State Board of Health
The organization of Quitman County was simultaneous with that of a Board of Health for the grand old state, each having come into being in 1877. Prior to this date, and even when Mississippi was only a territory in 1799, there were laws for the protection of the people against contagious diseases, but it rested on them to keep or break them, as they chose.
A local health department was established in the city of Natchez as early as 1818, followed by a pure food and drink law in 1823, the breaking of which for the second time, carried punishment, a fine and a sentence to the pillory for three days in succession. In 1828, vaccine against smallpox was provided by the state for all who applied, and in 1876, a Board of Health was provided for three of the oldest counties–Harrison, Hancock, and Jackson.
Members of the first State Board of Health were: Dr. Robert Kells, president, Jackson; Dr. Wirt Johnson, secretary, Jackson; Dr. P. J. McCormick, Yazoo City; Dr. A. G. Smythe, Baldwin; Dr. J. M. Taylor, Corinth; Dr. A. H. Cage, Canton; Dr. T. D. Isom, Oxford; Dr. W. M. Compton, Jackson; Dr. C. A. Rice, Brandon; Dr. P. F. Whitehead, Vicksburg; Dr. E. W. Hughes, Grenada; Dr. P. L. Phares, Woodville; Dr. S. V. D. Hill, Macon; Dr. John Wright, Sardis; Dr. R. G. Wharton, Port Gibson; Dr. F. W. Dancy, Holly Springs.
“No one knew at that time how to prevent any disease except smallpox. A ten year old school boy now knows more about preventing typhoid fever, malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, and other diseases than all these sixteen good doctors knew when they were appointed members of the first Board of Health sixty years ago.”1
The eight secretaries and tenure of service are shown below:
Dr. Wirt Johnson, April 7, 1877-March 24, 1896
Dr. J. F. Hunter, March 24, 1896-February 2, 1912
Dr. S. H. McLean, February 2, 1908-February 2, 1912
Dr. W. W. Smithson, February 2, 1912-January 4, 1913
Dr. E. H. Galloway, January 14, 1913-January 26, 1918
Dr. J. D. Gilleylen, January 26, 1916-December 28, 1918
Dr. W. S. Leathers, January 2, 1917-December 28, 1924
Dr. Felix J. Underwood, July 1, 1924-Present time
In 1910, Dr. Leathers, then director of Public Health, instituted a malaria control program which brought to the state and its Health Department much attention; he headed a group of physicians traveling into every town and hamlet of Mississippi, and delivered lectures to the people, with the aid of pictures on screens. Warnings and precautions were discussed with regard to hookworm, typhoid fever, the house fly, and mosquitoes, with a major portion of the time and effort being directed toward the stamping out of malaria.1
It may be mentioned here that Dr. Leathers is a brother of James A. Leathers, erstwhile young lawyer of Quitman County, who married Vera Denton, sister of Judge M. E. Denton, and who is now prominent in his profession in Gulfport.
In September 1898, yellow fever reached the epidemic stage in many parts of the state, but did not spread to this county. Measures of prevention were taken by stopping trains, suspending schools, etc. When the disease again appeared in 1905, people had learned to guard against the mosquito, and so damage was light.
Mrs. J. S. Allen, Sr., of Lambert, resident of this county during the 1905 yellow fever epidemic, says that no one could leave the county without a health certificate; Dr. F. M. Brougher, county health officer, often signed as many as one hundred certificates daily.
The influenza epidemic of 1918, places on record the saddest recollections in the history of the county. This epidemic, throughout its course, embraced practically the entire county, maintaining a most persistent type of infectiousness and disastrous mortality. Nurses were scarce because so many had given their service to the World War.2
W. A. Cox, first mayor of the town of Marks, says that seven in his family were ill with influenza at the same time, and three of the children had pneumonia. His friend and physician, the late Dr. F. M. Brougher, stayed in his home for three weeks and served as doctor and nurse.
Influenza made its appearance during the first week in September, and from September 28 to October 5, the spread became general, so it might be stated that a county-wide epidemic was in progress.
Strange to note, it spared the very old and very young, and mowed down the strong and active. For several years after, cases of latent tuberculosis became active because of this infection.3
After learning that yellow fever was carried by mosquitoes that breed in stagnant water, Quitman Countians have co-operated with state and county health officials in the extermination of the stegomyia (Yellow fever) mosquito. The control of yellow fever consists of drainage of mosquito breeding places, screening, and oiling.
Elimination of Smallpox
In the past several years measures have been taken to bring into the county instruction in the facts of hygiene and sanitation. Through the persistent effort and cooperation of agencies connected with the State Board of Health, smallpox and other contagious diseases have been reduced to a minimum by isolation, quarantine, and vaccination. Successful vaccination against smallpox is widely advocated between the sixth and twelfth months of age, together with certain simple principles of health and sanitation.
The older crosspatch method of vaccination has now entirely given way to the multiple puncture method. Recently, a vaccine virus for smallpox immunization, prepared in a medium consisting of mixed chicken embryo tissue suspended in Tyrod’s solution, was developed by Dr. Thomas M. Rivers, of the Rockefeller Institution; its known as glycerolated culture virus.
There is no doubt that this inoculation may eventually become the proper routine method of immunity against smallpox.
Malaria and its Control
The problem of malaria has been of paramount importance since the organization of the county.
Before the specific cause and the exact mode of transmission of malaria was determined, the medical profession groped in the dark for some means whereby it might be controlled, and although much credit is due many of the pioneer workers for their noble efforts and the contribution they made toward malaria control, it remained for Laveran to determine the specific cause of malaria.
The disease has been practically wiped out through education and sanitation. Drinking water was once used from the lakes and bayous, and later there were driven pumps, but with the years, have come artesian wells, drainage (the biggest factor in our health improvements), screens, etc. Nowadays, with the broad, cleared acres in fields of cotton and corn, forest removed, bayous, lakes, and sloughs drained, the mosquito is seeking other climes.
Much is being accomplished by intelligent co-operation on the part of the citizens with the part-time public health officer, Dr. A. C. Covington and the part-time health nurse, Miss Alma Pope.
All activities in this division of work were markedly increased in 1936. Through the cooperation of the WPA, a part-time sanitation supervisor and a part-time malaria control supervisor worked under and with the supervision of the Health Department most of the year; the consequence being that more and better sanitation was effected during 1936 than any previous year in the history of the Health Dept.
The method used in the work consisted mainly of drainage of breeding places, and in screening homes and public places.
Precautions in Regard to Food
All grocery stores and other food dispensing establishments are constructed of good materials; with walls, ceilings, roofs, and floors so constructed as to prevent leaks, and the entrance of flies and other insects. Floors are kept clean from sputum and accumulated dirt; counters, shelves, and bins are kept clean and free from decayed fruits and vegetables, while tables and show-cases are free from newspapers or printed paper coverings. They are also screened at all openings. Doors open outwardly, and provided with springs to keep them closed when not in use. Vegetables and fruit, usually eaten without being cooked, are elevated about eighteen inches above floor level and kept in the store; food displayed outside the store, is elevated above the ground level, and is always screened. Such goods as lard, flour, meal, sugar, and dried fruits are kept covered to prevent dust and flies.
Persons with cancer or contagious diseases, or who have been recently exposed to an infectious disease, are not employed in the grocery stores, or any place where food is sold.4
Meat markets are constructed of sound material, with walls and ceilings constructed in such a manner as to prevent the entrance of flies and insects; roofs and floors are kept in good repair, free from leaks and defects, such as holes and open cracks; ceilings and walls are kept free from dust and cobwebs, and cleaned and scrubbed as often as necessary. These markets are well lighted and ventilated, with all outside doors and windows completely screened, with doors opening outward.
Meat is not exposed outside to dust and flies; employees who handle it are required to be clean, with aprons and clothing worn of such a nature they can be readily cleaned and sanitary. No persons suffering from a contagious or infectious disease, nor a convalescent from diphtheria, pneumonia, or typhoid fever is employed until permission is granted by the county health officer.
Refrigerators, meat hooks, and chopping blocks are kept clean by scouring with hot water and lye, then washed with a solution of common baking soda.
Scraps of meat, bones, and organic matter are not left exposed to the atmosphere of the room, but are kept in a closed receptacle which is emptied and contents disposed of in a sanitary manner. No wearing apparel is permitted to be placed on counters, tables, or shelves where food is prepared or offered for sale; meat is protected from flies and dust while being transported from the slaughter house to the market, by being covered with a clean white cloth.
Spitting on the floor, wall, or any other place than a cuspidor with disinfectant solution is prohibited in our markets; all meats condemned by any representative of the State Board of Health is destroyed or rendered unfit for use.
Hides from slaughter houses are handled in a sanitary manner and bones, hoofs, etc., if retained from commercial purposes, are kept free from all particles of flesh to prevent the fly nuisance.
Hotel and Restaurant Regulations
The hotels of the county are generally co-operative in complying with the sanitary regulations, but inspectors of the State Board of Health are authorized to enter any hotel at any reasonable hour to make such inspection as may be necessary. Upon discovery that a room and bed had been occupied by persons with a contagious or communicable disease, they are thoroughly disinfected before being occupied by other persons. Beds, cots, or other sleeping places are provided with pillow slips, and under and top sheets, the under sheet being large enough to cover mattresses; the top being sufficient size to cover, when folded back, all top covering; pillow slips and sheets, after being used by one guest, must be laundered before being used by another; separate, clean, cloth towels or sanitary paper towels are used, the common towel being prohibited.
Bedroom doors, windows, transoms, and chimneys are screened the year round; outside doors open outward. Windows and all openings of hotel dining rooms and kitchens are screened throughout the year to prevent entrance of flies and other insects; no room is offered to patrons as a sleeping room unless it is provided with at least one outside window for ventilation. Persons suffering from tuberculosis or other contagious diseases are not housed over two nights in any hotel without special permission of a health officer, and persons exposed to an infectious disease, requiring quarantine, are not employed.
Fresh running water is supplied for guests; waterworks and sewerage facilities are properly connected with suitable water closets, there being separate closets for each sex. Baths and lavatories in rooms and in main wash rooms and kitchen sinks are equipped in similar manner. All liquid wastes are disposed of into the sewerage system through properly connected plumbing fixtures, and in a manner, satisfactory to the State Board of Health.
Dishes, tableware, and kitchen utensils are thoroughly washed and rinsed after using; bread, cakes, pies, and other foods are kept under glass or wire screen, protected from flies. Milk served is undiluted and furnished by dairymen whose dairies comply with sanitary rules and regulations.
Most of the restaurants are of sound material, with walls and ceilings constructed in such a manner as to prevent the entrance of flies and other insects, with roofs and floors free from leaks and holes, being readily cleaned and scrubbed when necessary. Restaurants are screened at all openings, including doors, windows, transoms, chimneys, and flues with well-fitting wire screens; restaurants are provided with pure water, the source of which must be acceptable to the State Board of Health. Persons suffering from cancer or any infectious disease are not employed. Liquid wastes are disposed of into the sewerage through properly connected plumbing fixtures, and all garbage is kept covered in galvanized iron cans and removal daily; kitchens and dining rooms are well lighted and ventilated; all dishes, tableware, and utensils are thoroughly washed and sterilized. All bread, cakes, pies, and other ready-to-serve food is kept under glass or wire screen, protecting them from flies; milk is served unskimmed, and measures up to the standard set forth in regulations of the State Board of Health governing the production and sale.
Dairies comply with the sanitary regulations pertaining to the sale of milk; no fuel or plunder is stored in kitchen or dining rooms, or where food is kept or prepared.
Soda fountains are located in local drug stores. Screen doors leading into or out of these rooms open outward only, and are provided with springs or some other device to keep them closed when not in use. These fountains are kept free from flies by keeping screens in proper repair throughout the year; they have two separate and distinct compartments holding water, one for washing glasses, containing a suitable cleansing solution, and the other for rinsing. Glasses and dishes are kept clean, and all straws are protected from flies and dust by being kept in proper containers. Water, syrup, fruits, and flavors are pure and handled in a cleanly manner.
Public water supplies, systems, or other means of conveying water to consumers provide that all structures, conduits, and appurtenances by means of which the water is collected, treated, or delivered have been submitted in duplicate and approved by the State Board of Health, so far as related to their sanitary features.
Agents of the State Board of Health are always allowed entry to private property for the purpose of collecting samples for examination, locating sources of pollution, and obtaining other information with reference to the quality of water and sewerage system. Schools, public and private, and all public buildings are furnished at all times when in use, with an adequate supply of pure fresh water; the trustees seeing that the water supply is constructed so as to prevent persons from touching their lips to the outlet. The owner of the water supply makes such inspections as are from time to time, necessary. Where wash bowls are provided, they are kept clean with liquid soap, and individual or sanitary paper towels are used.
School buildings are provided with adequate sanitary toilet facilities for both sexes, separated a reasonable distance from each other; equipped with suitable water-flush closets, connected by proper plumbing.
All human excreta is deposited in sewers, septic tanks, vaults, toilets, or other devices adequate to the needs of the people to be served, and of construction approved by the State Board of Health. All house-sewer or drains for the conveyance of deleterious or offensive matters are water tight; toilets are located so that the drainage from them is far enough away from the water supplies; pit toilets are fly proof, and adequately ventilated, being filled with earth whenever the contents of a toilet is transported through streets or over highways to come in contact with flies or exposure to the open air during the transportation, and every other precautionary measure is taken in regard to them.
In September, 1936, a WPA Project was created to build pit toilets in the county; F. M. Bizzell first supervised this, but on December 7, 1936, the work was transferred to George Turner, and thirteen men were employed. In the past four months, toilet vaults have been completed in all parts of the county, fifty of these being in rural sections. The project provides for 119 toilets in the town of Marks through the town board, and enough work is ahead to last two years. The construction of these pits consists of a five-foot hole, three by three feet square, covered with a concrete slab; an eighteen inch wooden riser is then attached to accommodate from one to four persons; over this is placed a shed made of boards to fit slab and secured with bolts; the attachment of a two by three-inch pipe for ventilation completes it.
Back yards of business places are kept free from trash, waste paper, garbage, etc. This is collected daily by scavengers and either burned or hauled to a dumping ground found outside of the city limits. All garbage, kitchen wastes, and other rubbish from grocery stores, hotels, meat markets, drug stores, restaurants, and other public service places is deposited in suitable covered receptacles, emptied, and burned daily.
Residents of the county conform to sanitary rules and regulations pertaining to the prevention and breeding of flies around their premises. Garbage is not allowed to accumulate on the ground, but is burned, buried, or disposed of into receptacles having a tight-fitting cover, which are emptied when full; contents being duly disposed of by a constituted scavenger. Manure is kept in closed bins or removed twice a week throughout the year; stable yards are well-drained and kept free from stagnant water; sanitary toilets are constructed in such a manner as to prevent fly nuisance.
Most school buildings, public or private, are provided with adequate toilet facilities with toilet system properly installed and maintained in a useful and sanitary condition at all times. Water-flushing toilets are installed in railway stations, and permanently connected with sewer; wash basins are located near the toilet similarly connected, and kept in repair in good working order at all times.
The jail and courthouse are well lighted and ventilated, with the walls kept freshly painted, being renewed as often as necessary. Excelsior and shuck mattress are not permitted in the jail; thick, washable blankets are used instead, and are thoroughly aired and cleaned.
These buildings are provided with proper toilet and bathing facilities; waste products from this equipment being disposed of in a manner satisfactory to the State Board of Health. Persons suffering from tuberculosis or other infections are not permitted if known, with other inmates, except under the direction of the county health officer, who is notified immediately upon receipt of such a prisoner.
The death rate of mothers has been lowered considerably in recent years, as physicians and mothers, too, have learned much through the aid of science and health methods. Expectant mothers must be well, and to bear well-born babies they must have healthful, sanitary homes. They must have good food, the right kind of clothing and the opportunity for recreation.
To prevent infant mortality and physical defects, physicians stress the importance of certain general principles which pregnant women should take into consideration. If she lives in such a manner as to establish and conserve her own health, taking plenty of sleep and exercise, eating sensibly of simple food, and in every way striving to take the best possible care of her own body, so that the digestive, assimilation, and excretory organs function correctly, she can be quite sure that the child will be possessed of a sound and normal body and brains.
Miss Alma Pope, public health nurse for Quitman County, conducts training classes for midwives; they are taught the proper care of the mother’s personal hygiene, proper diet, and apparel. Instructions are given in the making of infant clothing and articles necessary for home delivery. Patients needing medical treatment are referred to their family physicians for same.
Prenatal medical conferences are held once a month, requiring the forty-eight midwives to attend; the Mid-wife Club leaders of Quitman County are: Addie Allen, of Marks; Sarah Betts, of Darling; Eliza Collins, of Lambert; Edna Fuller Doyle, of Vance; Vally Gaither, of Sledge; Martha Kuykendall, of Marks; Bettie Mullian, of Longstreet; Sarah Paynes, of Crowder; Lucretia Turner, of Sledge; Annie William, of Belen; and Bessie Franklin.5
Now mouth hygiene has been given by dentists of the county in nearly all of the schools here. This work was organized by Dr. B. J. Marshall, of Marks, in 1911, he being the first dentist in the state to volunteer without the supervision or direction from the State Dental Society or State Board of Health to examine the children’s mouths. Much corrective dentistry has been done following this examination.6
Later, these examinations in the schools were done under the supervision of the State Board of Health and the director of Mouth Hygiene.
In 1934, the State Board of Health, through the Mississippi Dental Association, sent lecturers who were paid by the state to several of the schools to give instructions on the care of teeth and mouth hygiene; this was followed by free dental examination to school children.
Since the legislature provided for the building of the Tubercular Sanatorium near Magee, forty-one white patients have been sent there from this county for treatment. There, many tuberculars have recovered their health, and at the same time, have been taught how to prevent recurrences of the disease by living and eating properly.
No one control method of tuberculosis can stand alone; there must be a close tie-up between all agencies that a united front may be presented to the common enemy. The family physician diagnoses, reports, and treats.
Prior to the time the patient is sent to the sanatorium, attending physician teaches the family how to prevent the spread of the disease. Well ventilated rooms or porches are used for isolating the patient from other members of the house-hold, and he is instructed to rest in bed and eat nourishing foods.
Public Health Nurse
The public health nurse visits schools and private homes where she gives instructions in the control of tuberculosis.
All dairy cows supplying milk to the public are given the tuberculin test, as milk is known to be a carrier of the tubercular germ.8
Public and private health measures together have greatly reduced the number of illnesses from contagious diseases like typhoid fever and cholera. Immunization has greatly reduced the number of smallpox and diphtheria cases; screening of homes and destruction of places where mosquitoes breed has stamped out malaria and typhoid fever to a great extent.
In our modern schools if a child has a contagious disease, teachers, doctors, and nurses set out to work to prevent it from spreading; sometimes they send children home until it is safe to return. Besides helping parents to keep their children well, most schools now teach children how to take care of their own health in regular classes or special courses of physiology and hygiene.
After contracting a disease, the case is duly isolated and all contacts quarantined. A warning card is placed on the door where the visiting public may see and heed; after the period of isolation, the room has a thorough sunning and airing.
Physicians and Nurses in the County
There are eighteen practicing physicians in Quitman County, namely: Dr. F. G. Stone, Dr. C. C. Parnell, Dr. J. D. House, Dr. J. T. Walker, Dr. E. A. McVey, Dr. J. P. Walker, Dr. G. C. Dennison, Dr. John Marin, Dr. Lawrence Pritchard, Dr. W. A. Prince, Dr. A. C. Covington, Dr. V. D. Franks, Dr. J. E. Furr, Dr. Grover Kirby, Dr. O. A. Davis, Dr. A. L. Nason; (Dr. B. J. Marshall and Dr. L. V. Crook, dentists) two non-practicing physicians are Dr. J. U. Abernathy and Dr. A. Jamison.
Registered nurses are: Jessie Mae Connerly Burns, Zola P. Sawyer, Alma Pope, and Mrs. Mack Wilson; practical nurses are: Mrs. E. E. Charley, Miss Jamie Grafton, Mrs. Della Sharpe, Mrs. Mildren Sorrels, Miss Georgia Mae Farrish, Mrs. Ruth May, Mrs. Myrtle Robinson, Miss Mary Norfleet, Mrs. Arthur Chastain, Mrs. D. O. Brewton, Miss Carmen Weatherall, Mrs. Ney Gore, Mrs. Frank Wilson, Mrs. William Nanny, Mrs. J. E. Wilshire, Miss Gladys Allen; negro nurses: Hattie Johnson and Lillie Jackson.
In 1918, Dr. J. E. Furr built, at the cost of $20,000, and fully equipped his own private hospital, at Marks–the only in the county (1936). This hospital is unique, in that it is what may be called a “one-man general hospital,” which maintains a staff of graduate registered nurses, and which receives no appropriations from state or county, nor has it an endowment fund. In this hospital practically every type of surgery is performed, and practically every kind of medical case is received.
The equipment, which costs $25,000, consists of the following: one X-ray machine with two flouroscopes–one for daylight and one for dark; one mercury quartz light, one zoalite, one shortwave diathermy with surgical equipment, one Wilmont castle unit sterilizer, consisting of one instrument sterilizer, two water sterilizers, one autoclave; one still, one operating table, two Mayo tables, two instruments tables, three small electrical sterilizers; one stretcher, Schanel tranfusion set, single rooms for colored; one three-bed ward for colored, one laboratory, one examining room. There are two reception rooms, dining room and kitchen. Total rooms in building–fourteen.4
Sketches of Physicians, Past and Present
Dr. Frederick Marion Brougher, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Brougher, was born June 7, 1857, at Oxford, Mississippi.
He attended medical school in Louisville, Kentucky, but graduated at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. In 1887, after passing the State Board of Examiners, he located at Marks, but later moved to Belen, where he spent his entire life in the practice of medicine.
Coming here in the early days of the county to labor for mankind, he found plenty to do. For many years he rode his “old faithful horse,” called “Morgan,” over muddy roads and thick overhead growth to relieve the suffering of poor people hither and yon; often not expecting material compensation. Needless to say he endured many difficulties and hardships; in response to a call he would ride away on horseback to follow a trail which had been blazed through canebrakes by the wild animals of the forest. On reaching Coldwater River or Cassidy Bayou, or whatever stream it happened to be, his mount would be abandoned for the time being, and he would cross in a dugout and then walk a long distance to the home of the patient. Then, on his return home, he would send the medicine for the patient and probably pay for it. His creed was to relieve suffering, cure ills, restore health, and to make the world a better and happier place in which to live.
Dr. Brougher was president of the Six-County Medical Association, and served as health officer several terms during these years, but always refused a second consecutive appointment, affirming “that turnabout was fair play” and that his fellow physicians should have a chance.
For a while he was affiliated with Dr. H. D. Glass and Dr. [W. D.] McDavid in a hospital at Lambert.
In 1893, he was united in marriage with Miss Kate Simpson, daughter of Captain D. H. Simpson, who proudly walked by his side the twenty-seven years allotted them together. Dr. Brougher died of heart trouble in 1920, being survived by his wife and four sons: Fred M. Jr., Theodore, Stuart, and Henry, and one daughter, Kathryne.9
Dr. H. D. Glass, born in Durant, attended the University of Tennessee, where he received two years credits in one year, and in 1902, he began his practice of medicine in the town of Lambert; at that time two frame shacks represented the business activities of the community, and his medical training represented his total capital. But, this was a case of “big oaks from little acorns grow,” because he, later, built the Lambert Hospital, and during the “flu” epidemic of 1918 rendered $8,000 worth of service free of charge.
Beside this and other business interests, Dr. Glass was president of the Quitman County Bank at Lambert, owner of a big lumber mill at Crowder, and a partner in the automobile firm of Glass and Ellison Motor Company; in addition, he had considerable agricultural interests. The partnership of Glass and White cultivated about sixteen hundred acres of land, and Dr. Glass had about 2,200 acres individually, which was devoted principally to famous long staple cotton.
Notwithstanding these extensive private interests, Dr. Glass showed a willingness to devote considerable time to public service. He was the first mayor of Lambert, having received the appointment when the town was incorporated, in 1905. When not serving as mayor, Dr. Glass was a member of the board of alderman through every term.
Up until his death, in 1927, which was caused by a heart attack, he was ever anxious to give every ounce of his medical learning and energy toward mending injuries, curing the sick, and preventing deaths. He was loved by all who knew him for his generous nature and progressive spirit.10
Dr. A. C. Covington, Marks, was born in Kosciusko in 1885, the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Covington, parents of seven children. In 1908, he married Miss Willie Adams, and of his union there were four children.
Dr. Covington entered Memphis Hospital Medical College in 1906 and graduated in 1910. In the spring of 1921, he moved to Quitman County and located at Belen, the former county seat; he practiced there about eighteen months, when he moved to Marks, the present county seat, where he now resides.
For the past twelve years he has served as county health officer, and in this capacity is commended for his energy, tact, constant endeavor to co-operate with health workers, and other physicians of the county, in carrying out a program of sanitation and immunization.
Dr. Covington is an active member of the Six-Counties Medical Society and serves as railroad physician. In the fall of 1936, he was awarded a three-months Fellowship Course in General Medicine in Tulane, New Orleans, Louisiana. This course was created from the Commonwealth Fund allotted by the State Board of Health. A good citizen, his relationship as a physician and friend provides inspiration to his patients to make a good fight to overcome disease. In addition to his duties as public health officer, Dr. Covington enjoys a lucrative private practice. Aside from his profession he enjoys sports–principal hobby being fishing.5
Dr. Edwin Cyril Gillespie, deceased, served as a medical practitioner for twenty-four years. Being a native of Shelby County, Tennessee, and a graduate of the Memphis Medical College, he served as intern at the old City Hospital, now called the John Gaston Hospital, in Memphis; he was here from 1912 to 1917, at which time he enlisted in the World War and served as captain overseas until 1919. In September of that year he moved to Lambert, and was engaged in his beloved profession until his death in February, 1936.
He believed that his profession was a God-given ministry and was as devoted to it as a minister to his church; he never turned down a call because the patient did not have money; he spent his time in doing good to all, the poorest receiving the same measure of attention as those who were able to pay for his skilled care.
He was of that fast disappearing doctor-friend type, and though he was often taken into confidence, this was never betrayed. Although he practiced in a small town, he kept abreast of all the advances in medical science, attending the state and national associations and bringing back with him the latest treatments.
With a deeply inquisitive mind, he was a student of psychology as well as medicine; beside his medical skill, he brought to the sick room a never-failing fund of anecdotes, or a quaint philosophy for those who needed cheering, and none ever knew what helped the most.
During the “flu” epidemic in February, 1936, he worked night and day, and after going ninety hours without sleep, he broke down with “flu” and pneumonia and died. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Catherine Ivy Gillespie, and two sons, Edwin Cyril and Joe Ivy.11
Dr. E. A. McVey, who now resides in Lambert, was born in Lafayette County in 1890. While still a child, his family moved to Belen, in Quitman County, where, after practicing medicine for eight years, his father died. After this misfortune, the McVeys moved to Pontotoc, where Eric completed his high school education. After attending the University of Mississippi and the University of Tennessee, he finished his medical course in 1913, and went into his first practice at Seyppel, Arkansas. In 1917, he married Miss Ruth Alvis, of Holly Springs, and returning to Quitman County, located at Lambert, where his success has been conspicuous, particularly in the treatment of pneumonia, the one scourge of that section of the county.
His sincere sympathy enables him to see through the eyes of those whom he seeks to help, to understand their problems and lead them aright in an effort to regain health.
Dr. McVey served two years in the World War.12
“Dr. W. B. Clarke died at Marks at the age of seventy-three years. While at Tocowa, last February, he was stricken with paralysis, from the effects of which he never recovered, and for nearly four months he was as helpless as an infant. He was born in Caldwell County, North Carolina, and received his education at the common schools of that county, finishing at Charleston, South Carolina. He studied medicine at Charleston before the war, and for a short time was located in his home town. In 1847, he was married to Miss Emma Powell of Lenoir, North Carolina, and shortly afterwards moved to Mississippi. At the beginning of the War between the States, he enlisted with the Magnolia Guards, a company made up in Calhoun County, and afterwards transferred to a North Carolina Regiment, having been made captain of a company made up of his boyhood friends and schoolmates. At he close of the war, he again moved to Mississippi, locating at Serepta, Calhoun County, where he followed his chosen profession.
“In 1891, he moved to Quitman County and for ten years, with the writer of this article, was engaged in publishing the ‘Quitman Quill.’ In 1904, he (and the writer) moved to Gulfport and founded the ‘South Mississippi Times.’
“Deciding that Quitman was the best county in the world, he returned, where he lived with his son and assisted in publishing the ‘Review’; he was the father of four children, only one of whom is now living; he is survived by one son, two grandchildren, and three brothers who live in North Carolina, his wife dying in 1903. He was a Mason and believed with all his soul in the noble teachings of that order; was not a church member, but opposed profanity and the violation of the Sabbath, and honored his creator with more reverence than many who pray aloud and worship on the street corners. Even though he had his faults, his acts of kindness and deeds of charity are numberless.
We have known him many, many times to ride in rains and snows in the dead hours of night to relieve some suffering human being, when no pay was expected and no charges made. We have lived under the same roof with him for thirty-three years, and we have never known him to turn a human being from his door hungry.
“As a husband he was kind and good; as a father, a better man to his children never lived. We believe that his good deeds, a hundred to one, overbalance his faults, and that he will receive his reward in a brighter, better land.
“His remains were laid to rest at Belen by the side of the loved ones gone before, his burial being conducted with Masonic rites.”13
Dr. V. D. Franks, who was born in Lowdes County, November 19, 1890, spent his early boyhood there. After finishing rural high school within his native county, he studied medicine at the University of Tennessee, Memphis.
In 1916, Dr. Franks moved to Essex, in Quitman County, and the following year married Mrs. Isabel Sweeten, of Memphis; they moved to Marks in 1924, where he has continued his practice; for eight years Dr. Franks did pauper and jail practice. He is a member of the Six-Counties Medical Society, and is active as a Legionnaire of the J. D. Johnson Post, also belonging to the “Forty Eight.”14
Dr. James Edward Furr, Marks, was born at Oxford, February 2, 1892, the son of James Stacy Furr and Mary Ellen Furr. In 1911 he received his B. S. degree at the University of Mississippi, where as an honor student, he made a brilliant record. After later graduating at Tulane University in New Orleans, he served an internship in the City Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a member of the Phi Chi Fraternity of the American Medical Association, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. In the summers of 1909-10 while a student at Tulane, he was engaged in malaria and hook-worm research for the Rockefeller Foundation.
At the age of twenty-one he became a practicing physician and surgeon in Quitman County; he volunteered for service in the World War, and was commissioned first lieutenant of the Medical Corps at Camp Beauregard. After being mustered out of service, he returned to Quitman County and located at Marks, the County seat.
The latest authentic information (in 1935) by Dr. R. N. Whitfield, Registrar of Vital Statistics, shows that the number and cause of accidental deaths in Quitman County were as follows: Drowning, two whites and three colored; firearms, one white and one colored; accidental poisoning, one colored; cataclysm, one colored; injuries by animals, one white; excessive cold, one white; automobile, one white and one colored. Total, thirteen.
In 1934: 179 white and 291 colored babies were born; 69 whites and 195 colored deaths occurred; the infant mortality was fifty and two tenths, whites, and ninety seven and eight tenths, colored; maternal death rate was nine and seven-tenths white, and eight and eight-tenths colored, which in both instances, shows a reduction of those in previous years.15
1 Health Syllabus, State of Mississippi
2 Mrs. J. S. Allen, Lambert, Miss.
3 W. A. Cox, Marks, Miss.
4 Mrs. Blanchard Ingram, Lambert, Mississippi
5 Dr. A. C. Covington, Marks, Mississippi
6 Dr. B. J. Marshall, Marks, Mississippi
7 Dr. A. Jamison, Marks, Mississippi
8 J. H. Manning, Walnut, Mississippi
9 Mrs. F. M. Brougher, New Orleans, LA
10 Mrs. G. P. Reed, Lambert, Miss.
11 Mrs. E. C. Gillespie, Lambert, Mississippi
12 Dr. E. A. McVey, Lambert, Mississippi
13 This article was written by Eugene Clark, son of the deceased, for the Quitman Quill, owned and operated by father and son.
14 Dr. V. D. Franks, Essex, Mississippi
15 Board of Vital Statistics
Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Quitman County, Vol. LX, Compiled by State-Wide Historical Research Project, Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor, Illustrated 1936-38, page 245-262.
Photo of Door By Patsy Lynch (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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