MORTON, Benjamin A. (Dr.) (1891)

Death of a Good Man

Maryville, Tenn., February 27, 1891 — Dr. Benjamin A. MORTON, died at his residence in Maryville at noon today. He was one of our noblest men, and will be greatly missed. He was born in this county December 11, 1830, and his early days were spent on the farm. His parents were poor, but industrious and worthy citizens, raising nine sons and six daughters – fifteen children in all. The sons were all born first, and the deceased was the sixth in age. He was a cripple, and from this reason was kept in the house a great portion of his time, doing housework. He attended the common schools and passed through the studies required in those days; then, in his twenty-first year, he was sent to Maryville college, where he took a partial collegiate course.

He was too poor to afford candles, and hauled pine, by the light of which he studied his lessons. During the time, his food was mostly on corn bread and sweetened water, with an occasional interchange for mush by way of variety. Between sessions of college he taught school, and by this rigid economy and close study he advanced rapidly, and soon began the study of medicine. He took his course in what is now the medical department in the University of Tennessee, at Nashville; and began practice at Gamble’s Store in this county. He applied himself closely and studiously, and very soon commanded an immense country practice. He married Miss Martha MCCAMY, made his home in the same neighborhood where he began his professional work, and had accumulated until he was in easy circumstances when the war broke out. He was intensely loyal and was forced to leave the state.

The war left him with but little save his home. He again resumed the practice of his profession at the old stand, and was getting comfortably situated when the waters of the Little river arose during the flood of 1868, and carried off his office with his library, implements, medicines, etc. This left him again in stranded circumstances, but with that courage peculiar to himself, when the waters subsided he again started almost anew; and it was with few complaints that he persisted in plying his vocation. Some months after his removal to Maryville, and by industry and ability in his calling, he secured a comfortable home and was doing well financially when a fire broke out in his home and burned with such rapidity that the greater part of his homestead goods as well as his medical outfit was reduced to ashes, while he himself barely escaped with his life, being seriously injured by the inhalation of smoke and air. All these sad reverses did not conquer his indomitable will, but he preserved through it and again arose above the waste. His trouble were still not ended. Some years ago a young carpenter was at work on a barn, and falling, he broke the leg between the knee and ankle, the broken bone in some way penetrating the flesh and severing the mutilating the nerves and parts surrounding until vitality was lost below the wound. The deceased was called in, and with that condition to which he was accustomed, he attempted to save the limb. It was no use – the vitality was gone, and the only means of saving life was amputation.

Recovering from his surgical operation, the patient awarded his faithful surgeon by bringing suit for malpractice, the prosecution of which he followed up with great earnestness and vigor. The worry and anxiety of the good physician through his litigation was harrowing, and appeared as if it would shorten his days. The end came and the decision was in favor of the doctor. Some time after this was over the family of that same carpenter took sick, and being in poverty were reduced almost to starvation. In the goodness of his heart, and with true Christian charity, the doctor took of his substance, and without money and without price, or the hope of recompense, he supplied the affected family on frequent occasions. He was public spirited. There was nothing that tended towards public advancement and public good, but that he took a deep, active interest.

In this respect there is no man in the town that would be more missed, than will be the deceased. His interest in public affairs was without selfishness. He asked no reward except as it come by advancing the public good.

He was an earnest and devoted member of the Baptist church, and his religion was manifest from his walk in life. His soul was alive to good works and the advancement of his church.

During our late protracted term of the circuit court, Dr. MORTON was an important witness in two or three criminal cases, and was required to be in attendance at court during the day. “La grippe” broke out in fury over the town and adjacent country.

The deceased would arise long before day and go through wet and cold, from patient to patient, until court time, then at adjournment, he started again, going until late in the night. At length he was stricken himself and passed a severe attack, from which he never entirely recovered, but was again able to be on the streets, when a complication of la grippe with an old constitutional trouble again prostrated him, and he rapidly sunk under it until he fell asleep in death. He was conscious to the last, knew his condition, but was calm and collected.

Verily, a beloved physician and a good man has passed into that bourne whence no traveler will return. — Will A. MCTEER.

Source: Daily Journal and Daily Tribune of Knoxville, TN – 2 Mar 1891

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