place of slain Lieutenant Brown. Shells crashed all about the cottage now. For a moment, the place was cleared of wounded men and Dr. Martin stepped outside to see an ambulance pull out into the dark. A German shell made a direct hit on the ambulance driver and wounded patients lay shattered amid flaming gasoline from the fuel tank.
More wounded were brought in. The work started again. Gas penetrated the cottage strongly. Dr. Martin helped put gas masks on the wounded, himself operated in a gas mask. Another crash on the roof, Lieutenant Thomas lay wounded, a little later he died. Dr. Martin worked on.
Thus Lieutenant Colonel Richard Derby, son-in-law of the late President Theodore Roosevelt, division surgeon, Second Division A. E. F., found him on inspection, worked beside him a while and recorded the story, remarking, "If Captain Martin had not been a tower of strength and made of the finest stuff, he would have broken under the strain."
Dr. Martin won the Distinguished Service Cross for those two days and nights at Bourbelin.
October 8- 9, 1918, Dr. Martin was in the great St. Mihiel drive. His courage came under the eye of Petain, Marshal of France, who wrote the citation: "Captain Martin performed extraordinary acts of bravery in removing wounded soldiers under violent fire from Machine guns and artillery. By his devotion he saved the lives of many men."
And, France gave Claude Martin the "Croix de Guerre." Later, he won it again and received the Palm to place on the ribbon. Marshal Petain cited him twice more in general orders.
He won citations for acts of bravery from Major General John H. Lejeune, the Louisiana Marine who commanded the Second Division, from Brigadier General P. M. Malone, who commanded his brigade, from Colonel Edward E. Stone, and Colonel Milo Carey who commanded the 23rd Infantry.
From September 6, 1917 when he sailed for France, he was never off duty until the Armistice. He saw the War through from Chateau Thierry to the Rhine.
(The above is from an article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 10, 1935.)
Then he came home to Welsh, to become plain "Doc," and a country doctor once more.
He married Miss Agnes Ruth McLees, a school teacher at Welsh. There were four children, Gertrude Ellen, Katherine Agnes, Claude Alexander Jr., and James Paul.
The population of Welsh may be small, but New York City does not have a braver man than their beloved "Doc" Martin.
Dr. Claude Alexander Martin died in September 1956.
DR. JEFFERSON ARTHUR CRAWFORD - 1912
Jefferson Arthur Crawford was born in Rapides Parish, Louisiana, September 10, 1883, in the town of Hineston.
The family came to America from Scotland, migrated to Mississippi, where the grandfather of Dr. Crawford was born, settling in Thomaston, Mississippi after the Civil War. Later, the family moved to Hineston, Louisiana, where the grandfather became a large land owner.
Dr. Crawford’s father, William Thomas Crawford, was a building contractor. He also taught the first public school in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Later the family moved to Beckwith Creek, near Sugartown.
In 1890 the elder Crawford took over construction work for the Union Sulphur Company at Sulphur, Louisiana. In1907 he returned to Hineston. He had the interesting hobby of making violins, perfectly beautiful instruments.
Dr. Crawford’s mother was Lucinda Young, born at Sugartown in 1830.
As a lad of 10 years, Dr. Crawford for a period attended the old Central School in Lake Charles, which, in those days, was situated on a prairie. Later, he went to Professor Monroe’s School at Glenmora, Louisiana, and Massey Business College in Hineston.
In 1906 he became a clerk in the general store of R. A. Forrest, at Forrest Hill, Louisiana. Then for two years he was timekeeper for the Industrial Lumber Company and bookkeeper in the general store of Erwin Bros.
Then he entered the Medical Department of the University of Tennessee, graduating in 1912. Interned at the Memphis General Hospital and took special training at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
In 1913 he formed a partnership with Dr. J. T. Phillips in Glenmora, and in 1914 was physician for the Urania Lumber Company at Urania, Louisiana. In 1915 he became assistant physician with the Long-Bell Lumber Company at Longview, Louisiana. In 1918 he engaged in general practice at Sulphur, Louisiana. And in 1925 he moved to Lake Charles where he opened offices in the Weber Building for "diseases of children."
He not only has the distinction of being the first medically trained pediatrician in Lake Charles, but he was the 12th doctor in the area.
The other practicing physicians at the time were, Dr. J. G. Martin, Dr. T. H. Watkins, Dr. R. G. Holcombe, Dr. Frank Tuten, Dr. Louis Hebert (pathologist), Dr. Louis Kushner, Dr. George Kreeger, Dr. David Lyons, Dr. A. Loomis, and Dr. T. C. Moody.
Dr. Crawford, in addition to a full time medical practice, has engaged in many civic enterprises. For a number of years he gave his services to a Free Child Welfare Clinic, served four years as a member of the City School Board, and for more than twenty-five years was on the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America. He is an active member of the Southwest Louisiana Historical Society and his hobby is the history of the early days of Calcasieu Parish, and he has much to relate of that interesting period.
In 1912 Dr. Crawford married Ira Beall Tucker of Liberty, Mississippi, daughter of a Methodist minister. They have one daughter, Ethelyn.
CALCASIEU’S FIRST WOMAN DOCTOR
DR. ELEANOR COOK - 1927
Dr. Cook’s name is added to this account of Early Calcasieu Doctors, not that she is of an age to be placed in that role, but because she is the first woman doctor in Lake Charles and her name, therefore, belongs with the list of the pioneers.
Born in Lake Charles, graduated from the Lake Charles High School, she graduated from Tulane Medical School in New Orleans in 1927 as a pediatrician. Interned at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Memphis Tennessee, and later served as intern at Children’s Hospital, San Francisco, California.
She was Pediatric Resident at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, in connection with post-graduate work at Harvard Medical School. A Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Diplomate Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, served six years on the Louisiana State Board of Health from the 7th Congressional District, served as chairman of the Pediatric Section of St. Patrick’s Hospital and of Memorial Hospital in Lake Charles. Has served as secretary to the Calcasieu Medical Society, and presently on the Board of Calcasieu Tuberculosis Association, and on the Guidance Center for Retarded Children, and is a member of the Hamilton School Committee for Physically Handicapped Children.
These brief biographies of the early doctors of our section of Louisiana were written in an effort to recall something of these men serving the frontiers of medicine now long gone, with one or two exceptions, but whose memory is revered by the people they served.
It is an acknowledgement of the part they played in the lives and the development of the communities in which they lived.
The old-time doctor was a part of the troubles of his patient, physical and otherwise. His association with them was most intimate. He knew secrets of their lives, the motives of their behavior, the source of their happiness, the tragedies of their minds and of their bodies.
He saw life in its naked realities. Nevertheless, knowing these things, did not make him a cynic or a pessimist. Instead, it developed his sympathies and broadened his humanity.
The specialist has his place, but there are certain advantages with the general practitioner, "the family doctor" has, then and now, over the specialist. He could minister to the minds of his patients; he had fuller knowledge of them. He did not confine himself to the eye, the stomach, the skin; he was a doctor for the whole man. He knew his patient, probably his ancestry, and this gave him a perspective that the specialist rarely has.
There were no hospitals, no laboratories, nor any of the numerous specialists to whom he could pass his difficulties. Instead, he was on his own, and there is nothing like that to help a man develop. There were hardships, to be sure - many of them, but they served as a stimulus rather than a deterrent.
I have known doctors with a country practice who derived much pleasure from their sorties into our piney woods, or their rides over the vast, undulating sea of prairie that made up a big part of our parish.
One doctor said some of the most pleasant and relaxing moments of his life were experienced driving along a country road in late afternoon, his work done and going home, on an autumn day, the sweet gum trees in gorgeous color, and perhaps a covey of quail or deer would run across the road, the air sweet with a woods scent. He felt at peace with the world and close to his Maker. If he felt drowsy he had the comforting assurance that "Old Dobbin" would take him home safely if he fell asleep, something no present day doctor could possibly do driving his late model car!
Dr. Fisher, who was a good hunter, as most of our doctors were, and are today, told me that if he forgot to bring his gun on a call to Bayou D’Inde, famous for the wild turkeys to be found there, invariably a fine, big gobbler would come out of the woods, calmly look him over, and then calmly walk away as if to say, "I dare you to catch me!" The good doctor was convinced that turkey was psychic and knew he didn’t have a gun.
Dr. Fisher drove on with a laugh at the big fellow and at himself, too, musing on the traits of God’s creatures, and wild turkeys in particular.
Here they are for you to read about – those doctors of an earlier day who felt the stimulus of adventure and came to serve the people of the woods and of the small towns, leaving with us the memory and the knowledge of duty well done.
They gave their best.
1604 Alvin Street
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Saunders, Dr. J. E. - 1850
Farquhar, Dr. William - 1852
Coley, Dr. J. D. - 1859
McCall, Millege [Milledge] - 1830 - 1870
Rigmaiden, Thomas - 1840 [Rigmaiden is listed here, but is incorrect. The entry is about Dr. Niblett, not Thomas Rigmaiden.]
Chevalier, Dr. Anthony - 1860
Mims, Dr. Larkin - 1868
Lyons, Dr. Erastus - 1860
Hilliard, Dr. J. H. - 1879
Weatherby, Dr. ______ - 1876
Lambraith, Dr. ______ -
Myers, Dr. ______ - 1880’s
Singleton, Dr. M. E. – 1860 - 1890
Singleton, Dr. Seth B. - 1880
Hamilton, Dr.______ - 1879 - 1880
Brashear, "Dr." _____ - 1880
Kirkman, Dr. William Harrison
Espaglier, Dr. Louis – 1860 - 1880
Gray, Dr. Reuben Flanagan - 1869
Monday, Dr. J. Cornelius - 1878
Moss, Dr. Abram - 1879
Goodlett, Dr. James G. - 1880
Zawadsky, Dr. R. W. - 1867
Kibbe, Dr. W. G. - 1867
Richardson, Dr. Clement Lanier - 1884
Arnold, Dr. J. P. - 1880
McMahon, Dr. J. B. - 1888
Perkins, Dr. Allen J. - 1888
Brom, Dr. W. E. - 1888
Anderson, Dr. J. C. - 1888
Ware, Dr. James A. - 1888
Herisson, Dr. A. C. - 1875
Turincher, Arnault -1875
Traer, U. E. -1888
Medical "Trust" -1888
Martin, Dr. John Greene - 1890
Perkins, Dosite Samuel - 1890
Lyons, Dr. Augustus - 1895 - 1920
Smith, Dr. Weedon - 1890
Lyons, Dr. Samuel Madison - 1891
Carter, Dr. Stephen O. - 1893
Bland, Dr. Jasper J. - 1897 - 1898
Watkins, Dr. Thomas Henry - 1895
Clement, Dr. Elisha Lyons - 1901
Iles, Dr. Dempsey C. - 1901
Fisher, Dr. W. L. - 1900
Ayo, Dr. J. J. - 1900
Ford, Dr. John Heard -1900
Arceneaux, Dr. Rosamond R. - 1900
Lyons, Dr. George Schuyler - 1900
Kreeger, Dr. George Samuel - 1902
Strother, Dr. Rudolph - 1903
Sweeney, Dr. Alvin Randolph - 1906
Miller, Dr. Laurent - 1908
Holcombe, Dr. Richard Gordon -1909
Hargrove, Dr. Matthew Vernon - 1909
Lafargue, Dr. Alvin Henry - 1910
Tuten, Dr. Joseph D. - 1910
Martin, Dr. Claude A. - 1912
Crawford, Dr. Jefferson Arthur - 1912
Cook, Dr. Eleanor - 1927
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