Guy Stokely Selman and Betsey Lurine “Bessie” Cheney

Guy Stokely Selman and  Betsey Lurine “Bessie” Cheney

Guy Stokely Selman, born October 24, 1886 was a son of Joseph Landrum Selman and Nannie L. Abercrombie of Douglasville, GA.  In the early 1900s, the Selmans came to have connections with Ray City and Nashville in Berrien County, GA.

Guy Selman’s father was a doctor, and the family had many social connections with other physicians.  As Guy grew up and completed school, he and his siblings were influenced by this exposure.  The Selmans were staunch Democrats; Guy’s father, as well as his uncles James H. Selman and Thomas Hurt Selman, were Douglas County representatives to the state Democratic Convention in 1906.

Society items from the Atlanta Constitution show the mix of  Guy Selman, his brothers, sisters, cousins and classmates with the doctors and social set of Atlanta. A spring social in 1902  in honor of his sister, Bessie Selman, was attended by Guy and also by his brother Paul Selman.  Another guest of the party was his soon-to-be  brother-in-law, Dr. Foster Pierce Key:

The Atlanta Constitution
April 13, 1902

Miss Camp Entertains.

Miss Jessie Camp delightfully entertained a number of her friends last evening in honor of her guests, Miss Bessie Selman and Miss Coburn Morris, of Douglasville, at her home on Mitchell Street.     During the evening delicious refreshments were served.     The invited guests were Misses Annie Kate Bondurant, Bessie Selman, Ida Sewell, Birdie Dunlop, Coburn Morris, Bessie Northen, Annie Lou Keown, Edith Thomas, Maggie Dunlop, Alice McLauchlin, Daisy Brown, Clifford Layfield, Tenine Aderholt, May Layfield, and Beatrice Anderson and Messrs. F.P. Key, M. O. Colston, A. F. Campbell, Clevland Kiser, Emmet Harding, Paul Selman, Frank Hanle, D. H. Camp, Morris Askew, E. W. Livingston, John Keown, Charlie Wheeler, Guy Selman, John Camp, Loy Campbell, A.T. Dunlap, John Knight, Willie Selman, J. J. Barger, Irvin Barge, and Joe Keown.

In 1903 Guy’s sister, Bessie Velma Selman, married Dr. Foster Pierce Key and moved with her husband to Nashville, GA .  Guy Selman continued his social networking, while attending Mercer University.

The Atlanta Constitution
August 15, 1905

HOUSE PARTY AT CAMPBELLTON.

Campbellton, Ga.  August 14. – (Special.)  A delightful house party has been in progress at the country home of Missess Sue Ola and Carrie Henley, at Campbellton.  Those present were Mrs. R. B. Marsh and Mrs. E. A. Moore, of Atlanta; Misses Mattie Lee and Nettie Burton, of Smithville; Miss Mamie Little, of Carnesville, and Miss Elizabeth Marsh, of Atlanta; Messrs. Tom Selman, Emmet Marding and Dr. J. W. Whitley, of Atlanta; R. L. Henley, of Campbellton; Furman Bullard, J. A. Johnstone and Dr. E. A. Smith, of Palmetto;  B. H. Bomar, Guy Selman and Sanford Abercrumbie, of Douglasville.

When Bessie Selman Key died in 1907, Dr. F. P. Key continued to live in Nashville for a while, boarding with Jonathan Perry Knight and his family. In 1911 he remarried and moved to Atlanta.

After graduating from Mercer University in 1905, Guy Selman entered the Atlanta Medical College.  He must have been a good student, for he completed the four year program in only three years, graduating on April 22, 1908. (Other Ray City alumni of Atlanta Medical College include Dr. John Thomas Clower, 1862)

Guy S. Selman graduated from Atlanta Medical College

Guy S. Selman graduated from Atlanta Medical College

Shortly after graduation from Medical School, young Dr. Selman came to Ray’s Mill to enter practice.  The town, on the verge of municipal incorporation,  was being formed by the likes of Dr. Charles X. Jones, who served as its first elected Mayor.  It was situated on the route of the new Georgia & Florida Railroad, and the headlines of a local booster article  read “Ray’s Mill has Arrived.”

From the Atlanta Georgian and News, Jul. 5, 1909 — page 6, comes the following Society item:

Miss Nannie Love Selman has returned home [to Douglasville] after spending several weeks with her brother, Dr. Guy Selman, at Rays Mill, Ga. 

Dr. Guy Selman was one of the first medical doctors in the town of Ray’s Mill, GA .  He set up his office in H.H. Knight’s  old mercantile store which stood on Pauline Avenue. Dr. Selman was one of the men named to serve as city councilmen for the newly incorporated Ray City until the first elections were held on January 10, 1910.

Did Dr. Selman step out of the office and on to the diamond? Maybe. In the summer of 1909, the man on the mound for the Ray City baseball team was pitcher ‘Sellman’. But more information is needed on that point.

bat

On April 14, 1910 Guy Selman and Betsey Lurine “Bessie” Cheney were married in Lowndes County, GA.   The bride, 23 years old, was a daughter of Patrick Mell Cheney, of Valdosta, GA.  Her father was a former school teacher from Penfield, GA who entered the insurance business in Valdosta. The groom, young doctor Selman, was  24 years old, of medium height with a stout build, brown eyes and dark hair.  The marriage ceremony was performed by  John E. Barnard  who was pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Valdosta, and  President of Oaklawn Baptist Academy, Lakeland, GA.

Betsey Lurine “Bessie” Cheney married Dr. Guy Selman

Betsey Lurine “Bessie” Cheney married Dr. Guy Selman

In the 1910 Census, Guy S. Selman was listed as a physician practicing out of his own office.  He and  Bessie were boarding  with Austin Bridges in a house on Jones Street;  Mr. Bridges was a dry goods merchant working on his own account.

The Selman’s were prominent citizens and continued on the social of Ray City, Nashville, and Atlanta.  Mrs. Selman was a member of the Nashville Womans Club.

nashville womans club shower 1915

Nashville Womans Club Shower, 1915

In 1912, The Georgia annual : a compendium of useful information about Georgia : needed by every business and professional man in the state. A.B. Caldwell, Atlanta, Ga. listed Selman as one of three doctors in Ray City, the other two being Dr. Charles X. Jones and Dr. Manning G. Scherrer.

It appears from society page announcements in the Atlanta newspapers that the Selmans relocated from Ray City to Nashville, GA in the spring of 1912.

Atlanta Constitution
July 14, 1912

NASHVILLE, GA
A very enjoyable entertainment was given by Mrs. Guy Selman in compliment to Miss Ruth Selman, of Douglasville.  “Fishing for Love” and “Wink” were played.  Cream and wafers were served. Those present were Misses Clarice Askew, Ina Askew, Myrtle Tyson, Nettie Snead, Jewel Giddens, Ruth Selman, Tyson Fitch, Thelma Knight, and Miss Britt;  Messers. James Stephens, Noble Hull, Dewey Knight, Willie Peeples, Bob Hendricks, Dan Buie, Wallar Wood, Jessie Fitch, Maston Avera and Hobart Alexander.

The Atlanta Constitution
July 21, 1912

NASHVILLE, GA
Miss Ruth Selman, of Douglasville, who has been visiting her brother Dr. Guy Selman, has returned home….Miss Louise Cheney, of Valdosta, who has been the guest of her sister, Mrs. Guy Selman, has returned home.

By 1915, Dr. Guy Selman was exercising leadership of the Berrien County Medical Society:

Atlanta Constitution
January 15, 1915

Berrien County Physicians.

Nashville, Ga., January 15. – (Special.)  The Berrien County Medical society held its monthly session here Friday night.  Dr. G. S. Selman was elected president; Dr. Lacy Lovett, vice president, and Dr. D. E. Carter, secretary and treasurer.

The Medical Association of Georgia places Dr. Selman at Nashville in 1917, along with Dr. William Carl Rentz; the Ray City doctors at the time were Dr. Francis Marion Burkhalter and Dr. Lawson S. Rentz.

With America’s entry into World War I, the medical men of Ray City, GA were called into service, along with many other men of Berrien County. 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. Gordon DeVane was  busy treating the victims of Spanish Influenza at home in Berrien County; he was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corp, but died before he was deployed.

The June 8, 1918 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association included updates on the Medical Mobilization for World War I and the Orders to Officers of Medical Reserve Corps. The Honor Roll of physicians who had applied for or accepted commissions included Dr. Guy Selman:

To Camp Jackson, Columbia, S.C., for duty, Lieut. Guy S. Selman, Douglasville, GA

WWI service record of Guy S. Selman

WWI service record of Guy S. Selman

Dr. Selman was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the Medical Corps on May 27, 1918. He was stationed at Camp Jackson, SC. By the time Lieutenant Selman, M.D. arrived at Camp Jackson, more than 42,000 men had reported there and more than 1,500 buildings had been constructed.  The base hospital was a medical complex,  with more than 80 buildings covering 12-15 acres of land.  There were 32 hospital wards adequate for the treatment of 1,000 patients.  The  hospital was staffed by about 450 men and nurses.  Selman was one of the fifty doctors and dentists assigned to the group.

That September, 200 cases of “Spanish Influenza” suddenly struck Camp Jackson.  The Spanish Flu quickly spread through the camp, infecting more than 5,000 people.   At Camp Jackson alone there were 300 deaths from the disease.   No doubt, Dr. Guy Selman played his part in treating the stricken soldiers of Camp Jackson.

1918 military hospital ward filled with

1918 military hospital ward filled with “Spanish Flu” cases.

The Spanish Flu of 1918-19 was the worst epidemic in history,  killing  over 600,000 Americans and over 40 million people world-wide. A little children’s rhyme attributed to popular comedian Joe Cawthorn appeared in print by October, 1918,  making light of the death that touched everyone:

I had a little bird,
And its name was Enza.
I opened the cage,
And in flew enza.

A month later, November 11, 1918 the Armistice ending WWI  was signed.  Lieutenant Selman’s  service at Camp Jackson continued another two month until his discharge came through January 8, 1919.  After the war, Dr. Selman and Dr. Rentz returned to Berrien County.  Dr. Burkhalter died in France of Lobar Pneumonia, probably induced by the Spanish Flu, as was Dr. DeVane’s death in October, 1918.  Many other  Ray City men were Veterans of World War I,  some gave their lives (Armistice Day Memorial to Soldiers from Berrien County, GA Killed During WWI).

As a veteran of stateside service Selman would have worn silver chevrons on the left cuff of his Army uniform denoting service on American soil. Gold chevrons were for men who saw foreign soil, worn on the left cuff to denote overseas service, or on the right to indicate a wound or gassing received in combat.  For many who did stateside service the Silver stripes instead of gold became a badge of shame.

In the 1920 census, Guy Selman continued his medical practice in Nashville, GA. His wife was teaching  public school. They were boarding with Jesse D. Louetie. Another boarder was Barnert Hall, Clerk of the Superior Court.

Some time after 1920 the Selmans moved to Florida. In 1928 Dr. Selman was elected president of the Seminole County Medical Society, Seminole County, FL.

1922 home of Dr. Guy Selman, Sanford, FL

1922 home of Dr. Guy Selman, Sanford, FL
Built in 1922, this Colonial Revival house was originally owned by Dr. G.S. Selman. There are “eyelash” dormers on both the house and garage. Read more: The Sanford Herald http://mysanfordherald.com/bookmark/691026

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John Thomas Clower, Doctor of Ray’s Mill

As mentioned in the previous post, Witchy Women and Wiregrass Medicine, John Thomas Clower was one of the early Medical Men of Ray’s Mill, GA (now Ray City). He practiced medicine in the Ray’s Mill community from  about 1870 until 1887.

John T. Clower was born May 13, 1830 in Gwinnett County, GA, the first born child of Daniel Pentacost Clower and Parthenia Carter Brandon. His grandfather, Daniel Clower, “was born in Germany, July 18, 1762, immigrated to America as a youth, and fought with the colonists in their struggle for independence.” Both his parents died in 1845; he and his siblings were raised by an uncle, Joseph Brandon. Some time before 1860, he came to Berrien County, GA and was enumerated in the household of another uncle William Brandon, where he worked as an overseer.  In 1861 he attended Atlanta Medical College, graduating in 1862.

In December, 1869 about the time he returned to Rays Mill, he married “Delusky Ann Brogdon, who was born in Gwinnett county, Georgia, on March 7, 1849, a daughter of Hope J. Brogdon.”  The 1870 Census of the Ray’s Mill District shows that he was a physician with $125 in real estate and $425 in personal property. His neighbors were Thomas J. Brantley and William R. Brandon.

The community of Ray’s Mill proper, such as it was at the time, was situated on Land Lot 424, 10th Land District,  a block of 490 acres. The Berrien county property tax digest for 1878 shows Dr. Clower owned 12 acres in the  Rays Mill  community on Land Lot 424, valued at $125, and $150 in household belongings, $235 in livestock, and $20 in books and tools. His “town” neighbors on Lot 424 included Jonathan D. Knight and  John G. Knight. Additional portions of Lot 424 were held in the estate of Thomas M. Ray.

 

John T. Clower is listed in the 1886 Medical and Surgical Directory of the United States as the physician in Rays Mill, GA.

 Harden, William. 1913. A history of Savannah and south Georgia, Volume II, Illustrated. Chicago and New York. p. 937-939

 “John Thomas Clower, M. D., the eldest child of the household, was born in Gwinnett county, in Georgia, May 13, 1830. He availed himself of every opportunity afforded him for the acquiring of an education while young, and subsequently went to Bartow county, Georgia, as an overseer on the plantation of his uncle, Thomas Brandon. Then, after working at the carpenter trade for a short time, he entered the Atlanta Medical College, from which he was graduated just as the war between the states was declared. Immediately enlisting as a soldier, he was made second lieutenant of his company, which was attached to Major Laden’s Battalion, in the Ninth Georgia Regiment, and with his command joined the Western army. Later Dr. Clower was appointed surgeon, and was with the army in its many campaigns and battles until the last of the conflict.”

 “Locating in Gwinnett county when he returned to Georgia, Dr. Clower was there engaged in the practice of medicine until 1870. The next seventeen years he practiced at Rays Mill, Berrien county, Georgia, from there coming to Brooks county in 1887. Buying a plantation in the Morven district, he carried on farming in connection with his professional work, becoming noted both as an agriculturist, and as a physician of skill and ability, and continuing thus until his death, March 12, 1893.”

“Dr. Clower was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal church South, to which Mrs. Clower also belongs, and for a number of years served as a member of the county school board. Mrs. Clower has never forgotten the art of spinning and weaving which she learned as a girl, but occasionally gets out her wheel and spins the yarn which she later knits into stockings. The doctor and Mrs. Clower reared three sons, namely: John P., R. Jackson and W. L. Pierce Clower.”

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Witchy Women and Wiregrass Medicine

Among the earliest trained medical men at Ray’s Mill was John Thomas Clower (1830-1893), the son of a Revolutionary Soldier who immigrated from Germany to fight for American independence. A graduate of Atlanta Medical College, John Thomas Clower, served as a military surgeon during the Civil War. Afterwards he came to Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA where he practiced medicine in this community from 1870 until 1887.

There were the Medical Men of Ray’s Mill, and there were the home remedies. Ray City had its faith healers, too. In the 1930, one such healer was Stella Wright ~ Seeress of Ray City, GA.

In the earliest pioneer days of Wiregrass Georgia, medical science was little known, and the people depended more on home remedies and faith than doctors.  In 1922, Warren Preston Ward, of Douglas, GA wrote a series of sketches of early Wiregrass Georgia, and among these was a narrative on medical practices of the early pioneers:

Another thing that entered very largely in the economic life of the people was the question of sickness, medicine and the doctor.  There were no doctors in this section of Georgia when it was first settled, for the reason that there were not enough people to support a doctor; but in every neighborhood there was always someone who knew how to give such medicine and plain remedies as were used at that time.  Among the common remedies then in use were oil and turpentine, for colds; red oak bark as an astringent; elderberry bark as a purgative and an astringent.  The wise ones said scrape the bark down for a purgative and scrape the bark up for an astringent.  For cuts and to stop blood, use cobweb; that is spider webs hanging about the walls covered with smut.  Sweet gum and mullen was used for fevers, pepper tea was used for colds; for sprains, use a mixture of clay and vinegar; for stings, use tobacco; for snake bite, use whisky or poultice made of salt, tobacco and onions; for pneumonia, bleed the person during the first stages; for burns, use the white of an egg mixed with flour;  many people thought that fire could be talked out and there were always many old witchy women ready to talk it out; warts, moles and cancers were conjured (whatever that means). Sage, thyme and rosemary were given by nearly all the people and were used for teas.  Another peculiar remedy was for the hives; the remedy was for any person who had never seen their father to blow their breath in the child’s face and the hives would leave right now, so it was said.
     In these good old days old Uncle Stafford Davis was a celebrated cancer doctor of the conjure kind.  People came to see him for hundreds of miles.  They also wrote him letters for his absent treatment.  Many people thought he was gifted from God.  The old man did not charge anything for his services, if you had anything to give him he accepted it with thanks.  He lived to be 106 years old and died soon after the civil war.  Before his death he undertook to transfer his gift of healing to his grandson, Joseph Ward.  Some of the first doctors to practice in this section [Appling] of Georgia were Doctors Rambo and Smith; old man William Ward also done a little homespun practice.  Dr. C.G.B.W. Parker did a large practice, but people relied mainly upon their home remedies and upon advice of the men and women in the neighborhood who had experience in giving medicine and in nursing the sick.

About 1815 calomel came into general use among the common people.  Many persons got salivated and were afraid to use it.  But sure as you called a doctor he used calomel.  If it salivated, so much the better in some cases. During this time of hot discussion, pro and con, some one expressed his disgust at the use of calomel in these lines-

“Mr. Wade was taken sick,
Go, call a doctor and be quick,
The doctor comes and remembers well
To bring a bottle of calomel.

“He turns to the patient’s wife,
Have you a clean paper and a knife?
I think your husband would do well
To take a dose of calomel.

“The patient grows worse quite fast indeed,
Go call a council and make speed:
The council comes, and remembers well
To double the dose of calomel.

“The patient says to his weeping wife:
This nasty thing has got my life.
I bid you all a long farewell,
Let me do so without the use of calomel.”

    One of the sad features of sickness and death in these old days was that each family often had to doctor and nurse their own sick, and when they died they had to make their own pine-board coffin and put them away in their last resting place, often with no friend to offer a word of sympathy, or a minister of the gospel to offer a word of prayer or to point sad hearts to the better day and better time when they should all meet again in the morning of the resurrection.

During the “Age of Heroic Medicine” (1780–1850), educated professional physicians practiced aggressive techniques including bloodletting, intestinal purging (calomel), vomiting (tartar emetic), profuse sweating (diaphoretics) and blistering, stressing already weakened bodies.  Heroic medicine was strongly advocated by Benjamin Rush (1745–1813), trained in medicine at Edinburgh University and one of the “fathers” of American medicine, who also signed the American Declaration of Independence.  While well-intentioned, and often well-accepted by the medical community, these treatments were actually harmful to the patient.

Calomel, a compound of Mercurous Chloride, became a popular remedy for a variety of physical and mental ailments during the age of “heroic medicine.” It was used by doctors in America throughout the 18th century, and during the revolution, to remove “impurities” from the body. Calomel was given to patients as a purgative or cathartic and was often administered to patients in such great quantities that their hair and teeth fell out, along with other horrific side effects.  One characteristic effect appeared in the well-known phenomenon of mercurial salivation –  a profuse flow of saliva in the body’s effort to rid itself of the deadly a poison.  For many patients the cure of Calomel was suffering and death resulting from mercurial poisoning.

According to Steve Spakov, Loyola University, “It is toxic and its toxicity is compounded because mercury accumulates as a poison. It acts as a purgative and kills bacteria (and also does irreversible damage to their human hosts). Some treatments are of historical interest. The three physicians atttending Gen. Washington’s final hours administered calomel to the dying President. Lewis and Clark carried it on their expedition and used it to treat their men’s STD’s. Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women) suffered from its effects.

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