Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Sherrod W. Dutton

SHERROD W. DUTTON, M. D. The first professional service required in a pioneer community is usually that supplied by the physician. The early settlers in Kansas were all around men. They could perform in a rough fashion the duties of a carpenter, the housebuilder, the blacksmith, they had the Anglo-Saxon trait of being able to govern themselves, and in the absence of a regular minister they could gather together under a tree or in some humble cabin and worship God. Nor were they lacking altogether in ability to minister to the sick and suffering. But they were likely to welcome a regular physician above all others who were competent to render some special sort of service.

Many of the first doctors in Western Kansas have long since given up practice, have left the country, or have died. One of those specially competent to recall the scenes of early days and early trials is Doctor Dutton, who was among the first settlers in the McCracken community of Rush County. He arrived in 1880. At that time only a few sod houses were scattered over the site now occupied by that city. He located on a claim, his homestead being four and a half miles south of the present town of McCracken. There he built a sod house of two rooms, and into that humble abode he moved his family, consisting of his wife and two children. He planned to develop the homestead as a farm, but the demands of his professional service sadly interfered with that program. His first office was in the kitchen of his home, but subsequently he bought a quarter section of land across the road from the homestead and used the vacant house which stood there as his office.

There were no telephones, no railroads, the dugouts and sod houses were often miles apart, and in the absence of drug stores and other conveniences which are accepted by the modern world as matters of course, he had to carry not only the implements of his profession, but also most of the drugs and medicines he used. He often went to see his patients on foot, though for the most part he rode a horse. The territory he had to cover in the early days was bounded by a radius around his home of not less than thirty miles. Wind and rain, cold and heat, were no obstacles to his rendering all the service he could to the sick and suffering over that broad extent of territory. At night he directed his course by the north star and if the sky was cloudy he would observe the direction of the wind and direct his journey accordingly. Almost the first essential for the success of a pioneer practitioner was a sturdy physique, one capable of withstanding all the fatigue and hardships, and a great many of the young graduates of medical colleges of the present day would readily surrender their diplomas and seek work elsewhere rather than enter upon a practice involving such tremendous physical toil and hardship as Doctor Dutton had to face thirty or thirty-five years ago in Western Kansas.

Though he lived on his farm about six years, Doctor Dutton was too much engaged with his practice to carry out any extensive improvements, and he finally left the farm and moved into McCracken, which was just beginning to grow as a town. Of the residents of McCracken at that time Doctor Dutton knows of only two who are still in the town. He erected his own home there in 1887, and is still active as a physician, and is regularly called to the homes of some of the families whom he doctored thirty or thirty-five years ago. He erected the first drug store in McCracken, and he has continued that as a part of his business enterprise.

Doctor Dutton is now a man seventy-five years of age, and has had a great range of experience in the Middle Western States. He was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky, September 8, 1841. He finished his literary education in Hayden University, and as a young man taught school in Kentucky, Indiana, and also in Butler County, Kansas. He came to Kansas from Blackhawk, Indiana. His medical studies were carried on in the Kentucky School of Medicine at Louisville and in the University of Louisville, from which latter institution he graduated in 1865. He did his first practice at Somerset and Mill Springs, Kentucky, later practiced in Indiana, and in 1871 settled in Butler County, Kansas. From there he removed to Barber County. He presided at the first obstetrical case in Barber County. That was in April, 1873, when the first white child born in the county came into the world. The scene of that birth and pioneer professional service of Doctor Dutton was four miles south of Medicine Lodge. From Barber County he soon returned to Eldorado, Kansas, and spent most of his time in medical practice there until he removed to Rush County in 1880.

While living in Butler County Doctor Dutton was actively associated with the leaders in public affairs, particularly men like Bent Murdock, Joe Satterthwaite, John Betts and Frank Frazier. In the early years after coming to Rush County he was himself a leader in democratic politics, served two terms as coroner, and at one time was defeated for representative of the State Legislature. His first presidential vote was cast for Seymour in 1868. He continued an adherent of the democratic party until Bryan became the foremost exponent of its principles, and in that campaign he voted for William McKinley and has since been a republican. While a democrat Doctor Dutton was chairman of his party committee and was frequently a delegate to conventions. He has also been chairman of one republican county convention. For the past twenty-one years he has been on the board of pension examiners for Rush County and is now its chairman.

He is an active Methodist, for fifteen years has been teacher of the Bible class of the church at McCracken, is a past master of his Masonic Lodge, has attended the Masonic Grand Lodge, and has also been a delegate to the Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows in Kansas. For twenty-four years Doctor Dutton served as local surgeon for the Missouri Pacific Railway at McCracken, and he is a member of the Kansas Medical and American Medical associations.

His family is a very old one in America. His great-great-grandfather Dutton came from England and located in Virginia. His great-grandfather was a soldier under George Washington during the Revolutionary war. David Dutton, grandfather of Doctor Dutton, was a native of Lee County, Virginia, and spent his boyhood in that county while the Revolutionary war was in progress. In 1798, he moved across the mountains into Pulaski County, Kentucky, and he died near Somerset in that state. He combined the vocations of farmer and carpenter. The battle of Dutton's Hill in the Civil war was fought on his farm in Kentucky. David and Mary Dutton had the following children: William; Mrs. Kate Eastham; Jonathan S.; Mrs. Sallie Burkhart; Martin, who lives at Lincoln, Nebraska; and David, Jr.

Jonathan S. Dutton, father of Doctor Dutton, was born near Somerset, Kentucky, in June, 1811. He had the advantages of the common schools of that day and his chief work through his active career was the trade of carpenter. In early life he served as major of the Kentucky militia. He afterwards came to Kansas and died at Eldorado in 1887. Jonathan Dutton married Martha Chesney, whose father, John Chesney, came from Scotland, first settling at Culpeper Court House, Virginia, and in 1798 removing to Kentucky, where he was a slave holding planter. John Chesney married a Miss Jasper at Culpeper Court House, Virginia. Mrs. Jonathan Dutton died in Butler County, Kansas, about a month after her husband's death. Their children were: Sarah A., deceased, whose first husband was Henry Martin and her second was Melvin Mickle; Keziah P., who died in Eldorado, Kansas, the wife of George M. Sandifer; Dr. Sherrod W.; Mary, who died in Louisville, Kentucky, the wife of Charles Turner; Josephine, Mrs. Wilson, living in Texas; Mattie, who married Joe Satterthwaite, of Douglas; Kansas; Susie, widow of Perry Hawes; Schuyler, who became a Union soldier in the Civil war and was killed in Stoneman's raid.

Doctor Dutton was married in Butler County, Kansas, August 3, 1873, to Miss Susie Lawrence, a daughter of Martin and Susan (Pond) Lawrence. Her father was a native of New York State, went west to Wisconsin, and finally came to Kansas, locating on a farm. Doctor and Mrs. Dutton have reared a family of four children: Chesney L., of Meridian, Iowa; Vella, wife of Hayes Floyd, of Ness City; Jonathan S., who is in France as a member of Company I, Twenty-Second Engineers, and Mattie, wife of Pearl Mitchell, of Colorado.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

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