Biography of Benjamin F. Fortner, M.D

The subject of this sketch was born August 15, 1847, third son of M. F. Fortner, who resides eight miles north of Dallas, and is one of the few living who first settled in that country from Kentucky. Benjamin’s mother was Miss Hall, of Simpson County, Kentucky, daughter of a prominent farmer in that State. Mr. Fortner attended private and public schools in Texas until his seventeenth year. In 1864 he volunteered in the Confederate service, and served until the close of the war, after which he returned home, and again went to school until 1866. That year his parents moved to Cane Hill, Arkansas, where Benjamin became a student in the Cane Hill Academy, then under the management of Professor A. H. Buchanan, now President of the University of Lebanon, Tennessee. At this time young Fortner began teaching a private school, and continued it until 1868, when he entered the office of Dr. W. B. Welch, a leading surgeon of that State. Remaining with him until 1872, he graduated from the medical department of the Vanderbilt University, having attended a course of lectures in the winter of 1870-71 at the Missouri Medical College, St. Louis. In 1872 Dr. Fortner, in connection with his old preceptor, Dr. Welch, commenced the practice of medicine at Cane Hill, but in the same year moved to Siloam Springs, Ark., where he remained until the end of 1876. Moving to Fayetteville, Arkansas, he then entered into partnership with Dr. Thomas J. Pollard until 1879, when he located near Claremore, and embarked in the stock business, in connection with medicine. In 1882 he returned to Fayetteville, and there entered into partnership with Dr. Clinton S. Gray, one of the most prominent physicians in the State. Here he remained until 1884, when he removed to Vinita, Cherokee Nation, and there he resumed practice which he continues until the present. In 1886 Dr. Fortner associated himself with Dr. Bagley, of Vinita, and they are now in partnership. In the winter of 1890 Dr. Fortner took a post-graduate course in New York. He was married in October 1874, at Siloam Springs, to Jennie, daughter of C. D. Gunter. Mrs. Fortner is a lady of good education and pleasing address. The doctor is five feet ten inches in height and weighs 190 pounds. He is a fine-looking, dignified gentleman, and as a physician ranks among the highest in the profession, while his reputation as a surgeon has reached over a wide field of operation in the Indian Territory and adjoining States. Dr. Fortner is surgeon for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. He has been president of the Medical Association of Railway Surgeons. He has also served two terms as president of the Indian Territory Medical Society, the first Indian medical association ever started on the continent, and now composed of some seventy-five regular graduates. Aside from his professional character, he is pre-eminently a citizen, the patron of education and morality, is connected with all educational institutions of his community, including Willie Halsell College and Worcester Academy. From a heavy practice he has found time to superintend a single Sunday school for seven consecutive years. He is a Freemason of high degree, and a member also of the Knights of Pythias, and similar secret orders. Dr. Fortner is a man of great popularity in the Cherokee Nation, and, it may be added, would be so in any community where he pleased to reside. This may be readily surmised by the number of important offices which he is called upon to accept.

Indian Territory,

O'Beirne, Harry F. and Edward S. The Indian Territory: Its Chiefs, Legislators, and Leading Men. St. Louis. 1898.

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