Periodically we feature an article “From the Archives” of our quarterly journal. The following article by A.F Cole appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the White River Valley Historical Society Quarterly.
Jesse Mercer Threadgill Jr. was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 19, 1898. He was a graduate of “Old College of Physicians and Surgeons” in St. Louis.
Dr. Threadgill served several internships at various hospitals prior to moving to Branson, Mo in 1926.
His internship in Branson was with Dr. Guy B. Mitchell, who was serving a term with the Missouri Senate in Jefferson City, Missouri.
The Doctor fell in love with the Ozarks and decided to begin his medical practice by moving to Forsyth, Mo. in 1928.
He also fell in love with a young lady, a teacher in the Forsyth School system, Margaret Rose Voorhies from Neosho, Missouri. They were married on May 15, 1931 in the Vine Covered Presbyterian Church in Old Forsyth by Dr. John Crockett, Minister of the Gospel. Two sons were born to this union, Joe and Bob Threadgill.
He established his first office upstairs over the Old City Drug Store owned and operated by Ted and Ira Parrish and located on the south side of the square in Old Forsyth.
He remained at the location for a number of years then moved to the Freeland Building just off the southeast corner of the square, across the street from Paschke’s Cafe. The Freeland Building was on the ground floor and was much more convenient for his patients. This was where his office was located when I first met Dr. Threadgill as we lived in the first house on the left going up the school house hill, known as the “Brock Property,” in old Forsyth. Dr. would come by from some of his late house calls for a cup of coffee and a chat.
The Doctor remained in the Freeland Building until 1949, the year Forsyth was moved to its present location on the Forsyth Golf Course, due to the construction of Bull Shoals Dam and Lake. Ted and Ira Parrish built a new City Drug Store on the school hill and Dr. Threadgill moved his office to the Parrish Building for a second time and remained with City Drug until 1953 when he moved to Wolf Drug Store located in New Forsyth and he remained there until his death on November 29, 1966.
Dr. Threadgill was loved by the people of Taney County and the surrounding area. On his 65th birthday the Taney County Fair Board set aside a special day, known as “Dr. Threadgill Appreciation Day,” which was July 19, 1963. Some four thousand babies and their families came out to pay tribute to this man of medicine and a friend they dearly loved.
The Doctor was truly moved by this show of love from the people and patients whom he had served for some 38 years. He had delivered some 3000 babies in the home and some 1000 in Skaggs Community Hospital where he had practiced since its opening in the late 40s. He would go anywhere and in every type of weather condition to give medical service to those who were sick because they were human beings who needed help and money was not a factor but doing a job well was his greatest concern.
He was presented an antique upholstered rocking chair by the Blunk and Redfern families. He was also presented a new 1963 Buick Riveria from his many friends and patients in the area.
The Taney County Fair Board developed a contest where a photo autographed by the Doctor would be presented in the following categories: the oldest person present and delivered by Dr. Threadgill was Mary McManus Allen of Springfield, Mo; the youngest was Timothy Scott Stuart, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Stuart of Forsyth; the largest family was that of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Thimble of Protem, Mo with 13 children the most in one generation was Mrs. Eva Hunt with eight children and eight grandchildren; the oldest set of twins was the Grady Twins of Mr. and Mrs. Bob Grady of Forsyth and the youngest twins were the Combs Twins of Bradleyville, Mo.
Dr. Threadgill had a real sense of humor and I would like to relate a couple incidents where it was applied. We usually had our morning coffee at the Wolf Drug Store which included many locals including Judge Robert Gideon and the Doctor. Dr. remarked “if a judge makes a mistake, a man could be sent to prison for life” The Judge’s rebuttal, “If a doctor makes a mistake, they bury it.”
White River flooded in 1942 and the towns people found it necessary to move out of their homes until the water receded. We were moving Bob and Alma Gideons piano from their home and the water was perhaps some six inches deep as we carried the piano to the truck and Dr. was walking along side playing the “Twelfth Street Rag.”
I would like to quote Judge Robert L. Gideon from the Taney County Republican, dated December 1, 1966. “Doctor could laugh and joke and you would feel better at his laughing and joking but he would shed tears when someone would die as he was trying his best to save their life. This was evidence of the bigness and goodness of his heart. This was the Doctor J.M. Threadgill I knew for some forty years.”
Dr. Threadgill passed away on November 29, 1966 in St. John’s Hospital in Springfield after a lingering illness. Graveside services were held at Snapp Cemetery, located across Bull Shoals Lake from Old Forsyth.
I would like to repeat a poem which was in the Taney County Republican on December 1, 1966 in memory of Dr. J. M. Threadgill.
Silence-let no blackened border
Mar a field of purest white
Let some snowflakes falling gently,
Grace the path he treads tonight.
Oft through storm and sleet of winter
Went he through the cold’s blasts,
Faithful ever, uncomplaining,
Till the need for help had passed.
If his skill proved unavailing
If the mystic threads were broke,
Bowed he then with sorrow shaken
Grieved for his denied hope
In the silence I shall love him.
Hold him brother of my heart,
Golden deeds shall still avail me
Memory never shall depart…
Dr. Threadgill’s father, Jesse Mercer Threadgill, Sr., was a surgeon at the old College of Physicians and Surgeons, St. Louis. Dr. Threadgill, Jr., performed an internship there and through some relationship with Dr. Guy Mitchell, the young Dr. Threadgill moved to Taney County.
This article from a letter written by A.F Cole to Lynn Morrow. It originally appeared in the White River Valley Historical Society Quarterly Volume 36, Number 1—Summer 1996. Click here to browse or search the archives of the Quarterly.