Wilson Acheson Jr.
12 October 1842 Washington, Pennsylvania
7 September 1934 Denison, Grayson County, Texas
s/o Hon. Alexander Wilson Acheson Sr & Jane Belch Wishart
20 April 1844 Washington, Pennsylvania
January 1899 Denison, Grayson County, Texas
m 20 June 1864 Washington, Pennsylvania
1868 - 1923
d/o Alexander Wilson Acheson Jr. & Sarah Cook
September 7, 1934
pg 1, 12
ONE OF DENISON'S FOUNDERS PASSES AS DREAM OF LIFETIME NEARS REALIZATION
Special to The Democrat
- Death came to a North Texas Patriarch Friday at a time when his dream
of a lifetime probably stands on the eve of realization.
Alexander W. Acheson, 92, a pathfinder and chief advocate of inland
waterway navigation, one of the oldest practicing physicians in the
state, and a founder of the city of Denison, died quietly at 7 a.m.
Friday at the old Acheson home, 1419 West Woodard. He had not been ill,
but for the past two weeks his vitality had ebbed away.
Less than a
week ago word came from Washington that President Roosevelt would
recommend to congress the waterways conservation program for the Red
and Arkansas rivers, which includes the damming of the former above
Denison, an announcement regarded by some as an assurance of
success of the project.
After a half century of work in the interest
of Red river navigation, he died with the knowledge that he probably
was, like the prophet of centuries past, within sight of the promised
land. Like the prophet he died alone.
BELL TO TOLL
Acheson was in a local hospital a week or more, and was reported as
improving in strength. At home with a caretaker Thursday night, he
suddenly began sinking and succumbed at morning.
His only relatives
were in New York City. They are his daughter, Mrs. Alice
Sproule, and his grandchildren, Misses Jean and Alice Sproule, and
grandson, Lieut. Alex Sproule. His son-in-law, Frank Sproule.
superintendent of mails for the M-K-T railroad, was to arrive Friday to
make preliminary arrangements for funeral services.
The body was
removed to the Halton-Swank Funeral Home. Dr. Acheson had requested
that at his funeral a bell which he had given to the First Presbyterian
Church and which hangs on the lawn be tolled. This request is to be
The veteran had maintained a practice until his failing
strength forced him into the hospital two weeks ago. Until the past
month he had driven his own automobile.
He was the only honorary member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in all
of North Texas.
BORN IN PENNSYLVANIA
Alexander Wilson Acheson was one of the oldest physicians practicing in
Texas. He was born Oct. 12, 1841 in Washington, Penn; educated in the
public school of Washington, supplemented by a college education at
Washington and Jefferson institution, and was a graduate of the medical
department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1867. He was the oldest
living member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, being initiated in the
Pennsylvania delta chapter in 1857,
During the civil war, the doctor
enlisted in Company C, 140th Pennsylvania regiment, and was mustered
out in 1865. When his brother, Capt. David Acheson, was
Gettysburg, "Sandie" was promoted to captaincy, and served in General
Miles' staff. During a battle in Pennsylvania he received a facial
After graduating from medical college, he practiced a short
time in Brooklyn, New York, then moved to Kansas City, Mo., which at
that time was a main crossing of the Missouri river for wagon trains
headed for the west. He left Kansas City for Texas. He arrived in
Denison in November 1872. The M-K-T railroad, then known as
Missouri-Pacific, reached Denison Christmas day of that year.
arrival for the Katy railroad, Dr. Acheson was appointed local surgeon
and physician, and many injured men of the company were turned over to
him for attention. Injured hands, feet and legs called for amputation,
due to the old link-and-pin coupling, which was used all together at
that time. Probably he exceeded the majority of surgeons and physicians
in Texas in matters of such amputations. The shops were located in
Denison, and accidents were so numerous that every day many operations
on injured employees were necessary. On one occasion, due to
wreck, he had three patients whose legs had to be amputated and in each
case the patient survived.
The use of chloroform and ether had not
come into practical use, and the patients were frequently intoxicated
in order to save them from as much pain as possible. During this
period, the assisting surgeon or physician was held equally responsible
for operations, and for this reason it was difficult many times to
secure assistance. In two instances the patient died due to the
difficulty in securing such aid. Antiseptic surgery was not
then; sloughing of the flesh was frequent due to inflammation of wounds.
Dr. Acheson joined the American Medical association in 1873
and secured the state meeting of the body in Sherman in 1874.
MAYOR FOUR TIMES
was mayor of Denison for four terms, and the first to be elected under
the present commission form of government. He realized the water supply
of Denison was inadequate, the supply at that time being furnished by
Waterloo lake supplemented by a few wells. Due to his efforts and those
of the council, particularly P.H.Tobin, Randell lake dam was built; and
due to the fact that it was complete in a very dry year, it was months
before the water accumulated. One July 4 a base ball game was
played at the bottom of the lake.
Randell as a prospective lake was
regarded as a mistake, and was often referred to as "acheson's folly,"
but this had proved erroneous many times as the city has grown. Many
gallons of water were needed and Waterloo, supplemented by the wells,
would not begin to supply the city. Many years ago when Waterloo dam
washed out, the city would have been in serious condition had it not
been for the foresight of Dr. Acheson, it was stated.
During his term as mayor, the city hospital was built, also the high
school on Main street.
was an early advocate of navigation on Red river, and was instrumental
in securing the steamboat "Annie P," which came from Shreveport and
landed at a point in Acheson park, where "squirrelly" Bob's cabin
stood. It took back to Shreveport a load of cotton and made an
additional roundtrip. As a result of that trip, congress appropriated
$50,000 to improve conditions on Red river, particularly to dragging
out snags. Judge J. Moreland was in command of the quarter boat, and
supervised a gang of negroes who were performing the work.
years ago, Dr. Acheson visited Jay Gould and urged the extension of the
Texas and Pacific railroad into Denison. As a result of that visit, the
Texas and Pacific built from Sherman junction to Denison.
Acheson was the first to drill oil near Denison, financing a well north
of the old Eastman place on the Preston Bend highway. He supported the
canning factory, the Cotton mill and the roller mill; the motor belt
line, the soap factory and the Denison Oil mill, which at that time was
one of the largest cotton seed oil mills in the United States, the old
site being occupied by the Kraft-Phoenix cheese factory today.
Acheson, always in advance of the times; was the first to use a
telephone in Denison, a private line running from his home on Sears
street to his office in the Jones Drug store, now occupied by the Witz
Dry Goods company. The old phones have been donated to the 36th
division signal company, 144th Infantry, Denison, as relics. He was
first to equip his house with other than oil lamps, his house on
Woodard being supplied with a gasoline system, and gas generated into
the cellar. When acetylene gas came into use, he changed to that, and
later to electricity.
Dr. Acheson's home in early days was one of
the show-places of Denison. He was the first man to own and ride a
bicycle in Denison; the first to own rubber-tired buggy, quickly
followed by pneumatic tires. He was one of the first to own an
automobile in Grayson county, a one-cylinder affair with oil lamps and
wooden finders. It became a habit with women of the town to ascertain
whether or not the car would be on the streets, as they were afraid to
drive as horses were not used to such 'contraptions". Dr. Acheson was a
republican candidate for governor in 1906 and candidate for the United
States senate in 1916.
His wife, who was Miss Sarah Cooke, daughter of John L. and Catherine
Cooke of Pennsylvania died many years ago.
Wilson Acheson Jr.