Remembering medicine in the good old days
September 26, 2007
The citizens of Dayton and surrounding areas didn’t have the wonder drugs we have now, but the personal service was great. I remember doctors making house calls when I was young. It was common practice in Dayton in the early days. Not only that, you could go to the hospital in Virginia City, Yerington, Carson City or Reno.
Emma Nevada Barton Loftus spoke often in her diaries of the doctor coming to see folks in need around town. If a person broke an arm, had the flu or appeared to have mental problems, the doctor came to see the extent of the illness and decide if the person should be hospitalized.
Emma never mentioned any lawsuits as a result of a doctor’s visit. There were just a grateful group of folks living in Dayton.
Some of the older women still living here tell me that Chester Barton (Emma’s son) pierced their ears. In addition, some said he administered penicillin too. Emma notes that Chester also gave morphine shots and I know he had no medical training.
I can’t figure out how it was permitted. He was a Lyon County deputy sheriff, but I think administering medications was beyond a deputy’s duties.
He did from time to time take people to the asylum because they needed help. He also performed inquests when people died.
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One instance was when Chester got a phone call hearing there was a dead man along side the roadway going toward Fallon. Well, Chester gathered up a few folks like Zenas Walmsley, the Justice of the Peace, and they found him. They were going to do an inquest. He was dead all right – dead drunk. They took him to jail.
There seemed to be a great deal of caring for one another in those early days. Everyone called on their neighbors even if all they had was a bad cold. And the doctor didn’t seem to mind looking in on a patient to make sure he or she was all right. I think those were “the good old days.”
The Dayton Museum is located on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton, and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Check the Web site: daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.
The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets at noon on the third Wednesday of the month at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors welcome.
• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987, she serves as a board member of the Dayton historical society and a docent at the museum.