On April 26th, 1904, the secretary of the Texas Medical Association took up his pen, dipped it in the inkwell and wrote: "Dr. P.C. Coleman reported in substance that he organized five societies in the Big Spring district as follows: The Jones-Haskell-Knox-King County Society with 18 members; the Taylor County with 18; the Nolan-Fisher-Stonewall County with 12..."

This was the official recognition of the Abilene-area medical society. Before that time doctors in Taylor County had been meeting at stated intervals, but had not affiliated with the state organization.

The first president of the Taylor County Medical Society was T.B. Bass, M.D. of Abilene, and the Secretary was J.B. Thomas, M.D. also of Abilene. Charter members were Doctors: J.M. Alexander, S.M. Alexander, W.H. Barnett, T.B. Bass, S.R. Cates, J.H. Eastland, F.E. Haynes, L.W. Hollis, W.D. Littler, J.D. Magee, Sr., John Preston, and J.B. Thomas.

In 1933 the societies in West Texas were reorganized and the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society resulted. Haskell was added in 1980 following the dissolution of Baylor-Knox-Haskell CMS. On November 22, 1980, the TMA House of Delegates issued a new charter to the Taylor-Jones-Haskell County Medical Society.

Highlights from the History of the Taylor-Jones-Haskell County Medical Society: A Century of Leadership in Health Care

Concerns about quackery contributed to the establishment of our local medical society in 1904. Even prior to this time there had been efforts to organize doctors in this area. The first recorded effort was made ten years before the turn of the century. The following account appeared in the Abilene Reporter of June 13, 1890:

"The physicians of northwest Texas met Saturday, June 7th, {1890,} in Abilene, for the purpose of organizing a northwest Texas medical association. The committee on permanent organization recommended officers for the ensuing year, Dr. Stout, of Cisco, president; Dr. Payne, of Comanche, 1st Vice President; Dr. Hollis, of Anson, 2nd Vice President; Dr. Isbell, of Abilene, 3rd Vice President; Dr. Coleman, of Colorado City, secretary-treasurer. The Association will meet tri-annually, and the next meeting will be held at Cisco, the first Tuesday and Wednesday of October 1890. A more pleasant, harmonious and enthusiastic meeting could not have been expected. Legitimate physicians throughout northwest Texas are cordially invited and earnestly urged to attend the association at its next meeting to become members and to participate in its most interesting work."

For some reason, this early organization disbanded. The Taylor County Medical Society was organized on April 26, 1904. Charter members were Dr. J. M. Alexander, Dr. W. H. Barnett, Dr. T. B. Bass, Dr. S. R. Cates, Dr. J. H. Eastland, Dr. F. E. Haynes, Dr. L. W. Hollis, Dr. W. D. Littler, Dr. J. D. Magee, Dr. John Preston, and Dr. J. B. Thomas. The first president of the Taylor County Medical Society was Dr. T. B. Bass of Abilene. Eighteen members affiliated with the state organization, The Texas Medical Association.

This local society operated as the officially recognized Abilene-area medical society until 1933. At that time, upon the reorganization of county medical societies in west Texas, it became known as the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society. When Baylor-Knox-Haskell County Medical Society was disbanded in 1980, Haskell county joined the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society. The society is now known as the Taylor-Jones-Haskell County Medical Society.

A Constitution and By-Laws of the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society was adopted April 13, 1948 and approved by the TMA Board of Councilors in 1950.

The purpose of the organization was articulated August 8, 1958 as follows: "Attention was called to the fact that the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society has Had a charter since 1950 and that the corporation is knows as the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society. The purpose for which this corporation is formed is to associate In a single body the duly licensed regular practitioners of medicine in Taylor and Jones counties, and such other counties as may affiliate with this Corporation, to dispense charity among the worthy sick, to carry on research work in the various fields of medicine and surgery, for the alleviation of human suffering, and to do all the other things necessary and incidental to the carrying out of such purposes. The Board of Trustees composed of the following members: Drs. Virginia H. Boyd, C. E. Adams, Erle D. Sellers, L. J. Johnson, R. W. Varner, Edwin E. Middleton, L. J. Webster, Knox Pittard, and Travis Smith. This is a non-profit corporation".

The By-Laws were revised in 1961. There was a proposed amendment to the By-Laws in 1974 that in addition to the current requirements for membership, "each member be required to complete 150 hours of approved study every three years, and that 60 hours of this shall be in Category I as defined by the requirements of the AMA Physicians Recognition Award".

In 1984, TJHCMS celebrated the 80th birthday of the organization of the Medical Society in 1904. Dr. Jarrett Williams wrote a history of the early years of Big Country pioneer doctors for the newsletter. Many other projects were planned for the celebration, including interviews with families of deceased members. One project attempted to list the names of all physicians practicing in Abilene and the beginning dates of their practice. At the time of the 80th birthday of the organization, there were approximately two hundred members of the Society. The services of the Society included a physician referral service, arbitration of grievances, and continuing medical education.

Meeting Places

We are not sure how often the Medical Society met in the first part of the century. From the minutes of May 16, 1933, we know a decision was made "to continue monthly meetings of the Society through the summer." At this same meeting, it was reported, "that plans are under way for the establishment of a medical library and a meeting place for use of the Society at the West Texas Baptist Sanitarium."

Meeting places varied as the Medical Society grew. On January 14, 1947, the Society met at the Wooten Hotel, which became a regular meeting place, usually on the mezzanine floor. However, the minutes of March 9, 1948, report a motion made that Hendrick Memorial Hospital be designated as the meeting place and a motion passed that "no refreshments would be served". The "west end classroom" was the meeting place for a long period of time. Sometimes meetings were held in doctors' homes. The April 1956 meeting was held in the new Taylor County Health building at South 19th and Santos. In January 1957, the Taylor-Jones Medical Society met at the Abilene Air Force Hospital. The cafeteria of the high school was chosen for one meeting.

At the April 9, 1957 meeting it was decided that two meetings a year would be combined dinner meetings with the Taylor-Jones County Medical Auxiliary. Separate business meetings followed each dinner. In 1976, preparations for the February 10th dinner-dance were reported thus: "it was felt that we would be able to cover the cost of the event by charging $4.00 per couple for those who do not wish to partake of special beverages and $8.00 per couple for those who do."

Other meeting places included Briarstone, the Kiva Inn, the Petroleum Club, the Westwood Club, and Abilene Country Club. Once a year in the 70's, the Medical Society met at the Abilene State School, usually in the school's cafeteria. By 1979, the Executive Committee met in the Private Dining Room of Hendrick Medical Center. The regular meeting was held at the Petroleum Club.

Dr. V. H. Shoultz remembers a time when the Medical Society met every Tuesday night four times a month, a meeting that often adjourned to a further "meeting" for cards at different member's homes. This was sometimes called a meeting of the "sanitary committee".

Meetings were also held annually with the Abilene Bar Association, usually in March. This practice probably began in the 1960's. Sometimes joint meetings were held with other groups, such as the Hendrick Hospital staff and the West Texas Medical Center staff in the 1970's. By 1972, an effort was made to strengthen the society by discontinuing joint meetings with hospital staff since the medical society is the only organization "with a broad base of representation". This explanation followed: "We will begin to consider the possibility of making the county society office independent of the hospitals where it might more appropriately function as representative of all members."

Programs or talks were usually presented at each meeting. Sometimes these were of local relevance but sometimes programs reflected far-ranging interests. On April 2, 1947, the program was entitled "Health Activities in Alaska." With the arrival of computers on the scene, the June 8, 1965 program from a staff member of M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston was entitled "Mathematics and Computers in Medicine". Another program in 1965 looked ahead to "Medicine in the Twenty-First Century". The November 8, 1966 program was "The Eradication of Tuberculosis in Texas". The December 13, 1966 program was a report from a doctor who practiced medicine in Viet Nam. The April 4, 1967 program considered "Automation in Laboratory Medicine". The September 1967 program was entitled: "CPC on Hematogenous Pyelonephritis".

Programs for some meetings included outstanding speakers such as Kenneth Cooper, M.D., who spoke in September 1970 on "Development of a Personal Physical Fitness Program for All Ages." The public was invited to hear this presentation at the Abilene High School Auditorium. Other outstanding speakers of the 1970's included Dr. Gerald Dorman, past-president of the American Medical Association.

On April 2, 1974 "Dr. Rupert Richardson, Professor of History at Hardin-Simmons University, gave highlights from the life of Anson Jones, M.D., physician President of the Republic of Texas and namesake of the organization". At this meeting there was discussion about forming a new Abilene Medical Foundation. At the September 1974 meeting, the formation of the Anson Jones Memorial Medical Foundation was announced.

The October 1978 meeting was presented by four physicians who recently moved to Abilene from Canada. The program was entitled: "National Health Care: the Canadian Experience,", by Drs. Vince Priestner, Eugene Karasewich, John Stackhouse, and Mervyn Fouse. (Many physicians from Canada and other countries added their expertise to the medical community in Abilene in the 1970's. This trend continued to the end of the century as Abilene became home to doctors from all over the globe).

In March of 1978, a long-range planning session for the Society was held at Dr. B. B. Trotter's cabin at Possum Kingdom Lake with the purpose "to set goals and priorities for the future". Twelve goals were presented to the Society at the April meeting and approved. Committees were appointed to implement each of the goals.

The Office

The office of the Medical Society greatly enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. Many steps gradually brought about the office in use today.

In November 1971, "Dr. Jarrett Williams moved that a telephone be put in the county society office, separate from the Hendrick Hospital switchboard, in order that we might establish some type of referral system for newcomers to Abilene.". The motion carried. In January 1971, Dr. D. G. Porterfield requested approval of the purchase of an adding machine and a 'write at once' checkbook for use in the Society office."

On November 6, 1973, an annual dues assessment was approved by the Executive Committee in order that Mrs. Pat Evans, who had been working on a part-time basis with the Tumor Clinic & Registry and the Medical Society, could be hired as full-time executive secretary. Additional funds would also help with everyday expenses of maintaining an office. In January 1974, plans were discussed for moving the offices to the space available in the Professional Building. This space was made available by Dr. Ed Martin and Dr. Zane Travis. In February "the Board agreed to spend up to $250.00 for remodeling the available space in the Professional Building." In 1979 the Society moved to a larger space in the building and, a motion passed to spend up to $3,000 for refurbishing the Society office and remodeling the room used for Board meetings.

Now the present computerized office suite of the TJHCMS is in the Shoultz Professional Building at 1818 Pine, #118. Pat Evans, Executive Vice President, can be reached by phone: 915 673-5861 or fax: 915 673-9390.

Conditions of Medical Practice

The turn of the century in 1900 generated momentum for growth in many areas. Certainly this was so of medical practice in general as well as the practice of medicine in the Big Country. One new procedure, developed by Dr. J. M. Estes, Sr., of Abilene around 1900, attracted much attention at the time. He "perfected a method of intubation of the trachea, a procedure often noted as a life or death procedure in the treatment of diphtheria."

This was a time when many doctors owned drug stores along with their medical practice. It was said of one that "he bottled and sold potions for man and beast". Some had their office over a drugstore, such as Dr. S. M. Alexander, whose office was on the west side of the first block of Pine Street over the Montgomery Drug Store.

Patent Medicines and Home Remedies

Dr. Mikeska, Jr. of Clyde reported in his history of early medicine that "the early physicians were divided into two groups: those who used and those who did not use calomel." The following ad illustrates the controversy in the November 11, 1918 Abilene Daily Reporter: "Calomel Users! Listen to Me! I Guarantee Dodson's Liver Tone. Your druggist gives back your money if it doesn't liven your liver and bowels and straighten you up without making you sick. There's no reason why a person should take sickening, salivating calomel when a few cents buys a large bottle of Dodson's Liver Tone---A perfect substitute for calomel. It is a pleasant, vegetable liquid which will start your liver just as surely as calomel, but it doesn't make you sick and cannot salivate. Children and grown folks can take Dodson's Liver Tone, because it is perfectly harmless. Calomel is a dangerous drug. It is mercury and attacks your bones. Take a dose of nasty calomel today and you will feel weak, sick and nauseated tomorrow. Don't lose a day's work. Take a spoonful of Dodson's Liver Tone instead and you will wake up feeling great. No more biliousness, constipation, sluggishness, headache, coated tongue or sour stomach. Your druggist says if you don't find Dodson's Liver Tone acts better than horrible calomel your money is waiting for you."

The argument continued. No wonder the public was confused. Nearly every issue of the newspaper carried advertisements for health aids, including advice and testimonials. Tutt's Liver Pills, St. Jacob's Oil for chronic neuralgia, Murray's Specific, Lydia Pinkham's vegetable compound for "female ills, "and many more were common in the first quarter of the century. In 1904, there was a large ad for a blood purifier and tonic which promised "Physical House Cleaning: A thorough cleansing of the system now is the sweet protection against spring and summer sickness.". In a similar vein, one ad cautioned: "You will never be rid of Rheumatism until you cleanse your blood of the germs that cause the disease. S.S.S. has never had an equal as a blood purifier"

Advertisements for patent medicines multiplied, in spite of frequent denunciations by licensed medical professionals. As late as the 1950's, the Medical Society recommended "that a letter of disapproval concerning patent medicine advertisements be prepared for distribution to drug stores in the city."


From the early days, physicians were concerned about the numerous people who claimed to be doctors without proper credentials and education. Statewide concern about this problem, especially on the part of the TMA, led to the enactment of the Texas Medical Practice Act in 1907. Physicians in Texas still practice under this law as it has been amended.

House Calls

The public expected doctors to make house calls during the first half of the century. The early physicians responded to calls of all types. House calls included surgery when necessary. The newspaper reported an unusual incidence in Fisher County in 1889. When a young girl who had been bitten by a rattlesnake required amputation of her leg, Dr. J. D. Davis did the job at her ranch home with the only surgical tool on hand, a type saw used in printing operations. The child recovered and lived for many years. The newspaper reported another surgical house call in April 13, 1904: "Arthur L. Connally spent Tuesday in Abilene and returned home to Big Spring that night, taking Drs. Blakemore and Hollis with him to relieve him of an abscess in one of his legs, by a knife."

As medicine became more specialized, the practice of making house calls declined. By February 1960, Dr. L.J. Webster reported in the minutes "that the Doctors' Exchange does not now have any doctors who are new in Abilene and anxious to make house calls." The ending of this custom was only one marker of change in the way medicine was to be practiced.

If a physician makes a house call at all today, he or she is more apt to have arrived by plane than by car. The growth of private aviation led to an expansion in the territory of a doctor's practice. Dr. V. H. Shoultz, an Abilene radiologist who began flying about 1956, was one of the first in our area to use an airplane in his practice. He was already interested in aviation when he bought a single engine Ercoupe which cost about $900 from Dr. Roland Peters in Sweetwater. He claims it had a maximum speed of 90/mph which didn't go quite as fast as his Lincoln. It was not long after that that he bought a Cessna 182 so that he could travel further. He read x-rays as far away as Pecos and Hobbs, New Mexico.

He often took radium to treat cancer patients. The radium was surrounded by a fifty-pound block of lead. He had to be careful of the weight because everything on the plane had to be balanced. Later radium plaques could be surrounded by a fifteen-pound lead container, which was easier.

Delivering Babies

In the first part of the century babies were often delivered at home. Even after the growth of the hospitals, conditions were still primitive in parts of the Big Country. Dr. Frank Cadenhead who began practice in Haskell on July 1, 1947, remembered delivering a baby in a half-dugout in 1949 in Weinert. He said, "I gave the mother a little anesthesia with drip ether and delivered the baby by the light of a coal oil lamp." Another time Dr. Cadenhead recalled a woman in labor lying on a cotton sack in a field where she had been picking cotton. He said, "I delivered the baby. Then I turned around to get my bag and when I turned around again, she was already walking to the house, carrying the baby."

Soon hospitals became a favored place for deliveries, though not always without unforeseen problems. Dr. Lee Rode tells several stories about unusual deliveries. Once he was waiting for a woman to be ready for delivery at Hendrick Hospital. He thought she had a few hours before delivery so he took the husband downstairs for a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, they both got stuck in the old elevator and were there for two hours or more. In the meantime they were able to send word to get another doctor to deliver the baby. The new baby was brought to the elevator shaft so the new father could hear the baby cry. The father couldn't complain because he was right beside the doctor on the elevator!

Another night at St. Anne's Hospital, Dr. Rode and Nurse Patterson were still in their scrub suits following a delivery. An incoherent man ran into the hospital screaming and asking them for help. He wanted them to follow him down the street. They did and two blocks away they found a family in an old car, which had broken down in the middle of the street. Several children were in the backseat and the mother was in the front seat with a partially born baby. Dr. Rode completed the delivery in the front seat of the car, taking off his scrub shirt to wrap the baby in. Then he and the father, with Nurse Patterson's help, pushed the broken-down car two blocks to the hospital. The baby and mother had a healthy recovery.

New Drugs

One of the most significant developments of the 1930's was the discovery of sulfanilamide. This was only one of the many scientific medical discoveries during the growth period following the end of the Great Depression. Penicillin became available in our area in the 1940's, and soon after, many other types of antibiotics dramatically changed medical science.

Growth of Specialties

In the decade of the 1920's many specialties in the practice of medicine appeared. Noteworthy was the beginning of anesthesiology as a specialty, as well as other specialties, such as ophthalmology, otolaryngology, obstetrics-gynecology and urology. In the following decades prior to World War II, the growth of specialization as well as growing affluence led to a teamwork approach to medical problems, more pronounced around the hospital centers in the urban areas. Most small town and rural areas were still served by a general practitioner working alone.

Post World War II medicine was characterized by an increase in the number of specialists. The 1960's and the 1970's brought changes to medical education, which promoted specialization. Decisions about specialization were made after several years in medical school. Graduates did not have to rotate in so many areas after this decision was made. When the "doctor draft" ended after the Vietnam War, doctors did not have to serve in the armed forces after graduation.

The Effect of War on Medical Practice in our area

Many doctors from our area served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. One of these was Dr. Clinton E. Adams, a Lieutenant Colonel in the European Theatre, who retired as full Colonel. For many years he was Post Surgeon of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Hamlin and Anson reported that all members of their medical society volunteered for active duty in World War II. Because of age or health, some doctors in Abilene and the surrounding area were not able to serve in the military. Those few physicians remaining at home had long hours of duty taking care of the civilian population.

After the Vietnam War in the 1960's and '70's the Texas Legislature, concerned about a shortage of doctors across the state, enacted a "network of health care teaching institutions across the state."

In 1994, Dr. J. Price Brock was honored by the Texas Legislature for his distinguished service as a U.S. Navy surgeon in the Vietnam War while serving with the Fleet Marine Force.

Medical Families

A number of families in Abilene have had more than one family member who is a physician. In the early days there were two doctors in the Alexander family: Dr. J. M. Alexander and Dr. Sam Alexander. The first Dr. L. W. Hollis began his practice here at that time, and he was followed by Dr. L. W. Hollis,Jr. and Dr. Scott Hollis. The Snows were another medical family: Dr. William R. Snow, his son Joe Snow, as well as Dr. William's niece, Virginia Boyd Connally. In the Burditt family, Dr. J. N. Burditt and Dr. Tom Burditt both practiced obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Willis Bray said his great-grandfather was an M.D. Dr. Graham Bray, Sr. was an osteopath, and his nephew Dr. Graham Bray practiced with Dr. Willis Bray as an orthopedic surgeon. Some other well-known medical families are the Ramseys, Cockerells, the Esteses, the Websters, and the Hardwicks.

Women in Medicine

Virginia Boyd Connally is believed to be the first woman physician to practice in Abilene who graduated from a licensed medical school. She also became the first woman to be president of the Medical Society in 1949. Melba McNeil practiced in Abilene in the late 1940's. Katherine Anderson was accepted as a member of the Society in November 1953. Mary Booth Steward also began practice here in the 1950's. Since then, numerous women have practiced medicine in this area, a significant change in modern medicine.

Health Concerns

At the turn of the century the concerns of the medical community were different from the concerns of doctors today. According to one report, life expectancy in America in 1900 was about forty years. The causes of death were also different: infectious disease was the major cause at that time. Measures were taken to keep various infections from entering Texas. Public fear was fueled by reports such as the one of April 18, 1904, that "Small pox [is] raging at Torreon and yellow fever at Vera Cruz. The yellow scourge did [incalculable] injury to Texas last year."

One unusual cause of near-death in this early period was reported April 28, 1904. A man in Baird almost lost his life due to "dog poison." Such poison was used for prairie dogs and in this case, the plover had eaten some poison. The sick man had then eaten the plover with an almost fatal result. People also died of a disease called "nervous prostration."

Cleanliness was another concern at the turn of the century. There was a crusade on the part of the city officials to warn the public about the danger of neglecting proper care of water closets. On April 13, 1904, the Reporter News noted that "Abilene needs a sewer to accommodate the county jail, the hotels, restaurants, livery stables, laundries, and business houses especially".

Physicians played a part in developing public awareness of the need for cleanliness. One member of the medical society, Dr. C.M. Cash, while serving as a city and county health officer during this early period, wrote the first sanitary code for the city of Abilene in conjunction with the city attorney. (Dr. Cash also founded the town of Tuscola in 1900, naming it for his hometown in Illinois.)

Fighting Disease

Members of the medical society shared information about various diseases. The newspaper of the day reflected the health concerns of the citizens. Diligent reporters kept the community informed with vivid details. On April 13, 1904, the following clarification was newsworthy: "We were misinformed about there being five cases of pneumonia in the family, there were only three." On April 29, 1904, it was reported that: "W.M.G. Mackechney was happy over the improved condition of his sick ones. Mrs. Mackechney has no more fever, the ice bag has been superceded by a soothing lotion, and she will probably be up in a few days. Appendicitis kept her flat in the bed with the liberty of moving, and it was an ordeal the most courageous would shrink from. Three of the children were down at one time with roseola or some form of measles, but all are clear of fever except one little girl. We hope that the family is now in for a period of health."

Some of the other newspaper accounts reveal that on January 12, 1914, "three cases of smallpox were reported in the city." In 1918 doctors in the society discussed treatment of persons submitted to gas warfare and of 'malignant cases of typhoid fever." Also in 1914 it was reported that radium might be the cause of cancer.

The Spanish Influenza of 1918 was sometimes called "a hit-and-run kind of disease." For soldiers, the chance of coming down with this illness was more likely than being hit with gunfire. In the fall of 1918, this disease struck people everywhere, even in the Abilene area. Although the means of prevention and cure were lacking, the bonds of community were strengthened as neighbor helped neighbor survive the ordeal.

An ad from the Abilene Daily Reporter was entitled: "How to Fight Spanish Influenza." The ad continues: "Avoid crowds, coughs, and cowards, but fear neither germs or Germans! Keep the system in good order; take plenty of exercise in the fresh air and practice cleanliness. Remember a clean mouth, a clean skin, and clean bowels are a protecting armour against disease. To keep the liver and bowels regular and to carry away the poisons within, it is best to take a vegetable pill every other day, made up of Mayapple, aloes, jalap, and sugar-coated, to be had at most drug stores, known as Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Pellets. If there is a sudden onset of what appears like a hard cold, one should go to bed, wrap warm, take a hot mustard footbath, drink copiously of hot lemonade. If pain develops in head or back, ask the druggist for Anuric (antiuric) tablets. These will flush the bladder and kidneys and carry off poisonous germs. To control the pains and aches, take one Anuric tablet every two hours, with frequent drinks of lemonade. The pneumonia appears in a most treacherous way when the influenza victim is apparently recovering and anxious to leave his bed. In recovering from a bad attack of influenza or pneumonia the system should be built up with a good herbal tonic, such as Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery, made without alcohol from the roots and barks of American forest trees, or his Irontic (iron tonic) tablets, which can be obtained at most drug stores, or send 10 cents to Dr. Pierce's Invalids' Hotel, Buffalo, N.Y., for trial package."

We can only guess at the effectiveness of Dr. Pierce's remedies. We do know, however, the newspaper commended a Dr. W. J. Rogers of the Potosi Community for his gallant service during the 1918 influenza epidemic."

In 1934, one case of tetanus was reported, "caused by a horse stepping on a man's hand."


In the nineteenth century and even into the early twentieth century, tuberculosis was "the leading cause of death". However, much had been learned about the disease and it was known that it was spread through person-to-person contact. Much could be done to prohibit the spread of the disease, such as confining or restricting the liberty of those who had the disease. Reports of a possible cure for the disease increased optimism. In May 1914, the ARN reported a paper given in Washington, D.C., which listed two surgical treatments for TB. First Nitrogen gas was introduced into the chest cavity to compress the affected lung and give it more chance of healing. Second, ribs could be partially removed producing the same effect as collapsing the lung, placing it out of function. It also reported that the Friedman vaccine had proved to be of little value.

There is evidence that the Medical Society promoted a tuberculosis survey in the public schools, although it is not known when this began. There is a report by Dr. Erle Sellers on May 16, 1933, that the tuberculosis survey in the schools had been completed this year. In this report we find "that 15% of whites, 42% of blacks, and more than 60% of Mexicans reacted positively to the Mantoux test. The Tuberculosis Association paid $30.00 to the Society for service of some of its members in making the tests, and $75.00 to the hospital for x-ray work In this connection Dr. Hedrick reported hearing very favorable comments at the State meeting on the tuberculosis work done in the schools of Abilene last year."

Other actions were taken through the years concerning tuberculosis. The following proposals were adopted by the Medical Society on October 13, 1947: 1. "That the Taylor County TB Association not make any charge for X-rays. 2. That the Taylor County TB Association X-ray school teachers, school employees, school children (not college students, food handlers and maids that present themselves for x-rays. 3. That members of the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society Refer only indigent or semi-indigent patients to the TB Association For x-ray. 4. Project: Public Health Oct. 13, 1947 5. That the City Ordinance related to food handlers be reviewed and provide a. That a physical examination be required---this to be performed by the City-County Health Unit. b. That a blood test be performed---this to be done by the City Health Laboratory. c. That X-Rays of the chest be required---these to be made by the Taylor County TB Association. d. That maids in private homes be considered food handlers under the City Ordinance. e. That stool examinations be added to the examinations required as soon as feasible."

In other actions on March 26, 1951, the Medical Society endorsed the "state plan for mass chest x-ray in 1951, as has been practiced in 1950." In May of 1966 a new state law was discussed "requiring all teachers to be certified to be tuberculosis free within a period of 120 days prior to September 1, 1966." A discussion was held about how the skin test should be handled. The program in November of 1966 was "The Eradication of Tuberculosis in Texas." In December of that same year there was a request for help "in screening employees of the Public Schools for T.B. patch test." This was referred to the Tuberculosis Committee for study.


Around the middle of the century, deaths from diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, and tetanus declined while deaths from other diseases, certain forms of cancer, for instance, were more common. But one disease that has now almost been stamped out was a dreaded killer at this time. This was, of course, polio, and its appearance in Abilene and the surrounding area led to one of the most impressive projects of the Medical Society. Dr. Marshall Turnbull was the director of the mass immunization project. Minutes of the Medical Society show how this project developed.

The first mention of polio in the minutes occurred on April 11, 1950. The program at that meeting mentioned the increased danger of poliomyelitis. Again on March 10, 1953, a "radio-telephone program on poliomyelitis from Houston was presented." In April 1953, an average fee scale charged by physicians treating poliomyelitis was presented to the Society and a motion carried that "the fee scale was fair and reasonable."

By January 1956, a polio committee was appointed and volunteers were asked "to give shots especially in the county schools." In March of that same year, there was a discussion of the distribution of the polio vaccine. It was decided that "only indigents should receive the vaccine from the Health Unit free of charge." Pamphlets on the Salk vaccine for lay people were to be available to those who were interested in having them.

On October the Public Health Committee of the Medical Society was asked to study the school inoculation program and give a report. In January 1957, there was a discussion of "the desire of the Public Health Service for the County Society to endorse free polio vaccinations in the city and county, both adults and children." Many felt that the County Health Officer "is already authorized to administer vaccine to indigents, only." The question was given to the Polio Committee for study.

On April 5, 1957, the Executive Committee recommended, "that the County Health Unit change its regulation to include adults in its polio immunization and other immunizations for indigents." The motion carried. On April 9, 1957 recommendations of the Polio Committee were presented and approved by the membership: 1. "Approval of an extensive educational program to be presented to the community to bring attention to the fact that the need for immunization is present. 2. Recommended that a program for the immunization of indigents over age 20 be instigated 3. Endorsement of a mass school inoculation program to include students through the last grade of senior high school; this to be done and supervised by members of the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society. This last recommendation was to apply for this school year only." In December of 1957, it was the recommendation of the Polio Committee "that the inoculation program in the public schools be continued to those students who are unable to pay, and that the third shot of polio vaccine be administered to only those children who cannot pay." In May of 1958, the Polio Committee did not recommend a citywide immunization. However, they recommended the Society "assist in putting on a very strong educational program regarding immunizations, with particular regard to polio vaccine." There was discussion about who should be classified as an indigent to receive free vaccine. A motion passed which stated that "all patients who did not own TV sets be certified as indigents and be permitted to receive free polio vaccines." A motion carried that "the Society recommend to the school boardthat immunization with polio vaccine be a pre-requisite for school admission." The Medical Society went on record as encouraging other types of vaccinations as well.

In August of 1962, Dr. Turnbull, Chairman of the Public Health Advisory Committee, recommended plans for a project of mass immunization against poliomyelitis in this area sponsored by the Medical Society. The Committee also recommended that September 16 would be a tentative date to begin this mass immunization, with six-week intervals between the three doses. The motion carried.

In October of 1962, "Dr. Marshall Turnbull and Dr. Harper reported in great detail on the mass polio immunization program of September 30, 1962, stating that a total of 73,000 sips had been given. It was announced that the Sabine vaccine No.3 would be given in another mass immunization program on November 11, 1962."

In January of 1963, "Dr. Harper reported for Dr. Turnbull, Chairman of the Polio Mass Immunization Program Committee. He indicated that the Committee recommended that the Sabin vaccine No.3 be administered, probable date of the third and last immunization being Sunday, February 3." (This date was later changed to February 10, 1963.) On February 12, 1963, following the last immunization, the Society passed "a resolution of appreciation for those agencies and individuals who participated in this successful endeavor."

It was reported in April 1963 that the funds that had accrued from the mass polio program were given to purchase equipment, such as a cardioscope and the internal and external defibrillator, to Anson General Hospital, Cox Memorial Hospital, Hendrick Memorial Hospital, Sadler Clinic-Hospital, and St. Ann Hospital.

In September 1963, the Medical Society "agreed that an effort should be continued to saturate the population with the oral polio vaccine (Sabin)." In October of 1963, "Dr. Turnbull reported on the polio immunization program that was being continued and proposed that during the months of February or March the vaccine program be held for one week which would serve for the coming year and probably pick up those who may not have been immunized before." In April of 1964, there was a recommendation "of another booster vaccination on May 3 or May 10, using the Lederle's vaccine." This was approved. Again in October 1964, there was a recommendation "that the Society carry out a program of giving the Sabine oral polio vaccine, Lederle Orimune trivalent vaccine, at a recommended date of December 6, 1964." In May of 1965, it was reported that "one more date for mass immunization was being planned with the hope that those who have failed thus far to get their immunization may do so." In November of 1967, it was reported that the population continued to be saturated with the oral polio vaccine (Sabin).

Dr. Turnbull said that the polio immunization program was a "real community effort then." "We had all sorts of volunteers. Everybody did a little something. We had our headquarters here in this building: (Pine St.) Everybody cooperated and everybody was so nice it was unbelievable. The detail men from the drug companies, the salesmen, were our transport. They would haul it to Anson or wherever we needed it. (Stamford, Snyder, Sweetwater, Throckmorton, Brownwood, Roscoe, and some as far as Colorado City.) We asked for a donation of a quarter a piece. I think the vaccine cost about 22 cents a dose or something like that. Those that were able were asked to give a little donation and some, of course, gave more than that.It seemed to me we gave about 250,000 doses each time. The doses were given a month a part.

I went over to Abilene High and gave 600 kids shots at a pep rally. They went through the line in one hour---600 of them. We had a whole crew from the Health Unit out there. They borrowed and begged all the syringes they could find in town. That was when we still used glass syringes. The good thing about it was the Salk Vaccine kind of wiped out polio for all practical purposes---a few cases since then but not very many. To me, this is one of the best things that has happened in medicine. I can still remember when we had 17 iron lungs and the basement at Hendrick full of polio patients. There was a Respiratory Center for people who had Bulbar Polio and it was full of people who weren't going to get any better."

Other diseases

The Society considered preventative actions for the public to avoid several diseases other than polio. In June of 1957, a motion carried to encourage through the newspaper "typhoid and paratyphoid vaccinations or booster inoculations in view of the recent flooding conditions." In October 1959, it was announced "that the State Health Laboratory is now making a vaccine including diphtheria, whooping-cough (pertussis) and tetanus and another diphtheria and tetanus combination." In April of 1963, it was announced that KRBC was to have a panel discussion on the measles vaccine. In November 1967, a motion carried "that the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society not sponsor a mass measles immunization campaign."

In October of 1970, the Public Health Committee recommended "that the Medical Society cooperate in dissemination of information to the public and to urge rubella immunization from their private physicians and the vaccine would be available at the Abilene-Taylor County Health Unit for the medically indigent." The Medical Society was interested in supporting continuing education for all types of immunization programs. By February 1971, the Society voted to help sponsor a mass rubella immunization program at the request of the City Council PTA. A few years later Dr. Curzon Ferris reported on the upcoming swine flu vaccine project in June of l976. He said: "The vaccine will be available in July for people 65 and over and those chronically ill. It will be available to the general public and for use by physicians in their office in the fall. The vaccine itself will be free."


In 1987 a report was given by the Abilene Task Force on AIDS. Physicians were encouraged to educate the general public on information about the disease. In June of 1987, the Medical Society Board requested the Anson Jones Memorial Medical Foundation purchase two training films on AIDS for use by the AIDS Task Force.

Other Concerns

The minutes of the Medical Society reflect changing concerns through the century. In 1957, the Medical Society had committees work on the following concerns: "emergency ambulance service, investigating a Mother's Health Clinic, work on the indigent care program and a full-time city physician, and Civic Defense." In October 1977, Dr. Richard Johns pointed out three areas of national concern---"patient care evaluation, wife and child abuse, and preventive medicine. The Society discussed ways of involvement in these areas."

Projects of the Society

The Society's concerns resulted in a variety of projects to meet the particular needs of each era. Sometimes projects were initiated by the Society. Sometimes the Medical Society was asked to endorse or support the actions of other groups, showing many areas of community involvement. Even in the early years the Society recognized the need for some type of clinic for the indigent. "In 1917, the Society voted its support of a proposed hospital for the indigent." This project must have been stymied since again on April 27, 1948, the minutes of the Executive Committee report a discussion on a proposed clinic for indigent patients modeled after one in St. Joseph, Missouri. The committee unanimously voted for the following: 1. The Committee is in favor of a full-time City-County physician, who will be sustained by an adequate salary. 2. The Committee is in favor of the establishment of a clinic by City-County funds, which is to be staffed by physicians of the city on a voluntary basis. These clinic physicians will work on a rotating basis and without remuneration . The City-County physician would act as director of this clinic service.

The minutes of September 13, 1949 show that a plan had been adopted for indigent medical care in Taylor County. On November 8, 1949, the Society passed a recommendation of the Executive Committee "to adopt as a goal for 1950 the building of a "polyclinic" for the care of the indigent sick in Abilene and Taylor County, and that a committee be appointed or elected to direct the Society's effort in this regard."

This plan also must have been postponed. Again in the May 13,1952 minutes is a motion "that the County Society re-affirm its approval of the proposed Polyclinic." The interest and backing of the Medical Society is outlined in a letter of Dr. Travis Smith, Chairman of the Public Health Committee of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce on February 3, 1959. He says: "In 1949 and again about two years ago the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society went on record as being in favor of establishing a City-County Welfare Out-Patient Clinic, and stated that they were willing to staff this type of Clinic without remuneration. It is the purpose of this letter to bring to the attention of the Executive Committee of the County Medical Society that the Commissioner's Court of Taylor County has authorized the establishment of such an Out-Patient Clinic and specified that it shall be housed in the Taylor County Court House in space that is adjacent to the City-County Welfare Department." The Medical Society approved the plan February 10, 1959.

Project: Well Baby Clinic

As far back as 1920, "doctors belonging to the Society offered to give their time and services to a free baby clinic." This project must have lapsed because in October of 1953, a motion carried that a Well Baby Clinic be established which would be staffed by local physicians at the county health unit for indigent patients. Dr. Lee Rode reports how this worked:

"The nurses on duty would call in a doctor---usually the new kid on the block because he was the least busy and because it was expected of newcomers. Most of them knew the likelihood of getting paid was about the same as winning the car at the West Texas Fair, but few complainedthe calls were not a burden, and the complexity of services was minimal. I made many trips to the Well Baby Clinic."

In February 1965, the following report was made concerning the Abilene-Taylor County Charity Clinic work. It was felt "that the Charity Obstetrical Clinic should become a part of the indigent clinic and set up in the following manner:

1. It should be quartered in a county facility at the courthouse or annex 2. That patients be screened by the present county social service 3. That the clinic be staffed on a rotating basis by members of the County Medical Society who practice obstetrics. This rotation should be on a voluntary basis, however.

Tumor Clinic & Registry

The establishment and support of the Tumor Clinic was a long-time project of the Medical Society. On May 8, 1947, there was a discussion of the possibility of establishing a Tumor Clinic. Four years later, at the May 9, 1951 meeting, the organization of the Tumor Clinic was formally announced, an example of the Society's role in changing visions into reality.

In response to a letter from the Executive Director of The American Cancer Society in April 1956, the Medical Society unanimously voted to give approval of the Tumor Clinic on an annual basis. The December 8, 1959 program of the Medical Society was given by the Tumor Clinic of the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society. A Tumor Registry was another part of this program. In November 1962, "Dr. Jack Ramsey was recommended for the post of Executive Director of the Tumor Clinic and Registry, beginning in 1963." In February 1965, the minutes state "the Board was sympathetic to a plan to establish a Tumor Clinic in fact where patients might be seen by a rotating staff of consultants and with authority to recommend its own consultants."

Endorsing Questions of Public Health

Following World War II, the minutes of the Society indicate interest in a "clean-up" campaign and a call for action on the requirement for food handlers. In 1958, when the Director of the Abilene Taylor County Health Department "requested a general approval of an amendment to the Code of Regulations relative to food handlers, the Society approved the spirit of the amendment, but voted disapproval of a routine urinalysis for sugar."

A motion passed September 12, 1950, that the medical society "go on record as recommending that a certificate be required for all children that have been diagnosed as having a communicable disease before they are allowed to attend school again."

In October 1963, a motion passed that "this Society go on record as approving the ready access of epinephrine and/or adrenalin by the school nurses in keeping with the recommendation of the American Medical Association."

Support for Mental Health Projects

In a special meeting on January 3, 1966, the Medical Society considered " A request from the Chamber of Commerce for a letter of approval and commendation of their application for a demonstration pilot program for the establishment of a center for the mentally retarded." A letter was approved to help in this endeavor. The following year a committee was formed "to work with the Mental Health Association Committee for the Suicide Prevention Service." In September 1969, a motion carried that "the Executive Committee give its approval to the establishment in Abilene of an outreach outpatient clinic from Big Spring State Hospital." This was also approved by the Society later that month. A motion carried that "the Executive Committee give its approval to the establishment in Abilene of an outreach outpatient clinic from Big Spring State Hospital." This was also approved by the Society on September 9, 1969. In April of 1970, Dr. Sibley stated that a committee from the Medical Society had been appointed to work with the local Mental Health Association and the Kiwanis Clubs on the "Hot Line" project.

In 1987, the Medical Society, by request from the Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center, assisted by giving physical examinations for Special Olympic participants who were unable to financially afford a physical examination. Volunteers from the Medical Society gave these physicals in their offices in the months of February and August.

Support for Children's Rehab

In January 1952, the organization of a local cerebral palsy center was reported and a motion was made "that the society approve the efforts being made to help children in need of rehabilitation. The motion was secondedand received unanimous approval." The organization, which developed through the support of many in the community, grew into what is now known as the West Texas Rehabilitation Center. Dr. W.J. Bray claimed that the establishment of this Center was the reason he decided to begin practice in Abilene.

Endorsing Other Projects:

Endorsement of projects did not always meet with the same success as the West Texas Rehabilitation Center. Some of the following endorsements met with difficulties but the endorsements show the wide scope of health concerns.

Cancer Detection Center

In September 1967, a motion carried giving the Society's "unqualified endorsement" to a proposed Cancer Detection Center in conjunction with a Planned Parenthood Center."

Hypertension Screening Center

In September 1969, a motion carried that "the County Society give its approval to a Hypertension Screening Clinic proposed by the Heart Association."

National Nutritional Survey

In January of 1969, the Medical Society gave its approval to a National Nutritional Survey to be conducted in this area.

Endorsement of rat extermination

On January 10, 1950, a motion was unanimously passed that the County Society "endorse a continuous rat extermination program for Abilene."

Blood Bank

In February 1950, the Society passed a motion "approving the operation of a blood bank and assuring the public of its cooperation." The next month, March 6, 1950, appointments were made to the blood bank committee who would oversee its operation. By May 9, 1950, it was reported that "the community blood bank is functioning." Six years later a change in ownership of the blood bank was initiated. Mr. E.M. Collier of Hendrick Memorial Hospital wrote in March of 1956, "The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to accept the Blood Bank as offered by you in your letter of February 2, 1956, following a directive of the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society." In April 1956 it was reported that Hendrick Hospital would "accept all responsibility beginning March 30, 1956": This became the Hendrick Memorial Hospital Blood Bank.

Seven years later, in March of 1963, there was a resolution, which was approved by the Society to "recommend the endorsement and invitation to the Southwest Blood Banks to come to Abilene."

Endorsement of Equipment for Public Health

In May of 1950, a discussion was held on "the possibilities of establishing a practical nurses' school in Abilene." Almost a year later on April 10, 1951, a motion passed that "the local society endorse a practical nurses' school but oppose a school which is partially or wholly federally subsidized."

In February of 1962, a motion passed "that the present vision-testing in the Abilene Public Schools be approved on the recommendation of the Abilene Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology and that the Superintendent of Schools and school nurses be so advised." In October of 1966, a report was given on Language Disorders. There was discussion about the possible location in Abilene of an extension of the University of Texas which would be a pilot project on Language Disorders. A committee will work with the West Texas Rehabilitation Center and others on this project. In June of 1967, Chief of Police Warren Dodson was invited to demonstrate the uses of MK IV Chemical Mace in law enforcement. Although the chemical fumes were so strong that members present had to temporarily flee the auditorium, a letter was written in July 1967 to the Police Chief giving the medical society's "approval of the use of the chemical in law enforcement."

In March of 1988, the Medical Society supported the request of the Taylor-Jones Medical Assistants Society that Cisco Junior College establish an accredited educational program for medical assistants.

Science Fair

The Medical Society had several projects related to the Science Fair. Often physicians were asked to be judges in the competition. In April 1965, and again in 1966, "the Board recommended continuation of an annual contribution to the Science Fair in the amount of $100.00."

The Junior League asked the Medical Society to help with the Regional Science Fair in 1980. In 1980, members also voted to support the AISD Science Fair by presenting an award in the Physical and Biological Science Division.

Health Fair

In June of 1964, plans were begun for a Health Fair to be held in Fair Park in 1966. The West Texas Health Fair did take place as planned. "Funds received will be donated to A.M.A.E.R.F." In December of 1966, "Dr. Richard B. Johns was presented a resolution for his services in organizing the West Texas Health Fair."

In 1976, the Medical Society voted to co-sponsor a Health Fair for the Elderly with the West Central Texas Council of Governments Committee on Aging. $200 was marked for this project.

The Video-Health Fair was a project of the 1980's. Over 50 physicians participated in a phone bank for television viewers to call in their health questions. 1985 was the first year the Medical Society was involved with the Goodfellow project. The Medical Society again participated in 1986. Local pediatricians agreed to volunteer. In 1988, there were "17 physician volunteers plus both Minor Emergency Clinics." Medicines were supplied by both Hendrick and Humana. The goal of the project was to offer free medical care and medications to children who were ill during the Christmas holidays.

In 1990, a Children's Health Fair was sponsored by KTAB-TV, Mend-A-Child, the 17th District Dental Society, and the Taylor-Jones-Haskell County Medical Society on Saturday, October 5, at the Abilene Civic Center. Free medical and dental screenings were given to over 5,000 children. This project continued annually for most of the 1990's. The Medical Society, through a donation from the Anson Jones Memorial Medical Foundation, supplied bicycle helmets to over 1,000 children each year.

Hearing Screening Booth In 1971, the Society co-sponsored a booth with the West Texas Rehabilitation Center to provide Hearing Screenings at the West Texas Fair as a public service. After these notices, surprisingly, the executive minutes of September 7, 1971 reported: "Due to local physician objection, the West Texas Fair booth has been deleted."

Health Careers Promotion

Funds were given to provide a booth at the West Texas Fair for promotion of health careers. The Medical Society and the Medical Auxiliary participated in projects together through the years to encourage young people to go into the health care field.

Student Loans:

The Taylor-Jones-County Medical Society Student Loan Fund operated for many years as a project of the Society. It helped many from our area secure a first-rate medical education. The loans were to be paid back at a low interest rate. The stated purpose of this Fund was to make loans "to medical students who need financial assistance in order to complete their medical education: and more specifically, to-wit:

To medical students enrolled in Class A medical schools To Junior and Senior Medical Students, but sophomores are not necessarily excluded.

To students who have an average of B or above.

To students residing in the counties of Taylor or Jones preferable, but others are not excluded.

The minutes of June 27, 1952, report the following: "As there is at present no money in this fund and application has been made for assistance by a senior medical student, the Executive Board recommended that each member be assessed $20." Action was postponed until the following month on July 8, 1952. A motion was then made that each member be assessed $15.00 each for the student loan fund. This motion passed.

In August of 1960, loans of $3,000 were approved for two medical students. The Student Loan Committee was still meeting in 1981. Sometime in the 1980's, the Society discontinued the Student Loan program, transferring the funds to the Anson Jones Memorial Medical Foundation. The Foundation continued to make annual contributions for scholarships to the Medical Alliance scholarship program for health careers.

Disaster and Civil Defense

Reflecting national fears in the fifties and early sixties, the minutes of June 11, 1957 show a discussion of the disaster program as well as a Civic Defense program. Again the January 14, 1958 minutes state "the Medical Society should take a vigorous part in the development of a disaster plan and that some exercises should be taken to perfect such planning." The minutes of February 7, 1958, report: "It is the plan to definitely work up an adequate Disaster Plan in the very near future."

On June 2, 1959, partial plans of the Disaster Program were presented to the Society. The Committee reported that "they had one plan for smaller happenings such as tornadoes, floods and crashes and another plan for catastrophic happenings, such as might be expected in atomic warfare. The staff would be split up into teams."

During the time of missile threats from Russia, the December 1960 program was given on Civil Defense, and there was indication that there would be frequent programs on Civil Defense in the months ahead. In an Executive Session in January 1961, it was agreed that the Disaster Committee concern itself with possible war conditions and recommend that the Hendrick staff and other disaster committees be set up for action in non-military emergencies. In October of 1962, a simulated disaster was planned for November 18, 1962 by the Disaster Committee. By August of 1968, a resolution was unanimously passed "concerning the need for handling of mass contamination victims, to be sent to the Chief-of-Staff of all hospitals, and the administration, and board of Trustees of these hospitals." Fortunately for all concerned, the work of this committee was not necessary during this time.

In August of 1981, the Disaster Committee reported that each hospital has a disaster plan for handling emergencies. However, there is no plan available for dealing with emergencies in case either hospital is involved in an emergency situation. It was recorded in the minutes that "with permission of the Board, Dr. Dale Brannom and his committee will attempt to have certain buildings in the community designated as alternate disaster sites, along with a plan for staffing of these facilities. In 1982, it was reported that each hospital was asked to establish an area in the hospital to serve as an operational command center during a disaster.


In addition to all of the volunteer hours that physicians have given to Medical Society projects, members volunteered in so many other ways that it is possible to mention only a few .

Many Abilene physicians have volunteered their time for medical assistance to persons in need all over the world. In 1991, Dr. James McDaniel volunteered for a medical mission trip to Bulgaria. Dr. Frank Cadenhead of Haskell worked at the Baptist Medical Compound in Yemen and as a medical missionary in Venezuela. Dr. George Dawson has served in several countries as a medical missionary. Many others have responded to needs elsewhere on a regular basis.

In 1963, in conjunction with National Sight-Saving Month that begins in May, it was announced "that Drs. Robert Cameron, Paul Thames, and H. Miller Richert will be performing free cataract surgery May 1. The doctors are from the Abilene Eye Institute and Cataract Surgery Center and will perform the operations for people who have no insurance and no financial resources." In 1989, Dr. Jake Barron was instrumental in the foundation of the Children's Miracle Network.

The Medical Alliance

Through the years the Medical Society has worked closely with the Medical Alliance (known for many years as the Medical Auxiliary) on many joint projects. The Alliance, true to its name and purpose, has generously supported the Society in countless ways. Some of their endeavors are listed below:

Essay Contest

In September of 1952 the Society voted to give prizes for the three best essays in the essay contest sponsored by the Auxiliary and the Texas Medical Association. This may have been done yearly. The minutes of October 10, 1958 again report the giving of prize money for the essay contest.

Also the Society gave prizes to winners of the Essay Contest of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons in 1959-60. Essay winners were invited to read their essays before the Society. This project may have continued for a number of years.

First Aid Booth

In June of 1957, the Society agreed to provide medical coverage on the fair grounds at the First Aid Booth run by the Auxiliary from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Medical Society continued to furnish manpower for the First Aid Booth at the West Texas Fair in Sept. 1970 and again in 1971. Nurses were recruited to help.

Doctor's Day

The Medical Alliance sponsors Doctors' Day each year. On March 30, 1933, the first Doctors'Day observance was held in Barrow County, Georgia. In 1935, the Southern Medical Association adopted Doctors' Day celebrated each March 30, to honor members of the medical profession, both living and dead. In February of 1974, the Executive Committee reported "that the Woman's Auxiliary wished to name March 30th as Doctors' Day and to Dedicate it to the memory of Dr. W.B. Adamson and Dr. Scott Hollis, longtime members of this Society."

Endorsement of Other Health Programs

West Texas Stroke Symposium plans were made on April 14, 1970. However, the plans were postponed until fall in order to get top speakers. This symposium was held Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 1970, at the Abilene Civic Center and the West Texas Rehabilitation Center. Medical Society members were encouraged to attend. Two hundred people came to the dinner and between 125-175 people attended the other meetings.

The Executive Committee of the Medical Society gave its approval to a scoliosis screening and treatment program in the AISD in November of 1978.


The Medical Society has encouraged discussion on legislation pertinent to medicine. Congressmen have often been invited to explain their views on upcoming legislation. Omar Burleson, Charles Stenholm, and others have cooperated in this manner. Members were often urged to write their representatives and make their views known. In February 1963, "Dr. Webster presented a Legislative Newsletter prepared by the Medical Jurisprudence Committee, and stated that he will attempt to make this a monthly publication to keep the members informed on current legislation and government happenings that are pertinent to society members." Members of the Society often attend Public Hearings on proposed bills in the Texas Legislature.

Various Topics of Discussion

In 1965 Congress passed programs for Medicare and Medicaid to insure medical care for the indigent and the elderly. Medicare and Medicaid became frequent topics of discussion for the Medical Society. HMO's became a frequent topic of panel discussions, programs, and committees in the 1970's.

Drug Abuse was another important topic of the period. On April 7, 1970, Dr. Jake Barron stated to the Executive Committee he felt drug abuse was becoming a major health problem. He thought the Medical Society should "enter into a public information and service program to prevent and combat this problem. It was the consensus of opinion that we should involve ourselves as physicians in programs designed to help the youth fight drug use." In May, the Medical Society contributed funds toward the publicity for an outstanding speaker from California, Dr. Hardin Jones, who is an authority on drug abuse. The Society also sponsored a drug program during this period called "Mary Jane's Cop-Out."

In September 1977, Dr. Zane Travis "reported that he would like to see the Medical Society support an educational campaign to get the general public to use seat belts. He stated that he has discussed this with Hendrick Hospital personnel and they have agreed to keep statistics in the Emergency Room on whether or not accident victims were using the belts." With the Board's support, Dr. Travis began making plans for a campaign in the media. In October, it was announced that the ARN would feature an article on the use of seat belts as well as the use of helmets when riding motorcycles. "They will also publish a daily seat belt use/accident report from the emergency room."


A Special Awards dinner was held for Dr. W.V. Ramsey, Sr. and Dr. Erle Sellers in April 1967. Dr. Milford O. Rouse, president-elect of the American Medical Association, was the speaker. Dr. Ramsey was noted for bringing blood transfusions to West Texas and "for pioneering traveling physicians and surgeons in the areas where there were no hospitals. Dr. Sellers was noted as "truly a pioneer in allergy and internal diseases." Dr. Sellers' discovery "that mesquite trees could be toxic to those with allergies" was mentioned.

In December 1977, it was announced that Dr. Ralph M. McCleskey, Jr. won a Texas Medical Association scientific writing award. He was presented $250.00 and a certificate for his research papers by the Taylor-Jones County Medical Society. His papers were titled, "The Response of Left Ventricular Ejection Time to Inhalation of Amyl Nitrite in Patients with Mitral Valve Prolapse," and "Response of Left Ventricular Ejection Time to Amyl Nitrite Inhalation in Normal Male and Female Subjects." These appeared in "Texas Medicine", the Texas Medical Association's monthly journal.

In 1990, the Society established two awards to honor physicians. The Life Service Award was established to honor a member "who has given long years of service to a community or a community cause and without whom a real void would exist." The second award was called the Community Service Award. "The award honors a society member who has devoted a substantial amount of time, energy, and effort in community and charitable affairs, above and beyond the practice of medicine." Dr. J. Frank Cadenhead of Haskell was the first recipient of the Life Service Award presented in 1991. Dr. James Webster received the Community Service Award in 1992 and Dr. Pete Palasota was honored for his work in the community in 1999. The most prestigious award given by the Medical Society is the Gold-Headed Cane Award that was first presented in 1961. Information about the award and a list of past recipients may be found at the end of this history.

Public Relations

The Medical Society has tried to keep the public informed on health care issues and to explain its role to the public. Plans were reported in the minutes of March 11, 1958 to make the public aware of the society's activities, such as:

1. The Physicians' Call Service 2. Society grievance committee and its functions 3. Community services a. Available films and speakers for use by any group requesting this service b. County fair exhibit and first aid station c. Recommend an emergency ambulance service to be tax supported d. Support an active civil defense and disaster program

For some time radio was the primary device for informing the public. The Society sponsored radio broadcasts weekly, one on Monday and one on Saturday night. Later television was used. In March 1970, television programs were given on the Rubella Vaccine and on the birth control pill "with regard to recent furor caused by the congressional committee cancer scare about the pill." Dr. B.B. Trotter reported that a series of articles were prepared for the newspaper, as well as an article on insurance which would be beneficial to the public. Again in 1980, the Medical Society talked with the television stations to promote medical programs. KRBC agreed to do a monthly medical program and KTAB agreed to do several programs. Twenty-nine physicians volunteered to do radio programs on sixty-four different topics.

In 1981, the Pubic Relations Committee reported that noontime talk show programs are being held monthly with excellent response. In 1988, KTAB was recognized with a citation of merit by the Texas Medical Association Anson Jones Award Competition for the Video Health Fair. "The competition recognizes excellence in communicating health information to the public by Texas newspapers, radio and TV stations, and magazines."

In 1977, a publicity campaign pertained to the malpractice crisis. Television time was purchased for showing the film: "The Malpractice Insurance Crisis." Ads were purchased in the newspaper also.

Speakers' Bureau

Since speakers were often asked to speak on medical matters to various community organizations, a "speakers' bureau" was established by the Medical Society of effective speakers willing to participate. In 1968, a panel of doctors gave "a program on LSD and hallucinogenic drugs to the Abilene High School student body on February 29th." In March of 1970, speakers from the Medical Society were recruited to speak on drugs to the student body of Cooper High School.

Sponsoring Envelope of Life Project

In the 1970's, discussion was begun on the Envelope of Life Project. This program was a joint project with several other organizations. The Society solicited the help of several other organizations in the distribution of the forms. These forms were to be placed in churches, banks, doctors' offices, and senior citizens centers. "This would be an envelope containing a medical history form for each member of a family. The form would be filled out and placed in the family's refrigerator. The medical history would then be available to emergency personnel or family members when needed, and would be safe from loss or fire." This public relations program began July 24, 1979. Enough envelopes were distributed to supply one to every household in Abilene. The Medical Society paid up to $1,500 in support of this program.


Until quite recently advertising by physicians was questioned by organized medicine. Advertising by non-medical professionals was also scrutinized. The Taylor County Times of July 12, 1922 ran this letter to the public in response to some advertising by non-medical practitioners who claimed they had "the good will of the local members of the medical profession." The letter announced that such practitioners or "anyone elsewho practices medicine without the necessary fundamental training is in violation of the laws of Texas and do not have our good will." Chiropractors & masseurs were the targets of this letter. The minutes of August 8, 1958, state: "several physicians had deplored the unchallenged advertising of some M.D. and or M.D.'s , not members of the local society, in the local newspaper and with neon signs." No action was taken at this time.

In more recent years rules, which have been relaxed regarding advertising by physicians, are under the jurisdiction of the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners. Conclusion

TJHCMS has accomplished much for our community and surrounding counties in the twentieth century. Some of these accomplishments were mentioned in the recorded minutes of the Medical Society. Not all meetings were documented, however, and much of the documentation has been lost from the early period. Perhaps someday more information will be collected to help complete the history of the Medical Society.

Many far-sighted physicians, with the help and support of the Medical Society, have done much to improve medical care in the Big Country. Their goal, stated so simply and well by the long-range planning committee in the 1980's, was "to provide the highest quality medical care possible for our patients." Through the efforts of many, our area has become a well-known center for medical excellence. Compiled by Elanor Hoppe at the request of Dr. Austin King, President TJHCMS 1999-2000

Milestones in Treatment through the Twentieth Century

A few milestones in the development of modern medicine: Anesthesia


Linear accelerators

CT Scanners

Laser Surgery

Nuclear Medicine

First atomic pacemaker given to a 14-year-old boy on November 10, 1975 in Abilene.

"The first successful heart transplant in the nation was performed at the Texas Heart Institute" in 1968. The next year "in 1969, at the Texas Heart Institute, the first artificial heart was implanted as a bridge to cardiac transplantation."


The story of the Medical Society could not be complete without mentioning the development of various hospitals and the other health-care institutions in the area. Two Sanitariums were established in 1904 and both claimed to be "the first hospital to be established between Fort Worth and El Paso."

The Abilene Daily Reporter of August 27, 1904 announced: "A private institution for the treatment of medical and surgical diseases. Special arrangements have been made for the care of Obstetrical cases. The building is two stories, surrounded by a lawn of four acres, in the most healthful and best residence part of the city.

No expense has been spared to equip the operating room in every detail as the most modern of hospitals. This institution is supplied with a large Waite & Bartlett Twentieth Century Static machine and X-Ray apparatus, which has been in operation about one year, and the results have been eminently satisfactory both as a curative and diagnostic agency.

All reputable physicians are invited to send cases here, day or night, and have a complete charge of the case as they would in the private house of the patient. Physicians in or out of the city may send their cases to any of the physicians in Abilene they may select for medical or surgical care or they may have entire charge of the case themselves. The institution will be ready for the reception of patients October 15, 1904.

Respectfully, James M. Alexander, Physician and Surgeon in charge.

S.M. Alexander, Resident Physician"

The Alexander Sanitarium was established by Dr. James "Jim" Alexander in 1904. The hospital and nurse training school operated until 1934. Dr. Alexander had come to Abilene in 1889. He soon recognized the need for a hospital establishment in Taylor County, as did Dr. L. W. Hollis, Sr.

The Hollis Sanitarium was established by Dr. Hollis on the Southside between Chestnut and Oak and 9th and 11th streets. Dr. C. M. Cash joined the staff of this hospital in 1906. The Texas State Journal of Medicine called this "the first hospital to be established between Fort Worth and El Paso." The Alexander Sanitarium made the same claim.

Dr. Lawrence W. Hollis, Sr. arrive in Abilene in 1883, two years after Abilene was founded. His father, Dr. Thomas H. Hollis had been chief surgeon of the 13th Texas Division during the Civil War. Dr. L. W. Hollis, Sr. first practiced in Anson before moving to Abilene. According to some reports, he performed the first appendectomy operation in the United States in 1885.

Dr. L. W. Hollis was a charter member of the Medical Society in Abilene. He had two sons who became doctors: Dr. L. W. Hollis, Jr. and Dr. Scott Hollis. Dr. Scott Hollis graduated from Baylor School of Medicine in 1918 at the age of 23. At that time he was the youngest graduate in the history of the medical school. Dr. Scott Hollis was a charter member of the staff of Hendrick Hospital.

The Hollis Sanitarium was proud of its equipment which included '"the most perfect x-ray outfit that could be secured---a Wimhurst-Holt Static Machine and Sheidel Coil. It ran on city current and 'even in the dampest weathercan be implicitly relied upon at all times.''' The Sanitarium also boasted a home-like atmosphere "that was thought most conducive to healing." Hospitals: Hendrick Hospital officially opened September 15, 1924 as the West Texas Baptist Sanitarium. In 1976, Hendrick Memorial Hospital became Hendrick Medical Center. This complex is now known as Hendrick Health System.

St. Ann Hospital opened in June of 1940 at 1325 Cedar. This hospital, operated by the Catholic Church, closed in 1969. Cox Hospital opened in 1958 at 617 Cedar. This hospital was owned and operated by Dr. R. W. Varner until its closing in 1975. West Texas Medical Center began in 1968. After affiliation with Humana in 1971, this hospital became Humana Hospital. The name was changed to Humana Hospital-Abilene in 1984 when it opened on Antilley Road and U.S. 83-84. It is now known as Abilene Regional and is part of the Quorum group of hospitals. Haskell County Hospital opened in August of 1939 and is now known as Haskell Memorial Hospital.

Other Health Care Institutions:

Abilene State School The State Epileptic Colony opened on March 26, 1904, just weeks prior to the organization of the Medical Society. The Society's first president, Dr. T. B. Bass, became the Superintendent of the Colony from 1909 to 1943. The State Epileptic Colony, now called the Abilene State School, reported that in mid-October 1918, a flu epidemic killed seven in just a few days. However, a clerical error resulted in eight gravestones being erected in the colony's cemetery. That's why one gravestone, No. 303, was marked: "No one buried at this number. Was omitted by error.' (This story was published in the ARN Sunday Life, September 19, 1999.)

In 1925 the State Epileptic Colony became the Abilene State Hospital, "when the institution was expanded to include care for those suffering mental illness."

Taylor County Health Building In February 1956, the new Taylor County Health Building at South 19th and Santos was opened. Dr. Curzon Ferris became Director of the Health Unit, which operated there.

Medical Care Mission This institution was begun in 1983 as the Presbyterian Medical Care Mission. At that time the minimum patient fee was $5, and the purpose of the clinic was to fill gaps in medical services to low-income patients. In March of 1988, the Medical Care Mission had a patient load from twenty-five to forty a day. "Third year residents from Hendrick Medical Center Family Practice Residency Program work at the clinic every afternoon."

Minor Emergency Clinic In 1984, the Minor Emergency Clinic opened in Abilene. The first clinic of this type was opened at 3449 N. 10th St. This clinic was open seven days a week including holidays.

Health and Welfare Council The minutes of April 11, 1949 report a new organization in Abilene called the "Health and Welfare Council" whose purpose would be "to promote health and good hygiene in the community."

Anson Jones Memorial Medical Foundation

The Anson Jones Memorial Medical Foundation was formed by the Executive Committee of the Taylor-Jones-Haskell County Medical Society in the fall of 1974 for the purpose of improving the health of Big Country residents through education, communication, and community service. Membership includes physicians, other health professionals and interested laymen. This Foundation provides a forum for the input of ideas, a mechanism for collection and distribution of tax-free funds, and the professional expertise to convert both to improved health. This Foundation was organized exclusively for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes.

The Foundation's first efforts were in the direction of improved emergency care. The first project was to provide paramedical training for those first on the scene of an accident. Plans were made to continue such training at intervals along with physician training and public education on similar topics. It was the Anson Jones Memorial Medical Foundation that first introduced CPR training to Abilene by providing the necessary equipment and instructors. Over the years through educational grants, the Foundation has assisted many community organizations including the Boy Scouts, TJHCMS Medical Alliance, YWCA, Community Foundation, Mend-A-Child, and Noah Project.

The Gold Headed Cane Award

The practice of presenting a gold-headed cane to an outstanding physician can be traced back to London in the early 1600s.

According to Jarrett Williams's history "This award was instituted in Taylor-Jones-Haskell County Medical Society under the influence of Dr. Brown (of Fort Worth) through the joint efforts of Dr. V.H. Shoultz and the late Dr. Knox Pittard of Anson." Dr. Shoultz explained that the Gold-Headed Cane, which is framed and hangs in the office of the Medical Society, was a gift in honor of Dr. Knox Pittard. The gold head was found in an antique shop in New Orleans and was placed on an old cane.

The following lines were recorded in the minutes of the Medical Society: "The award is designed to pay tribute to outstanding members of the profession for their contributions, both to the profession and to the community, and to present to the public, in an inoffensive manner, the qualities needed to produce an outstanding physician."

This award has been given to the following: William T. Sadler, M.D. 1961 William B. Adamson, M.D. 1963 C. A. McFadden, M.D. 1965 Jarrett E. Williams, M.D. 1971 Richard B. Johns, M.D. 1973 Donald H. McDonald, M.D. 1975 Mack F. Bowyer, M.D. 1977 Travis Smith, M.D. 1979 Vardeman H. Shoultz, M.D. 1980 R. Lee Rode, M.D. 1981 L. J. Webster, M.D. 1984 Marshall Turnbull, M.D. 1987 George D. Thurman, M.D. 1990 Roy Willingham, M.D. 1994 B. J. Estes, M.D. 1997 Pete Palasota, M.D. 2001 George A. Dawson, M.D. 2004