Chalfant: Doctors’ event covers medicine and mirth
On Dec. 19, 1901, on one of the coldest nights recorded up to that time, the Pettis County Medical Society held a holiday banquet at the Fulton Market Restaurant that the Sedalia Democrat described as a “splendid success.” Although the bitterly cold weather kept several guests away, those who attended experienced a “royal good time.”
Dr. W.J. Ferguson, Dr. Ira Bronson, and Dr. J.H. Heller planned the program. Bronson served as toastmaster and introduced Gregg’s Orchestra, which provided music throughout the evening.
Dr. E.C. Evans described the Pettis County Medical Society, first organized in Sedalia in 1867, and Ferguson read an essay written by Dr. J.W. Trader, one of Sedalia’s early physicians, titled “Reminiscences of Medicine and Surgery in Pettis County during the Past Thirty-Five Years.” During Sedalia’s early years, members of the medical society met and determined the charges for various types of treatments as well as the cost of out-of-town and evening house calls.
Trader was a long-time member of the Missouri Medical Association, and frequently spoke at their meetings. After Ferguson read Trader’s essay, Dr. J.D. Griffith, a Kansas City physician and president of the Missouri Medical Association, moved that the essay be published in the group’s journal.
Several of the presentations involved aspects of a doctor’s day-to-day practice. Dr. McNeil spoke about billing in a speech the Democrat called “interesting.” Dr. H.B. Cole gave a short talk about the physician’s relations to the community. Dr. Overstreet, “at his best,” presented a serious yet humorous talk titled “The Young Doctor — His Trials and Tribulations.”
Dr. W.H. Evans discussed the relations between the doctor and the pharmacist, an interesting topic at a time when drugstores competed directly for patients by selling a variety of patent medicines that many people preferred to use instead of visiting the doctor. Physicians also were concerned that drugstores sold over the counter many dangerous concoctions made up of opium, morphine, cocaine or cannabis in a base that was mostly alcohol, as well as substances whose sole purpose was to induce abortions in pregnant women.
Dr. Yancey, the chief surgeon at the Katy Railroad Hospital, was not originally on the program, but briefly discussed the issues relevant to treating railroad employees, especially those who had been injured on the job.
Dr. Dunlap spoke on the advantages of medical societies. He was followed by the major presentation of the evening, a “splendid talk” on “Associations, County, District, State, and National.” During the speech, he praised the Pettis County Medical Society as one of the oldest in the state. He also complimented early Sedalia physicians, Drs. Montgomery, Small, Priest and Crawford. The Democrat described his comments as “beautiful and well-received.”
Restaurateur Peter Pehl catered the event, serving an unusual menu of blue point oysters on the half-shell, pickles, celery, chicken salad, roast turkey, smoked beef tongue, boiled ham and potato salad. Coffee, Rhine wine and champagne accompanied the meal.
After dinner, the doctors continued the festivities by telling stories about their experiences. Drs. Henry Evans, Cole, Overstreet, Yancey, Ed Evans, Bronson and Griffith told some “good ones,” humorous and possibly just a bit exaggerated.
The Democrat noted that “good cheer was provided and everybody was happy” after the event.
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