Albert B Osborne.

Makers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) online

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aversion to hypocrisy, must have respected his honest, simple life
and have appreciated his careful, thorough teaching. Some of his
methods were very much in advance of the times and he was con-


sidered one of the leading educators of South Carolina. It is said
that he prepared more boys for college during his career than any
other one teacher in the State. There are men to-day of learning
and prominence, who did their preparatory work under his in-
struction, and who reverence and respect his memory.

The Western family of Sheridans is no doubt closely related
to Mr. H. G. Sheridan. Of four brothers, James, John, Oliver,
Garrett and perhaps a fifth, William Lefarne, the three first came
to America in 1821 from County Cavan or County Meath. James
and John settled in Illinois and followed school teaching. John
had no children, but James reared a large family. James M.
Sheridan of Crossville, Illinois, G. L. Sheridan of Chicago, and
the Keverend S. O. Sheridan of Elizabethtown, Illinois, are his

The brother Owen after a few years went to Mexico (now
Texas) where he married a Spanish lady. It is thought that he
and his family were killed by Indians as he was never heard from
after an Indian massacre.

Garrett, who remained in England, had married in 1816, the
daughter of Sir Kichard Penott, Baronet. He also claimed to be
a near relative of Kichard Brinsley Sheridan, author and drama-
tist. His son, H. B. Sheridan, served as member of Parliament
for thirty years, and it was through his efforts that many impor-
tant laws were enacted. Mr. E. B. C. Sheridan, barrister of Lon-
don, England, is the grandson of H. B. Sheridan.

The Orangeburg "Democrat" was established by Mr. Hugo
Grotius Sheridan, and for many years he was its chief editor. He
wrote also for other papers, political and religious. He was an
earnest reader, the Bible and Shakespeare, probably claiming his

Wade Hampton and M. C. Butler were college mates of Mr.
Sheridan, and he took an active part in the election of Hampton
for Governor in 1876. In politics, Mr. Sheridan was a staunch
Democrat; in religion, a Southern Methodist. He was often su-
perintendent of the Sunday Schools, steward, and often acted as
lay-reader of meetings and made many religious speeches.

Among the children born to Mr. and Mrs, Sheridan are:
Hugo, Jr., who succeeded his father in the Sheridan Classical
School and who died in 1915 ; James Liston, the eldest son, a phy-
sician who died in 1890; and Frank Moorer, for some years a
prominent teacher, and founder of the Sheridan Teachers' Agen-

Frank Moorer was born at Cottageville, South Carolina, De-
cember 4, 1864. After preparation in the Sheridan Classical
School in Orangeburg he graduated from the Peabody Normal Col-
lege, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1885, and later completed the read-
ing course of the Chautauqua Reading Circle. After teaching one


year in the Sheridan Classical School, he was made principal of
the High School at Holly Hill, South Carolina, where he met and
married Miss Thomas Pettus Hart in 1887. The other schools in
which he held professorship were: Bennettsville High School,
South Carolina; Powder Springs High School, Georgia; Elloree,
South Carolina; Baruwell, South Carolina, and he was Superin-
tendent of the City Schools of Greenwood for four years. For
twenty-six years he has been general manager of the Sheridan
Teachers' Agencies, with branch houses in Atlanta, Georgia, and
Charlotte, North Carolina. He was formerly senior member of
the firm of Sheridan and Hart, Books and Stationery, of Green-
wood, South Carolina ; and is now General Manager of Sheridan
School Supply Company of Greenwood, South Carolina.

Mr. Frank M. Sheridan is a Democrat, a Knight of Pythias
Chancellor Commander, Woodman of World Consul Commander,
and was a Knight of Honor. He belongs to the Methodist Episco-
pal Church, South, in w T hich he has been steward, Sunday School
Superintendent and Church Secretary. He believes that every
man should do his full duty to his fellowman, earn an honest liv-
ing, perform his duty at all times, without fear or favor, giving
full value for value received.

He speaks of his father in the highest terms and by his loving
words of tribute proves himself a living monument of filial respect
and stands as a bright example to future generations.

"Honor thy father and thy mother that thou mayest be long
lived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee."


E^TLE by little, but none the less surely, mankind is begin-
ning to recognize that individual human value can be
correctly measured only by service rendered to one's fel-
low men. A shining example well worth following was
the life of the late Doctor Wilbur Boswell Payne, of Covington,

Covington is a small town in the Virginia mountains. When
the little daily paper published in a town of this sort puts its
columns in mourning for one of its citizens who has passed away,
it is notice to the world that the man who has gone to his reward
was of unusual value and it is a suggestion to those who know
what real human values are, to investigate and learn what man-
ner of man this was.

Doctor Payne died June 24, 1915, in the forty-ninth year of
his age, literally worn out by the unsparing work which he had
given to the people of his native section. His quality as a phy-
sician may be fairly characterized as an inheritance, since he
was the third of his family who practiced medicine in Covington.
The first was Doctor George Harrison Payne, a great-uncle, who
was born in Falling Spring Valley at the old Payne homestead
November 4, 1799. He was the son of Lewis and Sabina Payne,
and was graduated with honors from the old Jefferson Medical
College in 1828. He married Sarah Anne Woraack at Natural
Grove on the Upper James River, September 30, 1841. It is hard
to understand at this day what this notable old physician en-
dured in covering the vast extent of country in which he prac-
ticed. Part of Botetourt, all of Alleghany, part of Monroe, and
part of Greenbrier Counties, all of them thinly settled, were cared
for by him in his practice. He was resident physician of the
White Sulphur Springs during the period of its greatest popu-
larity, when visitors came from as far South as New Orleans
and Texas in private conveyances and stage coaches. He died
February 2, 1852, when just entering his fifty-third year, leaving
four daughters, one of whom married William Skeen, another,
G. G. Gooch, and a third, Captain Morgan. The inscription on
his monument reads : "The universal demonstration of sorrow at
his death testified to the value of his life."

The second physician of this family was Doctor James Pres-
ton Payne, nephew of Doctor George Payne, and an uncle of
Doctor W. B. Payne. He was born at the old Payne home June


."0 wiu'.ri: I-.OSNVKLL I-AYNE

23, 1840, graduated in 1808 and practiced at Covington until 1877,
when he moved to Newport, Giles County, Virginia, continuing
the practice of his profession until his death.

Doctor Wilbur Boswell Payne, the third of this family to
practice medicine in Covington, was the son of Lewis and Eu-
genia St. Claire (Boswell) Payne, and was born on the lower
part of the old Payne plantation in Falling Springs Valley,
December 17, 18G6. His academic training was received from
public and private schools of Alleghany County, and his medical
training from the University of Virginia and Tulane University
of New Orleans. He won certificates of special merit from both
of these medical schools, and his post-graduate instruction was
obtained at the famous Charitable Hospital at New Orleans. He
passed the State Medical Board in 1892, leading his class. He
located, for the practice of his profession, in Covington in 1804
where he resided until his death. On December 14, 1894, he mar-
ried Miss Amelia M. Choppin, of New Orleans, daughter of
Arthur Choppin, a cotton merchant of that city. One son, Wilbur
Boswell Payne, Junior, born April 5, 1901, is the issue of this

As a physician Wilbur Boswell Payne was of special ability,
and so proficient was he that he could easily have won a position
in the front rank of medical men in any of our great cities, but
he elected to cast his lot with the people among whom he had
been born and bred, and to use his great abilities in the service
of those who, while they might not give him large emolument or
spread his reputation abroad, would repay him in those better
things of life which cannot be bought with money, and for which
widespread renown will not compensate.

He was a member of the American Medical Association, the
Medical Society of Virginia, the International Congress of Tuber-
culosis, and the County Medical Society. He held the office of
local censor in the American Medical Association, and was a
member of the Legislative Committee of the Medical Society of
Virginia for a number of years. It was through the work of this
committee that the license tax on Virginia physicians was abol-
ished. He was Secretary of the Board of Health of Alleghany
County from its organization until his death. He w r as the local
surgeon of the C. O. Railway, and examiner for a number of life
insurance companies. In business matters he took an active part
in measures looking to the progress and development of the
county. He was a director of the Citizens National Bank, the
leading bank in that section of Virginia and the adjoining section
of West Virginia. He w T as Second Vice-President and Director
of the Alleghany Milling Company.

In the social and religious work in the community he was
equally conspicuous. One of the interests nearest his heart was


the Home for Homeless Boys at Grace Mission, of which he was
one of the founders and directors. For years he was an active
and consistent member of the Episcopal Church, being one of the
vestry, and foremost in every movement calculated to forward
the work of the church. These outer manifestations of public
spirit in various directions were but the expressions of the inner
soul of the man, and the life of this man can only be related by
those most closely associated with him.

The Covington "Virginian," the day after his death, gave
the larger part of its issue, which was printed with heavy mourn-
ing columns, to loving memorials of Doctor Payne. Editorially
it said : "Probably no death in the history of Alleghany County
has ever caused more widespread or deeper sorrow than that of
Doctor Wilbur Boswell Payne, whose gentle soul last night
passed to its great reward.

"In his death the Commonwealth suffers the loss of a fear-
less, independent, progressive and public-spirited citizen, his
profession one of its ablest members, his church one of its most
loyal workers and his family a kind and devoted husband, a
tender and loving father, an affectionate and generous brother
and friend.

"Educated and trained in our greatest medical schools and
hospitals, he was well equipped for a brilliant metropolitan
career in his profession, yet that profession itself meant more to
him than the mere plaudits and emoluments that would have been
his in the practice of a large city. To him there was a greater
call than one to wealth and fame. When the time came to choose
there was no hesitancy. Back he came to these old mountains,
back to the scenes of his boyhood, back home. Here he labored
and here he was loved.

"Few indeed are the homes in our community and few in-
deed are the citizens who have not at some time received and been
grateful for the ministering aid of this kind and faithful physi-
cian. The ailing mother, the sick child, the dying man, all felt
the touch of his gentle hand with equal tenderness. In sickness
and in sorrow he came to us, not only to treat our physical ills,
but to aid and comfort us with his loving sympathy and his wise
counsel. Confidence in him as family physician was only sur-
passed by confidence in him as man and gentleman; young in
years and yet a gentleman of the old school, a friend, a comforter,
confidant, a father-confessor. His heart and soul were conse-
crated to his profession. Commercialism was as foreign to his
professional practice as greed was to his private life. The beggar
in rags received from him the same careful and constant atten-
tion, the same skilful and considerate treatment, as the man of
the greatest wealth. To him all patients were human beings,
mankind, created in God's image, nothing more, nothing less ; all
equally deserving of his loving kindness and greatest efforts.


"In rain and snow, in sleet and hail, good weather and bad,
in summer's heat, in winter's icy blasts, day and night, hour in
and hour out, he strove to meet the overwhelming demands upon
him without a thought of compensation and without expectation
of reward. Physical exhaustion and sudden death came at last,
and in its suddenness, there also came to us of Alleghany that
shock which always comes when one in whom we confide and
trust and admire and love and honor and obey and hold in high
esteem passes so swiftly from us that the human mind is unable
for the time to grasp the belief that such an able and active and
admirable life is at an end.

"At an end? Yes, so far as this world is concerned, but
religion, which is, after all, the sum of life, teaches us that there
is an after world to those who die, that others might live. No
greater sacrifices for mankind were ever more bravely met than
those which Wilbur Boswell Payne, M.D., made in his profession.
One more name is added to the long list of martyrs in his noble

In another column appeared a lengthy history by another
pen from which the following extract is taken :

"While Doctor Payne gave generously to charity and sub-
scribed to every fund raised for public enterprises, he was essen-
tially a physician. Every sacrifice was made in order that he
might minister to the suffering. It is generally believed that in
the end his work for his fellow man, claimed as the final sacrifice
the beloved physician's life.

"Food or sleep were forgotten when some poor suffering
mortal required his aid, and not infrequently his trips to the poor
in the surrounding mountains so taxed his strength that he would
be unable to pilot his car or drive a horse home. When death
came many were the stories that were told by his numerous
friends of his sacrifices. One had found him trudging wearily
home through the snow after patiently nursing a poor man in the
western end of the country, the roads so icy and he too weak to
permit him to make the trip in carriage or car. Another recalled
how, when ill himself, he would struggle from his sick bed to
answer the call of a patient frequently not as ill as the good
Doctor himself. No thought was ever given by Doctor Payne to
a monetary reward for his work. All he apparently derived was
the satisfaction of having alleviated the suffering of one in dis-
tress. The accumulation of wealth was foreign to his mind; his
devotion was confined to his practice and his family."

Then comes a tribute from the Boys' Home of the Grace
Mission. Space will not allow but a short excerpt from this
touching tribute.

"No one of our Trustees has had a more real and personal
interest in every boy in the Home than Doctor Payne. He knew


most of the boys personally and the boys looked upon him as their
friend and benefactor. It would take volumes to tell of the many
kind deeds and the many services that he has rendered in behalf
of these bovs who are destitute, homeless, and outcast. He has

/ /

surely ministered to the 'fatherless in their affliction/ and great
will be his reward."

In the same issue of the paper which contains numberless
personal tributes, appeared a letter, written in the dialect of the
mountaineers. It perhaps after all, contains the finest apprecia-
tion of the work of this good man, sincere heart-felt expression
of the people who had known him all his life. This letter says :

"The good book tells us that 'there is a time to laugh and a
time to weep' and so it is. There isn't no laughing up this way
to-day. There is as much sorrow hereabouts as there is down to
Covington. We folks admired Doctor Pavne as much as you

C7 *J *J

did. The weather never wuz too bad nor the night too dark fur
him to come when he wuz called. Somehow, I believe that the
kind of life Doctor Payne lived did more good than all the
churches and newspapers and tracts that wuz ever in the country.
Folks felt better after a talkin to him. Folks felt more Christian-
like after seeing him go so long over these mountains without
nothin to eat and no sleep because some poor sick woman or
child needed him. Never sent no bills. Never pressed nobody
in his life. Just doctored fur ther love of helpin us poor mortals
along and a makin us more comfortable on ther rocky road uv
life. When news uv his death cum somehow we couldn't just take
it in. We never had given no thought to his dying. Maybe we
wouldn't hev called on him so much hed we known he wuz a
wearin himself out on us poor critters. But we'll see him agin.
We've got the good Lord's word fur that."

Doctor Payne was of the best stock of Virginia. In 1619
Sir William Payne, a baronet of Bedfordshire, England, and
two of his younger brothers had grants of land in the new colony.
Sir William, as head of the family, could not come to Virginia,
but the two younger brothers, John and Thomas (or Richard)
emigrated and established homes in the new country. John set-
tled on the Rappahannock River at Leedstown in Westmoreland
County. He had numerous descendants, who made homes in
many parts of the Old Dominion.

Doctor Payne's father was Lewis Payne 3 . His grandfather
(1811-1865) was Lewis Payne 2 , who married Miss Louisa Peck.
His great-grandfather was Lewis Payne 1 , son of General John
Payne and his wife, Sabina Lew^is. Lewis Payne 1 married Miss
Nancy Davis, moved from the old seat of the family and settled
in Bath Countv. His father, General John Pavne. was a notable

*J 9J

figure in the Revolutionary period and a neighbor of General

554 wiuir:: KOSWKLL I-AYNI:

The Paynes were very earnest churchmen for generations.
One member of the family, John Payne, became an Episcopal
bishop and went to Africa as a missionary.

On the Revolutionary roster appear the names of Francis,
George, Henry, Josias, Junior, Joseph, Nicholas, Tarleton,
Thomas and William Payne. Francis Payne was a Lieutenant in
one of the Continental Infantry Regiments, and Tarleton Payne
was a Captain in the First Virginia Continentals.

The Payne family claims descent in Great Britain from one
Hugh de Paen or Paens, one of the great figures of the Crusades.

Mrs. Payne was Amelia Metcalfe Choppin. Her father,
Arthur V. Choppin, of French extraction, married Blanch Bona,
of South Carolina. Arthur V. Choppin's father, Paul Choppin,
was a native of Macon, Burgundy, France, and was one of the
pioneer sugar planters of Louisiana, having been associated with
his brother in the manufacture of the first white loaf sugar made
in that State.

Paul Choppin married a daughter of Samuel Sherburne, who
was American Consul at Nantes. The Sherburnes settled in
Portsmouth in 1612, and were descended from the Sherburnes of
Stonyhurst House, Aighton, Lancashire, England. The Choppin
plantation in Louisiana was situated where the beautiful Audu-
bon Park, of New Orleans, is now located.

The sons of Paul Choppin, Arthur V., Doctor Samuel P.,
and Amedee Louis, were notable men. Arthur V., lost a limb
in a railroad collision in 1861, which disabled him and prevented
his taking active part as a soldier in the Civil War. He was one
of the first men to re-establish the cotton industry in New Or-
leans after the war, by opening and operating the Star Cotton

Doctor Samuel P. Choppin was one of the State's most cele-
brated surgeons. He was resident surgeon of the Charity Hos-
pital, Demonstrator of Anatomy in the University of Louisiana,
Editor of the New Orleans "Medical News and Hospital Gazette,"
Surgeon on the staff of General G. T. Beauregard, President of
the New T Orleans Board of Health, President of the Boston Club,
the most successful social organization in that city, and promi-
nent in many other official capacities.

Amedee Louis Choppin w r as a successful cotton merchant,
and a gallant Confederate officer. All of these men represented
the highest type of gentleman, measured by the standard of civil-
ized ethics.

Mrs. Payne's mother was Blanch Elizabeth Bona, one of
three sisters, daughters of Thomas Bona, an ante-bellum cotton
and rice planter near Charleston, South Carolina, who married
Emma Love, only child of John and Louisa Love, of Savannah,
Georgia. The three Bona sisters were noted not only for their


beauty but for their accomplishments. Mrs. Payne's mother was
a posthumous child, born six weeks after the father's death, so
she never knew more of him than the fact that he was a gentle-
man of high standing.

Success in life is the goal striven for by the great majority.
The readers of this brief sketch of Wilbur Boswell Payne may
learn what a really successful life is.


THE ''Old Dominion" lias been called the "Mother of
States and Statesmen." No equal population in all his-
tory has contributed to its country an equal number
of men of the first rank in the public service, and of
unsurpassed loyalty to the public welfare.

No other State is so rich in historic family names, and in
studying the history of the territory comprised in what was
originally called Virginia, the belief in heredity becomes more
firmly fixed in the mind.


Speaking of the era which saw the colonization of this
Province, Lord Jeffries said: "For in that short period (1580-
1649) we shall find the names of almost all the very great men
this nation has ever produced." Let but the emergency arise
and from tidewater to the Alleghenies there rises up an army
of men, who but the day before had been quietly pursuing the
ordinary duties of life, and these unassuming men by their
deeds prove themselves the equal of the Paladins of history.

Judge John Chowning Ewell of Bertrand, Virginia, is one
of these unassuming men, who in times of stress has shown him-
self to be, "a workman who needeth not to be ashamed."

He was born at Bertrand, November IT, 1842, son of James
and Myra A. (Chowning) Ewell. His father was a farmer, of
a family who for five or six generations, had been for the most
part Virginia farmers. John Chowning had the usual rearing
of a boy on a Virginia plantation in the years before the Civil
War. From his seventh until his twelfth vear he attended a


private school near his home, during the next three years he
was sent to a boarding school at Lancaster Court House, and
then spent one year at Bloomfield Academy in Albemarle
County. He afterwards became a student at Kandolph Macon Col-
lege, where he was when Virginia seceded from the Union. He
left College immediately and enlisted in the first Company which
left Lancaster County for the front. This Company was after-
wards known as Company F of the 47th Virginia Regiment. In
1862 he was transferred to Company D, 9th Virginia Cavalry.
For three and a half years he shared in all the campaigns, re-
ceiving two slight wounds, neither of which disabled him even
temporarily, but in October, 1864, he received a very serious
wound from which he had not fullv recovered when the war



[ 556 ]


Judge Ewell faced the problems which confronted the re-
turning Confederate soldiers with the same undaunted courage
he had carried into war. He studied surveying, following that
occupation for several years; in the meanwhile reading law at
home. After the reconstruction measures had been passed by
the Federal Congress, he was nominated as the white, or Dem-
ocratic, candidate for the first General Assembly to meet under
the new conditions. He received every white vote cast, but was
defeated by the negro majority. But the negro supremacy did
not long continue. He served as one of the supervisors of his
County, completed his preparations for the Bar and began prac-
tice as a lawyer in 1874. He followed his profession success-
fully for some years and in 1883 was elected Commonwealth's
Attorney, which office he filled for three years.

Online LibraryAlbert B OsborneMakers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) → online text (page 42 of 48)