Thurmon Pioneer Family

A Family of Doctors
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"Is there a doctor in the house? There probably was if you were visiting one of the Thurmon households in Pike County in the late 1800's or early l900's. Four sons and two grandsons of William Henry Thurmon were all educated in the medical profession, four of then remaining in the area to serve their neighbors, while the other two eventually removed to Boston and St. Louis. How Pike County became the beneficiary of this unusual family went briefly, like this.

In Bedford Co Virginia in 1796 David Thurmon married Susannah Leftwich, herself from an illustrious Revolutionary War era family. Of their thirteen children, Thomas Leftwich Thurmon was b. 1799 in Franklin Co VA and at the age of about 20 joined in the than westward movement into Kentucky where he was married to Millie Black. They later resided in Montgomery Co TN for a number of years where the 4th of their nine children, William H., was born 28 Feb 1829.

Thomas brought his family to Pike Co IL around 1841 where he remained until his death in March 1862. He was later joined in Pike Co by a brother, James Austin Thurmon, and a sister, Charlotte, who had married John Hatcher in Virginia. A total of 28 children were born to these three families, many of whom remained in Pike Co and the surrounding area, including William Henry Thurmon.

William became a successful farmer, his land being located on section 22 of Montezuma Township. He and his wife, the former Lucy L. Smith, whom he married in August of 1852, were parents devoted to the proper raising and education of their children, of which there were ten, one dying in infancy. Four of the other nine were to become doctors thanks to the labors and sacrifices of the parents.

DOCTOR NUMBER ONE

William H. and Lucy Thurmon, both active workers in the Christian Church, were the kind of parents any child would want. Their first child, b. 25 July 1853, in Pike Co, was CHARLES EDWARD THURMON. His growing years were spent as were his father's, that is working in the fields and obtaining an education in the Pike Co area schools. At age 20, Charles (C.E.) obtained a certificate to teach school and spent the following ten years at that profession in the Pike Co schools. He began studying medicine under the instruction of Dr. Evan Scott, of Time, while still teaching,, and later attended the Missouri Medical College in St. Louis from which he graduated in the class of 1885.

Dr. C.E. Thurmon than set up practice in Pearl IL where he also operated a drug store for 6 1/2 years. At the end of this time he moved to Milton IL where he devoted his entire time to the practice of medicine, acquiring a large patronage. In addition to his large private practice, Dr. Thurmon served as company surgeon for the Chicago & Alton Railroad. He was the originator of a tobacco cure that gained wide-spread reputation and use; was a member of Milton Lodge No. 275, A F.& A.M. and also a member of the Modern Woodman Camp. It has been written that he was of strong mentality and earnest purpose, and advanced in his profession to a rank among the leading members of the medical profession. His unfailing courtesy and consideration of others gained him a wide and favorable social standing.

Dr. C.E. Thurmon married Virginia (Mary) Hayden 18 Dec 1888 in Pike Co, and to them were born two sons that I know of, one dying in infancy and the other at age 19, a sad reward for a good man. Charles died 28 Nov 1923 and is buried in the Blue River Cemetery in Pike Co.

DOCTOR NUMBER TWO

William Thomas Thurmon, the second child of William H. and Lucy, was b. 14 Oct 1854 in Pike Co. He married Mary "Mollie" James 3 Oct 1866, and to them were born three children that I know of (1) Vergil C., b, 19 Dec 1896 at Farmersville IL, and died unmarried in Feb of 1958; (2) Edward Carl, b. 9 Aug 1900 at Detroit IL and died unmarried in 1973; and (3) Harry, who died in early childhood. I am sorry that I do not have further information on Dr. William T. Thurmon at this time other than that his practice was located in Detroit IL.

DOCTOR NUMBER THREE

Josiah Dickie Thurmon, the ninth child of William H. and Lucy, was b. 7 Dec 1870 in Pike Co, and died August 26th 1946 at St. Louis MO, where he had been practicing his profession. "J.D.", or "Joe", as he was oftentimes called, married Pearl Stapelton Nelson in 1910 (?) in St. Louis. After the death of Pearl in 1931, Dr. Thurmon remarried (Nell Parsons ?). Two children I know of were born to Dr. and Pearl. (1) Joseph Jr., b. 4 Sep 1815 at St. Louis MO and d. 1960 in Los Angeles CA. Joseph married Nell Webster in 1938 at Farmington IL; (2) Georgia Louise, b. 11 Jan 1911 at St. Louis MO, and d. 11 Aug 1977, also in St. Louis. Georgia was carried to Harry Braun, the son of a doctor, on 15 June 1935 in St. Louis. One child I knew of is Mike Braun. Again, I as sorry that I have no further information at this tine on the life of Dr. J.D, Thurmon.

DOCTOR NUMBER FOUR

The tenth and last child of William H. and Lucy Thurmon was FRANCIS MORRIS THURMON. ("Frank"), b. 23 Aug 1872 (or 1873 ?) in Pike Co IL. Frank was reared on his father's farm near Milton IL and acquired his early education at West Grove, Bedford and Montezuma schools, all in Pike Co. Like his brother, Charles, he became a teacher at the age of 20 and pursued that occupation for seven years. In 1899 he became a night watchman on the bridge at Pearl IL for the Chicago & Alton Railroad, and served in that capacity for one year. In the spring of 1900 ha went to the Red River Valley in North Dakota to work as a bookkeeper for the Salzer Lumber Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and returned to Pike Co IL in August of that year.

In September of 1900, F.M. Thurmon entered the Medical School of Barnes University in St. Louis, working in the summer months again for the Chicago & Alton Railroad to pass his tuition costs, and in 1901 was graduated, thus becoming the fourth brother in one family to become a doctor.

Dr. Frank Thurmon returned to Pearl IL and purchased the practice and property of Dr. B.P. Bradburn. On 26 Dec 1896 he married E. Maude Davis, and to them three children were born (that I know of): (1) Francis M. Jr., b. 18 Nov 1898; d. in Boston MASS.; m Eloise Capps and had two children, Francis D. and a dau. Mrs. George Roska; (2) William Maurice, b. 14 Jul 1902 d. 1954 and is buried in Pike Co.; m. Bernice ___ and had 3 children I know of, Carol E., William Jr., & Janet (3) Maude(?), b. Mar 1906.

After the death of his first wife, Maude, Dr. Thurmon married Zulah G. Fisher, Dr. Francis M, ("Frank") Thurmon was called (in his obituary) "a grand olde country doctor". They sang at his funeral the song "Will There Be Any Stars in my Crown", and the obit states "if doing a good deed to ones fellow man merits a star, Dr. Thurmon is crown should be studded with stars". It goes on that "he was a friend of man ...... he regarded his doctor's diploma as a covenant with God". And more "When we think of Dr. Thurmon, we think of pure, life-sustaining spring water; of a gentle heart and a mighty courage; of night trips over the hard trails of the hills .... to homes whose inhabitants he knew could never pay for the help he brought then".

The obituary continues with more praise for this man who, besides providing medical service, in 1914 spent $3000 of his own money to pipe water from Miller Spring into the town of Pearl so the residents would have pure, wholesome water. He also served on the Pearl School Board & helped set up and develop the Pearl High School; worked for read improvements ; was instrumental in bringing electricity to Pearl; served as Mayor of Pearl and supervisor of Pearl Township; served as chairman of the County Board's Financial Committee; was a Sunday school teacher; and belonged to Pleasant View Lodge. Dr. Frank Thurmon died in January 1943 and is buried in Pike County. His funeral drew so many friends and associates that loud speakers were set up in his home across the street from the church where services were held to accommodate the overflow.

DOCTOR NUMBER FIVE

Edward Carl Thurmon, D.D.S., son of Dr. William Thomas Thurmon ("Doctor number 2"), was born 9 August 1900 at Detroit IL and died 1973 or 1974; he is buried in White Hall Cemetery. I am in the process of gathering biographical information on Dr. E.C. Thurmon at this time, but I do know he practiced in the Pittsfield area and was never married.

DOCTOR NUMBER SIX

Francis M. Thurmon Jr., son of Dr. Frank Thurmon (Doctor Number 4), was born 18 Nov 1898, and died at Boston, Mass. where he was engaged in his medical practice. Ha was married to Eloise Capps and, as mentioned earlier was the father of two children. Part of his obituary reads a native of Pearl and member of the prominent Pike County and Illinois medical family...", Dr. Francis M. Thurmon graduated from Illinois College at Jacksonville and received his medical training at Harvard University. Before settling in Boston, he practiced on the staff of Norbury Sanitarium in Jacksonville.

To other children of William Henry Thurmon and Lucy L. Smith (her parents were William Smith and Delano Parks) were (#3) Ira Alvin Thurmon, b. 14 Oct 1854 d. 8 Oct 1952, Ica Lacy and had three children; (#4) Rosa May Thurmon, b. 14 Feb 1862 d. 6 Apr 1920) she was a nurse m James Barnes; (#5) Arthur Percival Thurmon, b. 23 Mar 1863, d. 1950, m Hilda Mayo; (#6) Clarence Thurmon, b. 18 Nov 1865, d. Mar 1866 (#7) Sarah Elfie Thurmon, b. 8 Jan 1867, d. Sep 1946 m 1st Aaron Snyder, m 2nd N. Dougdall Stathem, 3 children by 1st marriage and 4 by second marriage; (#8) Sylvester Claude Thurmon, b. 11 Sep 1868, d. 2 Nov 1957, m Mary Baldwin. (Correction on birthdate of (#3) Ira Alvin Thurmon should be 4 or 13 Mar 1859.)

I would like to point out that although the name was originally spelled THURMON (and probably, or possibly, THURMOND) that over the course of the years in many instances the spelling has become THURMAN, as in my case when my grandfather, Basil H. Thurmon applied for his social security card and it came back to him with the - man spelling he just continued to use it that way, even though his brother, Gerald Doss Thurmon has carried the original spelling.

I have much information on the THURMON (-MAN) families of Pike Co IL but a long way to go in my search for descendants.

Written by Virginia Hart - Pike Co Newsletter Fall 1984.