I was honored to know Dr. Hingson and his wife Gussie, through a family connection, and was truly awed by the man’s genius, even when I was a teenager. Gussie was a lifelong friend of an older cousin, and I have many letters and Christmas cards they exchanged over the years.
The New York Times noted in their obituary of Dr. Hingson in 1996: Robert Andrew Hingson [was] a pioneer in the field of public health who made important contributions to anesthesia for safer, easier childbirth and to mass immunizations with the ”jet” injection…[his] fame was assured well before this relief work. His invention of continuous caudal — posterior — anesthesia and perfection of lumbar epidural anesthesia to prevent pain in childbirth earned him worldwide recognition.
Both techniques are credited with reducing maternal and infant mortality around the world. Dr. Hingson began epidural and jet injections as a fledgling physician when he was the director of anesthesia at the United States Marine Hospital on Staten Island from 1941 to 1943.
His jet injector speeded mass inoculations against many diseases, without needles or syringes. Hundreds of people could be inoculated in an hour, making the injector a vital tool in eradicating small pox.
In 1962 Dr. Hingson led a team that immunized a million people against smallpox in Liberia. In 1967 his foundation vaccinated 846,000 people against smallpox in Costa Rica and immunized people there against epidemics of measles and polio…
Ocilla’s first hospital, with 20 beds, was opened by Dr. Herman Dismuke* and Dr. Gabe Willis in 1914. It originally featured wrap-around porches. Jamie Wilcox Lovett and Cindy Griffin note that this was built by their great-grandfather, Robert Toombs Woolsey. It was made obsolete by a newer facility in the early 1930s and is now a private residence.
*Dr. Dismuke was the most beloved physician in Irwin County during his lifetime. He delivered thousands of babies, promoted modern health and sanitary practices through his work with the clinic at Irwinville Farms during the Great Depression and served as the county doctor.
Sandra Crouch Irons writes: My grandfather, Thomas A. Crouch, purchased this building to house his wife and family which included 7 children the first of which was born in 1898 and the last in 1911. I’m not exactly sure as to when he purchased the sanitarium, but I do have photographs of my father, Joseph P. Crouch, outside the back porch when he was about 12 which would have made the date around 1923. The sanitarium was never replaced around the 1930s because the Crouch family lived there. I am aware that my grandfather remodeled some of the interior, but the exterior remained basically the same until it was sold somewhere around the late 1980s/early 90s. I lived in and grew up in this house from 1954, when my father retired from the Marines and moved back to Ocilla, until I went to college in 1965. My husband, Stephen Irons, our daughter, Jennifer, and I continued to visit my parents and Aunt Joree who continued to live here until the house was sold.
Mr. Emory McMillan (along with Mrs. Eula) and his jewelry store were synonymous with style and good taste in Ocilla for much of the later half of the 20th century. He was a no-nonsense gentleman who, like the best of small-town merchants, knew his community and his customers well. Since his passing in 2012, the storefront has been repainted and another business located here. To many, it will always be remembered as McMillan’s Jewelers.
Karen Phillips writes: For most of its history this was known as the Free Will Baptist Church, located on 7th Street between Oak Street and Maple Street. It was probably built in the early 1900s. It was moved to its present location in the mid-2000s and is now occupied by an African-American congregation. To me, it’s the most unique church building in Ocilla. I hope it can be preserved in its present appearance.
This Craftsman bungalow has always been one of my favorites. According to Trish Lilly Jones, it was owned by Ms. Lillie Mobley (1898-1983) until her mother, Barbara Wilkinson, purchased it in 1986. Trish lived here when she was in high school and notes that it had a “great Sweet Potato Parade-watching porch”. Trish lives in beautiful Madison, Georgia, these days, and publishes a blog, The Old Post Road. She’s an accomplished artist and I think you’ll enjoy her paintings.