Robert McCauley.

McCAULEY, ROBERT.—Johnson County (1793-1842). Born near Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug. 22, 1793. He was the first white man to practice the healing art in Johnson County.

He attended a boarding school in Edinburgh for several years, and obtained a good education. Sometimes he had to work in order to pay his board, and in consequence of this necessity he learned the cooper’s trade. He was also an athlete and became a proficient boxer. He came to America when 18 years of age, and traveled from place to place, and when in need replenished his purse by teaching school. In 1822 he came to Henry County, Kentucky. Here he fell in love with a Miss Banta, and they were married in 1824. After his marriage he displayed his adaptability to his surroundings by working for two years in his father-in-law’s distillery.

In October 1826, he and his family came to Johnson County, Indiana, and moved into a little unfinished cabin about 5 miles west of the village of Franklin—then a place of 5 or 6 log houses. In this whole region there was no minister of the healing art and McCauley quickly saw the needs of the community where people were stricken and dying with malaria, so he immediately assumed the task of caring for their physical needs, and soon gained their confidence by self-assurance, native ability and the statement that he was a graduate of the University of Edinburg. The popular belief in the truthfulness of this assertion gave him much prestige, and many were the cabin hearth stories of his seven years of study in “the old country.” As he left Scotland in 1811, when 18 years of age, those interested in absolute historical truth can readily see that he very likely never saw the inside of the University of Edinburgh, at least not in the serious capacity of a medical student.

But in the swamps of Johnson County the people were stricken and dying, and calling for help. “Dr.” McCauley boldly rode to their relief and was hailed with joy. He was needed so quickly after taking up his abode in the wilderness, that he had no time to make a door to his lonely cabin. In lieu of a wooden door a blanket was stretched over the lintels of his doorway; the winds of winter beat against it, and the wolves sniffed at its flimsy folds, while within, his wife and babies trembled with fear.

Soon he rode miles in every direction. He passed through Franklin, crossed Sugar Creek, and practiced in Shelby County, through Edinburgh into Bartholomew County, along Indian Creek, and among the bold hills and wild forests of Brown County, and far westward to White River. He sometimes made trips which consumed in time two or three days. He charged very little and collected less. His neighbors for a mile or two around always paid their bills in work.

He died August 14, 1842, and at the time of his death he owned nearly 500 acres of fertile land, but very little of his wealth had been made by the practice of medicine. —Dr. R. W. Terhune, Whiteland.

“I am sure my readers will forgive me for this rather lengthy sketch. Here is a unique, early-day physician who goes “Doc Sifers” one better. Doc Sifers had had some experience:

“Durin’ the army—got his trade o’ surgeon there.” But “Dr.” McCauley, “like Topsy, just growed.”—G. W. H. K.

The Journal of the Indiana State Medical Association. Fort Wayne, IN: The Indiana State Medical Association, 1910, v.III, pp328-329.

Transcribed by James R. Wilson