Boyer, Herbert (M.D.)

Dr. Herbert BoyerDr. Herbert Boyer was born in Bethlehem in Johnson County, Arkansas on November 13, 1886.  He died on June 12, 1976 in Fayetteville, Arkansas

His grandfather was a veteran of the Mexican War and also a medical corpsman in the Civil War during which he served on both sides. He settled in Bethlehem, Arkansas, now close to Clarksville in Johnson County.  Dr. Boyer’s father, William Smith Boyer, was born in 1861.

Dr. Boyer was the oldest of eight children born.  His mother died of tuberculosis when he was 8 years old and had told him she wanted him to be a doctor. His early education was in an ungraded country school from which he graduated with a teacher’s certificate. He taught school for 2 years — 1906-1907 — then entered medical school in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Four years later, in 1911, he graduated in a class of 34. This was during the era when State Board Examinations were just beginning to be required for licensure.  He took one of the first licensure exams in Arkansas.

He married Lois Wofford of Hatman in 1914.  They had four boys, two of whom grew to adulthood, Dr. Howard L. Boyer and Bill N. Boyer. They divorced in 1945.

His first practice was in Hartman, Arkansas, a town of 600 people in Johnson County.  After 18 years, because of the depression, he moved to Choctaw County, Oklahoma to Fort Towson, an old pioneer settlement and fort. He practiced medicine there for another 18 years. At the age of 60 he bought the Lincoln, Arkansas practice from a retiring physician, Dr.Karl A. M. Berganstal and his adjoining home which had been built by another pioneer physician, Dr. John Lacy Bean in the mid 1930s. The clinic had a reception hall, an office, an obstetrical room, a small surgery and 3 examination rooms. Dr. Boyer added a small garage in 1960 or ’61.

For the next 26 years he served the people of Lincoln. He retired in 1972 at the age of 86. He had practiced medicine for 61 years. He continued to live in the residence until he died June 12, 1976 at age 91. He is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Clarksville, Arkansas in the county where he was born.

During his years in Lincoln he delivered 457 babies and estimated that he delivered more than 2000 babies in all his years of practice, most often in the home.

His second wife, Ruby, served as his office help and assistant. After his death she lived in the home until it was necessary to have nursing care at City Hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas  She died in 1987 at the age of 94 and is buried at Oaklawn Cemetery in Clarksville, Arkansas.

Dr. Boyer was ever interested in civic affairs in the towns he served.   He was Chairman of the School Board in Johnson County, Arkansas. He was the mayor of Fort Towson, Oklahoma and County Commissioner of Choctaw County. In Lincoln he served four two-year terms as mayor.  He said that he had been mayor in every town he lived in.

Also in Lincoln he was a founding member of the Kiwanis Club.

Dr Boyer’s son, Dr. Howard L. Boyer converted the house and clinic into a museum. It  was dedicated  as the Arkansas Country Doctor Museum on October 19, 1996.

— B.L. Battenfield  20 March 2006

Sources:

Newspaper articles, letters from Dr. Harold L. Boyer, video recording of Dr. Harold L Boyer, Funeral service program

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