An Early History of the
Oklahoma Osteopathic Association
By J.A. Ross, DO
Early in November, 1902, the osteopathic physicians of Oklahoma City sent an invitation to the osteopathic physicians of Oklahoma Territory for the purpose of organizing a state association at a time, what is now the state of Oklahoma was two territories: Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory. Our invitations were sent to the doctors of Oklahoma only.
But one doctor outside of Oklahoma City responded to this invitation- Dr. E.M. Bailey of Norman. There were five physicians present at the first meeting: Dr. Clara Mahaffay, Dr. J.M Rouse, Dr. Lucy T Rouse and Dr. J.A. Ross all from Oklahoma City; and Dr. E.M. Bailey, Norman. Dr. Clara Mahaffay was made chairman and Dr. J.A. Ross, secretary. We wrote a constitution and bylaws to be submitted to the members at another called meeting on November 29, 1902.
Ten doctors were present at the second called meeting, November 9, 1902: Dr. J.W. Slade and Dr. Cassie E. Hubbard, Blackwell; Dr. Catherine Harris and Dr. E.M. Bailey, Norman; Dr. I.F. Mahaffay, Guthrie; and the Oklahoma City doctors: Dr. Clara Mahaffay, Dr. J.M. Rouse, Dr. L.T. Rouse; Dr. Laura Lee Haden (now Mrs. Thad Wells) and Dr. J.A. Ross.
An organization was completed and the constitution was adopted. The name given to the organization was, “The Oklahoma Association of Osteopathy”. The annual dues were fixed at $1.00. The following officers were elected for one year: Dr. J.M. Rouse, Oklahoma City, president; Dr. E.M. Bailey, Norman, vice president; Dr. J.A. Ross, Oklahoma City, secretary; and Dr. Clara Mahaffay, Oklahoma City, treasurer.
The first business to come become before the organization, after adoption of the constitution and election of officers, was plans for legislation. A legislative committee was appointed, consisting of the officers and Dr. I.F. Mahaffay of Guthrie. A bill similar to the California law of that time was presented and discussed for the benefit of the committee. The fight for legislation had begun and has continued with every session of the legislature since then.
At the next session of the legislature, this little group with the help of a few who joined the organization, secured our first law regulating osteopathy in Oklahoma. The new members who joined the organization within a year and rendered valuable assistance in our fight were: Dr. and Mrs. J.A. Price, Perry; Dr. Neva Triplett, Enid; Dr. Lula M. Ireland, Guthrie; Dr. F.A. Englehart, Shawnee; Dr. and Mrs. G.B. Armstrong, Hobart; Dr. H.C. Wallace, Blackwell; and Dr. and Mrs. F.B. Apperson, El Reno.
June 6, 1903 – Oklahoma City
The next meeting of the association was held in Oklahoma City at the office of the secretary, Dr. J.A. Ross, June 6, 1903. Thirteen members were present. Papers were read by several members. A report was given by the secretary on the work of the legislative committee. The law had been passed and the First Board of Examiners had been appointed by the governor consisting of Dr. J.M. Rouse, president; Dr. J.A. Price, secretary; and Dr. J.W. Slade, treasurer. When there was a change of administration, the new governor appointed Dr. J.A. Ross, president; Dr. J.A. Price, secretary; and J.M Rouse, treasurer. This board continued to office until we lost our law and were under the medical board of examiners with one representative on the board.
November 19, 1904 – Oklahoma City
The next meeting of the association was held at the office of Drs. Rouse and Rouse, Oklahoma City, November 19, 1904. No meeting had been held in November 1903. Several interesting papers were read and discussed at the meeting.
The officers elected were: Dr. Neva Triplett, Enid, president; Dr. H.C. Wallace, Blackwell, vice president; Dr. H.S. Wiles, Ponca City, secretary; and Dr. Plus, Chandler, treasurer. Dr. J.A. Price was elected a member of the executive committee.
May 27, 1905 – Guthrie
The next meeting was held at the office of Dr. Leeper in Guthrie, May 27, 1905. The principle business to come before this meeting was ways and means of paying the balance of debts incurred in our legislative campaigns. One of the unpaid bills presented at this meeting was Judge Thomas H. Doyle¹s bill for $200.00 for services rendered in the legislature. It was moved and carried after much discussion that the bill was rejected by the association and that individual members who cared to contribute could do so, thus throwing the burden back upon the little group who had already done most of the work and carried the financial load. It seemed that some of the newer members, who had come since the law was passed, felt no obligation for sharing the cost. All debts were paid without an assessment or financial aid from outside our membership. The next annual meeting was held November 25, 1905 at the office of Dr. Neva Triplett in Enid. Officers elected at this meeting were: Dr. J.A. Price, Perry, president; Dr. W.F. Nay, Enid, vice president; Dr. Clara Mahaffay, Oklahoma City, secretary; Dr. Neva Triplett, Enid, treasurer.
The constitution was amended, changing the name from ” The Oklahoma Association of Osteopathy” to the “Oklahoma Osteopathic Association”. The meeting was an interesting and profitable one as were all the meetings of the pioneer days. Since the burden of the legislative fights took all the money we could raise, we had no money to bring in outside talent for our meetings. We prepared the papers for our programs ourselves, largely from our experiences in practice. The papers were freely discussed so we really received help from one another.
November 29, 1906 – Oklahoma City
The next annual meeting was held November 29, 1906 in Oklahoma City, At that time, it seemed probable that Oklahoma and Indian Territories would be admitted into the Union as one state; though there was much discussion on how the association constitution should be amended to include doctors from both territories. Invitations had been sent and a few Indian Territory doctors were present at this meeting. Dr. W.S. Corbin, who was presiding in absence of the president, Dr. J.A. Price, appointed a committee of four to rewrite the constitution and submit it to the afternoon session. Dr. J.M. Rouse and Dr. Annie Johnson from Oklahoma Territory and Drs. S.M. Pleck and Dr. I.F. Mahaffay from Indian Territory were appointed. This committee submitted a constitution to the afternoon session, which was adopted.
The following doctors signed the constitutions charter members of the combined association: Dr. J.A. Price, Guthrie; Dr. Clara Mahaffay; Dr. F.A. Englehart; Dr. J.M. Rouse; Dr. Lucy T. Rouse; Dr. Olive Sturgess; Dr. Edith Barber; Dr. Elizabeth Johnson; Dr. Annie Johnson; Dr. Mary Johnson; Dr. Isabelle Brewington and Dr. J. A. Ross, all from Oklahoma City; Dr. E.M. Bailey, Shawnee, Dr. I.F. Mahaffay, McAlister; Dr. C.K. Garing, Durant; Dr. J.W. Eisiminger, Davis; Dr. S.M. Pleak, Dr. Ella P. Ray and Dr. Clarence Ray, Tulsa; Dr. M.E. Miller, Wynnewood; Dr. B.B. Shoop, Woodward; Dr. E.S. Corbin and Dr. G.E. Denning, Chickasha, Dr. H.O. Wallace, Blackwell; Dr. J.W. Shacklford, and Dr. Jennie Shacklford, Ardmore; Dr. Neva Triplett, Enid; and Eva Stevens. Stroud.
The following officers were elected: Dr. J.A. Price, president; Dr. Edith Barber, vice president; Dr. Ella P. Ray, secretary; Dr. Clara Mahaffay, treasure; and Dr. H.C. Wallace, editor. Six trustees were elected as provided for in the amended constitution: Dr. J.A. Ross and Dr. J.A. Shacklford for three years; Dr. J.M. Rouse and Dr. W.S. Corbin for two years; and Dr. I.F. Mahaffay and Dr. S.M. Pleak for one year. An invitation to hold the next meeting in Chickasha was accepted.
June 19, 1907 – Chickasha
The Chickasha meeting was held June 19, 1907. The minutes of the meeting reflect that this was the best meeting that association ever held in Oklahoma. We had a more elaborate program and the first banquet in the history of the association. The new officers elected were Dr. W.S. Corbin, president; Dr. E.M. Bailey, vice president and Dr. J.A. Price were elected trustees for three years to succeed Dr. S.M. Pleak and Dr. I.F. Mahaffay.
The territories of Oklahoma and Indian Territory were admitted to the union as the state of Oklahoma in 1907 and were again facing a hard battle to maintain our law and independent Board of Examiners. We made the mistake of compromising and agreeing to a bill that would put us under the medical board composed of representatives from the different schools- one member from our school. The bill became a law and for some time, seemed to be fairly satisfactory. Dr. H.C. Montague was our first member on this board. The DOs were passing the examinations with a better showing than made by the MD candidates, but this satisfactory condition did not last long. It soon became evident that we were not getting a square deal. Our candidates were failing to pass the examinations. Believing they had been failed arbitrarily, we decided to do something about it. A committee was appointed to go to the secretary of the board and demand an opportunity to review the examination papers. This committee found that the students from our school, who had been notified that they failed, had really passed with high grades. The only solution for this situation seemed to be to begin another campaign for the new law giving us an independent board of examiners. It was a hard fight, but we finally succeeded in getting our present law. We were the first state to pass what the American Osteopathic Association had put out as the “model bill”.
July 15, 1908 – Guthrie
The next meeting was held in Guthrie, July 15, 1908. On account of floods at that time, the attendance was less than a quorum, so there was no election of officers or other business.
In 1907 30 members paid dues and 1908 only 19 members paid dues. We were getting smaller. Some were leaving the state and some were dropping their memberships. It was again, the duty of the secretary (myself) to get as many new members and raise as much money for the legislative debts as possible. In one campaign, I wrote more than 1,500 letters appealing for members and cash and presented our case to members of the legislature but received discouraging results. Many of the doctors had been out of school a short time and could not contribute. In fact, we were all new and none of us had an established practice, but we managed somehow to pay all the debts without help from outside our membership.
For more than ten years, the legislative committee always consisted of the officers of the association including the trustees. Some of the members of these committees did not work for legislation. One member who deserves special mention is Dr. J. A. Price. Dr. Price moved from Perry to Guthrie, the capitol at the time. This gave him an opportunity to do as much personal work with the legislators during the sessions of legislature. Other committee members made trips to Guthrie to help look after our interests and always at their own expense.
June 6, 1909 – Oklahoma City
A meeting was called for June 6, 1909, at the office of Drs. Rouse and Rouse, Oklahoma City, for the purpose of discussing matters pertaining to legislation and election of officers. Dr. F.A. Englehart was elected president; Dr. Nay, vice president; Dr. C.E. Bailey, secretary and Dr. W.S. Corbin, treasure. Dr. J.J. Schmidt and Dr. J.B. Gilmour were elected trustees for three years and Dr. W.F. Nay to fill the vacancy due to the renewal of Dr. E.M. Bailey from the state.
December 19, 1911 – Oklahoma City
The next annual meeting was held December 19, 1911 at the office of Drs Rouse and Price, Oklahoma City. This was the first meeting of our association with the main lectures given by someone outside our own membership. Dr. George A. Still, from Kirksville, gave two fine lectures and some interesting clinics. We felt the meeting was a very profitable one. At the following annual meeting, Dr. Laughlin was the principal speaker at our annual meetings. The officers elected at this meeting were: Dr. J.F. Nay, president; Dr. W.H. Elmore, secretary-treasurer; Dr. J.A. Ross and Dr. W.A. Cole, trustees.
I have briefly mentioned some of the main points in the history of the first ten years of organized osteopathic medicine in Oklahoma. The pioneer DOs not only made a place for osteopathic medicine and secured its legal recognition, but by their faithful professional service and good citizenship won the confidence and respect of the people. With few exceptions, the pioneers were active in the church, civic and social life of their communities. Some of them were recognized as leaders and received the highest honors within the gift of membership of various organizations. Many of the pioneers are deceased, some have retired and some have left the state. Certainly, the osteopathic profession in Oklahoma today owes a debt of gratitude to the pioneers who laid the foundation upon which the present osteopathic structure has been built.