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Physicians in Windsor

Some Physicians in Windsor's Past and Present

Written by Elizabeth N. Pugh
"The Windsor Story - 1768-1968" - published by Windsor Bicentennial Commission. Used by permission of Harry L. Thompson

Down through the years Windsor has been most fortunate in being blessed with capable and good physicians.

At the spring meeting of the Bertie County Historical Association, Dr. Paramore of Meredith College gave a most interesting paper, "The Art and Plystery of Physick in Colonial Rertie." I quote a part of this article.

"Our Colonial Court records are among the sources'from which some ideas of early medical practice may be gained, add to this published 'Colonial Records' such sources as Lawson E Brickell, and the observations of travelers through the Colony and a fair picture emerges on the efforts of our 18th century forebearers to combat the ravages of an alien and sickly natural environment. "In the afore mentioned records there are references to some two dozen doctors who practiced here in Colonial times. Some of these were men of obscure origins and questionable services, but one, a doctor who does not appear to have practiced, was Governor Gabriel Johnston, whose medical degree was from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "There is no question but that doctors were among the very earliest settlers in Bertie."

Other doctors listed in Colonial Records as practicing in Bertie County, not necessarily in Windsor, are as follows: George Collins;   James Williamson, the latter listed as Precinct Surgeon;   John Bryan;   James Speir;   David Stewart, Precinct Surgeon;   Thomas Watkins;   John Dowd, whose degree was.from the Ilniversity of Glasgow;   Henry Bates, Province Surgeon;  William Cathcart, home in Northampton County, with Northampton having been part of Bertie County, it is reasonable to think that he practiced in Bertie;  James Flood;   John Jameson;  John Steinfels;   Samuel Ormes;   Robert Lenox;  Edward Ward;   James Seay;   Alexander Fitzjarrell;   Solomon Wilson;   William Usher, University of Dublin;   John Dillon and   John Pasteur.

In the late eighteen hundreds and on into the nineteen hundreds came Dr. Turner Wilson, whose grave is in St. Thomas Episcopal Church yard, and Dr. Francis Gillam who is buried in the Cashie Baptist Church yard and whose namesake is the present Francis Gillam of Windsor. Then, we have Dr. H. V. Dunstan and Dr. H. V. Dunstan, Jr., father and uncle of Thomas Dunstan and grandfather and uncle of Fred M. Dunstan of Windsor. About this time, Dr. Edward Williams Pugh, father of E. S. Pugh and grandfather of Harllee P. Rothenberger;   Dr. W. S. Gurley, father of W. R. Gurley;   Dr. C. J. Sawyer, father of C. J. Sawyer, Jr., of Windsor and grandfather of Dr. C. J. Sawyer, III, of Ahoskie, practiced in Windsor. Dr. Sawyer was first in general practice but after further study went into the practice of eye, ear, nose and throat surgery.

Other doctors who practiced at that time were Dr. John L. Pritchard,  Dr. Bryant Bazemore  and a Dr. Lamb who practiced for a short time with Dr. H. V. Dunstan. Also, Dr. Leslie B. Evans,   Dr. H. W. Lyon,   Dr. J. B. Nicholls,who afterwards, became Superintendent of Catawba Sanatorium in Virginia and   Dr. Cola Castelloe, who with Dr. Evans,   Dr. Lyon and later with Dr. W. P. Jordan operated a clinic over the Rascoe Store on King Street.

After World War II, Dr. W. P. Jordan returned to Windsor and for a short time served as Health Officer for Bertie county. He then opened a very successful clinic which he continued to operate until the Bertie County Hospital was opened.

In the early 1920's, Dr. J. E. Smith came to Windsor as Health Officer for Bertie County, a post which he held until 1931 when he resigned to go into private practice.

In more recent years, in fact since 1952, Dr. Phillip Barringer,  Dr. John Foushee,   Dr. Edward Groover   and Dr. Arthur B. Bradsher have served as Bertie County surgeons.

The doctors now practicing in Windsor are Dr. Cola Castelloe,   Dr. J. E. Smith,  Dr. W. P. Jordan,   Dr. W. M. Atkins and   Dr. Arthur Bradsher.

Other doctors who have practiced here in recent years have been Dr. W. S. Mann and   Dr. R. A. Mangum who were both associated with Dr. Atkins.

Over the years we have also had several Negro doctors: Dr. W. P. Carter,  Dr. Samuel Gadsby and   Dr. Williams.


Windsor’s Men of Medicine at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

By Eugenia Holfer
12th grade, Windsor High School
English IV
(Winner of High School Prize)

In Branson’s “North Carolina Business Directory”, which was published in 1890, we find the following list of doctors practicing in Windsor:

Dr. H.V. Dunstan
Dr. Whitmel S. Gurley
Dr. E.W. Pugh
As of August 1, 1889, the law required doctors to register with the clerk of court. In the “Register of Physicians and Surgeons” we find Dr. W.S. Gurley registered no. 2 on August 2, 1889, Dr. E.W. Pugh registered no. 6 on November 5, 1889, and Dr. H.V. Dunstan registered no. 13 on December 19, 1889.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, these three doctors ministered not only to the residents of the town, but also to the people in the surrounding countryside. They were typical country doctors of their time and in giving the history of these men of medicine, I wish to portray, also, the medical profession of that day.

Dr. Henry Vaughan Dunstan was born in Bertie County and practiced medicine from 1865 until 1908, when he died. When only a young man, he moved to Murfreesboro, North Carolina, and was first education there. Then he studied at the University of Richamond and the University of Maryland, and received his diploma from the Medical College of Richmond, Virginia, March 6, 1862. Dr. Dunstan enlisted in the War between the States and was a surgeon in the Confederate Army. He was a member of the sixty- second Georgia Cavalry. According to family tradition, after the war he walked from his station in Georgia to Bertie County.
After the war, he began practice at Merry Hill, and after a few years at Merry Hill he moved his practice to Windsor. Incidentally, he owned five cottages at Nags Head, made from timber cut in Bertie County and shipped by boat to Nags Head.
There is a window dedicated to Dr. Dunstan in the Windsor Methodist Church.
Dr. Dunstans’s office was on King Street in Windsor about the center of the main business block in the town, where Rose’s Store is now located. His office building was moved to the opposite side and is now being used as Bunn Weather’s Texaco Station.
Dr. Dunstan used a two-seated buggy with two horses for making his calls.

Dr. Gurley

Dr. Gurley was born in Bertie County and practiced from 1873 until 1912. His tombstone is in the church yard of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Windsor. He graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical College of New York on August 1, 1873. He practiced medicine for a short time in Jamesville and then moved to Windsor. Dr. Gurley’s office was in the main block in Windsor on the opposite side of the street from Dr. Dunstan’s office. It was where Gillam Brothers’ now is.

According to records kept by Dr. Gurley, we find the following information in regard to prices:

	Office calls	$1.00
	Night calls	  3.00
	Resident calls	  1.50
	County visits were the same as those in town, plus $0.50 per mile
As an example, a call to the Woodard section, about 11 miles from town, would be seven dollars. To make this call, the doctor would leave town at nine o-clock, arrive at twelve o’clock, eat dinner and leave the house around two o’clock. He wouldn’t get back home until five or six o’clock. It actually took a whole day to make this call.

Dr. Gurley had a horse and buggy and a negro driver. In the winter months, beginning in November, the roads were so bad that the stirrups on the buggy were often broken by deep mud holes. They were replaced in May after the ground dried out.

Roquist Creek Crossing, on the way to Woodard, where there was no dam, was one of the worst places. When the water was high, the doctor and driver would have to sit on the back of the buggy seat. William Gurley, his small son, would sometimes ride with him and sit on the medicine box on the buggy seat. The country was so low and marshy that the water would go right through the bottom of the buggy.

Dr. E.W. PughDr. E.W. Pugh was born in Bertie County and practiced medicine from 1875 until 1916. He graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 22, 1872. Then he practiced at Merry Hill and came to Windsor in 1880. He was a physician and surgeon.
Dr. Pugh had several hobbies. He played the violin, composed music, and wrote poetry.
Dr. Pugh’s office and drug store was located on King Street beside Dr. Gurley’s office, where Levine’s Department Store now is.
He was the only doctor of the three who would perform operations. No internal operations were done at all, but in cases of emergency he performed such operations as taking off an arm or a leg. Dr. Gurley would help him in the back room of Gurley’s office, where all operations were performed.
There were very few manufactured drugs in those days. The drugs were made up in mortars by the doctors themselves. They were pounded out of crude materials. The furnished drugs were kept in beautiful glass jars and bottles with glass stoppers, and labeled with ornamented glass labels.
In addition to his practice Dr. Pugh had a marble soda fountain in which syrups were kept in a marble house. The fountain was operated only in the late spring, summer, and early fall. Ice for drinks was obtained from a boat, the “Mayflower”, that came from Edenton. They couldn’t get ice in winter time. One of the pumps on his fountain was labeled “Don’t Care” for those who answered “don’t care” when asked what they wanted.
The carbonated water Dr. Pugh used at the time was made from a special machine containing gauges in which one compartment held the acid and another the soda. Water was added to this and they were gradually mixed, resulting in carbonic acid gas, which, when served, produced a sparkling drink. When the gas was generated, there were special tanks into which it was put and kept until ready for use.

Dr. C.J. Sawyer

Very soon after the beginning of the twentieth century, in 1904, Dr. C.J. Sawyer came to Windsor from Elizabeth City and brought in a new era in medicine. He was the first doctor in Bertie County to use a car in his practice. It was a Ford, bought in 1908, with the steering wheel on the right.

Dr. Carroll Spencer Credle. Dr. Credle had an office in Colerain and delivered babies there.He was a most beloved doctor who later moved his practice to Ahoskie when the Roanke-Chowan Hospital was built . His office in Colerain was moved a few years ago and made into a museum.It was filled with lots of medical items as well as a room dedicated to the men of Hertford and Bertie who fought in the 2 world wars.It also had lots of information on the history of Colerain and the Chowan River. Obit on-line by Dave Mizell. PuzleLady2@aol.com


Early doctors of Roxobel Township: Benjamin Hempstead, L.W. Jiggitts, Nathan Fletcher, William H. Banks, Robert T. Hall, William L. Powell, Godwin C. Moore and M.L. Brown
(From The Chronicle of The Bertie County Historical Society, Vol III #1, by J. M. Brown, August 1955).
Roxobel page


Virginia Street said:
William Powell received his medical degree in 1854 from University of Pennsylvania . He listed his home address as Roxobel and his Preceptor as Jesse Cotten Powell. I noticed the following information onSally's Family PlaceM: "Jesse Cotten Powell M.D, 8 July 1818 - 27 Feb 1867, [49th year]. In 1850 Dr Jesse C Powell was assisting Dr Godwin C Moore ( - her relative) in his practice at Mulberry Grove."

Joseph B. Ruffin, born 1878 Bertie County, earned Medial Degree from University of the South, Seqnee, TN in 1900. Practiced in Powellsville (Bertie County) from 1903 and later Ahokie. Died Oct 15, 1944 and is buried at Stoney Creek Cemetery.

Naming after Physicians

It was not usual to name children after the physician who delivered them.
John Cowand tells us: My mother had Dr. Ruffin as her doctor in Bertie County when she had my oldest sister in 1925. My sister, therefore, was named Inez Ruffin Cowand. John

Early Medical Men Often Targets Of Court Suits

Colonial court records are among the sources from which some idea of early medical practice may be gained. A doctor suing a patient or a druggist suing a doctor for the collection of a debt has in some instances left valuable lists of medications given and drugs and equipment purchased that give solid clues about the state of medicine among our colonial ancestors.

A patient’s suit alleging malpractice may give other valuable hints for an analysis of the medical art. Bertie County offers an ample proving ground for a trial of this claim. There is no question but that doctors were among the very earliest settlers in Bertie.

When the Quaker George Fox visited Nathaniel Batts at his house near Salmon Creek in 1672, he found there a doctor with whom he promptly fell into dispute. The doctor found cause, it seems, to argue that the light of God was not present in all men, to support which he offered in evidence the local Indians. Fox replied by calling into their presence an Indian and inquiring whether the savage had ever experienced something inside him which reproved him when he did evil. The answer was in the affirmative. This demonstration, according to Fox’s journal, “shamed the doctor before the governor and people,” to the point that he was forced to deny even the truth of the Holy Scriptures.

Visitors to this area, unless they were trying to persuade Europeans to come and live here, described it as generally unwholesome and unhealthy.

William Byrd, crossing northernmost Bertie with the dividing line expedition in 1728, accused the Carolinians of eating too much pork which brought on scurvy often into yaws, an all but incurable malady that culminated in eating off the patient’s nose.

Moravian-Bishop August Spangeburg, passing through Bertie 24 years later, describing the country as low and watery, “fresh and stagnant, which breeds fever every year and many die of it.”

At the close of the Revolution a German physician hurrying across the Albemarle region reflected on “the sickliness of the inhabitants, especially . . . in . . . swampy part of the country and give the people a pale, decayed and prematurely old look.

Thus one might expect that Bertie would be a region in which physicians would be welcome and their services prized; however, this does not seem to have been the case. The people believed that there was no way of avoiding frequent sickness, regarding it as a matter of fact that no physician could cure their prevailing illness. It was not simply that the inhabitants were fatalistic about illness; there seems to have been no small measure as well of mistrust of medicine as a profession.

In this atmosphere of suspicion, doctors often found themselves in legal difficulties, to which the court records give eloquent testimony.
A remarkable illustration of the pitfalls of the medical profession is the story of Dr. Robert Lenox. A Scotsman who came to North Carolina around 1750, Lenox soon afterward married Frances Pollock, wealthy granddaughter of former governor Thomas Pollock of Bal-Gra, and settled down to a practice that would span the next 40 years.

If any physician in this area could be presumed to be above the suspicions that haunted the profession generally, it was Dr. Lenox. But in 1761 he found himself defendant in a sensational litigation wherein he was accused of the most scandalous misconduct imaginable. Nor could the charges be taken lightly, for they were made by John Campbell, the merchant-prince of Lazy Hill, lately speaker of the colonial assembly and one of the most powerful figures in the province.

John Campbell’s charges against Dr. Lenox grew out of a prolonged series of illnesses that plagued the Campbell family between 1756, when Campbell’s own ill-health forced his resignation for the assembly speakership, until at least 1760.

There was probably an element of truth in Campbell’s main allegation that during Lenox’s attendance on the family an illicit relationship had developed between the doctor and a member of Campbell’s family.

John Campbell’s well-known acid temper, one that caused him to be known by some as “the bear,” was conspicuous in the rest of the suit against Lenox. It was believed that the doctor had poisoned and killed an indented [indentured] servant of Campbell’s named Michael Daugherty because Daugherty had knowledge of the affair. The court verdict was in favor of Campbell and fined Dr. Lenox 100 pounds. The Governor’s Council upheld the verdict.

Dr. Lenox recovered his dignity to the extent that his services continued to be retained by the most prominent families in this section. He also survived his loyalist sympathies at the onset of the Revolution and passed peacefully away in Bertie in 1789.

An almost equally flamboyant case was that arising out of the career of John Boyd. Dr. Boyd came to Bertie around 1730 after seven years of practicing medicine in Virginia. He had received his medical training at the University of Glasgow.
Armed with testimonials in his behalf by prominent Bertie citizens, Boyd in 1732 approached Gov. Burrington about a recommendation to the Bishop of London for Holy Orders. Burrington complied and within a year Boyd had sailed to London for his ordination.
An indication of trouble ahead came shortly after Boyd’s return from London. More serious trouble had developed by the time the Bishop’s commissary, Alexander Garden, visited Bertie in 1737. Garden was credibly informed that Boyd’s behavior – trying to unite the spiritual intimacies of the ministry with the physical intimacies of medicine – was the scandal of the province.
The Bishop of London was acquainted with the unpleasant rumor that the Rev. Boyd had been seen on the high road to Virginia, sound asleep, and with his horses tied to his leg.
Boyd’s days as a medical missionary were evidently numbered and there is some reason to believe that he abandoned his ministerial duties rather than suffer dismissal.
Such cases as these, reflective as they are of certain hazards of the medical profession, should not detract from the honorable positions earned and maintained by colonial doctors.

The illnesses most commonly encountered by colonial ancestors were malarial fever, diarrhea, colic, dysentery, convulsions, “French Pox,” yaws, whooping cough, skin diseases and cachexia, the last a condition of chronic ill-health and emaciation. All of these seem to have been treated according to the formula set forth in the famous “Four P’s” of early medicine, puke, purge, plasters and phlebotomy (or bleeding).

Some idea of the repertory of drugs developed by colonial physicians for dealing with these maladies can be gained from examination of the list ordered by Dr. William Usher of Windsor in 1765 from Philadelphia druggist Nathaniel Tweedy. Dr. Usher could halt malaria or stimulate a patient’s appetite with varying does of quinine.
He could relieve itching and burning with camphor or reduce pain and induce sleep with opium. He used balsam as a soothing compound and cantharides as a diuretic. To produce a catharsis he might use either Glauber’s Salt, calomel, tarter of ipecac.
His inventory of equipment included a variety of post and bottles, syringes and probes, scissors and knives, including the small, twin-bladed lancet, a common item of household economy as well as the surgeon’s kit.
The moral is clear: nature must effect the cure while the doctor tried to relieve the symptoms.
For the most part the colonial doctors labored long and profited little, their skills setting them apart from the simple planters they served but providing them with no mantle of security from the fears and suspicions of their rustic clients.
(Excerpted from the Chronicle of the Bertie County Historical Association, April, 1967.)


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