Benton County

Dr. Millard McFarland Smith

Dr. Smith was born September 15, 1851 at Sugar Tree, Benton County TN, Died October 4, 1908 and is buried at Whiteville TN. When three years of age he went with his parents to Friendship, TN and there grew to manhood. As a child, he developed a high sense of doing startling things too numerous to mention. Exploring the bottom of a large sixty foot well, by going down the ladder fastened to the curbing; climbing on top of a two story house his father was building just as soon as he thought he had the field to himself; just such unheard of things seemed to obsess him.

When he was 16 his father presented him with a horse. While his parents were absent at the funeral of a friend, he decided this was a good time for him to go abroad and explore some of the world. First he visited relatives in Benton County, thence to Henderson County. His finances getting low, he sold his horse. When he had spent his money, he taught school in the rural district near his uncle's home for about three months. Facing as stern a reality as a country school somehow brought the boy to himself. By this time his wanderlust was nearly satisfied. Homesick and with no funds, he walked 50 miles to get back home. He received a cordial welcome. He was given new raiment and a place in his father's office, for by this time he was really ready to go to work and do something worthwhile. He asked his father what he wanted him to do. His father replied "Study medicine". This was the beginning of a long, useful and successful career.

He received his first training under his father, who was a successful physician and who had a great deal of experience. He later attended Medical college at Louisville KY and Cincinnati, graduating from the Miami Med. College before he was 20 years of age. He became a skille dsurgeon in later years. He made a specialty of obstetrical work. The night was never to cold, he was never too tired, the patient never too poor, neither did the color matter. After graduating he located at Cedar Chapel, Hardeman Co TN. The wanderlust was still in him. In 1874 he moved to Oak Hill TN, back to Cedar Chapel, thence to Friendship, where for a season he was associated with his father in general practice. In 1878 he returned to Cedar Chapel where he remained until 1900 when he moved to Whiteville, Hardeman Co TN.

Early in the game he grew a heavy beard. This was a satisfaction to some as he seemed older. Of course he made mistakes,many of them, but if there is such a thing as a man being born with every instinct of his profession born with him, this man was turly a born physician. Fortunately Millard Smith fell in love with his wife early in life. He needed just this influence, this wonderful faith that she placed in him, the confidence she gave him in himself and the rare love that only she knew how to bestow. To him, he had never seen a fairer woman than Alice Hinkle. She was the very essence of sweetness, gentleness, kindness.

He was not bold in the affiars of the heart. He told her of his love; he wrote her of it. But after he had placed the case before her, he did not cease his pleadings until, at two o'clock in the morning, she told him if he would go home she would marry him. In those days it was common in the cities and rural areas to have the "Family Doctor". Dr. Smith was frequently called from the little town of Whiteville to a nearby city, MEmphis, as a consulting physician in difficult cases. Had he located in a city, he would have had, perhaps a better known name and a wider reputation, but nowhere could he have done more good or created a greater appreciation and love than he did by remaining in the smaller places and ministering to all classes at all times.

Periodically a certain old lady woudl become ill. It was a habit. No physician would she nave save dr. Smith. On one occassion her family thought she was really going to die. Dr. Smith lived 13 miles distant. An aged, reputable physician lived a few doors away. They begged her to allow him to come but she refused. A messanger was sent only to find that Dr. Smith was absent and would not return for several days. She insisted that they go to the nearest telegraph station and wire for him. This they did. He answered her call. Looking up at him, with tears in her eyes, she said; "Doctor Smith, I knew you would come. I knew the Lord would spare me until you did come." She recovered. In 1900 his practice had grown to such an extent that it was impossible for him to take care of it. About this time, an account of the severe strain, his health began to fail. Even his friends noticed the difference in him, physically. Knowing the seriousness of his condition, and being daily importuned by his wife to save himself by going less, he tried to cut down his practice. It was then that he decided to move from the little village of Cedar Chapel to Whiteville TN, a small town of about 500 inhabitants, about 50 miles from Memphis. Dr. Smith was not unknown to these people, since he had frequently been among them in consultation with other doctors. Soon he had a thriving little practice here. In the meantime his old patients were clamoring for him and he could not say No to them. Thus we see that his life was ever a life of service, given over to alleviating suffering without thought of material gain.

Although not a close collector, his family was always well provided for. They suffered for none of the necessities of life. His children, unlike most children reared int he country, did practically no farm work. They were kept in school usually ten months in the year. In middle life and until failing health Dr. Smith weighed about 200 pounds and was about five' 9" tall. He had a massive head with a high forehead. His face was of the Roman type, with clearcut features and a skin like a womans. WIth shoulders thrown back, ever erect and commanding personage he was a Lord Chesterfield in manners, a magnetic personality. He was the best story teller in Hardeman County - his fund of humor was inexhaustible. He was a Mason, also belonged to the Odd Fellows and took quite an interest in both of these organizatins. For many yuletides he was the Community Santa Claus. For personal reasons he and his wife decided to have their own tree in their home. He still played the Santa, taking part and entering into the spirit of it just as one of the children, aided and abetted by his wife. He never grew to old to love the mystery that always pervaded Christmas.

Although not belonging to any church, he had a creed and belief. He attended services in the different churches as long as he lived. He had a great reverence and respect for all religions. Soon after moving to Whiteville his devoted wife, to whom he ascribes whatever success he might hae had, died. After this he plunged deeply into his work. In a few years his health gave down completely and for two years before his death he was an invalid. He died at Whiteville, Hardeman County TN. Octobe 4, 1908 and was buried at Melrose Cemetery beside his wife.

From the Family tree book : Genealogical and Biographical - Relatives of General William Alexander Smith and of W. Thomas Smith Evansville, Ind.?: W.T. Smith, 1922?, 310 pgs.