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

Dr. Folsom ~ Warrior Doctor

Dr. George Hill Folsom had family connections and was well known in Ray City and Berrien County, GA for more than 50 years.  He came to live in Berrien County some time prior to 1929, and established a home in Ray City where he engaged in general practice as one of the Medical Men of Ray’s Mill.

Dr. George Hill Folsom lived in Ray City, GA in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Dr. George Hill Folsom lived in Ray City, GA in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

George Hill Folsom was born July 26, 1877 in Colquitt County Georgia, a son of Randall Nathaniel Folsom and Mary E. Marchant.  George Hill Folsom could trace his ancestry back to William Folsom (ca 1745-1785), “who assisted in establishing independence while acting in the capacity of Lieutenant in the Georgia Line.” Lieutenant William Folsom is thought to be a native of Virgina who later moved to Georgia where he lived  and died in Burke County.

At age 3, George Hill Folsom was enumerated in the town of Warrior, Colquitt County, GA where his father was engaged in farming.

On April 7, 1903 George H. Folsom married Mattie Laura Brown in Pinopolis, Colquitt County, GA.  Her parents, Eliza Catherine Hancock and Simon Peter Brown, were also from Colquitt County, but had relocated to the 1487th district in Berrien County some time before 1900.

It is said that George H. Folsom  attended the Atlanta School of Medicine. If so, he would have studied there sometime between 1906 and 1910.

The Atlanta School of Medicine was  formally opened in October 1905, and became a part of Emory University in 1913.

It appears that  Mattie Folsom continued to live with her parents while George was away at medical school, for the couple’s   first child, Bessie Viola Folsom, was born on March 11, 1905 at Milltown, GA (now Lakeland). A second daughter, Susie Mae Folsom, was born at Ray City, GA on June 13, 1908.

After receiving a medical degree, Dr. George H. Folsom returned to his birthplace.  In the Census of 1910, he is enumerated on May 2, 1910 with his wife and daughters in Warrior, Colquitt County, GA where he was employed in general medical practice.  Although Mattie’s parents had also relocated back to Colquitt County by this time, the Folsoms must have retained a place or family connections near Ray City, for on December 11, 1910 this is where their first son, Ernest William Folsom, was delivered. A second son, George Jr. was born at Lakeland in 1913, followed by a daughter delivered at Valdosta in 1915.

By 1917, Dr. Folsom had moved his family to  Ellenton, GA where he engaged in general practice on his own account.  The Folsoms lived in a house on Baker Street, which Dr. Folsom owned free and clear.

It was while living in Ellenton that George Hill Folsom registered for the draft for World War I.  At 40 years of age, he was described as tall and stout, with dark hair and blue eyes. He was not called to serve in the war.

Dr. George Hill Folsom, wife Mattie and the children.

Dr. George Hill Folsom, wife Mattie and the children.

The Folsom’s final two children were both born in Valdosta, GA; Elmer  A. Folsom, born July 9, 1919 and Elton Brown Folsom, born March 6, 1924.

In 1928, Dr. Folsom’s daughter, Susie Mae Folsom, married Joseph Edward Boyett in Nashville, GA.  Apparently by at least 1929, the rest of the G.H. Folsom family had moved to Berrien, this time to Ray City, GA.  Dr. Folsom served on the 1929 Board  of Trustees for Ray City School.  He was one of the business men who endorsed the establishment of the Ray City News newspaper.

The Census of 1930 found the Folsom family living in town in Ray City. Dr. Folsom owned one of the finest homes in town, valued at $3000.  Mrs. Folsom kept house while their daughter, Bessie Folsom, was a grammar school teacher. The rest of the children were not employed and presumably were engaged in studies.  The family neighbors were H. C. Hutchison and the widow Mary J. Fountain.

By 1934, the Folsoms moved to Lakeland, Lanier County, GA where Dr. Folsom continued his medical practice.  A notice from the 1934 Lanier County News puts the financial outlook of the medical profession in the 1930s into perspective:

Notice to Public: To Whom It May Concern:  By mutual agreement the following charges will be made for our services effective immediately: Office Calls, $1.00. Local Calls, $1.50. Out of Town Calls 50 cents per mile. $1.00 extra charge will be made for night calls, both local and out of town. Obstetrics, $25.00 cash, or $30.00 on time, with $10.00 cash payment. Dr.  Louis Smith, Dr. G.H. Folsom.

By the 1940 census, George and Mattie Folsom had moved to Lakeland where they were living on Church Street. Still living in the Folsom household were the doctor’s adult children, Bessie, Ernest, Elmer, and 16-year-old Brownie. The Folsoms owned a home valued at $5000.

Income data from the 1940 census paints an interesting picture of relative wages of the time. The good doctor was drawing an annual income of $1000 for his 70 hour work week.  Bessie was working as a school teacher with an income of $540. Ernest Folsom, a road inspector for the Highway Dept, was drawing the highest wages, at $1200.

Dr. Folsom’s wife,Mattie Laura Brown, died November 8, 1947.  Dr. Folsom continued to live in Lakeland until his death January 17, 1963.

Children of Mattie Laura Brown and George Hill Folsom:

  1. Bessie Viola Folsom, born March 11, 1905, Lakeland, GA
  2. Susie Mae Folsom, born June 13, 1908, Ray City, GA RFD
  3. Ernest William Folsom, born December 11, 1910, Ray City, GA
  4. George Hill Folsom, Jr., born July 8, 1913, Lakeland, GA
  5. Katie Louise Folsom, born September 20, 1915, Valdosta, GA
  6. Elmer  A. Folsom, born July 9, 1919, Valdosta, GA
  7. Elton Brown Folsom, born March 6, 1924, Valdosta, GA

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