The following was taken from a Baytown Sun article published, April 19, 1987. Information and pictures were furnished for this article by Dr. Morgan’s granddaughter, Charlene Morgan Gill.
Dr. Asa Morgan, pioneer settler, is sometimes described by his descendants as “The forgotten doctor of Cedar Bayou.” Asa Morgan was born in 1826 in Dayton, Ohio. He had a year-old sister, Nancy Ann. Four brothers and another sister were to follow, the last being born in 1840 in Thorntown, Indiana. Asa’s father Isaac opened the first hotel and tavern in the early 1820s in Indianapolis. Called the Inn, the primitive log structure had few rooms. The table setting was ale, corn pone, and venison. In 1827 the Morgan’s started the settlement of Thorntown. In 1846 Isaac moved his family to Davenport, Iowa. A drive down Main Street in Davenport today will reveal the name Morgan on many windows of buildings. Medicine, law, and other professions indicated by the signs show that education was in the forefront for the Morgans. Two of Asa’s brothers became doctors.
The Morgan family tree branches out into the frontier days of U.S. history. Asa’s grandfather had a niece – his brother’s daughter – who married the son of Squire Boone in Pennsylvania. They had a son named Daniel. Asa’s father, Isaac, was a veteran of the War of 1812.Asa was educated in medical school at Keokuk, Iowa, which at the time was considered one of the best in the country. He graduated with honors and attended other medical schools for higher training. To this day his thesis on the “management of a sick room” can be found within the medical department of Iowa State University. His education and work point to one thing: Asa Morgan was a brilliant man.
In July 1860 Dr. Morgan and his wife Roena bought several lots in the bustling town of DeWitt, Iowa for the sum of $140. They had a boy, 5, and a girl, 2, and Roena was to give birth to Charles Edward before the month was over. Charles Edward Morgan was to later grow up on Cedar Bayou and marry Amanda Julia Kelley. They are both buried in Cedar Bayou Masonic Cemetery.
Dr. Morgan was ready to live a peaceful life with his family and settle in the land with his kin. That wasn’t to be. The Civil War ended the family’s dreams of a quiet life and Asa was destined to enlist in the Army as a surgeon and never again call the small Iowa city home.
Off to War
In 1861 Asa was off to the Civil War as an assistant surgeon in an Iowa Cavalry Unit and dispatched to Cairo, Illinois. Cairo was the Mississippi headquarters for the Union Army to send men and supplies to the South.
Before departing his wife, Roena, gave Asa a small Bible with a handwritten message inside the front cover that read: “Presented to Dr. Asa Morgan by his dear wife Roena to be his pocket companion during his service to the Army as Surgeon this 14th day of Aug. 1861. Should my husband fall either by ball or disease before returning to me – will some kind friend inform me of the same – at DeWitt, Clinton County, Iowa – Roena Morgan.”
Dr. Morgan was with the Union Army of Gen. Ulysses Grant at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War kept the 35-year-old doctor busy day and night for days on end. Soldiers in the thousands were wounded. Many other hundreds of men unscathed in battle were to suffer from diarrhea and pneumonia. Dr. Morgan was no exception. After weeks of misery, he went home to recuperate.
The war wasn’t over for him. In 1865 he returned to Memphis, Tenn., and was mustered in as a full surgeon and promoted to the rank of major. After the war he was honorably discharged at Houston. One of his friends in Houston had taken him to visit in Cedar Bayou, and it was love at first sight. D. Morgan decided he wanted to return to Cedar Bayou to make his home and to practice medicine.
Dr. Morgan purchased more than 200 acres on the east bank of Cedar Bayou. Unlike the carpetbaggers of the day, he paid the going price of the land’s worth. By 1884 the doctor was paying taxes on nearly 3,000 acres of land in Chambers County.
The fact this Yankee doctor settled on Cedar Bayou at the end of the war between the North and the South in itself showed the courage of this doctor and soldier. To build a practice amongst his yesterday enemies shows the true American spirit of the man. Another doctor, Ashbel Smith, who lived only a few miles from the Morgan home on Cedar Bayou, was a Confederate Army hero. No records show that they knew each other, but the two doctors must have been acquainted.
Dr. Morgan returned with his family to Cedar Bayou which now consisted of his wife Roena, Charles, and Annie. The first Texas-born child was Frank in 1867. Then came Albert in 1870 and Catherine in 1872.
After Roena died, Dr. Morgan married Hattie McCracken, an Iowa schoolteacher. They had one son, Leon, who died before he was 8-months-old.Dr. Morgan was a familiar sight on his black horse, riding to the aid of his neighbors up and down the banks of the bayou. He owned a big store on Cedar Bayou and the area the Morgan’s lived was known as Morgan’s Settlement. There was even a Morgan’s school in the settlement which was located east of Cedar Bayou near present day Hwy 146.
Dr. Morgan kept precise records which he wrote in a beautiful script. His books show he treated some 400 families – names that read like a shoe’s who in Cedar Bayou history. Names like Lawrence, Clark, Busch, Barber, Armstrong, Barrow, Casey and many more. One of his patients was Sam Houston Jr., also a veteran of Shiloh who served in the Bayland Guards of Ashbel Smith.
On Aug. 23, 1895, Dr. Morgan died at his Cedar Bayou home. He, along with other family members, are buried in the Morgan Cemetery on Cedar Bayou about halfway between Highway 146 and Interstate 10.For some 29 years Dr. Morgan carved his niche in the history of Cedar Bayou. He was first a father, second a doctor, and third a good American. There are no historical markers to signify his homeplace, but one has the feeling that Dr. Asa Morgan would not have wanted one. He made his own mark.
Dr. George Lincoln Morgan is descended from sturdy English folk who came to America in the early 17th century, and settled in Jamestown, Virginia. They put in a grist mill on the Potomac, and each succeeding generation had operated the mill. Doctor Morgan's particular branch of the family, however, followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky. Dr. Morgan was born, June 5, 1868, in Boonesboro, Tennessee in his grandfather's fort-like home, to William Lewis Morgan and Susan Justice Doss. George's parents were staunch Baptists and wanted their first born to be a minister of the Gospel. "I sure had to fight to become a physician because the family wanted to make a preacher out of me," Dr. Morgan stated with determination gleaming in his alert eyes. "It would be a sublime aid if parents knew how to guide a child. In my case they offered me seven years free schooling if I'd preach--and I could look out for myself if I wouldn't. So I trekked to Texas. The family was outraged, but even that couldn't swerve my purpose." Dr. Morgan said when he received permission to marry Lucy the understanding was that as soon as they had raised the funds for his schooling he would leave for medical school immediately. He stated, "And then it seemed that all our funds were gone. We had three silver dollars to our name and put them in a tin bucket and said, 'tails I stay home--heads I go to school,' and all three of them came out heads." The following article by E. A. Moreno of the Houston Post gives us an in-depth look into the life of this remarkable and highly respected doctor and man. Some of the commentary on the photos comes from The Life of George Morgan by Lucinda Miller, a newspaper article by Janet Bowles, and a Baytown Sun article by Jim Kyle provided by Danny and Donna Cossey, who now own and live in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Morgan.
Dr. George L. Morgan Looks Back On
Nearly 50 Years Of Country Practice
By: E. A. Moreno\The Houston Post
Sunday, April 11, 1943
"Hello Emlie, how are you today?" called out my companion as we pulled the Chrysler to the side of the road where a wrinkled, gray haired, saddle colored negro woman stood peering at the car. "It's fair ter middlin," she replied, "an how's you, Mr. Tom?" "I'm all O. K.," Tom said; "how's Doctor Morgan?" "De Doc was fairly pert when I seed him, three, four, days ago," she stated. "You folks down here think a lot of Dr. Morgan, don't you?" I said, having heard it stated several times that the doctor was the most highly thought of citizen in Chambers County.
"Deed we do, sir; deed we do." she fervently replied. "Dr. Morgan is God to most of us folks 'round here. Dat is, ef he ain't God, he's near nigh to it, cause he raised a dead 'ooman to life. Dat's somethin' I pussonly knows of."
In a few moments we arrived at Dr. George L. Morgan's home, a large white, two-story house in what is known locally as Turtle Bayou Woods, about a mile from Hankamer, Texas on the Anahuac-Devers highway. Later sitting in Dr. Morgan's library I related the conversation with Emlie.
"Emlie did not mean to be sacrilegious when she said that," Dr. Morgan said, "It's just the negro's tribute to what appears to them supernatural. I'll tell you of the incident."
"I had been called to attend a woman who was suffering from a heart ailment. In leaving I left her a small bottle of digitalis, instructing her husband to administer it. A day or two later I was sitting here when I heard the furious galloping of a horse coming up the road. I went out and started toward the gate to see what the hurry was about when I recognized the woman's husband. As I reached the gate he vaulted from the saddle and called to me: "'Wuz that pizen you gave my wife,' he asked sharply. "Yes," I said, "it was poison." 'Well, you've killed her.' he cried. She was dyin' when I left and may be dead now.' "I'll go with you at once," I said, and calling to my stable boy told him to saddle Jim, my horse, while I got my saddle bags. Quickly mounting we went as fast as the horses could go towards his home. When we got there, I found the woman to all appearances dead, no pulse, no breath, her lips blue, her body almost cold. I knew what had happened, an overdose of digitalis."
"For a moment I was stumped. Then I had an inspiration. Slipping my hand under her right armpit and telling her husband to take her under her left armpit, we lifted her to a sitting position. I told him to raise her left arm. I slapped her hard just over the heart. There was no movement. I slapped her hard again. This time there was a slight twitching of the eyelids. I struck her hard again. This time her eyes fluttered open and she gave a slight gasp. I struck her again. Her eyes widened and she gasped two or three times and I felt her heart start beating. In a few moments she was breathing and her pulse, though weak, was regular. That woman is alive today."
Thus was my introduction to Dr. Morgan, the "grand ole man of Chambers County, the country doctor who for nearly 50 years has been a physician, counselor, understanding and sympathetic friend of the negro field hands and the modern homes of the well-to-do, in an area of medical practice larger than that of any other physician, even in the big state of Texas. The large range of his practice is stated advisedly, for he has calls for his services from as far north as Minneapolis, Minn., from Goliad in South Texas, over the Louisiana state line, to say nothing of demands for his services in Hardin, Jefferson, Liberty, San Jacinto, Galveston, and Harris counties, as well as those in Chambers County.
These calls come not only from his aging patients, but from their children and grandchildren who have moved to these localities. In fact one might well say that Doctor Morgan is a tradition, handed down from generation to generation, such is the faith, esteem, and love in which he is held by all whom he has served.
"I am just a country doctor," Doctor Morgan modestly says. "Perhaps I should call myself an itinerant country doctor," he chuckled, "for I have traveled many a mile through the wilds of Chambers County to visit the sick and ailing. And in all my practice my philosophy and earnest effort has been to win the confidence of my patients. This once won the cure, in ordinary illness, follows, for the mental attitude has a lot to do with one's physical condition. Many a time I just laugh at them, telling them they are just lazy, that they are not sick, only think they are; that a few days rest in bed will perk them up and they will be all O. K. again. I never for a moment, if possible, let them think that illness will overpower their will to resist it. I sincerely believe that this mental therapeutics, aided by what medical skill and experience I have, has won for me in a majority of cases and contributed to my success, for which I devoutly thank the Great Physician."
Doctor Morgan paused and his eyes grew retrospective, his thoughts evidently wandering far. "I spoke just now of my horse, Jim, and the furious ride to save a woman's life." he resumed in a moment, "That reminded me of another ride when i came near losing my own life. I had a call to come quickly to see a woman who lived some distance away and who was expecting a new arrival. I had kept posted of her condition and knew that it was a race between me and the stork. The trail, and that's all it was, to her home in the woods, led around the head of White Bayou, the long way around. But I knew a short cut that would necessitate my swimming the bayou, and I took it, for time was pressing. It was and had been raining hard and I guessed the bayou would be up but thought I could make it across. On reaching the bayou I saw that it was bank-full. It would take too much time to get back to the trail, so Jim and I started in. I hung my saddle bags over the pommel of the saddle and crossed my feet on Jim's neck. We were going along fairly well when something, maybe a submerged log or branch, struck Jim on the rump. He jumped sideways and I catapulted into the swirling waters. I came up, saw Jim swimming a few yards away, circling around me. I swam to him and hung on until we reached the further shore. My saddlebags were still on the pommel. I wrung out my clothes as best I could, mounted, and rode to the woman's home--and then found that I had lost my specs n the bayou. But everything turned out alright and the boy today is a fine man."
"Speaking of Jim," he went on, "his was the most pathetic 'case' I ever had in all my long years of practice. Jim was the best horse I ever owned. He was spirited but highly intelligent, friendly, and good natured. I was more than fond of him and he of me. One day I noticed that he was not well. I tried to diagnose his case and treat him, but he did not improve. His illness did not seem serious and I thought he would be alright in a few days, but still concerned about him I made it a point to visit him each night before retiring. One night I was aroused from sleep by a noise. Half awake I listened and then drowsed again. Again came the sound. I knew it. I came fully awake as I recognized Jim whinnying. I threw on a wrap and hurried to his stall. As I entered he whinnied again, nuzzled his nose against my shoulder and then collapsed--dead. I am sure that Jim realized that the end had come and wanted me with him in his last moments." The doctor paused again and seemed heedless of my next question. Then he turned to me and said:
"You ask what Chambers County was like when I first came here. Well, it was a wilderness. Settlements, if you could so call them, just unpainted houses, scattered around, few and far between. Roads, dirt roads only, were few. Travel was by horseback mostly, along half dim trails or by boat along the waterways. There were few white people, the population mostly Indians. Why did I settle here with my young bride? Well, I had relatives who had come here before me. I always liked adventure and I was a new doctor with my new 'sheepskin.' I saw the need of the people for someone with a medical and surgical knowledge, so I decided that I would stay here an grow up with the county. I literally have done so," he chuckled.
"In those early days," he continued, "a doctor's life and practice was hard. I promised myself that I would never fail to heed a call, never mind how far distant it might be. Many a night a day through storm and flood, I have ridden to relieve someone's suffering. Many an operation I have performed on the kitchen table with the dim, light of candles and considered myself fortunate if I had the aid of a kerosene lamp or lantern. I sterilized my instruments with boiling water in the tea kettle on the wood stove. Serious cases requiring hospitalization I sent to Galveston or Houston by boat, these being the nearest cities, with hospital facilities. Later, of course, good hospitals were available at Liberty, Beaumont, and Port Arthur, and the modern medical ambulance a blessing."
"Pay," he remarked in answer to my query. "Well, there was little or no money in Chambers County in those early days. We traded on the barter system mostly. My patients paid me in chickens, eggs, a mess of vegetables, a piece of meat when they slaughtered a cow, or hogs, or killed a deer. Some, when they got a little money, paid me in cash from time to time, as they could. I never pressed any of them, their contributions of money or goods was voluntary. There was one case in which I was paid handsomely. I delivered a baby girl. The father told me he had no money. "That's all right," I said. Several days later he drove up to my house, and taking a saddle from his wagon, handed it to me. "That's for the girl," he said. It was a good saddle and I rode it for many years until I bought an automobile. And, by the way," he continued, "that was the first automobile in Chambers County. It was a Pope-Hartford, a sidewinder with a chain drive, and when fully opened could make around 20 miles an hour. I scared all the horses, mules, and cattle in Chambers County with it. One irate driver, whose horses ran away from the chugging monster, threatened to shoot me the next time I scared the horses. I almost lost my popularity with it until folks got used to it."
At 75 Doctor Morgan is tall, spare, with kindly eyes, and still physically active. He has "partially retired" from practice, he says, but still receives his patients in his office across the road from his home, on the spot where the building that housed General Santa Anna and General Cos, captured at the Battle of San Jacinto, as prisoners on their way to New York. "I just can't refuse to treat friends when they call on me," he said, "Just a while ago __ and her daughter from __Creek, came to my office, for a diagnosis and treatment, not stopping to consider they could have consulted a local physician or doctor in Houston or Liberty, just as easily. Yes, they were the child and grandchild of one of my old patients, and I cannot deny such faith."
Doctor Morgan is a descendant of Daniel Boone and was born at Boonesboro, Tennessee, just south of where his forbears had migrated from Virginia. He was the oldest child and his parents, fervent Baptists, planned that he should become a minister of that faith, but George had other plans, he wanted to be a doctor. The result of the family argument was that George got out on his own, and at the age of 20, left home to earn his medical education. The lure of Texas, and his adventurous spirit, led him to Velasco where he landed several weeks later and became a carpenter, then a building contractor, and then a farmer in lower Fort Bend County in the Brazos River bottoms. One day the raging Brazos, in flood, destroyed his crops. Broke, but not disheartened he went to Colmesneil where he obtained work in a sawmill owned by J. W. Gardner, father of Alvin Gardner, now president of the Texas Baseball League. He met and married Lucy Gardner, sister of Alvin.
At Colmesneil he came under the friendly influence of Dr. William Van Stewart who, learning of young Morgan's determination to become a doctor, lent him medical books to aid his ambition. Then the question of finances to enable the future physician to obtain a college medical education pressed. Young Morgan worked harder and longer and saved. Mrs. Morgan obtained a position as teacher and taught at Woodville, Cherokee, and Rockland in order to increase the educational fund. Continuing his studies under Dr. Van Stewart, young Morgan was granted a permit to practice medicine in Texas. In celebration of this event the Morgan's went on a visit to relatives and friends in Chambers County. The visit ended in making their home there.
Time passed and money grew scarce. Mrs. Morgan resumed her teaching and Dr. Morgan his studies, attending the old Memphis Medical College at Memphis Tennessee, where he graduated in 1899. Now a full fledged physician and surgeon, he returned home to take up his practice, which he has continued for nearly half a century.
Though only, as he calls himself , "just a country doctor," Doctor Morgan keeps abreast of the times in medical skill, its modern theories, and practices. He is a member of the various medical associations and practitioners at conventions, state and national. But above all this he is, in the minds of his fellow citizens, the Grand Old Man of Chambers County.
Dr. Morgan met his bride, Lucy Gardner when he started work at the saw mill in Colmesnell, Texas and they were married in Woodville in 1893. Her father, Jabez Gardner, owned the mill, but after a tragic accident where a man lost his life at the mill by falling on a running saw blade, Mr. Gardner gave the mill to the man's family and relocated to Lake Charlotte in Chambers County.
Lucy taught school to save money to help put George through medical school. Day schools existed in 1895 in the Hankamer area and Lucy Morgan rode horseback in 1897 to a building near Adolph Hankamer's house to teach 25 pupils.
Lacy died 3 March 1943 just a few short days after she and Doctor Morgan had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. She had not been ill and when the Doctor went looking for her found her in her room, dead from an apparent heart attack . Dr. Morgan died at the home of his daughter, Ruth, in Houston on 4 Jan 1954 at the ripe old age of 86. He served the people of Chambers County for more than 50 years, retiring at the age of 80. Doctor Morgan was always quick to give glory to his Lord for the work he did. Janet Bowles, in her article on Dr. Morgan, stated, "By sticking ever to his ideal and praying, Doctor Morgan finds himself still active in the service of his beloved profession." "Prayer is the Great strengthener," Doctor Morgan says. He now dwells in the presence of the one he served so well and has heard His Master say, "Well done good and faithful servant."
The following article was written by Alma Lois Turner is 1938 about Mrs. Lucy Morgan.
The Anahuac Progress
April 8, 1938
Pioneer School of Cracker’s Neck
(The following bit of history was given the seventh grade English class of the
Hankamer School by Mrs. G. L. Morgan, “the mother of the school teaching
profession of Chambers County.” We feel greatly indebted to this plucky
pioneer mother and teacher — “May her tribe increase.”)
When doctor and Mrs. Morgan came to Cracker’s Neck in 1895, there was no
school. Mr. Charles Wilcox had taught here a few years before in a house
where the present school house now stands, but he had died or moved away
and for several years there had been no school nearer than Anahuac or
Doctor and Mrs. Morgan then lived where Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Hankamer
now live. Mrs. Morgan taught the neighborhood school children during the
summer and fall in her parlor. They got along so well that the patrons
investigated to see if they were not entitled to some free public school money
from the state. It was found that they were, and that they could afford to pay
their teacher (Mrs. Morgan) $21.00 for a few months.
Her home was built like most of the homes in this country then, with the
kitchen at the end of the front porch. They converted the kitchen into a back
room and equipped it for a school room. The attendance soon outgrew the
kitchen, so the people moved a small house, once used as a church, from near
the Monroe Abshier settlement in Liberty county. It was moved to a spot in
Mr. Ben Frezia’s pasture, just across the road from Mrs. Morgan’s home.
The settlement was so scattered that she taught one-half the term in
“Cracker’s Neck” and the other half in “Upper Neck” (the Monroe Abshier
(The seventh grade wishes to thank Mrs. Morgan for this interesting history.
– Alma Lois Harmon.)
Dr. George L Morgan & Wife Lucy Gardner Morgan
Dr. Morgan stands in front of his home in Hankamer in 1923. This
Dr. Morgan and Lucy lived in several different houses around Hankamer and Turtle Bayou before building the house that still stands. (This house is owned today by my dear friends, Danny and Donna Cossey.) They raised six children in the home, five girls and one boy. The only boy, Carter, was just past 10-years-old when he stepped on a rusty nail that caused lockjaw. He died in a Beaumont hospital in 1919. His death was a great shock to the Morgan family, one they never quite got over.
Hankamer was originally called Crackers Neck. Dr. Morgan stated, " This section was called Cracker's Neck because there was an old fiddler hereabouts who played his fiddle so vehemently that folks wanted to throw him out and crack his neck."
On Sept. 13, 1926 Dr. Morgan opened the first hospital in Chambers County, located above his general merchandise store. His original office was in Monroe White's store on Turtle Bayou and for a while he and Lucy lived in a run-down house behind the store. Dr. Morgan's wife, Lucy, ran the store and the doctor operated out of one of the rooms. Dr. Morgan and Lucy later purchased the Monroe general merchandise store and in March 1926 relocated it across the road from their home, one mile south of Hankamer on what is known as Highway 61 today. The Progress wrote on 26 March 1926: "Grand Opening -- The George L. Morgan & Co. Store will open its doors to the public, Saturday, April 3rd. It's that same old store that has been doing business in Chambers County for the past 80 years. With a new building, a brand new stock, everything will be in readiness to serve you better than heretofore. Don't forget the location--on the shell highway about seven miles north of Anahuac and 1 mile south of Hankamer. Souvenirs will be given away on the opening day and night." The upper story of the building, which opened 13 Sept. 1926, was set up with hospital beds and became the first hospital in Chambers County. The Progress wrote: "Dr. George Morgan informs us he is making preparations and has already ordered hospital fittings to be placed in his new office building between here and Hankamer. He has 3 or 4 commodious rooms in which all patients will be cared for. A little later, if business justifies, a trained nurse or two will be employed." The location of the office was located on the same spot as the building that had housed prisoners, Santa Anna and General Coz as they were being transported north after they were captured at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Dr. Morgan visited his patients either by buggy or horseback when the roads were bad. A 1909 Progress article makes mention of Dr. Morgan purchasing his 3rd buggy from Ogden and Willcox.
Most of the horseback trips were made on his beloved horse, Jim. This photo was possibly taken the day Dr. Morgan, on the left, bought Jim. There is another poor quality photo taken at the same time of him holding the reins and tipping his bolo hat. This photo courtesy of Morgan descendant, Andy Biggs.
His practice was centered mostly in Cedar Bayou and West Chambers County. He always sported a goatee beard and the local children described him as looking like Santa Claus, with the exception, that is, of the black patch he always wore over his blinded eye.
The poorest of his patients received the same concerned care as the wealthiest accepting produce as his fee from those unable to pay, and sometimes just a home-cooked meal. Others paid by doing odd jobs like chopping firewood or mending fences.
Dr. Nicholas Schilling Was A True General Practitioner
And He Even Made House Calls
An Article By: Joan McAnall
Possibly one of the finest and most complete examples of the workings of the medical profession during the late 1800s and early 1900s is preserved for future generations in the original office building of Dr. Nicholas Schilling, now located in Anahuac.
Schilling was a typical doctor of his day, diagnosing his patients without the benefits of the now-available testing techniques and treating them with medicines he concocted in his own laboratory.
According to Schillings records, he treated between three and twelve patients daily, some in his two-story pine and cypress clinic which was located on the Chambers County banks of Cedar Bayou and others, in their homes, to which he traveled on horseback. Some of these excursions took the doctor to what then were considered somewhat far away communities including Mont Belvieu and Sheldon.
Schilling, a native of Bavaria, Germany, was born in 1845. When he was about three months old, his parents moved the family to the United States, eventually settling in Maryland.
As a young man, Schilling enlisted in the Union Army in 1864 as a shoemaker, serving until he was discharged the next year, according to W. Everett Dupuy, a Houston attorney and nephew of the pioneer doctor.
Based on communications between Dupuy and the Chambers County Historical Commission, there is apparently little information regarding Schilling's life in the immediate years after the Civil War, except that most of his family moved to Iowa and Illinois, where most of the Schilling family lives today.
In about 1872 he graduated with a doctor of medicine degree from Chicago Medical College, the present-day Northwestern University Medical School.
According to the correspondence from Dupuy, shortly preceding his 1874 move to Cedar Bayou, Schilling suffered the loss of an eye as the result of a hunting accident and was jilted by a girl he had been engaged to marry.
Lacking money necessary to set up his medical practice upon his arrival, Schilling worked in a Cedar Bayou brickyard. He continued doing menial labor until his medical skills were 'discovered' by area residents when he doctored someone hurt in an accident.
Schilling first practiced medicine out of the back of a local store. In 1883, he married Linna Gaillard, whose brother, John, owned land in the Goose Creek oil field. The Schillings built a home and parented two children. For a while, the home also served as the doctor's office, until 1890, when he built a separate building for use as an office, near his home.
The doctor practiced in the office until his death in 1919. For several years prior to and after Schilling's death, his only son, John, also a doctor, worked in and out of the Cedar Bayou office.
After Mrs. Schilling's death in 1923, the couple's daughter, Annie, continued to live in the home and is given credit for preserving her father's office building and its contents which include medical journals of his day, instruments and bottle after bottle of the medicines prescribed by Schilling to his patients.
After the 1966 death of Annie Schilling, the doctor's office was donated by Schilling heirs to Chambers County. The building was soon thereafter moved by barge to Anahuac, where it is located near the county courthouse. Today, a Houston Lighting & Power Co. facility is located where the doctor treated the area's sick. Among his patients was the renowned Dr. Ashbel Smith.
Included in news accounts about the office's transport to Anahuac are testimonies of the doctor's kind heart and gentle nature.
"He was just a good-hearted old fellow-wonderful," J. B. Gourlay said at the time of the building's move. Gourlay, who was 85 years old at the time, said Schilling had been like a father to him. When the doctor became sick in 1919, Gourlay said he stayed with him at the side of his deathbed.
Other reports recount that Schilling often was paid for his services with a hot meal, a basket of vegetables, or maybe fruit.
Linna Gaillard Schilling, wife of Dr. Schilling, taught school at Barbers Hill in 1880. She and Dr. Schilling had two children, John Gaillard Schilling, 1885-1954, and Annie Schilling, 1887-1966. John followed in his father's footsteps and became a doctor. Linna considered it her duty and responsibility to remain at home whenever her husband was tending to patients. She acted as his secretary, advising patients who came in search of him of his whereabouts when he was making a house call. If patients had traveled a great distance she would provide lodging for them in her home so they could be close at hand when the doctor returned. She entertained many patients at her dinner table if they were there during meal time. She was a kindly good person who raised chickens on the Schilling land, sold eggs, churned butter, and delighted the family with her special fruitcakes on holidays.
Linna Gaillard Schilling
Dr. Schilling treated patients, fitted eyeglasses, dispensed medicines, pulled teeth, performed surgeries, and served as the local veterinarian. He delivered over 1000 babies during his practice years and treated many of the prominent families of the community. Among the recordings in his journal are; the death of Dr. Ashbel Smith at his home in Evergreen on January 21, 1886, and family births of Fishers, Garrett Scott's, Simmons, Mitchells, Gaillard's, Kilgore's, Jones', Tabb's Gilette's, and many more. He was busy about 14 hours of every day. When it was necessary to make house calls Dr. Schilling did so by horseback when the roads were bad and when they were good he used a one-horse gig, or a two-seated buggy.
Dr. Schilling studying a culture under his microscope. Schilling filled his office with the latest in medical technology, subscribed to medical journals, used his microscope to do blood smears, and stocked his pharmacy with opium, quinine, belladonna, and strychnine. Many of the medical books used by Schilling can be found at the Historic Schilling Office Building in Anahuac next to the Historic Chambers House. Records the doctor kept on his patients, their reported symptoms, as well as his prescribed treatments, are being preserved by the county's historical commission as well. Stacks of medical journals subscribed to by Schilling, indicating he kept up with all the latest advances, have also been saved. He treated dreaded diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, measles, and pneumonia. The story is told of an old friend he worked with at the brickyard showing up one day with his half-breed wife and five children. Dr. Schilling hadn't seen his friend, Joe Walters in 30 years, as Joe moved 15 miles northwest to Sheldon right after marrying his wife. That was a pretty long drive in a horse and buggy in those days. Joe made the long buggy drive as he was worried about his family's health and knew his good friend, Dr. Schilling was the best around. Dr. Schilling took them into his clinic and after his examination told Joe he believed they had malaria. He mixed up some medicine that was supposed to cure malaria and sent Joe back to Sheldon telling him he would travel to their place in the morning to check on them. That is exactly what Dr. Schilling did, because that's the kind of doctor and person he enjoyed being. "The old man knew he wouldn't get a penny," said J. B. Gourlay, 65 years later. "He knew he might get dinner, but not a penny!"
Dr. Schilling drew the plans for his office building and hired two outstanding carpenters in the area to build it, Meyer and Morgan. The Chambers County Historical Commission stated that the two-story building was a board and batten structure built mainly of un-surfaced Louisiana longleaf yellow pine with some cypress used in the interior and originally rested on a foundation of brick piers. It now rests on concrete blocks.
There are three rooms downstairs; a small waiting room with a wood stove, a pharmacy where he kept and compounded medications, and a treatment room. The upstairs is one large attic-type unfinished room reached by an enclosed stairway and where he kept his many medical books and journals. This upstairs room also served as a hospital for patients too sick to be treated at home. The entire building is painted barn red, as it was originally.
The building is being maintained by the Chambers County Historical Commission as an example of how medicine was practiced in this area in the 1800s and 1900s.
Tours, by appointment, of the office may be arranged by contacting the Chambers County Historical Commission in Anahuac. We would be happy to put you in contact with a member of the commission.
Dr. Amon Robert Aimie' Shearer, born on the 8th of December 1871 in Ames, Iowa, was the son of John Shearer and Orilla Hipsher Shearer. His father, John served in the Wisconsin Brigade throughout the War Between the States and at war's end he and his family followed John's younger brothers, Robert and Tom to Texas. His brother, Robert was a builder in Livingston and his brother, Thomas Shearer was a physician in Wallisville. Amie came under his Uncle Tom's influence and earned his Medical Degree from the University of Texas In Galveston. He met Olive Blanche "Ollie" Wallis and they were married on the 8th of June 1898. After their marriage they moved to Barbers Hill where his parents lived. Allie served many folks in and around Cove beginning in 1898 and continuing until the 1920s.
Kendon Clark writes in his book, Diamond in the Rough, A History of Cove, Texas, 1824-1941, “`Dr. Shearer had come to this region from “up north,” but won the admiration of countless patients through his tireless dedication to the welfare of the local people. Dr. Shearer was also quite well known for his outspoken politically conservative viewpoints on many issues and would often take the opportunity of a medical visit to expound upon his views with his patients.”
Kinney Fitzgerald of Mont Belvieu said Dr. Shearer and Olive ‘Ollie’ Shearer did not have any children.
Dr. Amon Shearer’s father, John Shearer, was born in Glasgow, Scotland and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1850. John’s mother was Elizabeth McKinon Campbell MacDougall, daughter of Captain John MacDougall and Elizabeth Larson. John’s mother’s lineage can be traced back to Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland. Elizabeth’s maternal grandfather, Dr. Larson, was the family physician of Sir Walter Scott. I am sure he would be pleased to know both his Great Grandson, Thomas, and his Great-Great Grandson Amon, became physicians.
John wrote a book about his many experiences during his service in the Union Army.
The Barbers Hill homestead of Dr. Amon 'Allie' Robert and Olive 'Ollie' Blanche Shearer. The rider is unknown, but the horses and buggy behind him belonged to Dr. Shearer. The doctor made house calls either by horseback or buggy.
Majority of this content was taken from the Shearer Family Reunion in Wallisville, Texas, November 25, 1989.
Dr. Thomas William Shearer was born August 25, 1856, in Janesville, Wisconsin to Robert Bruce Shearer and Elizabeth McKinon Campbell MacDougal of Scotland. In 1887 he took leave from his lately developed practice of medicine in Des Moines, Iowa, and from the faculty of Drake University School of Medicine, having earlier been professor of chemistry at Iowa Agricultural College at Ames. He sought to find rest and recreation by means of a visit to his brother, Robert Bruce Shearer, a building contractor who resided in Livingston, Texas. During his visit he built a flat-bottomed boat and launching it into the Trinity River set out to explore the river and its environs, camping along the way. In route he killed a twelve-foot alligator, and a baby 'gator,' as well as an immense turtle. He removed the skins of these and prepared them for shipment, stopping at Liberty for arsenic and salt. He then packed them in barrels and shipped them to the museum in Ames, Iowa. The authorities sent them from the museum to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C., where they were stuffed and mounted and returned to Iowa State College Museum, where they are still on exhibit.
Subsequent to shipping the above he continued on to Wallisville. There he found that the resident doctor wished to move, so he purchased the drugs and medical equipment which the doctor had for sale. He promised to return in a month to take over the practice. He took steps to qualify for a license from the State Board of Health and thus became the only licensed and graduate physician in Chambers County. He returned via sailing vessel by way of Galveston to Livingston for his clothing, instruments, medical bag, etc., and at the end of the month assumed the medical practice in Wallisville.
He would often go as much as thirty miles cross country on a visit. Sometimes he would cross Trinity River on a barge (ferry) with his saddle horse and ride over Mayes Island, another barge over Old River Lake, and sometimes to Mont Belvieu, or even to Cedar Bayou to treat a patient. Mosquitoes were plentiful and malaria prevalent.
Dr. Shearer had married Hannah Harriett "Harrie" Hutton on the 17th of June 1886 in Ames, Iowa, but when he left on his trip in 1887 she had remained behind to fulfill her teaching obligation. She had just begun the new school term and was under contract to teach science in the high school.
In June of 1888 he sent for his wife to join him in Wallisville. He met her in Galveston and proceeded to Wallisville by sailing schooner. At that time sloops and schooners plied regularly between Wallisville and Galveston under sail. The traffic was fruit, vegetables, wood, charcoal, and the like with occasional passengers. In Wallisville they boarded with Mrs. Seth Davis who, kept a small hotel. They remained in the hotel for several months until they purchased a small three-room cottage with a lean-to kitchen, thereafter a portion of the large front porch was enclosed for the doctor's office.
Dr. Tom Shearer's office was directly facing the Chambers County Courthouse, Wallisville being the County seat at that time. It was situated in the center of a 120' x 160' lot containing several beautiful large live oaks and in the back east quarter about eight peach trees. There were also three orange trees in the yard, they did not bear every year, but when they did the fruit was large and sweet. Dr. Shearer eventually purchased more land and his property increased to encompass three quarters of a city block.
Attending the people of Chambers County, Dr. Shearer brought his professional skill and judgment to bear favorably upon the health of the population, practicing his art of medical care and surgery with utmost skill, continued pursuit of knowledge, and compassionate understanding of and identity with his patients' feelings. For many years, a large portion of the population of Chambers and parts of Liberty County, adjoining to the North, would proudly proclaim that they were "brought into the world" by Dr. Tom Shearer.
In 1900, Galveston was devastated and submerged by a major hurricane and accompanying tidal wave. When the storm had passed, Dr. Shearer boarded his small launch, the "Harrie Hutton" and proceeded across Trinity Bay to Galveston on the Gulf in order to make his professional services available to the stricken people of the Island. He was most conscientious in the following of the Hippocratic oath to which he subscribed.
Six children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Shearer in Wallisville; a seventh in Houston. From 1891-1906 were born: Thomas Rodney, 1891; Elizabeth Harriett, 1896; (William) Robert Gerald, 1898; Hannabelle, 1900; Robert Bruce, 1902; and Hutton Amon, 1906. In 1911, their seventh child, Ross Sterling was born to Dr. and Mrs. Shearer at home. Dr. Shearer delivered all but one, who entered this world with the help of a mid-wife whom Dr. Shearer had trained. On that date in March 1900, the Doctor had gone to attend a patient at a distant point. He traveled on horseback, carrying the tools of his profession in saddlebags which were equipped with specially designed bottles for drugs and chemicals and with surgical instruments.
Both Dr. Shearer and his wife, Hannah, were active in community life, providing leadership and support for civic, educational, and church functions. Dr. Shearer served for a number of years as Chambers County Treasurer without compensation. He established the Old River Rice Irrigation Company and later, from Houston, the New Era Gravel Company.
In 1907, Dr. Shearer and his family moved to Houston, residing on Louisiana Street. He practiced medicine throughout the city, traveling from home and office by foot, by horse and buggy, by streetcar, and by automobile.
(Upon the death of Dr. Shearer, May 7th, 1925 in Houston, the area suffered the loss of a good citizen, and a valued physician. In the hour of greatest happiness or of greatest sorrow, so kind and sympathetic was he that his patients loved him as a father. Excerpt from the New Encyclopedia of Texas)