Early Physicians of Chambers County, Texas
By Kevin Ladd
Dr. James P. Alford
One of the more influential figures in the Old River-Winfree community [western Chambers County] during the Nineteenth Century was Dr. James P. Alford. A man of some mystery, Alford was born sometime around 1813 to 1815, but his state of birth has been listed variously as Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina. The 1850 census of Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana shows him as a single man and a merchant by profession. He was living in the Old River area by December 1856 when he traveled to the courthouse in Liberty and registered his cattle brand with County Clerk Philip K. Smith. Alford quickly acquired 1,176 acres of land in the Robert Wiseman Survey. Few records exist relative to his medical practice in West Chambers County, save for census records which referred to him as a physician. Alford operated a farm and produced cotton, molasses and timber for markets in Galveston. He also owned a schooner, which he named the Minerva after his youngest daughter.
During the early 1870s, Peter Almeras of Galveston and Lewis G. Guertin of Liberty established a brickyard at Old River, which was known as the Almeras Brick Yard. Almeras gave Dr. Alford power of attorney over his interests including the authority to deliver and sell brick from the brick yard. Many other prominent men with property in the Old River area had similar power of attorney arrangements with Dr. Alford.
His first wife was named Mary, and the late Lucile (Reeves) Barber indicated she was named Mary Carmon. They had four children: Elizabeth, who married Emory Rheaume; Mary, who married Jim Harmon; Margaret, who married Barney Tullar; and Minerva Alford. He married second in 1858 at West Liberty to Margaret Harmon of Lake Charles, LA. They had one child, Virginia, who married Mumford "Tupps" Reeves.
He was a longtime member of the historic Cedar Bayou Masonic Lodge. The two-story lodge meeting hall, constructed there in 1876, still stands on property adjacent to the Cedar Bayou United Methodist Church and the Cedar Crest Cemetery in Baytown. Dr. Alford died at his home on Old River on Dec. 12, 1880 and was buried in the Reeves Cemetery at Old River-Winfree.
Dr. Edward G. Hartman II
Among the early physicians of this county, Dr. Edward George Hartman II stands out for several reasons. He was born in Baden, Germany, where his father, of that same name, was a man of some learning. The elder Hartman graduated from Heidelberg University, and saw to it that both of his two sons, our subject and his brother Ferdinand, were educated there as well. Sometime after the death of his wife, along about 1823, the elder Hartman moved to New Orleans with his sons. Here he established a drug store and a home in the Elysian Fields section of the Crescent City. The younger Edward was associated with his father's drug store business and was ever afterward known as "Dr. Hartman.' The other brother, Ferdinand, was a musician and manager of a local music store that remained in operation there for many years.
Charles E. Roos, a descendant of Dr. Hartman, said family tradition claims the father and sons came to New Orleans to combat an outbreak of Yellow Fever that was prevalent there at that time. Roos said Hartman was engaged primarily in medical research but was drawn to Texas in the mid-1830s because of the spirit of revolution prevalent there at the time. He indicated that both the elder Hartman and Ferdinand died during another outbreak of Yellow Fever. His whereabouts in Texas are less than clear, but family tradition holds that he left Texas briefly in 1849 to go out west to California and engage in the gold rush. A ring, said to be made of California gold, still belongs to a family member.
Hartman eventually purchased land at Old River from Robert Wiseman in 1853 and settled there with his family. Their homesite became known as Hartman's Landing. He was married first to Frances Schmidt, with whom they had six children: Rebecca, Louisa, Uriah, Edward George III, Mary, Willie and Robert. Mrs. Frances Hartman died eleven months after the birth of Robert, the only child to be born in Texas.
Hartman was married a second time to Emily Matilda Crane of Galveston. They had one child, a son named Frank, who died as an infant. Dr. Hartman located in Galveston eventually and died there in a yellow fever outbreak in 1867. The Hartman children remained at Old River, the older siblings taking care of the younger ones.
Dr. Henry B. Griffith
Another physician in the Western part of Chambers County, Dr Henry Bankhead Griffith was the son of Henry and Amelia (Barrow) Griffith. He was born in 1836 at Old River and enlisted in the Confederate Army at Liberty on March 8, 1862, mustering in to Company F of the Fifth Regiment, Texas Volunteers. This was a military unit known as "The Liberty Invincibles" and commanded by Capt. King Bryan. He and his comrades were engaged in fierce fighting, and Griffith was slightly wounded at the battle of Second Manassas. During the time he was in the service, Griffith was a saddler by profession. After the war ended, he returned home and served as sheriff of Chambers County from 1865 to 1868. In addition to these public duties, Griffith also served as an early merchant and postmaster in the Old River area. His role as a medi-cal practitioner seems to have been more of a self taught nature. He was married first to Rebecca Ann Hartman, daughter of Dr. Edward G. Hartman. They had nine children: Edward Amos, Wilmeth Ann, Armilda, Charles, Uriah, Nancy Rebecca Ann, and Susan. After the death of his first wife, Griffith married secondly to Lorena Williams, a daughter of Dr. Solomon Williams. They had two children: Bubba and Kate. Dr. Henry B. Griffith died of influenza on March 17, 1922. He is buried in the second Icet Family Cemetery at Cove.
Dr. John U. Raymond
One of the more popular doctors to locate in the town of Wallisville, Dr. John Underwood Raymond was born on June 16, 1850 in Indiana. He was one of seven children to grace the household of Rev. Charles Harvey Raymond and his wife Mary Jane Underwood. His father led a truly unusual life, coming to the Republic of Texas from New York and enlisting in the army. After military service, the father served in the Texian Congress but eventually became an Ad Interim Charge d' Affairs between Texas and the United States. This put him in Washington, DC from 1844 to 1846, and it was there in 1844 that the elder Raymond married Miss Mary Jane Underwood. After a brief stint in Texas, the young couple made their home in the vicinity of Indianapolis, Indiana. On one level these biographical facts about Dr. Raymond's father might seem of little consequence in writing a sketch of the son, but these places all materialize again in Dr. Raymond's own life. These places were clearly important to Dr. John U. Raymond.
The first reference to Dr. Raymond in Chambers County can be found in the 1880 census. He appears on the census as a resident of Wallisville. He is listed as a married man, but there is no listing for any family in the house-hold. Records from the Chambers County District Court tell us a few more facts. Raymond was married on April 15, 1870 to his first wife, Clara Belle Smalley. They soon had three children: Leslie Ingle, Walter Smalley and Harriet Scripture Raymond. Their marriage became increasingly difficult for Dr. Raymond, and he filed for divorce here on December 29, 1880. After all of the legal proceedings were completed, the divorce was granted on March 9, 1881.
Dr. Raymond was married second to Miss Susan Irene LaFour on August 4, 1881 at Wallisville. She was a daughter of Joseph and Martha (Barrow) LaFour. The Raymonds were the parents of ten children: Mabel, Virginia, Eugenia Underwood, Stella Irene, Mary Jane (May), LaFour Landry, Ruby, Esther Louise, Mildred Searle and Julian Erskine.
Soon after his arrival at Wallisville, the good doctor built an impressive cottage and quickly set up a thriving medical practice in the thriving town.
Some letters and documents in the files of the Wallisville Heritage Park shed some light on Dr. Raymond. When T. J. Shelton and Lizzie Mayes were married in early 1883, the prospective couple approached Dr. Raymond with the idea of having him conduct the wedding service.
There is another letter from T. J. Shelton to Lizzie, written on January 6, 1884, inquiring if Dr. Raymond was "still holding the Office of County Judge." As his name does not appear on any list of county judges for Chambers County, it is presumed that he was temporarily filling the office.
It is not known how long John U. Raymond and his family lived in Wallisville, but they appear to have moved to California sometime around late 1887. A Dr. John Underwood Raymond graduated from Howard University's Medical School in 1888.
The Raymonds were living in Cedarvale, California in May 1893, when their daughter Ruby was born. By October of that same year, how-ever, Dr. Raymond accepted a position with the medical division of the U.S. Pension Bureau, and the family was living in Washington, D.C. They made their home at 1224 Euclid in the northwest quadrant of the city.
Dr. Raymond passed away there in May 1914. His wife, Susan Irene, lived on another twenty-four years, passing away on March 3, 1938.
Anyone with any additional information on these gentlemen should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org