Home History Q&A Early Harrison physician known for generosity, charitability

Early Harrison physician known for generosity, charitability

Published on May 18, 2012 by in History Q&A
Question: We enjoy reading about early Boone County residents, their professions and the homes they occupied. Please continue this in forthcoming columns.
Answer: This week’s column will tell of the life of Dr. A. J. Vance, early Harrison physician. Asbury Johnson Vance was born near Rally Hill, 12 miles east of Harrison, in 1856. With the exception of a few months spent in Lead Hill and Fort Smith, Dr. Vance made Harrison his home his entire life. He was one of eight children, had a common school education, taught school at the age of eighteen, and by age 20 had saved enough money to go to medical college.
Dr. Vance’s office was located near the City Drug Store, but he was widely known for his care of patients in their homes. He stood by many a bedside, ready to offer a healing hand, sympathy and compassion. He kept abreast of the newest science in medicine and surgery by attending post graduate courses at Tulane in New Orleans and Mayo Brothers on Rochester, Minnesota.
In April of 1882, Dr. Vance reported 35 cases of smallpox in Boone and Marion counties. In an earlier column, the story of the smallpox epidemic was the subject for the week. Of the 30 people who were vaccinated, 16 died and the Arkansas Gazette reported that even attending the funeral of those who had died was very dangerous.
Dr. Vance was a member of the Tri-County Medical Society with many receptions being held in his elegant home for this group of physicians made up of Drs. Bolton, Cardwell, Moore, Poynor, Potts, Frailey, Routh, Kirby Evans, Sims, Johnson, Ruble, Stephens, Vance and others.
Home of Dr. A. J. Vance. Respected physician Dr. A. J. Vance lived in this residence in Boone County.
In 1900, nine local women met in the Vance home to organize the Women’s Book Club, the organization that led to the establishment of a local library. Both Dr. Vance and his wife, Lulu, were active members of the Methodist Church South, with Dr. Vance holding official positions. At the time of his death, he was a church steward and a member of the building committee for the new church.
In April of 1912, Dr. Vance became violently ill and on the advice of close friends and local physicians, he was taken to St. Louis for care. During an operation, he was stricken with apoplexy (rupture of a blood vessel in the brain) and died without pain and without regaining consciousness. Doctors later told Mrs. Vance that pathology reports indicated that had he recovered from the surgery, his life would have been full of suffering and pain.
Dr. Vance was a big hearted man – hospitable, generous and charitable, with many good deeds never known. You can read more about Dr. A. J. Vance in the Vol. 2, No. 4, 1980 issue of the Boone County Historian, available at the Boone County Heritage Museum. Located on the corner of South Cherry Street and Central Avenue, the museum is now observing winter hours and is open only on Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
This column appears Fridays in the Harrison Daily Times. Mail questions to Boone County Heritage Museum, P. O. Box 1094, Harrison, AR 72601. Marilyn Smith can be contacted at bchm@windstream.net
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