Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Chariton's Dr. B. F. Dougherty answers Ireland's call

I've resurrected this photograph of Chariton's 1901 Noxall Club football team because it contains, at left in top hat and carrying a staff, the only image I've got of Dr. Bernard Francis Dougherty. Some 27 years after the image was taken, in 1928,  he became so far as I know the only Lucas Countyan to have gone to glory in the south of Iowa and then been transported (after cremation) to his birthplace in Ireland for burial. It's kind of an interesting story, or at least I think so.

If you're interested in the Noxall Club, you can read more about it in this post entitled, "What It Was Was Football."  Yes, the team mascot was a goat. Team members standing to Dr. Dougherty's left are identified as Bill Eikenberry, Dr. Perry, Dr. Ford, Fatty Culbertson and Lawrence Haselquist. Others are (middle row from left) Shorty Blake, Harve Gookin and Bert Jackson; and (seated from left) Bob Manning, Charlie Goldsberry, Joe Kridelbaugh and Charlie Guthrie.


Dr. Dougherty (his Irish family spelled the name Doherty) was born April 16, 1860, to William and Sophia (O'Donnell) Doherty, near Church Hill, a village some seven miles west of Letterkenny, County Donegal, in what now is the Republic of Ireland. Then, Donegal was the most westerly county in the historic Irish province of  Ulster, a region especially hard hit by the Potato Famine of 1845-49.

The partition of Ireland during 1920 added Donegal to the republic, but broke its traditional ties to other Ulster counties, thereafter part of what became Northern Ireland, still a part of the United Kingdom. That partition also left Donegal isolated, connected only by a narrow strip of land to the remainder of the republic.

Bernard was the second eldest in a family of at least 10 children, a family that seems to have had at least some advantages. As a young man, he traveled to Dublin where he was able to enroll at Trinity College, earning his A.M. degree there in 1877 and his M.D. degree during 1879.

A year later, during 1880, Bernard emigrated to the United States, perhaps with other siblings. Six of the surviving Doherty/Dougherty siblings eventually left Ireland for America --- John, Bernard, James, Daniel, Patrick and Elizabeth.

After some years in Philadelphia, he moved west to Chicago where he became associated with Dr. Christian Fenger, a Danish-born surgeon, pathologist, and medical instructor and one of the most highly regarded surgeons in the United States. He also enrolled at the Chicago College of Physicians and Surgeons (now the University of Illinois College of Medicine), earning a second M.D. degree there during 1889.


Also during 1889, Bernard married a fellow physician, Dr. Barbara E. Schlenz, in Kankakee and they established a joint practice there, which continued until about 1898, when they relocated briefly in Des Moines and then settled permanently in Chariton after purchasing the Whitlock Drug Store on the west side of the square during March of 1899. At the time, physicians generally dispensed their own medications and it was relatively common to operate a drug store in conjunction with a practice.

Two years later, the Doughertys were prospering and moved their drug store and their joint practice to the north half of the brand new Ensley-Crocker Block, which was designed specifically for them by Frank Crocker, the investor who built it. The drug store occupied the first floor of the building and that stone staircase with the lion at its base alongside the alley just to the north led to the couple's offices and apartment upstairs. 

The Doughertys had no children, but took into their home and raised a niece and nephew, Marie and Patrick Dougherty, children of Bernard's brother, Patrick Dougherty Sr., who had died during 1908. Both were Chariton High School graduates and Patrick went on to graduate from both the University of Iowa and Yale University before beginning a successful career as a research chemist in New York. He remained the mainstay of his Aunt Barbara for the remainder of her life.

After 23 years in business on the square, the Doughertys sold their drug store to E.J. Jones and W.B. Sullivan during July of 1923 and retired, but retained ownership of the building --- which they eventually had purchased --- as an investment property and continued to live upstairs.

During 1927, Dr. Dougherty became ill with colon cancer and it claimed his life on July 18, 1928, at the age of 68. Ten years earlier, he had written his will and in it specified that "I direct my body be cremated and ... my ashes be placed in or scattered over my mother's grave in Ireland."

Dr. Barbara and her nephew, Patrick, carried those instructions out, sending the body to the Harbach Crematory in Des Moines and shipping the ashes to his brother, William, who had continued to farm and raise his family at Church Hill, County Donegal. Four other Dougherty siblings survived, John and James at St. Regis, Montana, and Daniel and Elizabeth (Dever) in Philadelphia.


Bernard's mother, Sophia Doherty, had died during January of 1905 and her remains had been buried with other family members in the Gartan Graveyard, a short distance northwest of Church Hill, enclosed within walls in a pasture that slopes down eastward toward Lough Akibbon, a lovely setting. And it was there, presumably, where William Doherty deposited his brother's ashes --- although we really can't prove that.

Many years later, family members erected a modern stone that commemorates many family members interred in the cemetery, including William Doherty Sr., Sophia, his wife, and William Doherty Jr. Bernard's name is not on the stone and it's quite possible that those who placed the monument simply had forgotten (or didn't know) that he was there.

Gartan is an ancient ecclesiastical site reputed to be the birthplace of St. Colmcille (Columba), 521-597 A.D.,  the greatest of the Donegal saints, who is credited with spreading Christianity across Scotland. 

Dr. Barbara Dougherty continued to live in Chariton until July 20, 1951, when she died at the age of 83. Her nephew, Patrick, arranged for a memorial service conducted according to the rites of the Episcopal church and for cremation of her remains which then were interred near a simple stone in the Chariton Cemetery.

This image of the Gartan Graveyard was borrowed from a post entitled "A Fox Becomes a Dove" published on the site "Walking to Donegal" by New Zealander niece and uncle Sarah and Jack Doherty. The broad framework for this Lucas Countyan post was provided by Dr. Dougherty's detailed obituary, published during July of 1928 in both The Leader and The Herald-Patriot.

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