DOCTORS
Henderson County TN
Excerpts from History of Scotts Hill by Gordon Turner

Dr. Tavner Rogers (often signed "Tav" or just "T" Rogers), was another local physician. He was born at Middleburg in 1862 to Tavner and Mary Jane Owens Rogers. His father, a Baptist preacher, was in the Union army during the Civil War as were two of his uncles. The younger Tav Rogers attended the old University of Tennessee Medical School. Between sessions and lectures, he practiced around Shady Hill and Middleburg. He was awarded an M.D. degree on March 22, 1894. Rogers had practiced around here some under the careful eyes of Dr. W.B. Keeton, likely his Preceptor. Dr. Rogers married Martha Frances ("Mattie") McCollum of Shady Hill in 1888. Soon after his graduation, they moved here into a residence on the site of the home of the late A. Clayton Tarlton, now owned by the Bud Hefners. When that house burned, they moved into a dog-trot house across the street.

Only two of the six Rogers children reached maturity: Barney L., a Veterans Administration official who married Eula Martin, now a retired teacher living at Bath Springs; and Hettie Rogers (Mrs. Leo) Barry, now of Athens, Ala. For a better location, Dr. Rogers, in 1905 "began to try" to move to Decaturville. He was in and out of here so much however, that it was 1907 or later when he finally "got moved." Patients declared that his heart never left Scotts Hill; anyway, Dr. and Mrs. Rogers are buried in the Scotts Hill Cemetery. Dr. Tav. Rogers was a horse and buggy doctor if there ever was one. He worked closely with Dr. W.B. Keeton. Even after Dr. Keeton moved to Medina in 1917, though Dr. Rogers called Decaturville his home, he returned to see patients all around here, working closely with a still-later doctor, Robt. L. Wylie. With no "cutting doctor" near here, Dr. Rogers by study and practice, developed into a highly successful surgeon. Of necessity he often used crude equipment and methods. Changing reluctantly he said, from horses to automobiles, he nearly always took a folding operating table and extra surgical equipment and medicines, just in case!

Those cases came more and more, with Dr. Wylie ordinarily his anesthetist. They would tackle, as a last chance, almost impossible surgery. Through the years however, their wins dwarfed their losses. Quite a few of their patients live around here yet and probably would declare that those good doctors saved their lives. An unbelievable surgery case took place here more than a half century ago. The buxom young lady was "at the point of death," when Dr. Wylie called for Dr. Rogers to come help him. The diagnosis was quick - appendicitis far along and requiring immediate surgery. The night was near-zero cold but neighbor men had a big log fire in the fireplace. The humble little house had only a large living-bed room with kitchen facilities in a side room. Dr. Rogers had but part of his instruments and the dining table was covered with quilts on which the patient was laid. Dr. Wylie took charge of the chloroform and with a dozen or more neighbor women eager to help - more so to see - the operation began. Actually using a butcher knife partly, Dr. Rogers made the opening quickly and then said to Dr. Wylie, "Doc, just lookie here!" The appendix was as red as a firecracker, completely sluffed off the bowel, bursted and with gangrene widely spread. What the un-licensed practical nurses said can't be quoted here. But the diagnosis was super-right. The doctors agreed that the case was hopeless, but did what any good doctors would do - cleaned out the appendix area and "sewed up the patient to die." That's not all however. The cavity had been such a mess that Dr. Rogers had actually pulled out much of her "insides" and rolled them over into a dishpan. He declared later that the bowel was "plum cold" when he replaced it!

As usual, the doctors remained briefly to watch any unusual reaction. They tried to console the family and neighbors but said frankly that in their opinion the patient would not live through the night. Then they left but the good neighbors stayed on. Some prayed. But Lo and behold! Next morning, the patient was awake if groggy. She asked for food and was given broth which she relished. Attendants declared that the girl actually raised up on one elbow as she took the nourishment. Within a few days she was walking about the house. A week still later, she seemed almost as stout as ever. The whole thing was all but miraculous - or was it? Dr. Wylie's wife, Mazie (my sister) had gone with him on that case to help out in any possibly way. She said later that she would never again believe in such a thing as a germ! That patient is alive and well today. Of course she remembers little about that awful night, but she later heard it talked about so much that she verifys the story.

Dr. Rogers was a civic leader and a 60-year Baptist and Mason. He was once honored as The Physician of the Year but to many people he was "The Physician of Many Years." He continued practice until near his 90th birthday. He died in 1952, and is buried beside his wife in the Scotts Hill Cemetery. Dr. Rogers' popularity became such that in 1947 the people of Decatur and Henderson counties planned a giant "Dr. Rogers Day" to be staged at Decaturville. Labor Day was the day. From a special reviewing stand on the square, the happy doctor with family members, area notables, a U.S. Senator and Congressman, and two Governors (current and past) watched for an hour as 3000 of his "babies" marched by led by the high school band. Heading the parade was Judge Eph Kennedy, first "baby" delivered by Dr. Rogers in the early 1890's. A two-weeks old baby, the last he had delivered, was rolled along behind in a baby cart! After outside activities, a small proportion of the big crowd jammed into the Decaturville movie house where the "speakin and rousement" took place. Attorney James England (now Circuit Judge) was master of ceremonies with a dozen able assistants, including Cleo Spense, R.L. Haney and others. Dr. Rogers sat spell-bound to hear the accolades of the great and the small and to receive a car-load of gifts. He was by now almost too full for words but not for food. A special luncheon had been arranged for the doctor's family, intimate friends and the notable guests. But to Dr. Rogers great regret, tables were set but for just one hundred. The grand finale came in the afternoon when those not too tired saw a football game between the Parsons and Decaturville High Schools. I was present to speak briefly and to write the story for the Nashville Tennesseans. Toward night Dr. Rogers said that was The End Of a Perfect Day!

AUSTIN, Dr. William Taylor [1883-1968]. The third of nine children born to Charles William and Eliza Ann Duck Austin. A second generation from pioneer settlers, he attended Scotts Hill College and later graduated with an M.D. Degree at University of Tennessee's Medical College. He married Geneva Echlin. Dr. Will practiced at Cordova, Tenn., with hitches at Western State Hospital (Bolivar) and in N. Car. He practiced briefly with Dr. R.L. Wylie here but hardly enough to be counted a local medic. Dr. Will and his wife are deceased. Several children live mostly in mid-state. A son, Dr. W. Darrell Austin, is a member of a well-known clinic in Greenville, Miss.

LOWERY, Dr. Robert, was surely an eccentric if there ever was one. Born in Ireland in 1812, he emigrated to S. Carolina from whose university Medical College he earned an M.D. Degree in 1831 at age 19. He was the youngest in his class and rated 7th best. His thesis was on Typhus Fever.

The Irishman somehow settled for practice, farming and slave-trading, nearer Saltillo where he acquired big land holdings. The Henderson Co. 1850 Census lists him as a farmer-physician with 15 slaves. By 1860 he is shown with 30 slaves some of whom, if reports are true, were his own children by slave girls. He controlled 640 acres of land before he died Oct. 5, 1872 but was bankrupt. His total assets did not cover all his debts including much to Saltillo merchants.

No record has been found of Dr. Lowery's medical practice except possibly among his slaves and neighbors. He was preeminently a slave-holder and farmer. It is to be doubted that he was as cruel to his slaves as reports had it. When I was a lad however, oldest citizens here said he was known for his stern mastery and ruled by brute force when any slave got out of hand. The doctor was buried among the slaves of whom he was master, some 8 miles S-E of Scotts Hill in the long-deserted Lowery (or "Old Negro") Graveyard.

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