Bronaugh's Earliest Physicians

Drs. Holmes and Donovan

Dr. Benjamin F. Holmes was the first physician in Bronaugh. In fact, he lived in the area even before Bronaugh was founded. The first mention of him was when he delivered a daughter born to William D. and Louisa D. Shaull Hartman in December 1884. The next year, he delivered a son to John and Lillie Belle Overstreet Caton in December 1885. At that time he was referred to as Mr. Holmes of Zulu. Zulu was a village a few miles west of where Bronaugh was later built. Dr. Holmes was featured in the 1887 History of Vernon County:

From: History of Vernon County, Missouri. 1887, p. 800.


(Physician and Surgeon, Bronaugh).

Dr. Holmes, whose career thus far in life has been one unmarked by any especial event of startling importance, has nevertheless pursued a course both honorable and successful, and one that stamps him professionally of stirring energy and determination to succeed. He was horn August 15, 1855, in Johnson County, Mo., his parents being Benjamin A. Holmes and wife, Sarah A. The father was of sturdy Virginia nativity and reared all his children, and he had nine, to habits of industry and intelligent application to the different duties which they chose to follow. Frank turned his attention towards a professional life, and after due preparation and fitness for the calling he commenced the practice of medicine in 1881, when he came to this county. During the several years’ residence in this locality he has built up a reputation for skill and ability which has rendered him well known. The numerous calls made upon him for professional service carries him over a wide territory and secure for him a large acquaintance, which he well merits. The Doctor is a married man, Miss Anna A. Huffman having assumed his name some years ago. Her father, Adam Huffman, was one of the early settlers of Missouri, and at present is a resident of Garland, Kan.

The biography lists his wife Anna but does not mention a daughter. Their daughter Una Anna Holmes was born in December 1885. So we can assume that the biography was written prior to that even though the book was published in 1887. Sometime not long after the birth of Una, Anna Huffman Holmes died. Little Una was sent to Medicine Lodge, Kansas to be raised by Dr. Holmes' sister, Mrs. J. S. Runyan. Dr. Holmes' wife was apparently buried at a cemetery near Bronaugh.

In the summer of 1891, Dr. Holmes visited his sisters and daughter in Medicine Lodge. He said he was considering moving there because he had sold his business at Bronaugh. He not only had had a medical practice, but he also owned the drug store in Bronaugh. It is possible that Dr. Holmes was thinking about leaving Missouri due to a lawsuit that had been filed in April by Nora Crum Pound Peeler on behalf of her son James H. Pound. Dr Holmes had set the broken leg of the boy as an infant in 1886.

Apparently he did not leave Bronaugh however. In 1896, Dr. Holmes was still in Bronaugh but he had a partner in his medical practice. Dr. James H. Donovan - his nephew. The 1900 census showed them living on main street. Dr. Holmes was age 44 and his nephew, Dr. Donovan was just six years younger at age 38.

This was published in the Butler Weekly (Bates County, MO) on April 8, 1891. Bates County is the next county north of Vernon County.

Note: It appears that Mrs. Peeler was the daughter of John Wesley Crum of southern Vernon / northern Barton counties. She had several husbands - Pound, Peeler and Levi Hudson. There are several questions raised by this lawsuit. Mrs. Peeler did have a son, James Pound, but he was born in 1870 - so he would not have been "infant" in 1886. That James Pound died in 1889. So whether Mrs. Peeler was suing on behalf of a young son or a dead son is in question.

Dr's Holmes and Donovan practiced together for a few years but by 1904 Dr. Holmes finally left Bronaugh. He had sold his stock of drugs to Dr. Donovan and announced that he had decided to move to New Mexico. Dr. Holmes may have been in poor health. Apparently he went back to Medicine Lodge, Kansas, where on May 22, 1905, he died. Two days later, the newspaper in Medicine Lodge announced that Dr. Donovan was opening a medical practice in Medicine Lodge. So Bronaugh had lost both of its physicians in a short time.

Dr. Holmes had a brother who lived at Bronaugh also. Robert Holmes lived there for at least awhile. Robert travelled from Bronaugh to Medicine Lodge in late May, 1905 to visit his brothers and two sisters. He was shocked upon his arrival to learn that his brother had died the day before.

Less than a month after Dr. Holmes had died, Dr. Donovan and his uncle, J. P. Hall, came to Bronaugh. They came to Bronaugh to get the remains of Mrs. Holmes, who had died at Bronaugh sixteen years earlier. They then took her remains back to Medicine Lodge where they were re-interred in Highland Cemetery beside Dr. Holmes.

In 1907, Dr. Holmes only daughter Una married Cecil Claude Lewis in Boulder, Colorado. Lewis was a clerk to a Senator in the nation's capital so following the wedding, they moved to Washington, DC.

In late August 1910, Dr. Donovan went from Medicine Lodge to Chicago where he was to undergo kidney surgery. The surgery was not successful and he died on August 29. J. P. Hall and R. H. Hall, went to Chicago to accompany his body back to Medicine Lodge. The body was taken to the home of his Aunt and Uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Runyan, where funeral services were held on September 4.

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This page is designed and maintained by Lyndon Irwin.