Friday, December 26, 2008

A Doctor's Town?

While sifting through scores, and possibly hundreds, of Port Tobacco deeds, I was surprised to see quite a few doctors. Some owned the lots on which they resided, others were identified as tenants. One, Dr. Francis Mills, rarely used the honorific. Clues from the land records and items in the Port Tobacco Times suggest that he was more interested in agriculture than medicine.

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. A town, especially a one-time port and long-time county seat, would have provided a ready market of patients and a central point from which to make house calls. (For readers under 50 years of age, try conducting a web search on 'house calls;' it is a quaint institution largely erased from the landscape.)

I wonder what sorts of objects we are likely to find in the refuse of country doctors. And I wonder if we will be able to recognize a physician's household refuse when we see it. I'm still confident, however, that the lot research will allow us to connect many of the archaeological deposits in town to specific households.

When the lot research has been completed, we will post a list of physicians and, hopefully, other Port Tobacco professionals and tradespeople, along with whatever biographical material we can muster.


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