Dr. Hugh C. Smisson

For a brief period, Hugh C. Smission worked in Denison, Texas, as a physician. Before and after, he had a life elsewhere. What brought him to Denison?

Hugh was born in Alabama on September 10, 1871, the son of Dr. Henry J. Smisson (1833–1918) and Laura C. Brunner Smisson (1841–1913). They had two children: Hugh and Annie Laura Smisson Page (1866–1934).

Henry, the father, was born in Georgia and attended the Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston, graduating in 1860. He served the Confederacy as captain of Company B, 33rd Alabama Infantry, during the Civil War. He and Laura married in 1866. According to his obituary, he then practiced medicine in Newton, Dale County, Alabama, for forty years or more. Later, for several years, he worked in Ozark, Alabama; and he retired at Dothan, Alabama. He was nearly ninety years of age when he died, five years after his wife passed away. He was buried in Newton.  

Hugh grew up in Newton and married Cora Smithe around 1896.  The Southern Practitioner, a medical journal, reported that he was awarded an M.D. from Chattanooga (TN) Medical College at its eigth annual commencement on March 23, 1897.  The account of the exercises ends: "And another class goes out from the shadows of grand old Lookout to enter on the arduous duties of professional life."  In 1898, Dr. Smisson was listed in the Chattanooga City Directory as a physician.

 

The 1900 U.S. Census found Hugh practicing medicine in Delta County, Texas, just west of Fannin County, at that time on the border with Indian Territory. Cooper was the county seat.

On January 24, 1902, newspaper reports from LaFayette, Louisiana, stated: "The fast passenger train which left New Orleans was wrecked Friday at Code station, 12 miles east of LaFayette. Five passenger cars were thrown from the track, all well filled with passengers, but fortunately only three were hurt. The injured are: Dr. H. C. Smisson, of Slocum, internal injuries; Dr. Brecker, of Detroit, leg hurt; Mrs. C. H. Hambert, of Buffalo, N. Y., injured internally. The injured were brought here, sent to a hotel and are reported as doing well." Apparently Dr. Smisson was living at Slocum in East Texas.

Dr. Smisson continued to move. By 1903, the City Directory of Memphis, Tennessee, listed him as a physician. In 1907, he was living in Ozark, Alabama, where his father then lived.

Industrial Denison, a book published around 1909, featured a photograph of the "office of Dr. H. C. Smisson, Specialist." However, Denison city directories for this period do not list Dr. Smisson.



"Office of Dr. H. C. Smisson, Specialist."
Robinson, Frank M., comp. Industrial Denison. [N.p.]: Means-Moore Co., [ca. 1909]. Page 50.

On September 26, 1910, the Dothan (AL) Eagle reported, "Dr. Hugh Smisson, of Jackson, Mississippi, is in the city, visiting his father, Dr. J. H. Smisson." By 1913, Hugh was located in Jackson, Tennessee, and was listed in the City Directory as a physician. Perhaps the Eagle confused the two Jacksons.

Interestingly, the 1910 Census for Jackson, Tennessee, reported no H. C. Smisson. However, it did list C. L. Smisson, age 38, a physician, whose wife Carrie, age 27, is a "chiropodist." Both his parents were born in Alabama, both hers in Indiana. They had been married (first marriage) five years and had a daughter, Helen, age 4, born in Missouri.

In 1916, Dr. Hugh Smisson had moved again to Memphis, establishing a practice. The 1917 City Directory reported him living at, or affiliated with, the Tennessee Sanitarium there. He passed away at age 48 in Memphis, on April 14, 1919, and was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in that city.

 




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Elaine Nall Bay
2013