Submitted by:
Kay Cunningham



Locating in Marlin, Texas

Chapter 6

THE HOT ARTESIAN WELL AT MARLIN, TEXAS
Depth 3,348 Feet; Temperature 147 F.

Some years ago a driller came to Marlin town to stay,
And said he'd get us water if we'd let him, right away.
The city fathers set him drilling-down more than half a mile
He struck a stream of water that made the fathers smile
Until each one had drunk a swig; his smile was then a frown;
It was so hot and nasty that they said 'twould ruin the town.
Darkies said 'twas debil's dishwater - from thence it came, no doubt,
And "De debil's gwine ter git you' of yo' doan watch out!"

The people here had never thought the hot place was so near;
But when the stuff came out so hot it gave them all a "skeer."
They turned the well into a ditch, and said their prayers each night,
And each one tried to treat his friends the way he thought was right.
The minnows in the ditch below soon grew to monstrous size,
And poor old cows became so fat it gave us all surprise.
The people would not drink the stuff; they still were quite devout;
"De debil's gwine ter git you' ef yo' doan watch out!"

The mangy dogs that bayed the moon and barked the livelong night
Were soon so fat and sleek they slept because they were all right.
A crippled tramp bathed in a barrel and soon became quite well,
And people thought such healing stuff could never come from hell.
And so the sick folks used it then and soon became robust;
And all were long and loud in praise -- e'en those who first had cussed.
As each one grew in health each day they all began to doubt "De debil's gwine ter git yo' ef yo' doan watch out!

Now sick folks come from far and near with chronic strange disease,
With baths and diet persevere, and hope for long-sought ease;
While far-famed doctors supervise their lives through every day,
To live and love and realize the best from their brief stay.
We have our clubs and lodges, too, and drive our swift 'mobile;
Sometimes we 'most drive over you - but never lie nor steal.

Of course, we may prevaricate, and someties profiteer,
But that comes from this modern gait of running in high gear -
That mad, wild rush for paltry pelf we call the dollar chase.
We need a preacher by our side to keep from "fallin' from grace."
And so I've come at last to think the darky's right, no doubt,
And "De debil's gwine ter git us ef we doan watch out."   

When I first arrived in Marlin, October 21, 1898, I was ill with malarial fever. I had a room in the home of Dr. J. W. Cook, and after I had recovered from my spell of fever he asked me to go into partnership with him to help organize an institution for the treatment of chronic diseases. So I returned to Leon Junction, collected all the outstanding fees that I could, and returned to Marlin to carry out my dream of utilizing physical therapy, preventive medicine, and other beneficial treatments for the relief of human suffering. As I have said, I had definitely determined upon such a course after treating my first fatal case of typhoid fever, that of Miss Maggie Box.

We bought a lot for $4,500 and I paid $1,500 on it, which my father had helped me borrow, and we started building the Bethesda Bath House. We also bought on the lot an old grain house which had been used by Dr. Cook for a small bath house. It had some good lumber in it and we paid $150 for it as it stood. We hired Mr. Day, a carpenter, who was sick, and I gave him treatments until he was well enough to work. He was made superintendent of construction of our new building, the Bethesda Bath House.

I worked every day with hammer and saw, doing the best I could as an unskilled carpenter - not much on the job, however. I tore my pants frequently, hammered my nails at times, but restrained my language, and made a reputation for industry and for trying to do something to help the work along.   

Our painter was a man named Pharis, who needed treatment badly. I treated him for his ailments and paid him half price for his work. Dr. Cook was spending most of his time doing whatever practice he could get. I would only see patients in consultation. We had to use every method possible to secure money in order to get the bath house finished. We even borrowed from our friends.

Many kinds of incurable diseases came to us then, but very few of the acute types. The hot mineral water seemed to be especially soothing and healing to skin diseases. One of the first cases I saw after I came here to stay was that of a man who had general dermatitis. It was all over his body. Even his eyebrows, hair and toenails came out. He would come down and get into the water around 6:00 A. M., just moaning and groaning with the itching, and suffering terribly. The mineral water would relieve his itching almost immediately, whereas ordinary water makes most skin diseases worse instead of better. I took his case for $25, and he never had a relapse, as far as I know.     

It was not long after I came here that Doctor Cook was called to see T. J. Kemper, who had been hit on the left side, of his head with a stick of wood in the hands of a negro. About six hours after he was hit on the head, he developed a severe pain and became completely paralyzed on the right side of his body. I was called in consultation. I said the patient evidently had a hemorrhage of the surface of the brain, due to a fracture of the inner table of the skull, since there was no depression whatever, not even a bruise, on the outside of his skull.    

He was left in an unconscious condition, with his side paralyzed, and was unable to speak until the following Sunday. The injury occurred on Saturday night, making an interval of eight days. I insisted that he should be operated on at that time, as I was positive there was a hemorrhage there.    

Dr. J. T. Harrington of Waco was called in consultation, as we had no surgical instruments at hand and had had no practical experience with such operations. I assisted Dr. Harrington that Sunday afternoon in doing the operation, and we washed out a handful of clotted blood on the left side of the brain. Dr. Cook gave the anesthetic.    

I stayed with Mr. Kemper all night, and the next morning he awoke, able to talk and move. Naturally, this kind of case gave a good deal of publicity to a young doctor who had just come to town. The patient lived at least forty years after that, always appreciative and often referring to the time I "saved his life,' as he expressed it. He named one of his boys after me, Walter Kemper; another son was Bill Kemper, who went away to school and is now a prominent lawyer in Houston, Texas.     

In September of 1897 we had an epidemic of dengue, or break-bone fever. A Miss Bauman of Marlin, who had been down in Mexico, seemed to have brought it back home with her. Dr. Cook, being her family physician, was called in to treat her, and caught the disease himself.   

We learned from the papers that there was an epidemic of dengue over a good portion of the State. I read everything I could find on the disease in my Reference Hand Book system of medicine, and decided that not only did Dr. Cook have dengue fever, but that it was becoming epidemic Iover the town, the mosquitoes having become infected.    

Dr. Fendly of Havana had contended for several years: that the mosquito was a conveyor of yellow fever and malaria, but the work of Reed and Carroll was not done until 1900, so the full extent of infection through the agency of mosquitoes was not known. However, I don't believe I ever saw as many of these pests in my life as we had in Marlin that Fall, and I had a strong suspicion that they had much to do with the conveyance of dengue fever. Since then, that fact has been fully established.     

I did not like mosquitoes - had never lived where they were - and now I liked them less than ever. I decided I was going to do all I could to keep them away from me. So I began taking calcium sulphide, a remedy much used at that time in preventing disease. It occurred to me that it I might also keep mosquitoes away from me. I took one grain I, daily until my skin smelled like sulphur, and sure enough I the mosquitoes refused to bite me. Perhaps that was the reason I remained entirely free of dengue when almost everyone in town had it. It was a very severe type, much like: yellow fever, and many died of the disease in various parts of the State.    

Dengue began with a fever that lasted three days - usually after a chill. The fever ran rather high - in some cases reaching 104 or 105, with vomiting. Then there was a remission of the fever for one day, but in a day or two it would come back again. The patients also had glandular involvements. But like all such visitations, the epidemic finally passed.     

It is well to remember, in times of trouble, that "Behind the clouds is the sun still shining." And so it was shining in the beautiful autumn of the preceding year when Miss Maud Battle was being wedded to Mr. Bunch, one of the most promising young men that ever came to Marlin. They are still living here, and their lovely young daughter, Miss Mabel Bunch, is married to Dr. Bedford Shelmire, a nationally known dermatologist of Dallas. They, in turn, have a son who is going to be a doctor. And so, to leave a cheery thought:

The sweetest flowers that ever bloom
Must have the sunshine and the rain;
And though you now see naught but gloom,
The blessed sun will shine again.

J.W.T.

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     "Pause for meditation"; "Pause for associated memories"; "Pause for reflection," and as the late Professor Frederic Tilney said, "Only five per cent of the people really think and another five per cent think they think, and the remainder follow any sort of propaganda." If this book fails to make you think, it has missed its greatest mission, for the world needs straight thinking today.