Grayson County TXGenWeb
Fairview Cemetery

Alexander 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
Sarah Cook Acheson
20 April 1844  Washington, Pennsylvania
January 1899  Denison, Grayson County, Texas

m 20 June 1864  Washington, Pennsylvania


Jean W. Acheson
1868 - 1923
d/o Alexander Wilson Acheson Jr. & Sarah Cook

Sherman Democrat
September 7, 1934
pg 1, 12

Special to The Democrat

DENISON - Death came to a North Texas Patriarch Friday at a time when his dream of a lifetime probably stands on the eve of realization.
Dr. 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 the 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.


Dr. 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 Acheson 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 carried out.
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.


Dr. 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 killed at Gettysburg, "Sandie" was promoted to captaincy, and served in General Miles' staff. During a battle in Pennsylvania he received a facial wound.
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 the Missouri-Pacific, reached Denison Christmas day of that year.


Upon 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 a 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 known 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.


He 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.
He 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.
Many 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.
Dr. 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.


Dr. 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.

Alexander Wilson Acheson Jr.


Grayson County CC