Who was the First Veterinarian in Newton County?
By Jonnie Miller
Arthur A. Miller was reared and educated in Newton, finishing high school in 1930. He attended John Tarleton College and Texas A&M University with a degree in Entomology. He worked for the federal government in Texas and Oklahoma fighting grasshoppers then was sent to the Mexican border as a cattle inspector.
He went back to A&M for his Veterinary Degree and graduated in 1942. He was inducted into the army as a first lieutenant and served in the European Theatre. He returned home wounded two years later and put out his shingle as a veterinarian in Newton County. He also married Adele Buchanan from Saratoga.
His first office was a one-room building next to his home on the Burkeville Highway. Most of his patients had to be treated where they lived. Cats and dogs ran wild on the streets of Newton and very few people were interested in having them vaccinated. Vaccinations for rabies were usually at designated places throughout the area but turnout was very poor until a severe outbreak in the 1950s. Many dogs and even a cow went mad. During his life Dr. Miller had to take the Pasteur treatment for rabies three times, a painful series of 12 shots in the stomach.
Dr. Miller had many stories of his "doctoring" adventures with which he entertained his various friends and relatives.
Horses, cows and mules were his principal patients when he began practice and many of the "contraptions" he used in his early practice are now considered objects of amusement. Antibiotics were unheard of but in 1943 penicillin became available to veterinarians for $20 a dose. Seven years later it was available for $0.04 a dose. Syringes and needles were stainless steel and had to be sterilized by boiling after each use.
Dr. Miller had cattle of his own in the beginning but when the price of cattle dropped drastically, he was forced to sell out. With his family growing (3 boys and 2 girls), he had to leave his beloved Newton and move to Jasper to make a living. However, he continued to serve Newton County people.
Later, as he became financially able, he established a scholarship for Newton High School graduating seniors to attend Texas A&M University. At one time he claimed he had a child in every university in the southwest conference. He also gave the photography laboratory to the Historical Commission and served as a History Commission volunteer.
Arthur A. Miller Jr., the man we lovingly called "Uncle Arthur" died October 18, 2000 one month and 2 days before his 88th birthday.