Biography of Flavius Ralls Smith, M. D.

Flavius Ralls Smith, M. D. Identified with one of the most important and exacting, as well as one of the most useful of professions, Doctor Smith had become widely known for his remarkable skill as a surgeon; and easily holds a place in the front rank of the surgeons of Kansas. Doctor Smith is one of the proprietors of the Winfield Hospital, an institution of more than local scope, since its patients come from several states and its reputation is largely due to the personal ability of Doctor Smith.

He had spent most of his life in Kansas, and his experience as a physician and surgeon covers more than a quarter of a century. He was born near Peru, Madison County, Iowa, November 22, 1862, son of William and Ellen (Hollingshead) Smith. His father was born in Kentucky, and when about ten years of age his parents removed to Tennessee and two years later to Jacksonville, Illinois, and then to Sangamon County, Illinois, where William Smith married. William Smith was loyally and sincerely devoted to his nation in the struggle of the Civil war and served in Sherman’s army during many of its most noted campaigns, including the march to the sea. From Illinois he removed to Iowa, and in 1874 brought his family to Kansas, locating on a farm two miles west of Old Atlanta, in Rice County. A year later he bought a farm in Mitchell Township, two miles north and four miles west of Lyons. That farm was the scene of his activities until 1892, when he moved into the Village of Lyons and in 1897 to Little River, Kansas. William Smith died at Little River in 1906. In every community where he lived he became well known as a man of high character, industry and exceptional ability. He was more than nominally identified with the republican party. In Madison County, Iowa, he served as county commissioner, and in Rice County was also active in politics, and served as trustee of Mitchell Township. He was one of the stanch members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and helped to build the church of that denomination in Mitchell, Kansas.

William Smith was twice married. His first wife left one daughter, Ellen, who died in Illinois. Ellen G. Hollingshead, mother of Doctor Smith, was born in Tuckahoe, New Jersey, in 1830, and died at Winfield, Kansas, in 1912. Her father, Joseph Hollingshead, was also a native of New Jersey, a farmer by occupation, and spent most of his active life in Iowa. William Smith by his second wife had the following children: J. H. Smith, a farmer at Windham, Kansas; William T., a farmer at Lyons; Martha J., who lives at Winfield, widow of George Conner, a farmer; Dr. F. R. Smith; R. H. Smith, a farmer at Little River, and Dr. E. O. Smith, a partner and associate of his brother, F. R. Smith, at Winfield.

Flavious R. Smith was twelve years of age when his parents came to Kansas, and he attended high school at Lyons during the first year it was established, being graduated in 1882. Even as a youth it was his ambition to become a physician, and for a number of years he directed his efforts and work so as to procure the means by which he might translate his aims into practical results. He partly paid the expense of his higher education by teaching. His first term of school was held in a sod school house. In 1887 he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Keokuk, Iowa, and completed his course and was given his degree M. D. in 1889. Doctor Smith had realized the value of keeping in close touch with the advanced work of his profession, and since leaving college had taken ten or more post-graduate courses in the larger medical centers. He had taken several such courses in the Chicago Polyclinic, and was frequently at the clinics of the late Dr. John B. Murphy of Chicago. This association with great-men in surgery, combined with his own exceptional talent, observation and experience, had brought Doctor Smith far along the road toward eminence in his chosen field, surgery.

Doctor Smith began practice in 1889 at Mitchell, in Rice County, Kansas, and eighteen months later moved to Little River, a larger town in the same county. He soon had a profitable practice there, and it was his home for eighteen years. In October, 1898, he removed to Winfield, and in order to have the facilities for surgical work under appropriate conditions he bought the old Pilcher Hospital, renaming it the Winfield Hospital. His own personality and skill have been responsible for the tremendous success of this institution. During the first six months, since he himself was comparatively unknown in his new location, the hospital had little patronage, but by the end of the year it was doing a very large business, and its facilities have been overtaxed for a number of years. The hospital had accommodations of thirty beds and is located in Winfield at Tenth Avenue and Manning Street. The cases looked after in this hospital come not only from Kansas but from Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Missouri and other more distant states.

Doctor Smith is a thorough business man, and had an equipment of those personal qualities which add to and complete the confidence felt by his patients in his technical ability. The demands upon his time and energies through the hospital and his private practice have increased to such an extent that he had since taken as partners his brother, E. O. Smith, and Dr. C. C. Hawke, making the present firm Smith, Smith & Hawke.

Doctor Smith is a thorough believer in the value of Kansas agriculture, and among his personal investments is a fine farm of 257 acres along the bottoms of the Little Arkansas River and adjoining the city limits of Little River. He also owned his residence at 1309 East Ninth Avenue, in Winfield. He and his wife are among the prominent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Doctor Smith had served as a trustee for seven years. He was also a trustee of the church at Little River for the greater part of the time he lived there.

Doctor Smith was married in 1890 to Miss Ella Simmons, daughter of A. R. and Catherine Simmons, both now deceased. Her father was a substantial farmer and stockman near Fort Scott, Kansas. Doctor Smith is a member of the Masonic Order, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Knights and Ladies of Security, and the Knights of Pythias. In the line of his profession he belongs to the Cowley County Medical Society, the Kansas State Medical Society, the American Medical Association and various other professional organizations. For eight years he served as a member of the United States Pension Examining Board of Rice County. While at Little River he was president of the State Bank of that town from its organization until he removed to Winfield. He is now a stockholder in the State Bank of Winfield. He also served fourteen years as a member of the school board of Little River. He is an interested student of public questions, and had done what he could amid the interests of his profession to support the republican party and its success.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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