For the next few weeks I am going to provide tributes to some of the health care workers in 1918. Undoubtedly there were people besides physicians who provided health care during the Spanish Flu Pandemic but I only have the names of the doctors in Laurel County. When I looked at the death certificates in 1918 I was surprised to find more than 20 doctors servicing the county. I had not even expected to find 10. Some of these men lived in adjoining counties but provided medical services to people living near the county line.

According to those 1918 death certificates the following physicians attended patients in Laurel County: James A. Acton, William T. Amyx, Thomas Jefferson Ballard, George Simeon Brock, Oscar Daniel Brock, Ellis Dalton Browning, Pascal Edmund Bryant, T. P. Coldwell, James W. Crook, B. J. Edwards, James T. Hale, William H. Joyner, William Johnson, J. T. Nix, John Gilmore Owsley, G. H. Payne, J. H./W. Parker, Henry V. Pennington, John I. Smith, John L. Stillings, Malcolm B. Tuller, Robert G. Webb and Mack Whitis.

I am going to try to provide biographical sketches for each of these physicians. At this time I have not found any information on Dr. James A. Acton. I have found a James A. Acton living in Pulaski County but census reports do not list him as a doctor.

Dr. William T. Amyx was born in Clay County in approximately 1868 to George and Charlotte Chesnut Amyx. In 1920 he lived in Livingston with his wife Lizzie and son Thomas Clifford age 10. He died November 15, 1930, in Fayette County of pulmonary tuberculosis. [Sources: death certificate and 1920 census report.]

Dr. Thomas Jefferson Ballard was born February 4, 1877 (1877 on tombstone, 1878 on WW 1 Draft registration, 1879 on WW2 Draft registration) in Newcomb, Tennessee to Reuben Thompson and Hannah Broyles Ballard. Between the 1880 and 1900 census reports his family moved to Williamsburg, Kentucky. He married Corrinne Lee Chandler December 23, 1909, in Corbin, Whitley County. His residence and office were located on 1st Street and Kentucky Avenue in Corbin. They had a son named Thomas N. who was born August 31, 1911, and had died by the 1920 census. Dr. Ballard died November 30, 1948, in Whitley County. He is buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Corbin.

Dr. George Simeon Brock was born January 24, 1874, in Knox County, Kentucky to James M. and Mary Rowland Brock. (His obituary says he was born in the Bush section of Laurel County.) The family lived in the McHargue area of the county. He married Nancy Fouts on February 2, 1910. According to census reports they lived on Whitley Street in London. I found no record of any children. He was a deacon and active member of London Baptist Church. He was also a Mason. According to his obituary “he was known by almost everyone in Laurel county and was one of our most beloved citizens. His ever present humor and pleasant manner relieved the anxiety of many of his patients before his medicine could show effects. He was Laurel County Health officer for more than thirty years, and during the World War was a captain in the medical corps of the U. S. Army.” He died of a heart attack on March 6, 1941, and was buried in A. R. Dyche Memorial Cemetery. [Sources: obituary and census reports]

Dr. Oscar Daniel Brock was born November 30, 1882, in Laurel County to Daniel and Mary Lucas Brock. He began his medical practice in London in 1911. The following year on June 20th he married Lottie Loveless of New Albany, Indiana. They had one daughter named Virginia and a son named Daniel Ragan who died as an infant. Dr. Brock was the mayor of London for eight years beginning January 1, 1940. He was also past president of the London Kiwanis Club. He died November 15, 1948, from injuries received in a car accident as he was returning home from a house call. He was laid to rest in A. R. Dyche Memorial Cemetery beside his wife Lottie who had died 4 months earlier. [Sources: Obituary printed in the November 18, 1948 issue of The Sentinel Echo and birth record of his son]

Dr. Ellis Dalton Browning was born March 28, 1874, in Indiana. His parents were George and Sarah J. Browning. In 1880 they lived in Liberty Indiana. He married Lula M. Birt September 16, 1899, in Tipton County, Indiana. By 1910 he was divorced and living with his brother William and mother Sarah in Tipton. By 1920 he had moved to the Keavy community and was married to Myrtie E. Jones. Their children were Ruby A., James Edgar, Ruth B., Violet, and Iva. They also had a daughter who was stillborn in 1912 when they lived in Keavy. By 1930 they had moved to Pulaski County where he lived till his death on April 2, 1955. Dr. Browning is buried at Mount Victory Christian Church Cemetery in Pulaski County. [Sources: WW 1 Draft card, census reports, Indiana marriage records, Find-A-Grave, death records]

Dr. Paschal Edmund Bryant was born June 15, 1870, the third child of William Thomas and Virginia Anderson Bryant. The family resided in the Raccoon community of Laurel County. He attended Georgetown College and went to medical school in Louisville where he graduated in the early 1900’s. He returned to practice in London and for many years his office was on the second floor of the Catching Building. He also maintained an office at his home on Manchester Street. He married Evie Bowling. Their two daughters were Mabel and Virginia “Jenny”. He died around Christmas in 1923 and is buried in A. R. Dyche Memorial Cemetery. [Source: October 18, 1984, “Traces of Laurel” column written by his niece Mary Bryant Vicroy]

Due to COVID-19 and the age and health of the volunteers our library is currently closed. We will notify you when we decided to reopen. We will try to schedule individual appointments. Masks will be required. You may contact us through e-mail at The first letter is a lower case l as in Laurel. You may also call the Laurel County Historical Society at 606-864-0607 and leave a message. We plan to periodically check messages and hopefully respond to them in a timely fashion.

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