Hood County Texas Genealogical Society
DR. T.H. DABNEY
by Bob Phillips
Abilene Reporter News –
January 23, 1959
Hands which helped bring thousands of babies into the world, and made hundreds of incisions to remove swollen appendixes, find idleness worse than work.
are the hands of Dr. T.H. Dabney, retired Granbury physician now visiting his
daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Manly Sr., 842 Meander St. During the past few days Dr. Dabney’s hands
have been busy picking out pecans for his daughter to use in making pralines.
might not seem remarkable unless you are aware that Dr. Dabney was born in
1860, the year that Lincoln was elected president, that the first Pony Express
run was made between Sacramento, Calif., and St. Joseph, Mo., the year South
Carolina seceded from the Union. That
was 98 birthday’s ago for Dr. Dabney.
1886, the same year Geronimo surrendered, Dr. Dabney graduated from medical
school in Louisville, Ky., and went to Granbury in Hood County, Texas, to
practice medicine. He continued his
practice until he was up in his 80’s.
Dr. Dabney’s parents had moved from Kentucky to Austin County, Texas, by horse and wagon with a number of slaves. When the Civil War broke out, Dr. Dabney’s father went into the Confederate Army, while his wife, children and the slaves kept the farm going.
earliest memory I have is of my father coming back from the Army, riding an old
gray horse,” said the doctor, emphasizing his point by thumping the arm of his
chair with his right hand. “I can
remember the effect on the children when we heard he was coming down the
road. We all ran out to meet him.”
doctor living near the Dabney home started Dabney toward his career as a
had a fine little Kentucky mare, and Dr. L.B. Creath offered to buy the horse
from me when I told him I didn’t have money to go to school.
gave me $135 for the horse, and with that I paid for room, board, tuition,
books and laundry for two years at Add-Ran College at Thorp Spring.”
Dabney went on to medical school, Dr. Creath continued helping him until he
“My father didn’t want me to be a doctor, because so many of them dissipated, and he was afraid I might wind up a drunkard,” Dr. Dabney recalls. “I told him that if I never took the first drink, I couldn’t possibly become a drunkard. I never took a drink and never lost anything from not having done it.”
Granbury, Dr. Dabney had all the trials of the pioneer physicians, who often
had to use ingenuity in treating patients far from hospitals.
used to be my pride to find a patient that was just about dead, and still save
him,” the doctor said, with a slightly far-away look in his eyes.
when he found a patient apparently choked to death from diphtheria, he quickly
made an incision in the man’s windpipe with the blade of a pocket knife and
opened it with a hemostat (an instrument normally used to control bleeding) and
the man started to breathe. To keep the
hole open, Dr. Dabney boiled a piece of rubber tubing from a fountain syringe
and put it into the opening. A big
safety pin crossways through the tubing kept it from slipping into the
It was the next day before a proper surgical tool for the opening could be obtained from Fort Worth, but the patient lived.
later diphtheria epidemics, Dr. Dabney made similar incisions on childrens’
throats many times, he recalls.
at a time when doctors still went to the patient more than the other way round
as today, Dr. Dabney traveled by horse and buggy with an occasional trip across
the Brazos River by boat when the water was too deep for his horses.
Dabney’s first car was an early Ford with high, open front doors. Mrs. Manly recalls that it scared all the
horses in that part of the country.
1910, Dr. Dabney bought the property of Add-Ran College (which had been
transferred to Fort Worth to become TCU) and started Thorp Spring Christian
A young student named Don Morris had the measles, and very nearly contracted pneumonia. Dr. Dabney pulled him through, and the young man is now president of Abilene Christian College – and a great admirer of Dr. Dabney.
Dabney says that he has been a great believer in making friends rather than
money, and what money he has had has mostly gone out to colleges and
universities as it came in. His
friends, though, are numerous. “Besides,
about four-fifths of the people I meet in my part of the country are people I
brought into the world,” he says with quiet pride.
grandson, who is also a doctor, has asked Dr. Dabney what he would do if he had
his life to live over again.
told him I would be just what I have been, only I would try to be a better
surgeon,” Dr. Dabney said. And gave the
arm of his chair one more solid thump.
Dr. Thomas Henry Dabney
died the following year, in 1960,
and was buried in Granbury
Cemetery in Hood County, Texas