Grayson County TXGenWeb

DR. CHARLES SMITH. CARTER
   (1878-1959)
 
"Dr. Carter Day" was celebrated by the people of Bells in 1 November 1956 because of his years of devoted service to the citizens of this area. During  his 58 years of practicing medicine in the Bells/Savoy/Whitewright area, he delivered more than 3,000 babies, mostly in the home.

He was born near Bells, but grew up near Bonham. After graduating with honors from Bonham High School, he attended the Georgia College of Eclectic Medicine and  Surgery, then entered  the American Medical College, St Louis, MO and Tulane Polyclinic, New Orleans, LA.  He became a deacon in the Baptist Church, a member of the American Medical Association, the Grayson County Medical Society, the State Board of Medical Examiners, and  the Masonic Lodge.

In 1901 Dr. Carter began practicing medicine in Savoy and continued there for twenty-two years.  Then he moved to Whitewright and stayed only a couple of years before moving to Bells in 1926. At one time, Dr. Carter was one of four doctors in Savoy. Even a small town needed several doctors because house calls were the accepted method of treatment. This took much of the doctor?s time as travel was not all that fast.

In 1904, he married Maude Frances Short of Savoy. Their children were Pat, Charles W. (Charlie), Winnie Belle, and Annie Bess. Pat died young; Charlie married and had three children; Winnie married W. M. May and had one child, and Ann married M. D. Johnson and had one child. Grandchildren of Dr. Carter were Judy Ann Johnson, William Carter May, Charles W. Carter Jr., Sharon Elizabeth Carter, and James Neal Carter. His wife Maude Carter, who was dedicated to community service, died in June 1931 in Bells.  In 1939  Dr. Carter married Ethel  Belote.

Charles Smith Carter, the son of James Winston and Sarah Ann (Fitzgerald) Carter, was born near Bells, Texas, 1 November 1878. His father came to Texas from Missouri in 1871; while his mother, the daughter of William Patrick and Emily Belle (Downing) Fitzgerald of Ector, was a native Texan.  Dr. Carter?s siblings were Pat, Winston, Nora, and  Beryl.

Soon after Dr. Carter began his practice, he was called to the home of a child sick with red measles. After attending the child, he went by his aunt Nora (Fitzgerald) Bell?s home in Savoy. There he played with her infant son, Homer Bell. Remembering he had not washed or changed his clothing, he left immediately saying, "I pray I have not infected this baby." But he had and Homer died of red measles a few weeks later. Dr. Carter learned a hard lesson from this experience. From that time on, he was most particular regarding the spread of diseases. It would stand to reason that his aunt, who had no other children, would have blamed her nephew for her child?s death, but she did not. He remained her favorite nephew and was remembered in her will. I heard that story many times as we were often at Nora Bell?s for Sunday dinner as she was my mother?s aunt.  A big  picture of little Homer was on the wall. After Nora Bell died,  Dr. Carter gave me her family Bible and some family pictures.

I remember so many things about "Uncle Doc" as he was a big part of my life as I grew up.  He had a way of walking that was crisp, snappy  and unlike any other.  All of us children took his little pink pills, which was actually calomel, and had our sore throats swabbed with a mercury solution.  Both were commonly used by doctors during that period.  I remember watching his mother, Sarah/Sallie Carter, chip ice from a big block of ice in the top of the ice box. She accidently stabbed her palm and said, "I guess I?ll have to have Charles tend to this. But when he was a little boy, I soaked his cuts and such in coal oil (kerosine)." At that time,  Dr. Carter was living across the street from the old school and had his office on the main street in back of the drug store.  Later, he built a home on the "Y" with an office in his yard.

When I think of Aunt Sally, Dr. Carter?s mother, I always remember the story I heard so often about the death of her little son Pat. It seems she just couldn?t get over the death of her child. She would walk about wringing her hands and saying if only she could see him one more time and know his body was safe and dry. Finally her husband had the body exhumed for her to view. When she saw that it was dry and in perfect condition, she was consoled.

Dr. Carter tended my family?s medical needs from coming to our home five miles north of Bells twice a day for months to dress my younger sister?s burns to draining my lung during a bout of pneumonia. When my older sister had a bad case of scarlet fever, he cared for her and ordered a new serum for the other children.  My older sister, born in 1922 at Aunt Nora Bell?s house in Savoy, was delivered by Dr. Carter. This happened because as time for her birth grew near, my dad would take my mother there each day while he was away from the house.

Around 1930 when Charlie, teenage son of Dr. Carter, was visiting on our farm, a wolf was killed by one of the men. As the men prepared to kill  her litter of pups, Charlie pleaded with his dad to allow him to have one of them, pointing out that he could keep it in the window of the drug store, which Dr. Carter ran at that time.  It was finally decided he could display it for a few weeks. Time slipped by and when the pup was about half grown, it escaped the window. All assumed it had gone back to the wild. But when it became almost impossible for the  people of the Methodist Church (the one that later burned) to  tolerate the terrible odor in their building, the wolf was discovered  dead under the building.

Dr. Carter looked forward to our big threshing dinners during hay baling time at the farm. He enjoyed sitting on the banks of the farm ponds and shooting  whatever fowl happened to come into his range.  He took my younger sister and me to our  first circus (a very small traveling show that came to Bells) and bought us Cracker Jacks. As I was growing up, he would sometimes  lecture me on such subjects as dating,  morals, and money.

In his declining years, Dr. Carter spent much time in bed. He was the first in Bells to install an antenna and buy a television set. The reception was poor and the screen was filled with snow most of the time. None-the-less, he seemed to enjoy it.

This pioneer general practitioner, who was connected to so many lives in the Bells area, died 9 December 1959 at Bells and is buried at Sunnyside Cemetery at Savoy, TX, next to the mother of his children, Maude Carter.
 

Compiled by: Lora B. Tindall

RESEARCH LOG: Denison Herald Newspaper article re Dr. Carter?s 78th Birthday, 1956;  The History of Grayson County by Grayson County Frontier Village 1979, p  213 by his daughter Ann Carter Johnson; Family word-of-mouth stories; Gravestone readings, Savoy,




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