Doctor Pinckney Thompson

by Edmund Starling, 1886


Among the most distinguished of native Kentuckians, and most useful in their day and generation in the field of science and philanthropy, is the subject of this sketch, Dr. Pinckney Thompson. He was born in Livingston County, on the fifteenth day of April, 1828, in an humble sphere of life, having no advantages except such as may accompany poverty and utter obscurity. His parents were both natives of North Carolina, and his mother's maiden name was Thompson. Her family settled in Livingston County in the year 1796. his paternal grandfather immigrated to Kentucky and settled in the same county, before Kentucky was admitted as one of the States of the Union. His father was apprenticed to a farmer, and on reaching his majority, volunteered in Captain Barbour's company, which assembled at Henderson, and Hopkins' army, then stationed at Vincennes, Indiana. The command arrived too late for the battle of Tippecanoe, and after a few days rest, returned to Kentucky. He made several trading trips to New Orleans, and while there was pressed into the army service by order of General Jackson, and after a short service returned home, and settled down to hard work on a farm. In 1823, he married, and in September, 1871, died at the residence of his son, Dr. Thompson, in this city. His wife, with whom his life had been so happily spent, survived him about four months, she departing this life in January, 1872. Dr. Thompson worked on his father's farm until his twentieth year, and during that time obtained from the ordinary county schools such an English education as they afforded. there was developed in him during his boyhood days a taste for the practice of medicine. He was a most excellent nurse, was apt in catching directions for administering medicines, and was expert at detecting the various fevers. His neighbors, and those who knew him best, frequently reminded him that he ought to make a doctor of himself These frequent reminders had as much to do perhaps with moulding his life as his natural inclinations, and his mind being made up, in January 1849, he removed to Smithland, the county seat of Livingston, where he entered upon the study of medicine under Dr. D. B. Saunders, a very distinguished physician of that day. He continued in Dr. Saunders was unable to supply, and induced his father to permit him to go to Louisville, Ky. He went to Louisville and placed himself under the preceptorship[sic] of Dr. T. G. Richardson, who was, at that time, Demonstrator of Anatomy in the Medical Department of the University of Louisville; afterwards, and is now, Professor of Surgery in the Medical Department of Louisiana University, in the City of New Orleans, having succeeded Dr. Warren Stone, one of the most distinguished physicians and surgeons of the time. He continued to study under Dr. Richardson, at the same time serving in the City Hospital up to March 1st, 1853. On March 4th, of the same year, he graduated. he then returned to his old home, where he remained but a short time, and then returned to his old home, where he remained but a short time, and then came to Henderson, where he located on the fifteenth day of April and commenced the practice of his profession, without money and without an acquaintance beyond that of three persons. The following physicians were established in practice upon his arrival: R. A. Armistead, R. P. Letcher, A. J. Morrison, L. F. Jones, W. A. Offutt, W. A. Norwood, John Young, William Brewster and Richard Garland.

Dr. Thompson was not long in obtaining a large and lucrative practice, and has ever been held as one of the most successful practitioners in the profession. He has operated in tracheotomy three times, twice successfully; has operated in lithotomy three times successfully; performed two sueccessful operations for cancer in the breast, besides a large number of minor, yet difficult operations.

November 26th, 1857, he was wedded to Nannie S., eldest daughter of William S. and Mary Holloway. They have two children, both sons and young men of promise. He was one of the first and most active Trustees of the Henderson Public School. He was the author of the law creating a colored School, and has continued the President of the Board from the day of its organization to this time. He has served as President of the Henderson Medical Club; President of the McDowell Society, and President of the Kentucky State Board of Health from its organization. A number of years ago, in 1869, he conceived the idea of building a Mission Sunday School, peculiarly for the benefit of those children who, for various reasons, were unable to attend the schools of the city. He carried this plan into successful operation by building, mostly at his own expense, a house of sufficient capacity in the vicinity of his residence, and, for a number of years, supported this school mostly at his own expense. He has always served as its Superintendent. The doctor has a large school, and there is nothing in which he prides himself more than his family of Sunday school children. He has served as Elder in the Presbyterian Church since 1862. He is a Master and Royal Arch Mason. As President of the State Board of Health, he visited Hick man, Kentucky, during the yellow fever epidemic, and, upon his return made an able report to the board; was present at the meeting of the "Sanitary Council" of the Mississippi Valley, at Memphis, April, 1879, where he was elected Vice President. In 1880, he was re-elected, but, finding it impossible to attend meetings regularly, Dr. Wirt Johnson, of Mississippi, was elected in his stead. He has always taken great interest in sanitary matters; has attended four meetings of the National Health Board, and was two years a member of the Advisory Committee of the American Public health Association. He did more, perhaps, than any other one man, to secure from the Legislature an act incorporating, and establishing upon a sound and sensible basis, the present State Board of Health. At one time, when the State appropriation was inadequate for the purposes of the Board, he visited Washington and was successful in securing from the National Board sufficient help to guarantee a successful fight against dangerous epidemics. In 1860 he built the handsome residence on Main Street, now owned by G. G. Ellis, and, in 1867, built his present residence. He has been identified largely with every movement looking to the improvement of Henderson, taking an active and successful practitioner in his profession, but also one of the most earnest and valuable members of society. He has served for a number of years as President of the Henderson County Bible Society and has annually received a re-election without opposition.

The History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Starling 1887 page 718-20;

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