Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
William Thomas Meeks Sr. Town and country doctor
stories of outstanding doctors who practiced medicine in Union County
in the past (Dr. Edge and Dr. Rogers), we turn our attention this week
to Dr. William Thomas Meeks, Sr. He might be labeled both a "town and
country" doctor, having an office in his home just west of town toward
Blue Ridge, and also making house calls throughout the county.
Meeks was born August
26, 1874. He was twelve years of age
when his father, John Wellborn Meeks, moved to Union County in
1886. The family farmed. The elder Mr. Meeks wanted as good an
education as possible for his sons, Jesse and William, so after
finishing the local school, they went to
the Hiawassee Academy
founded by the noted Baptist preacher cousins, Dr. George W. Truett and Dr. Fernando Coello
McConnell. There the brothers would have "batched,"- that is, found a
place to board and provide their own meals as they attended classes.
Thomas Meeks was in his early twenties, he went out to Arizona to
find a job so that he could earn enough money to pay off the mortgage
on the family farm. It is assumed that he reached this goal, for he
returned to Blairsville and worked for awhile as a carpenter, helping
to build the "old" court house on the square.
and Dollie Adeline Colwell (1885-1987)
began their courtship which culminated in their marriage in 1908. Meeks
had long harbored a dream to become a doctor. In 1912, with his wife
and young son, John Jacob (who was born prematurely October 23, 1908
weighing 2 pounds, 8 ounces, and was kept "incubated" in a shoe box,
watched carefully and warmed by a wood stove), the family moved to
Atlanta and he began studies at the old Atlanta School of Physicians
Life was hard
as they lived on Highland
Avenue in Atlanta.
Mrs. Meeks kept a cow and sold milk to neighbors. The cow also provided
milk for the Meeks family, which had increased by another son, William
Thomas, Jr., born October 1, 1914.
While not in
classes at the medical college (which became Emory University School of
Medicine the year Dr. Meeks graduated in 1915), he cut trees for the
Coca Cola Company, and the couple sold Bibles for a publishing company.
Dr. Meeks had a
desire to serve among his own people in Union County, so
they returned to set up his practice. He made house calls, riding a
black horse in all sorts of weather to see his patients over a wide
area of the county. The story is told that at times the weather was so
cold Mrs. Meeks had to use hot water or a hammer to melt or break up
the ice formed on the stirrups so that Dr. Meeks could dismount from
his horse upon his return from calls.
The third Meeks
son was born in Blairsville March 23, 1918 and
named Jack Littleton.
A major flu
epidemic struck in 1918. It was just prior to this period that the
Meeks family moved from Union County to Hall County and
set up his practice in the mill village of New
Several people from Union County had
already moved there seeking employment in the cotton mills. He
delivered babies and tended the sick. On his house calls, especially
during the flu epidemic, he went from house to house up and down the
streets trying to help the desperately ill people. It was reported that
he delivered more babies than any doctor in Hall
between the years of 1918 and 1935 when he practiced there.
As she did
while they were in Atlanta, Dollie Meeks made sure her family had what they
needed to eat. She had a chicken lot and kept fryers and hens that
provided meat and eggs for her family.
Meeks son, Charles Edward, was born October 2, 1921
while the family lived in Hall County.
In 1935, Dr.
Meeks moved his family back to Union County. He
maintained an office in his home where he saw patients. He continued
house calls, using a Model A Ford for
transportation on the poor roads. Only one paved road went through the
county at that time, what is now Highway 129 from Neel
Gap to the North
Carolina line (opened in 1925). Other
roads were dirt, and often impassable in winter weather. Many a time,
Dr. Meeks had to get a farmer with his team to pull his Model A through
the mud. He often parked it and walked a distance to the house where he
went to deliver a baby or to attend the sick.
The good doctor
suffered a stroke in 1944. He did not recover, and died July 10, 1944. He
was interred at the new Blairsville Cemetery.
Mrs. Dollie Adeline Colwell Meeks lived
sons had distinguished careers but none of them followed their father
into medical practice. John lived in Charleston, SC
where he owned a furniture and moving
business. He died in 1988. William T. Meeks, Jr., better known as Bill,
graduated from the University of Georgia and
returned to Union County
where he became a farmer, merchant and legislator. Jack Littleton
graduated from Georgia School of Technology with a chemical engineering
degree. After a stint with the US Navy in which he reached the rank of
Commander, he got a job with the Clorox Company and worked as chemist,
plant manager, and regional manager. Charles Edward graduated from
Georgia Tech in chemical engineering and held positions with various
chemical manufacturing companies, the latest being in Lock Haven, PA
with Quantum Chemicals until his retirement in 1988.
Today, Meeks Park in Union County
stands as a monument to this family who were honorable and productive
resource for this article was the "Dr. William Thomas Meeks, Sr." story
in The Heritage of Union County, 1994, page 236.]
c2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Feb. 8, 2007 in The Union
Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail email@example.com;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708