Early African American Veterinarians, Kentucky, 1900-1955There have been very few African American veterinarians in Kentucky. At the same time, there has been about the same number of African Americans from Kentucky who were veterinarians in other states. All were men. All have often been referred to as "the first," or "the only one ever" in a particular city or region.
In 1910, there were 11,652 male veterinary surgeons in the United States, with 168 of that number in Kentucky, according to Occupation Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. No women were included in the count. In 1889, the first African American veterinary school graduate was Dr. Henry S. Lewis at the Harvard School of Veterinary Medicine. In 1949, there were the first two African American women graduates: Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb, who was in the first class of graduates from the Tuskegee Institute School of Veterinary Medicine (now Tuskegee University); and Dr. Jane Hinton, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
In 2017, African Americans made up about 2% of the total U.S. veterinarian workforce (AVMA Workforce Total=110,531). Additional research is needed to discover the life work of individual African American veterinarians and their experiences beyond being the first graduates of particular schools. As distinguished librarian curator C. Trenton Boyd has said, there are gaps in the library holdings on the history of the education of veterinarians in the United States. To add to this observation, there are even bigger gaps in the history of the education, training, employment, and life experiences of African American veterinarians, including those in Kentucky. To help fill the gaps, below are the names of a few of the earliest known African American veterinarians who practiced in Kentucky between 1900-1955. Beneath that section are the names of persons born in Kentucky who were veterinarians in other states.
*The search will be continued for information about the first African American women veterinarians who practiced in Kentucky.
Sources: Boyd, C. Trenton, "The lost history of American veterinarian medicine: the need for preservation," Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2011, vol. 99, issue 1, pp. 8-14 (online at the National Library of Medicine); The National Association for Black Veterinarians; U.S. Census Records (Ancestry); Kaitlyn Mattson, "An untapped pipeline for veterinary schools," online at the American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA] website; Michael San Filippo, "AVMA celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black pioneers in veterinary medicine," online at the American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA] website.
1. Ernest Beauchamp
Ernest Beauchamp (1891-1955) was born in Hawesville, KY. It was noted on his World War I and II Draft Registration Cards that he had lost his right eye. He had a wife and two children in 1918. He was said to have had an elementary education. It is not known where or when Beauchamp gained his veterinary knowledge. He was employed as a stable hand for Dr. Harthill in Louisville during World War I and employed at a boarding kennel in Louisville during World War II.
Beauchamp became a licensed veterinarian in 1951 after a two-year court case. "The State Board of Veterinary Examiners denied him a license in 1948 after the General Assembly specified that persons practicing before 1916 were entitled to a license without examination." In Ernest Beauchamp's death notice, it was stated that he had been a practicing veterinarian in Louisville since 1912, Louisville's only African American veterinarian.
Ernest Beauchamp was the son of Nuck and Emma (or Ella) Davis Beauchamp, according to the Social Security Applications and Claims index in Ancestry.
Sources: "Service set for Louisville's only Negro veterinarian," Park City Daily News, 8/25/1955, p. 13; Ernst Beauchamp's WWI and WWII Draft Registration Records (Ancestry); Kentucky Death Certificate File #55-18239, Registrar's No. 4598 (Ancestry).
2. Dr. Elmer Leroy Carson
In 1934, it was printed in Kentucky newspapers that Dr. E. E. [L.] Carson was sentenced in the Catlettsburg, KY, federal court to five years in prison for selling morphine. Dr. Carson (1887-1969) had come to Kentucky from Ohio, where he was born in Hamilton, the son of Benjamin M. and Maria E. Patterson Carson. He was the husband of Bertha Tuttle Monmoth, whom he married in Franklin County, OH on August 4, 1915, when Dr. Carson was a chemist.
During World War I, he was an instructor at Prairie View State Normal [now Prairie View A&M University], according to his World War I Draft Registration Card in Ancestry. Dr. Carson was a schoolteacher in Columbus, OH when the Carson family was enumerated in the 1920 U.S. Census. By 1930, Dr. Carson was a veterinarian doctor in Ashland, KY, as listed in both the city directory and the census record for 1930. Four years later, his name was in newspapers, indicating he received a federal conviction.
It is not known if Dr. Carson served any prison time from his 1934 court conviction. There may even have been another outcome concerning the case. In any event, Dr. Carson was a veterinarian in Columbus in 1935, according to the city directory. He and his family were still living in Columbus when they were enumerated in the 1940 U.S. Census. Dr. Elmer L. Carson did not return to Kentucky. He died in Columbus and is buried at Green Lawn Cemetery.
Sources: Miller's Official Ashland, Kentucky City Directory, 1930-31, p. 221 (Ancestry); "72 are sentenced at Catlettsburg," The Kentucky Post, 6/1/1934, front page; Ohio County Marriage Records (Ancestry); Polk's Columbus (Franklin County, Ohio) City Directory, 1935, p. 248 (Ancestry).
3. Dr. John Cook
Stanford, KY, newspapers described Dr. John Cook (1863-1922) as a "celebrated," "respected," and "famous" veterinarian. He is enumerated as a "general practice medical doctor" in the 1920 U.S. Census, but that was an error. Dr. Cook treated farm animals, administered medications, and identified animal diseases and poisonous plants found on farmland. In 1916, Dr. Cook took the state veterinarians' exam in Lexington. Successfully passing the exam allowed him to continue to practice as a veterinarian in Kentucky. It is not known at this time where Dr. Cook received his veterinarian training.
Dr. John Cook was the husband of Cynthia Hansford; the couple married in Stanford, KY on November 29, 1883. Dr. Cook was born in Stanford, the son of John and Latisha Cook. The family is enumerated in the 1880 U.S. Census. Dr. Cook died in Stanford and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.
Sources: See John Cook in the article "Anderson Carr dies of self inflicted wound," The Stanford Interior Journal, 3/8/1912, front page; "The Farmers," The Stanford Interior Journal, 3/29/1912, p. 3; "Anthrax in west end," The Interior Journal, 7/25/1916, front page; "Heard About Town: Dr. John Cook," The Interior Journal, 9/22/1916, p. 4; Kentucky, Lincoln County Marriage Certificate in Ancestry; and Dr. John Cook at Find A Grave.
4. Dr. Thomas Madison Doram
Dr. Thomas Madison Doram (1871-1941) has been proclaimed as the first degreed African American veterinarian in Kentucky. He was born in Danville, he was the son of Thomas A. and Susan C. Rowe Doram. Dr. Doram was an 1899 graduate of McKillip Veterinary College in Chicago, IL. He opened his first clinic in Evanston, IL, where he was enumerated in the 1900 U.S. Census. By 1907, he had moved his veterinary clinic to Danville.
Dr. Doram had been a practicing veterinarian in Kentucky for several years, and just prior to the human influenza/pneumonia pandemic of 1918-1919 he alerted the public that not only can humans be diagnosed with pneumonia and influenza, but both can afflict horses. Several horses in the Danville region had died from the illnesses in 1916. Dr. Doram had diagnosed the Jesse Lynn mare with influenza in 1913.
Dr. Thomas M. Doram was the husband of Bertha Jane Hancock; the couple married on October 21, 1901 in Danville. Dr. Doram, his wife, and their children are enumerated in the 1910-1940 U.S. Census records. Dr. Doram died in Danville and is buried at the Hilldale Cemetery. A picture and biography of Dr. Doram are available at the Dr. Thomas Madison Doram entry at Find A Grave.
Sources: Family tree in Ancestry; Kentucky, Boyle County Marriage Certificate in Ancestry; "NOTICE: Dr. T. M. Doram," The Tri-Weekly Kentucky Advocate, 8/2/1907, p. 5; "Influenza," The Danville Messenger, 5/23/1913, p. 4; "Sickness among horses," Kentucky Advocate, 1/7/1916, front page; Dino Robinson, "Thomas Madison Doram: a veterinarian on the North Shore," Shorefront Journal, 2016 (online); and "Funeral Tuesday for Negro veterinarian," Kentucky Advocate, 11/23/1941, front page.
5. Dr. Clarence W. Page
Prior to his death on July 18, 1912, Dr. Clarence W. Page (1873 -1912) had been in charge of the horse hospital at Stokes Patches Wilkes Farm in Fayette County. Dr. Page was found dead in his room on Sycamore Street in the rear of the Lexington Opera House in Lexington. Foul play was suspected, but following an autopsy and the coroner's inquest, it was determined that Dr. Page had died from apoplexy [cerebral hemorrhage or stroke]. His death certificate gives his occupation as veterinarian.
Dr. Page was enumerated in the 1910 U.S. Census as a doctor of horses, etc. when he was living in Driskill (Mason County, KY). It is not known where Dr. Page got his veterinarian training. He was born in Mason County, the son of Frank and Katy Page. He was the husband of Lottie Lockhart; the coupled married in Maysville on December 14, 1909. Dr. Page had filed for divorce in June of 1912, but the divorce was not final when he died. Dr. Page's previous wife was Nettie Williams. He died in Lexington and is buried at the Fleming County Cemetery in Flemingsburg.
Sources: "Dr. C. W. Page (marriage)," The Daily Public Ledger, 12/15/1909, front page; "Clarence W. Page has filed suit for divorce ...," Lexington Herald, 6/14/1912, p. 6; "Dr. C. W. Page," The Daily Public Ledger, 6/14/1912, front page; "Three Negroes found dead about same hour," Lexington Herald, 7/19/1912, front page; "Dr. C. W. Page colored veterinarian of Maysville found dead - foul play suspected," The Daily Public Ledger, 7/19/1912, front page; "Apoplexy verdict," Lexington Leader, 7/20/1912, p. 4; and Clarence W. Page at Find A Grave.
AFRICAN AMERICAN VETERINARIANS BORN IN KENTUCKY WHO LIVED IN OTHER STATES
1. Dr. Nelson Briley, Sr. (1842-1920), was born in Kentucky, the son of Clara Dawson Briley Fountain. Dr. Briley was the husband of Julia E. Dickerson; the couple married on January 18, 1870 in Louisville. They lived in Saltillo (Oldham County) when enumerated in the 1870 U.S. Census. Nelson Briley was a veteran of the U.S. Civil War, having served with Company K, U.S.C. Infantry. He enlisted in Louisville in 1864 and served for one year. Dr. Briley returned to Kentucky after his service.
He later moved his family to Nebraska, where he was listed as a horse and cow doctor on page 14 of the Erdmann & Hamen's Hastings City and Adams County Directory, 1895. When the family was enumerated in 1900, Briley was said to be a veterinary surgeon. It is not known where he received his training. Nelson Briley is buried at Highland Cemetery in Wichita, KS.
Sources: Nelson Briley, U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans (Ancestry); Nelson Briley at Find A Grave; and Kentucky Marriage Records (Ancestry).
2. Dr. George William Cooper (1889-1975), was born in Indian Fields, KY, the son of Henry M. and Amanda Kelly Cooper. He was the husband of Carrie Brickler Cooper. Dr. Cooper received his training at State Agriculture College in Ft. Collins, Co [now Colorado State University]. He graduated in 1918 and became a veterinarian in Roggen, CO. He would later move to Alabama, where he helped establish the Tuskegee Institute veterinary science program. Dr. Cooper was the first African American to become a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA].
Sources: Family Tree (Ancestry); 1920 U.S. Census (Ancestry); Dr. Cooper's World War I Draft Registration Card (Ancestry); and George W. Cooper, a Colorado State University website.
3. Dr. William H. Davis (1849-1930) was born in Kentucky, the son of John H. and Mary Davis. The family was free, listed as white, and living in Jessamine County when enumerated in the 1860 U.S. Census. Dr. Davis was the husband of Mary E. Smith Davis. In the 1900 U.S. Census, William Davis is enumerated as a veterinary surgeon in Liberty, OH. In the 1920 U.S. Census, he was a veterinary surgeon in Portage, OH, and his wife's name was Lucy. In the 1930 U.S. Census, Dr. Davis was not listed with an occupation. It is not known where Dr. Davis received his veterinarian training. In his obituary, Dr. Davis is said to have been a physician.
Source: "Doctor, exslave, dies," The Evening Independent (Ohio), 10/24/1930, p. 17.
4. Dr. Solomon Hicks (1860-1941) was a veterinary surgeon in Madison, IN. He is enumerated in Kentucky in the 1870 U.S. Census and in Madison, IN, in the 1900-1940 U.S. Census. It is not known where Dr. Hicks received his veterinarian training. Dr. Hicks was born in Trimble County, KY, the son of Preston and Emaline Hicks. He was the husband of Julia E. Nelson; the couple married in Indiana on September 17, 1891. Dr. Hicks died in Madison, IN and is buried at Springdale Cemetery.
Source: Indiana Marriages Index (Ancestry); and Dr. Solomon Hicks at Find A Grave.
5. Doc William Johnson (1834-1912) was born in Kentucky. He married Lucinda Johnson in 1852. They were enumerated in the 1865 Kansas State Census. In the 1870 U.S. Census, William Johnson was a farmer living with his wife in Osawatomie, KS. He was listed as a veterinarian in Osawatomie when he was enumerated in the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Census records. It is not known where William Johnson received his veterinarian training.
In September of 1912, Doc Johnson was found sitting in a field, confused. He was placed in the poor farm home. Doc Johnson and his wife had been wealthy, according to an article in the The Osawatomie Graphic newspaper. It was said that the couple had owned several farms and an entire block of property and had been the largest employer in the city at one time. Doc Johnson was working as a veterinarian in his later years. But all had been lost by 1912. Doc William Johnson was penniless when he died a couple of months after being placed in the poor farm home. He is buried at the Elmsdale Cemetery.
Sources: "Sad case," The Osawatomie Graphic, 9/5/1912, front page; see William Johnson at Find A Grave.
6. Dr. James Livingston (1852-1933) was born in Jessamine County, the son of Peter and Susan Priness Livingston. At the time of his death, he was married to Roberta Livingston. It is not known where Dr. Livingston received his veterinary training or when he left Kentucky. His practice was located in Phoenix, AZ when he was listed in the 1931 city directory. He was listed as a veterinary surgeon in Mesa, AZ when he was enumerated in the 1920 U.S. Census. In 1917, Dr. Livingston was 62-years old when he married Rena Ridley in his medical office. Four years later, Rena Ridley filed for divorce.
In addition to his veterinary clinic, Dr. Livingston bred, showed, and raced horses. There are several notices in Arizona newspapers starting around 1914 with the names of Dr. Livingston's winning horses,as well as newspaper ads announcing his veterinary services.
In 1911, Dr. Livingston had returned to Kentucky for a month-long vacation. His prior marriage to Sarah Livingston had ended in divorce in 1908 when Dr. Livingston's clinic was in Naco, AZ, where he had been a long time resident.
Sources: "James Livingston, colored, veterinary surgeon, ...," Tombstone Epitaph, 4/26/1908, front page; "Dr. James Livingston, V.S., ...," The Bisbee Daily Review, 6/14/1911, p. 4; "Dr. Livingston marries," The Arizona Republican, 8/16/1917, p. 7; "Asks divorce," The Tucson Citizen, 10/18/1921, p. 2; Phoenix City and Salt River Valley Directory, 1931, p. 634; and Dr. James Livingston's Arizona Death Certificate, State File No. 182, Registered No. 5 (Ancestry).
7. Dr. John C. McLeod (1877-1962) was born in Covington. He is said to have been the first African American veterinarian in Cincinnati, OH. He earned his veterinary surgery degree at Cincinnati Veterinary College. See his entry in the NKAA Database.