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Milam County, Texas

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Autobiography by Frank Bozeman King, M.D.

written ca. 1925

FRANK BOZEMAN KING, born January 21, 1864, Milam County, Texas. Married Elizabeth Ann Winston on December 21, 1887 in Quincy, Illinois. Died March 14, 1936, Houston, Texas.


“Maturity is the gates of Paradise, which shut behind us; and our memories are gradually weaned from the glories in which our nativity was cradled.”

I, Frank Bozeman King, was born and reared on a farm in Milam County, Texas, about six miles west of Cameron, now the County Seat, then the frontier of Texas. My earliest recollections were Indian raids on the full moon, nigger slavery and tales of their creative imagination of those times, and the Ku Klux after the Civil War, and the impressions created by the black man on the mind of the youngsters were vivid and lasting.

My first recollection of work on the farm was driving two yoke of oxen, first to a plow and the second to a wagon, under the tuterage of an ex-slave. This was my vocation between the school terms up to fifteen years of age.

At the age of about eight, there came into our community a red-headed woman, and her husband, who was a Doctor, who had emigrated from Alabama. The wife soon took up school teaching, opening up in a log cabin on the hillside by a spring, about two miles to walk from where we slept and ate. The house in which we lived was an imposing double log cabin with a gallery between dirt and stick chimneys at either end, and in the fireplace we cooked Indian style, pots hung over the fires, bread was rolled in corn shucks and roasted in hot ashes and embers; so were potatoes and other edibles.

I was going to tell about education. This red-headed school teacher limited her children from five to eight years old, which left me out in the cold. By special dispensation she took me in to learn how to read from a blue back speller, and my most vivid impressions are that I had to stand on one foot about three hours a day because I could not see the necessity of studying when all the best looking girls in the community were there to look at.

After this I was promoted to a school in another community about five miles from town. Had to get up at five o’clock in the morning so as to have plenty of time to make this distance by foot so as to report for duty about eight o’clock. This being a summer school, and there was a mighty good swimming hole about half way, I always liked a morning bath, and fishing was good thereabouts that most of my education was obtained sorter tarrying around this swimming pool. Right here probably was where my vision came to me to study medicine. I had appropriated a mule out of a pasture one morning about day break, I should say, to ride to school that day. It was customary to ride bare-backed, no bridle, but a rope or rawhide thrown into the mule’s mouth and around the under jaw Indian style. On my return that day, this mule wanted to return to his mate, still grazing in the pasture, and he returned, not paying much mind to my wishes. His partner was evidently vexed on account of his long absence, and when he ran up to greet her, wheeled around and let go with both hind feet, which caught me on the shin and broke both bones in the lower leg. Necessarily I made the acquaintance of this doctor, who was my first school teacher’s husband. He was a good kind of a fellow and nursed and doctored my broken bones until I was well. In the meantime he imbibed into me the germ which afterwards gave me the doctor craze.

Also if we believe in the theory that doctors are born not made, I might say my ancestral tree was filled with doctors or Baptist preachers. Especially am I proud of one great young man, Doctor Nathan Bozeman, from whom I take my middle name, and who was an associate of the first great American surgeon, Dr. Marion Simms, who together moved from Alabama to New York City in the early part of the sixties and established a State woman’s hospital, this being the first hospital of this character established in the United States.

Following my recovery after the above mentioned injury, I wanted to go to school. It was about cotton picking time of the year, and I picked enough cotton at fifty cents per hundred pounds during the months of August, September and fore of October to make six months school in Salado, Texas, and got up to the fourth grade.

Worked through the next summer and got enough money to go to the winter term, passing the fifth grade. This ended my educational career as far as common school was concerned.

Worked on the farm next year on the halves. Made fifteen bales of cotton. Sold it at five cents a pound, half of which went to the boss for keeps. Hauled it on a wagon with six yoke of oxen hitched thereto to market at Calvert, Texas, then the terminus of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad, the first railroad or train I had ever seen. Then I went to the city, a village of about two hundred souls, and went into a drug store, washed bottles and did general chores around thereabout at ten dollars a month and found my own board and washing studying at night under the tutorship of an old doctor, for a year and a half.

Went to Louisville, Kentucky, and there entered the Louisville College of Pharmacists in the year 1881, working in a drug store at night to get by. After six months took up medicine. Entered the Kentucky School of Medicine, which was a spring school, taking my medical courses in the spring and pharmacy in the winter terms, graduating in pharmacy with honors in the winter of 1884, graduating in medicine with a gold medal of honor in the summer of 1885.

Had just reached my 21st birthday, which enabled me to bring home my sheep skin, and cast my sight to the windward to practice medicine in all of its branches.

There was no law at that time controlling the practicing of medicine in Texas. Saddle-bag doctors were the rule. That is, you carried your drug store along when you got a call to see a sick person in the community, which was after the neighborhood granny and the preacher had failed. Both were considered as doctors. When they sent for the medical doctor it was a life or death case. The doctor went with his traveling drug store in his saddle-bag. They usually came after the doctor in a two-horse wagon and loaded him in (the doctor otherwise would have to walk, as he did not possess a horse to ride, or other visible conveyances). He went and stayed until the patient got well. In the meantime, this was headquarters for consultations. Patients had to come here to see the doctor, and it was unprofessional to leave the patient until they died or got well.

My professional competitor in the community there was a so-called doctor, like the preachers that are called by God – in some mysterious way he had been called to practice medicine after he had failed in his preacher’s efforts. His standing was deep dyed in the hearts of his community and he had the first call. I had the second call, and had to sign his death certificates as he could not read nor write.

My professors had always sung the swan song “Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country”, so I borrowed five dollars to pay my railroad fare to Burnett, Texas, then the terminus of the Austin Northwestern Railroad. When I reached there it looked like the terminus all right, and a pile of rock granite and it looked like there was nothing beyond but the setting sun.

I was broke after paying fifty cents for supper, breakfast and a bed. I looked up the doctor of the granite mound and found him to be a self-made doctor, whiskers to his pants and cow-boy leggings was his attire. I made love to him right off, and told him I was an educated doctor, just from college and had two sheep skins, a fever thermometer and hypodermic syringe. He had been practicing there twenty years, and had never seen either of those things, nor had he ever talked to a real doctor. I made my first call that day with him, and we took his patients temperature with a glass tube under his tongue. My reputation was made. Everybody on, around and beyond the mountain knew of this wonderful doctor by the next meeting time, and then it was announced in the pulpit by the deacon of the church.

Soon after this there were some fellows, looking like city dudes, come out there and looked over this pile of granite. I was named as pilot to find what they were up to. They turned out to be Taylor Brothers and Gus Wilkies’ engineers from Chicago, who afterwards paid the owner of this pile of granite three hundred and ninety dollars for enough granite rock to build the State Capitol with. Before this deal was closed I had a consideration that I should be made surgeon to the camp while the granite was being quarried, which was officially done by Gus Wilkie, the general contractor. This syndicate took from the State for this work three million acres of State land.

After this contract was completed, I had acquired a thoroughbred Kentucky trotter and a four-wheel top buggy. I donned a silk hat and Prince Albert coat, now doing practice in seven counties, was known far and wide as the “silk hat doctor”. When making a call fifty to a hundred miles west, I always required them to send in a saddle horse and a body guard. We usually rode at night, as the cow boys had a habit of taking a shot at that silk hat when caught in the open. The doctor was heralded going and coming so that any sufferer along the way would get attention on the return trip.

About this time there came into our town a beautiful woman from Quincy, Illinois, to take charge of our schools. I soon came to the conclusion that she needed a guardian in that country and took her for my wife.

About a year after this I got too big for this town, and a neighboring town about twenty miles north at the terminus of the Santa Fe Railroad, which road was getting ready to move on west to Lometa and Brownwood, Texas. Some Houston and Galveston capitalists had discovered the natural sulphur springs water located in this place, namely Mr. Wm. D. Cleveland, Mr. Porter Weems of Houston, and Mr. Charles Fowler, Mr. George Sealy and others of Galveston, Texas, became interested and built a large summer hotel for those people in Texas who thought they needed rest and recreation (at that time no business man thought he had time to leave his business long enough to take a vacation). The families and friends of these original promoters were the most frequent visitors at this hotel, and I might say that this was then, and is now, the garden spot of Texas.

I got on the inside, as the saying is, and took over the practice of one of the big doctors there, who had recently become inflicted with the Dallas Fever, as Dallas, Texas, had just completed a three-story bank building, and had offices for rent on the side. I was interned as resident hotel physician for the Park Hotel Company, and through them was appointed local surgeon for the Santa Fe Railroad Company at that point.

About this time a medical law was passed by our legislature, known as the Multiple Board Law, and the District Judge of our District had the naming of the doctors to serve on this Medical Examining Board, so I was named and appointed President of the Board of Medical Examiners of our District, which included about fifteen counties. Being the only graduate of pharmacy in our District, I was named President of the Board of Pharmaceutical Examiners. Held both of these positions until my removal to Houston, Texas, in January, 1894.

I believed I had won all the glories in this little burg, Lampasas, and began roving around for new fields to explore. Temple, Texas, looked prosperous, and as a railroad center offered fine inducements. Dr. A. C. Scott had graduated a few years ago and located there, and had one Dr. White as his assistant, both young men and full of visions. We failed to see a living in it for three and I was always a single-bore-gun man. Probably I missed my best opportunity, as Dr. Scott and White, both well grounded in surgery and medicine, developed on of the best hospitals there, and is so recognized today as the model for Texas.

Then I took myself to Galveston, at which time I found my old life-long friend, Dr. A. W. Fly, at the apex of his political career, serving his constituents as Mayor, in addition to his long success as a practitioner and surgeon of some repute. He had a practice representing twenty thousand a year here, which he wanted to turn over to me and go into another political preferments. I sweat over this for several days, and in the month of August when it does get hot down there. It was then I heard of Houston and the new Kiam Building, five stories high, having a lift to run you to all floors.

I am not sure if I did not get off at Chaneyville Junction, and looking down Washington Street, which was a gully. Probably I would have gotten off at the main depot in the Fifth Ward, but I had heard of the Bloody Fifth and did not have my fire-arms with me, so I came into the back door of Houston. From that direction, approaching the bayou, before it became a ship channel, the impression it made upon me from its green slime and filth, as the surface sewers flowed freely into it, I said “Here is a place for a doctor, if he is looking for work”. I hit the old Hutchins House, and hung out for a few days, as it was a downpour of rain at that time, such as I had not witnessed before. Drays and wagons were stuck up in the mud on Fannin and Travis Streets about two feet deep and unable to move. Finally I found a paved street, which was Main, and was paved with cobble stones plumb down to the Capitol Hotel, now the Rice, from Franklin.

I found the doctors the drug store variety, that is all the work was done in front of the drug store, or in the bottle room in the rear. Men patients were usually in front of the bar, with a foot on the rail and had a peculiar crooked elbow.

Looking over the hospital, which was a five-room converted cottage on Franklin and Commerce, one ward and two beds, manned by six sisters of Charity, mostly County and City patients. People only went to hospitals those days to check in, so I investigated the Kiam Building, which was mostly vacant, and agreed to take a front office on the Main Street side at the nominal sum of $35.00 a month rent. I thought then I was buying the building, as I was only paying $18.00 a month rent on a nine-room house in my home town, so we fixed up, on returning home, to ship my worldly effects down. I found my best patients and citizens sick, especially my banker, who was to finance me. He was a worldly fellow named E. J. Marshall, recently from Chicago and President of our local bank, and was down with typhoid fever. As all good doctors should I pulled off my coat and went to work, forgetting my new ideals for the present. He became so seriously ill we wired Philadelphia, Pa. for a trained nurse, the first trained nurse, to my recollection, brought to Texas. Will say more about this later.

After my patient had recovered and cashed some vendors lien notes for which I had sold my home, paid freight on my little belongings, bought tickets and arrived in Houston, putting up in the old Hutchins House, where the Sunset Building now stands. Afterwards removed to the old Capitol Hotel, now the Rice, where I lived for sixteen years and was resident physician during that time. Also remained at the new Rice Hotel, when it was built, for three years.

I soon acquired a case of typhoid fever at the hospital, which I soon cured. Doctors here denied the existence of such a fever at that time. Everything was malaria, and after calomel and quinine failed to cure, they died.

This gave me a stand in with the Sisters of Charity and we boosted a hospital until the latter part of that year. The first unit of the St. Josephs Infirmary, Crawford and Pierce, was begun, consisting of about twenty beds and the county ward. This was in 1895. In the year 1905, there was added to the St. Josephs Infirmary a 110-room addition and in 1918 a 150-room addition and we organized a training school for nurses in 1906, known as the St. Josephs Training School for Nurses. Today we have a training capacity up to sixty, with a lecturing staff of fifteen doctors and sisters teaching in the foreground. I have been a member of the lecturing staff since its organization; subjects: Psychology, Medial Nursing and Materia Medica. We have now a staff membership of St. Josephs Infirmary of twenty-six of the best doctors in medicine, surgery and of all special branches, in Houston. I am General Chairman of this staff. I may add that this hospital handles five hundred patients a month, eighty percent surgical. It was standardized two years ago, and accepted by the American College of Surgery as A-1, having four general operating rooms, two special operating rooms and two emergency operating rooms, the largest and best equipped X-ray rooms in the South, including a deep therapy machine. This equipment alone stands an outlay of $20,000. One of the best equipped laboratories in the country, manned by the best pathologist that money can buy. Incidentally, any patient that enters this hospital for medical or surgical treatment or any other treatment, has a thorough analysis of blood, urine and other excretory products before being admitted to an operating room for any character of operation except emergency cases.

In the early beginning of this promotion of hospital interest, I saw the necessity of a medical organization, and in the year about 1896 I, in connection with six other doctors (we had no specialists or surgeons in those days in Houston) organized the South Texas District Medical Association, which embodies the 8th, 9th and 10th Districts, all doctors therein being eligible for membership. We started with an original charter membership of eleven, including the six organizers. We now carry on our membership roll 1,000 or thereabout. With my associates we reorganized our local medical society, which was in a state of lethargy, having had as many as five members on its last roll call before it ceased to function. We re-named it the Harris County Medical Society and increased its membership to fifteen, and had a meeting once a month at some member’s office with an average attendance of about six. This Society now registers 400 active members, meeting every Saturday night in its own rooms, with an average attendance of 60.

About seven or eight years ago, we organized the Houston Academy of Medicine, to be the holding company of the visible assets of the Harris County Medical Association, since which time we have built up a library and employ a full time librarian. This library is open to all members of the Harris County Medical Association daily and is fully equipped and up-to-date in every particular. Recently we have, through the combined efforts, closed plans for a Medical Arts Building, to be located on the corner of Rusk and San Jacinto Streets, at a cost of $3,000,000. I was Chairman of Harris County Medical Society and appointed the first committee looking to this end, and induced Mr. E. F. Simms to make the original investment and acquire the Wm. D. Cleveland homestead property for this purpose three years ago. This building program was completed this month.

Was instrumental and a frequent adviser of the late George Hermann, who donated his wealth to Houston and Harris County, Texas, and especially bequeathed to the Herman Hospital and its maintenance an endowment that is amply sufficient to carry out his original ideas, for the first unit of the Hermann Hospital is now under construction, opposite the Rice Institute, at a cost of $575,000. This hospital is for the indigent poor of Harris County. I expect to be one of the doctors that donate my services the balance of my life to this institution.

The organization of the Municipal Hospital, which of course being a creature of the acting mayors and his appointees, though we are maintaining a staff of fifty active members, whose services are free to the inmates of that institution, I have been appointed and re-appointed as Senior Consultant to its Medical Department. Since the cooperation of the City and County to build a modern hospital, which is under construction for their own use, I expect to serve that institution without charge.

I am now looking for funds to build a memorial to someone who wants to perpetuate his name in the image of God to build a home for nurses of St. Josephs Training School. I have been instrumental within the last year of having the Sisters of Charity to secure a site just south of Mr. E. F. Simms’ estate on the Telephone Road Cut Off, and they are now building a Novice’s Convent at an expense of $400,000, and will move their mother house from Galveston to this place, once completed.

I was Charter Member and one of the original organizers of the Texas Dental College of Houston, now a high grade graduating school of Dentistry. I organized and financed the State Dental College of Dallas, Texas, in the year 1906, or 1907, worked it up in five years to a student body of 100 in attendance, having shown its colors as a success, partially donated to the Baylor University and incorporated it as the Dental Department of that university.

Medical Associations and Societies of which I am a member might be named as follows:


Owing to these activities, I have never had the time to attend social lodges or other societies, and am only an ex-member of the Elks, Knights of Phyhias, Woodmen and other social orders.

I was one of the first buildings of an apartment house in Houston, especially a three story brick one on Walker and La Branch, and others since.

I was one of the discoverers of the Humble Oil Field and one of the original syndicate of Houston men who put up their money and bought the Echols 60-acre tract, which after we were all broke proved to be the largest oil producing territory in Texas.

I said I would have something more to say about the banker, E. J. Marshall, because he more than any other is responsible for my move to Houston. We had a fellow-townsman, one W. T. Campbell, a promoter of ability, and when he got sick, came to Dr. King of Houston to be cured, and one, R. E. Brooks, at a little cross-roads town, north of Lampasas, and one A. S. Fisher, a little south of Lampasas, at Georgetown and one ex-Judge Swain, of Forth Worth, Texas, and one ex-Governor Jas. S. Hogg. I being the doctor of these parties, and an adviser of one J. P. Willis, who owned the Sour Lake mud springs, who was anxious to transfer his holdings, the Sour Lake Mud springs to one E. J. Marshall, at my suggestion, for a small money consideration, as I, Dr. King, had smelled oil in the mud when rubbing it on people to cure the itch. So they believed what I told them to be true. So this coterie of men bought this watering place and soon thereafter we found an oil man, one J. S. Cullinan, and a local lawyer, one E. R. Spotts, of Houston, who was our legal adviser, and we founded the Texas Company on paper basis.

Signed Dr. Frank B. King

We must say a special thank you to Kathy Reed for re-typing the above biographical sketch of her great-grandfather for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.

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Created on 7 Sept 2003 and last revised on 10 Sept 2003