Doctors Made $5 House Calls In Samuel Williams' Day (5th In A Series)

Friday, February 22, 2019 - by John Wilson

Doctors made $5 house calls in Chattanooga's early days, according to the Samuel Williams papers that were discovered in an old downtown building last March.

Of course, $5 was a considerable sum in those days.

When Samuel's brother and close business partner, George W. Williams, was gravely ill in early August, 1842, he was attended at the home place by Dr. William Morrow.

Dr. Morrow was one of the surgeons to the volunteer troops who gathered at Ross's Landing in the late1830s for the removal of the Cherokees. He also treated the injuries and ailments of the native Americans who were being forced from their beloved homeland.

There is a notation of a visit by Dr. Morrow to G.W. Williams on Aug. 8, 1842. George had started out on a cattle drive and had become very ill almost immediately. He returned to the home place and lay there in his bed. Dr. Morrow's charge was $5.

Then there was this notation: "Aug. 9, 1842, George W. Williams to Dr. Milo Smith for visit in night. Medicine, etc. $6. Consultation with Drs. Morrow and Thornton $5. Mrs. George Williams to Dr. M. Smith."

G.W. Williams died that night at the Williams manor. He was just 33 years old.

Dr. Milo Smith was a beloved physician in Chattanooga's early days, and he was the city's mayor
in three different decades. Milo Smith, who was the same age as Samuel Williams, had gone to Philadelphia to study medicine. He had "a great deal of information on almost every subject pertaining to matters Biblical and historical, but especially physic.'' His was the leading medical practice, but he seemed almost unconcerned about whether or not he was paid. Dr. Smith was so well liked by the community that several babies were named in his honor.

Milo Smith had gone down river from Rhea County to the new Ross's Landing settlement where his
sister, Eliza, had moved with her husband, Capt. John P. Long. From the commissioners who laid out and were selling off Chattanooga lots, he purchased lot 38 on Poplar Street for $220 in 1840.
He wound up selling this lot and building on lot 42 nearby. At the time of the Indian removal, both Dr. Smith and his father worked with the government. In this capacity, Dr. Smith made several trips between Ross's Landing and the Indian Territory with the Cherokees. Dr. Smith was one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church at Chattanooga.

There are also these notations of doctor visits in the Williams papers:

1842. Oct. 26. Visit to negro child. $2.

1843. Jan. 7. Oil spike. .50. 1845. Three visits to negro boy and medicine. $2 per visit. Received full payment of Samuel Williams. Sept. 3, 1845.  

Sept. 2 visit son in night. Medicine, etc. $6.

Sept. 3. Visit to Pleasant. Catharic $2.50.

Sept. 4. Visit to Pleasant. Medicine, etc. $2.

Sept. 16. Visit to Jinny. Medicine, etc. $2.50.

Nov. 26. Visit to Calvin. Vial and urine, liniment, etc. $4.  

Dec. 15 Visit to Calvin, Jordan and Jack and medicine. $5. 

March 31, 1844. Extract tooth for self. $5.

May 23, 1845. Visit son when snake bit. $5.

Pleasant and Calvin were the two sons of the late George W. Williams Jr.

Others mentioned were Williams slaves.

* * *

The links to the Williams papers on Sam Hall's website are here.

 


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