First doctors in Clovis deserve credit for their services

Don McAlavy: Local Columnist

The first doctor of Clovis, Dr. J. Foster Scott, came from a prominent Tennessee family. He was a city physician and head of a general hospital in Knoxville. In 1906, he and his wife traveled to Texico. By the spring of 1907, the doctor had settled in Clovis, his first office a tent in the newly opened town.

The good doctor and his wife came west for the health of their son, J. Foster IV, who died several years later. The oldest daughter, Ruth, was born in Tennessee, but the other four children were born in Clovis. A lot of Clovisites can easily remember Ruth, who married Rev. Clyde B. Barton, daughter Mildred who married Vondale S. Page and daughter Jeanne who married Joseph E. Roehl. Everybody in Clovis back then knew Bobby Scott too. He died in 1981.

Dr. Scott was a member of the first school board in Clovis. He had other interests too: He engaged in real estate, then in ranching. He owned part of a large sheep ranch out of Ft. Sumner. He enjoyed hunting, particularly with Clovis’ first newspaper editor, Arthur Curren.

Dr. Scott also took an active interest in politics. He helped his brother K.K. Scott, an attorney, in a successful campaign for district attorney.

Dr. Scott was a pioneer physician in every sense of the word. He compounded his own prescriptions and went far and wide for the sick, traveling in his “surrey with the fringe on top.” Later, he built and operated the first real drugstore in town. In 1910 the town’s second doctor arrived: Dr. J.D. Westerfield.

With Santa Fe surgeon Dr. H.A. Miller and Dr. J.D. Westerfield, Dr. Scott started the first general hospital in Clovis at the southwest corner of 4th and Main. The hospital served the town from 1914 to 1920, until another hospital was built. The 25-bed Baptist Hospital was built on the 500 block of Prince. It opened in 1920 and closed in 1939.

The 50-bed Clovis Memorial Hospital was built on the 1200 block of Thornton St. It opened on Dec. 9, 1937. Structural additions were added in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. In July 1975, the lease and management passed to the Presbyterian Hospital Center. In Sept. 1978, the patients moved to Clovis High Plains Hospital and the Memorial Hospital closed.

The 106-bed Clovis High Plains Hospital was built at 21st and Thomas, on a 20-acre tract of land donated by Drs. Jackson C. Dillon and Albert L. Dillion Jr. in memory of Drs. A.L. and F.A. Dillon, the third and fourth doctors to live in Clovis. In 1978, the hospital cost 8 million dollars. In 1982, the hospital employed almost 300 residents and 27 medical staff.

Dr. Scott died in 1923. His widow, Fannie, lived for many years at 821 Mitchell. She died in 1964. The history of Dr. Scott, used here, was written by Ruth and Mildred around 1977.

The hospital today has a different name: Plains Regional Medical Center. We give credit to the pioneer doctors and to all the doctors since then who worked at these hospitals, and the service they have rendered for our community.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:
dmcalavy@telescopelab.com