Tuesday, May 5, 2015

John Mason Boyd

Doctor John Mason Boyd-A Great Physician
Malford W Thewlis MD
"If all his deeds were flowers, the air be strong with perfume. If all his were melodies, a symphony would fill the sky." 

In Knoxville Tennessee, there is a beautiful monument at the gate of the Court House which reads 'Dr John Mason Boyd Our Beloved Physician Erected by a Grateful Public.' In Europe it is not uncommon to see monuments of great physicians, as in the city of Tours, where there is a monument to Bretonneau, Trousseau, and Velpeau. However the monuments of the latter type, were erected because the physicians were true scientists, but in the monument erected to Dr Boyd there was something which aroused unusual interest. In order that a physician have a monument erected by a grateful public, he must have possessed extraordinary scientific ability combined with the true love of his patients that characterized the older physicians more than they do the modern doctor. 
  Upon inquiring about Dr Boyd, I found that today, twelve years after his death, the inhabitants of this city speak of him with the tenderest feelings and point with pride to their noble physician.


Dr John Mason Boyd lived to do good, and this great physician and ever generous citizen did not use his power for the accumulation of wealth, but rather in the unselfish and untiring consecration of his life to the comfort, health and happiness of others. He was a native of Knoxville born in 1833 trie son of Judge Samuel Beckett Boyd. As he was the oldest of fourteen children, the duties of being head of the family devolved upon him after his father's death. The love and veneration always shown to him by his sisters and brothers tells how ably he performed his task. Dr Boyd was educated in the University of Tennessee and received his degree in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, after which he located in Knoxville, where for fifty three years he ministered cheerfully and lovingly to the people of that city.
He also served his country well In the Civil War he joined the Southern Confederacy and went to the front as a regular surgeon of the Southern army. He served with distinction in Virginia, Georgia Tennessee, Alabama and other States. He was assigned to the Tennessee Relief Corps of the Confederate Army and served in the field hospitals during a number of the celebrated and most decisive battles of the civil strife, notably the battle of Seven Pines and at Manassas.
After the close of the Civil War, Dr Boyd went to New York and Philadelphia, where he attended clinics on surgery and medicine to further perfect himself in his profession, A number of years later he made two trips to Europe for special study, so he was ever on the alert to seize and use anything new to relieve suffering.
In 1859 Dr Boyd performed the third operation for supravaginal hysterectomy in the world's history and the first of the three operations thru which the patient lived. The sweep of his mind was broad, comprehensive and philosophic: his scholarly attainments were countless, his masterful resources were marvelous, he had a memory of astounding breadth and accuracy which made his brain a veritable storehouse for all the riches of wisdom. That he was always seeking modern to improve his efficiency there can be doubt. 

However, there are a great many who tho scientists never win hearts of their patients and when they die, their personality is not remembered. It is now twelve years since Dr Boyd died, yet today the public him with a remarkable degree of and enthusiasm. To mention name there is to bring to mind all good and charitable movements of Knoxville, and he found time, no matter busy to help them all. He was for number of years a member of the of Health and also a trustee of the of the University of Tennessee. His love for the young men and his desire to advance the cause of education in every way, inspired him to give much time to affairs of that institution. Much of work in this institution would not been accomplished had it not been for interest and every-ready help of his wife. She assisted by making broths for the fever patients, dainty trays to those students confined for a few days to their rooms and when a serious illness arose, she would request Dr Boyd to bring the young man to own home, and with her own ministrations would aid in restoring him health. Thus this noble couple together in perfect harmony. When the Knoxville General was established he was a member of staff, and was recognized as dean of consulting and practising physicians, and continued an enthusiastic and untiring worker until his death.
Among the institutions he was connected was nearer his heart than the Dumb School. He loved these unfortunate children and they loved him. For more than forty years he was president of the Board of Trustees. Dr Boyd studied the sign language in order he might not be handicapped in a thorough knowledge of the youngsters.

Dr Boyd continued his practice until two weeks before he died, and he could be seen at almost any hour of the day or night in almost any part of the city calling at the homes of rich and poor. He was always welcomed as physician and friend. In the long years of his active practice of medicine, more than the usual span of life for most doctors, Dr Boyd had performed almost every surgical operation known to surgery, and some them many, many, times and with a marked degree of success.

At Dr Boyd's funeral thousands and thousands paid tribute to him. Places of business thruout the city were closed and people of all classes paid their respects. Soon afterward a fund was started for the memorial and a beautiful monument was erected to him. Several buildings have been named for him and the high school in Knoxville was named in his honor.
(Source: Medical Review of Reviews, Volume 25, pp. 676-679)

Dr. John Mason Boyd Monument
Knox County Courthouse

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