Kiss of the Red Scorpion

Medical Men of Ray’s Mill
Dr. Gordon DeVane

"The striped scorpion (Centruroides hentzi) is a sandhill / coastal plain species.  They are occassionally found in homes and cabins but their favored habitat is under bark of either alive or dead long-leaf pines and slash pine.  They can hide under bark that is quite flat to the tree and thus are not frequently seen..."   -  http://gregsnaturalhistory.com/729/scorpions-of-georgia/

“The striped scorpion (Centruroides hentzi) is a sandhill / coastal plain species. They are occasionally found in homes and cabins but their favored habitat is under bark of either alive or dead long-leaf pines and slash pine. They can hide under bark that is quite flat to the tree and thus are not frequently seen…” – http://gregsnaturalhistory.com/729/scorpions-of-georgia/

Although a fairly common species of the Wiregrass piney woods,  scorpions are rarely seen by most Georgians. But as a young man living a hundred years ago in the Connells Mill district of Berrien County, GA, Gordon DeVane came face to face with one of the critters.

Tifton Gazette
September 27, 1907 Pg 7

While at Pleasant church Sunday, Mr. Gordon DeVane was bitten on the lip by a red scorpion.  His lip swelled considerable and he had to seek medical attention.  Mr. DeVane was tying his horse to a tree when attacked by the scorpion. – Adel News.

James Gordon DeVane stung by red scorpion, 1907.

James Gordon DeVane stung by red scorpion, 1907.

Naturalist Greg Greer has photographed and written about the scorpions of Georgia at http://gregsnaturalhistory.com/729/scorpions-of-georgia/  He identifies the scorpion common to the area of Ray City and Pleasant Church as the striped scorpion, Centruroides hentzi.  Not a deadly scorpion, but still, who wants to get stung on the lip?

Born May 10, 1886, James Gordon DeVane was a son of  Mary Elmina Morris (1866 – 1918)   and James Patrick DeVane (1863 – 1945).  The DeVanes made their home in the Connells Mill District GMD 1329, at a farm on the Cecil-Milltown road.  The father, “Patrick” DeVane was a farmer, and owned his place free and clear of mortgage. The census of 1900 shows that “Gordon” DeVane was “at school.”  Later records attest that he attended the Sparks Collegiate Institute at Adel, GA.

Sparks Collegiate Institute, Adel, GA, circa 1904.

Sparks Collegiate Institute, Adel, GA, circa 1904.

According to the Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929  James Gordon Devane was educated in Adel at the Sparks Institute before attending the Atlanta School of Medicine. Was it that scorpion’s kiss that inspired him to study medicine?

The Atlanta School of Medicine was  formally opened in October 1905, merged with the  Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1913, and became a part of Emory University in 1915.  At the Atlanta School of Medicine, Gordon DeVane may have been a classmate of Ray City doctor George H. Folsom  who attended the medical college sometime between 1906 and 1910.

Gordon DeVane graduated from the medical school in 1911 and was subsequently licensed to practice medicine in Georgia and Florida. But at the time of the Census of 1910 Gordon DeVane had returned to the Connell’s Mill District GMD 1329 where he was enumerated in the household of his parents, Patrick and Elmina DeVane. Perhaps in anticipation of his graduation, he gave his profession as “physician” and his occupation as “general practice.”

In 1911 Gordon DeVane married Lottie Bell Patilla or Patills, of Atlanta, and for a while the couple made their home in Winter Garden, FL where Dr. Devane engaged in general practice. But about 1914, Dr. DeVane moved back to Berrien County  to practice medicine in Nashville and Adel, GA.

When James Gordon DeVane registered for the draft for World War I in 1918, he  gave his permanent home address as Adel, Berrien County, GA.  He was 32 years old, medium height and build, with blue eyes and brown hair.

Like other Berrien County physicians, Dr. DeVane was called to serve. Dr. F.M. Burkhalter was sent to Fort Oglethorpe, then to France with the American Expeditionary Force.  Dr. Lawson Rentz went to Camp Wheeler, then to the Embarkation Service in New Jersey. Dr. Guy Selman was sent to Camp Jackson, SC.  On Dr. DeVane’s  registration card there was a note: “Has been commissioned and accepted as First Lieutenant, Medical Reserve Corps.”

Gordon DeVane, WWI Draft Registration

Gordon DeVane, WWI Draft Registration

Although the war ended before Dr. DeVane was deployed to Europe, he would fight his final battle  on the home front. The Spanish Flu epidemic that killed so many soldiers was not sparing their families.

The most deadly epidemic to ever strike the United States occurred in 1918. As America prepared for war, a soldier at an Army fort in Kansas reported to the base hospital with flu-like symptoms. There, he was diagnosed as having a strain of flu that was called Spanish Influenza (since it was erroneously believed the strain had originated in Spain). Before the year was out, 675,000 Americans would die from the flu — more than the total of all Americans to die in all wars in the 20th century. The 1918 strain of flu created not just an epidemic — but a global pandemic causing 25,000,000 deaths. In the U.S., the epidemic’s worst month October, when almost 200,000 Americans died from the virus. October 1918 was also the month the flu epidemic hit Georgia…  – http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/1918flu.htm

The same papers that carried news of the October 1918 sinking of the HMS Otranto also reported the flu epidemic at home…

Thomasville Times Enterprise, October 12, 1918 reports spread of Spanish Flu epidemic.

Thomasville Times Enterprise, October 12, 1918 reports spread of Spanish Flu epidemic.

As the epidemic reached its peak entire families in Berrien County were stricken.  Along with other medical authorities Dr. DeVane did his best to respond to the crisis.

CENNTENNIAL EDITION – THE ADEL NEWS
Adel, Georgia

April 22, 1973

Dr. James Gordon DeVane

     Dr. James Gordon DeVane was a general practitioner in the years 1917-1918.  The son of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick DeVane of Berrien County, he was born in 1886.
     He was a graduate of Southern College of Medicine and Surgery in Atlanta.  He married Miss Lottie Bell Patills of Atlanta in 1911.  They had 2 children, Mrs. Margaret (Jack) Parrish, and James G. Devane.
     Before coming to Adel, Dr. DeVane practiced in Winter Garden, Florida, and in Nashville, Georgia. Preparations had been made for his entering World War I when the Armistice was signed.
     When Adel was hit by the “flu” epidemic in November, 1918, he administered and cared for his stricken patients – entire families in some cases.  Nearing collapse, he brought prescriptions in to the drug store for his patients and went home for his first night’s rest in several days.  Within 24 hours the young doctor died — a victim of the terrible epidemic.

http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/cook/bios/devane.txt

Grave of Dr. James Gordon DeVane, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave of Dr. James Gordon DeVane, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

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3 Comments

  1. Bill Outlaw said,

    January 27, 2013 at 9:43 am

    What a story! (I can personally attest that having a Southern Devil under a shirt will speed its removal. Not a powerful sting, but more than noticeable.)

    • January 28, 2013 at 12:22 am

      Bill, I’ve seen these scorpions in the woods, even in a vacation cabin last summer, but so far I’ve avoided the up close and personal experience. Hadn’t heard the term Southern Devil before. Thanks for all of your comments.

      Jon

  2. Bryan Harvester said,

    September 28, 2016 at 7:34 am

    how is he administering to others in Nov 1918 if he died in Oct 1918?


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