An Account of the Early History of Surgery in Texas Page: 11
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was an outstanding figure of Austin and surrounding
territory. His sons, Drs. Joe and Goodall succeeded
him, and are prominent figures in the surgical pro-
fession of Texas.
DR. FERDINAND HERFF of San Antonio,
who died May 18, 1912, at the age of 91, was born
in Germany in 1820, and whose name was Ferdi-
nand Charles von Herff. When he came to Texas
he used only the name of Ferdinand Herff. He
brought with him culture and medical learning of
Germany, which was far in advance of that of the
new world. Becoming dissatisfied with the political
conditions of Germany, Dr. Herff, led a colony to
America. Lands were secured in Texas for the
colony. The colony reached Texas in 1847. This
colony formed the foundation for one of the most
valuable citizenships Texas has had. Dr. Herff's
career in Texas was a long and remarkable one,
and in 1854, he performed the first noteworthy
operation. It was a lateral lithotomy done upon a
Texas Ranger. It was the first time that Dr. Herff
had ever used chloroform. The stertorous breath-
ing of the patient from the beginning of the oper-
ation alarmed him to such an extent that the ane-
sthesia was discontinued and the operation done
without an anesthetic. After twenty years of prac-
tice in Texas, he returned to Germany for eighteen
months of postgraduate study. He performed his
last operation at the age of 87 years. Probably no
other surgeon in Texas can claim as many patients,
and probably surgical patients as he had all in a
DR. FRANK PASCHAL-This surgeon should
certainly be mentioned among this group of early
Texas surgeons. He was a distinguished Fellow of
the Texas Surgical Society, and should be classed
as one of her real scientists. The Surgical Museum
of the University of Texas is extremely proud of
his extensive collection of bladder stones and de-
tailed history of each patient, from whom the stones
were removed, which was presented to the Patho-
logical Museum of the University before his death.
These were secured from Dr. Paschal's work in
Mexico under difficult circumstances without any
incentive excepting his scientific instinct. Dr. Pa-
schal died in December, 1925.
DR. BACON SAUNDERS was a member of
the Texas Surgical Society, and his activities were
of such recent date, and his ability so well known
to our organization, that it is unnecessary for me to
mention his great influence in the surgery of Texas.
My first knowledge of a surgical operation was
gotten from one performed by Dr. Saunders. I
was very small, and in my home town Dr. Saunders
was sent for to attend a neighbor boy friend of my
own age who the doctors had diagnosed as having
appendicitis. I remember very vividly his arriving
in the night and the operation being performed in
the home of the patient by lamp light. Through
the window I watched with great admiration the
bold surgeon at his work. The appendiceal abscess
was drained and the boy recovered. I venture to
say that Dr. Saunders did more heroic operations
under similar circumstances than any surgeon Texas
I think we can say quite authentically that Dr.
Saunders did the first operation for appendicitis in
Texas. It is reported that he read in the news-
papers an account of an operation for appendicitis.
He consulted with Dr. Saunders, Sr., his father, and
they discussed the grave responsibilities of an oper-
ation for appendicitis; that appendicitis was the
cause of many of the cases of locked bowels oc-
curring in their practice, and though he was quite
a young man he made up his mind to try the oper-
ation as soon as such a case presented itself. This
he did in a country home on a family dining table,
his instruments sterilized on the kitchen stove. He
removed the appendix, closed the wound, and the
man got well. It is reported there were no seeds
or stones found in the appendix, though it was
badly inflamed. Wyeth's Surgery, reports this the
first operation for appendicitis in Texas, and one
of the first in the United States. He was very direct
in his manner, very decisive in his opinion, and very
bold in his work.
If time would permit I should give space to
Dr. J. L. Gilcreest of Gainesville, Dr. Henry K.
Leake of Dallas, Dr. J. F. Y. Payne of Galveston
and many others deserving mention, but I must
The last name upon this honor roll which I
shall mention is that of Dr. James E. Thompson, my
former teacher and predecessor in the Department
of Surgery of the University of Texas. My close
association with him as a student, and for seventeen
years as an associate in the teaching of the Institu-
tion, gives me the privilege and liberty of making
more extensive comments, and I am sure because
of his great life and enthusiasm for the Texas Sur-
gical Society you will be sympathetic and patient
with me if I say too much in his behalf.
JAMES EDWIN THOMPSON was born in
Norwich, England, May 21, 1863, and died April 8,
1927, after an illness of three months. His acade-
mic education was received at Owens College, Man-
chester, and at the University of London he obtained
the Scholarship and gold medal in Anatomy, and
was awarded the Bradley and Dunville Scholarship
in connection with the Manchester School of Medi-
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Singleton, Albert Olin, 1882-1947. An Account of the Early History of Surgery in Texas, pamphlet, October 1932; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143533/m1/15/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.