Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dr. V.M. Holland, M.D. : The Life of My Husband, an East Texas Country Doctor

Dr. V.M. Holland M.D.: The Life of My Husband,an East Texas Country Doctor,
 by Mrs. V.M. Holland, Evangeline Neal Dennard Holland, R.N., Captain US Army WWII
Trans-scripted letter posted by Fred L. Holland, entitled "Virgil M. Holland, V.M. Holland, M.D"., dated 4 March 1995

Virgil Holland was born in Fairplay, Panola County, Texas, on 4 March 1918. His parents were Lois Allison Holland of Fairplay, Texas and Mordie Holland of Benton County and Carol County, Tennessee. Virgil had one sister, Marguerite, and three Brothers, Samuel, Leland, and James (known as “Bill”) Holland. His Father was a farmer, rancher and carpenter. His mother was a homemaker. Both parents were life long community leaders in the Methodist Church, local schools, county fairs, soil conservation, home demonstrations, and youth socials and activities.

Virgil attended the rural school in Fairplay and graduated from from Carthage High School in 1934. Only 11 years of public schooling was required for graduation at that time, and he had been advanced two grades. He was valedictorian and only 15. After graduation, he enrolled in the Baptist College of Marshall in Marshall, Texas. His Uncle Sam Allison paid his tuition and book fees: he paid his room and board by waiting on tables and washing dishes in the college cafeteria, managed by Mrs.Fant, mother of the Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, Mr. Clyde E. Fant. [ Mayor Clyde Fant would be the guest speaker at the CHS graduation commencement of Virgil’s son, Frederick Leon Holland, in 1971.] According to Wikipedia,
Clyde Fant was a native of Linden in Cass County, Texas. He was one of six children of Mr. and Mrs. John Preston Fant. John Fant was a cotton gin owner and a onetime Texas state legislator. Fant graduated in 1925 from the former Marshall (Texas) College, now East Texas Baptist University. He taught school for a year in Blocker, a since abandoned community near Marshall, the seat of Harrison County. He then worked for a lumber company in east Texas and was thereafter associated with Southwestern Gas and Electric Company. He was an executive with Interstate Electric Company, with seven years of service with the firm, when he was transferred to Shreveport.]
Mrs. Fant was a lifelong friend and was admired and respected by her “helpers.”

Virgil was a “whiz” in math, chemistry, biology, physics, and history. This background provided good career choices and upon completion of enough hours for a teacher’s certificate and for graduation, he taught in the Fairplay School. He was a scholar, educator, hard worker, and teacher all of his adult life.

In May 1941, Virgil Mordie Holland joined the US Navy and served 4 years, 4 months, and 22 days. During those years of service, in Florida and California, and overseas on Guam and Australia, he was honorably discharged in 1945 as a Chief Pharmacist's Mate, (A.A.). It was during his WW II service that he decided his goal was to “ enter medical school after his discharge from the service, and to become a general practitioner (G.P.) of medicine after graduation and proper training.”

Virgil obtained a B.S. Degree through extra college work at Stephen F. Austin College, Nacogdoches, Texas. Graduating from there with honors, he was admitted to the University of Texas Medical School at Galveston, Texas without having to take an entrance exam in 1946. While there for four years of study, he worked at night for the Sisters of Charity and the John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. During the Summer, he “externed” at the Memorial Hospital in Henderson, Texas, and the Marshall Hospital in Marshall, Texas. In school, he was a member of a fraternity, living in their house and enjoying all their activities. Virgil graduated from the University of Texas Medical School in June 1950. He was third in his class of 96 and was admitted into Alpha Omega Alpha, the National Honor Medical Society.

The Texas Board of Medical Examiners granted Virgil M. Holland, B.S., M.D., this license to practice medicine in Texas in July 1950. Before the examination, he had taken time to marry Evangeline Dennard, Carthage I.S.D. public school’s first and only school nurse from 1947 - 1951. The couple felt they were very fortunate to be able to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary together, before his death in 1990.

Dr. Holland interned at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Gregory, head of the Medical Department in the school wanted him to specialize in internal medicine and become an internal medical diagnostician. Dr. Holland was pleased to receive the offer, but he he felt it “would take too long and I wasn’t getting any younger.” He wanted to enter general practice, become a family physician, and fulfill his goal. He was a life [“Old Red”] member of the U.T. Galveston Medical School’s Alumni Association.

Upon completion of his John Sealy service, Dr. V.M. Holland had been offered a partnership to enter general practice at the Carthage Medical and Surgical Clinic in Carthage, Texas with Dr. Carl Prince and Dr. W.C. Smith: Mrs. V.M. Holland would continue to be the school nurse, but their plans had to change. Dr. W.C. Smith notified Dr. V.M. Holland that the partnership had an obligation to take back their partner, Dr. James M. Ashby, who was returning from the Korean War. The office space that was to be Dr. V.M. Holland would instead be returned to Dr. Ashby.

Dr. Lynn Hooker, whose clinic was also on West Panola, wanted Dr. V.M. Holland to join his clinical practice: but there was not enough room to set up an immediate practice there. This emergency need was taken care of by Dr. D. B. Daniel graciously offering to rent an office to Dr. Holland at the Panola Clinic on North Daniel Street for solo general practice. This help at this crucial time, after years of study and work, was always appreciated by both Dr. and Mrs. Holland in the years that followed.

However, Dr. Holland desired to enter a group practice, and soon he received an offer to join Dr. Coy Stone and Dr. Alfred “Al” Menson in Hobbs, New Mexico. It was too good an offer to turn down. Mr. Q. M. Martin, Superintendent of Carthage Independent School District, promised to release Evangeline, if she could talk Lou Tatum, R.N. into becoming the school nurse for Carthage I.S.D. The rest became history for Lou Tatum and school nursing in Panola County!

 (Hurray for Lou and Coach Tatum --- God Bless you! Always!)

-Evangeline, March 4, 1995


Friday, December 27, 2013


Letter from Dr. Virgil M. Holland to his daughter, Mary, who has provided some editing additions for clarification. -- Dated July 29, 1982

Dear Mary,
That was an interesting article on the large Ginkgo tree on the old Sam Allison farm out in Fairplay, Texas. There were a few things that even my book did not mention. Sammie was a great one for plants of all types. In his best years, I can remember that he had an orchard with pecan trees, apples, cherries, and pears; in the plot across the road from his house on FM 159 from the Henderson Hwy, US 79, to the north (right) of the barn. In the corner of the garden next to the smokehouse he had raspberries of several different types and colors. It was my delight to pick these through the picket fence when I was about four.

In the chicken yard where the fig trees are now behind the house, there were two huge fig trees. The trees there now are only the remains of one of these large figs. In the turkey yard, he had three fig trees of the large variety. These never seemed to have ever amounted to much... even though one persisted around by the pear tree until a freeze a few years ago did it in...to the roots. Over to the right of the pear tree was an apple tree that ripened in June. It was the first fruit to be available. There were small apples, seldom ever as large as lemons, but they were the best tasting apples that I can remember.

Further back in the orchard proper that now has only three large pecan trees; he had a chinquapin tree, a “Japanese” walnut tree, several varieties of plum and at least a dozen or more peach trees. Among the peaches were the Indian peach for pickles, peaches which the meat adhered to the seed, and peaches of the “clear-seed” kind and several Alberta’s, which are now synonymous with modern day peaches. There were about four apple trees of a type he called “horse apples”. I never saw one ripen. They were fit only for apple cobblers and pies, of which he was very fond. They were also used to make jelly. [Mary’s addition: there were also Hachiya “Japanese” persimmon trees. These had seeds and needed to be fully ripen before eating or they would cause one’s mouth to “pucker”.]

The yard around the house was full of flowers [Mary’s addition from memory: daffodils, hyacinths, jonquils, wisteria, snowflakes, a tulip tree and a massive old Magnolia...to name a few] and there was a rose garden (heirloom varieties with trellises) over on the south side of the driveway, by the house. [Mary’s addition: a red crepe myrtle and pomegranate tree were nearby] I can remember Sunday afternoons when he had visitors from all around... that were flower people...that came only to wander through the yard and garden to see his flowers and see what new varieties he had added in previous Winter. These folks usually left with an arm full of cuttings or bulbs. Sammie, no doubt, spent some time admiring their flowers and brought home new varieties.

He always liked to try new flowers and trees as witness the Ginkgo tree and Tulip tree that still blooms. (Mary’s addition: Great Uncle Sam once had a beautiful Japanese red maple outside the kitchen window.] The Ginkgo tree made it under very adverse circumstances. For years, it seemed to have been a mere sprout of a tree. Diamond Pope’s kids all rode it down when they were left under the sycamores while Diamond was working in the field. Sammie would get on to Diamond for letting the kids ride his tree, then she would break switches by the armloads from the same tree to whip the misbehaving kids. (The tree’s ancient ancestors probably survived similar treatment by animals, dinosaurs and such!)

Sammie’s real love was flowers and he always carried bundles to the church every Sunday. He eventually had enough varieties planted to have material for bouquets at any season of the year. In his dotage he even carried this a bit too far...and would make special trips to town just to pass out flowers to people. He didn’t just bring flowers, but had to visit for a spell and give a bit of the history of every flower. (I suspect a lot of his flowers ended up in the waste basket when he was gone.)

He had some of the same interest in certain animals. Pigs were just for bacon and ham ...cows, milk...and horses just draft power.
Poultry was where he gave way to his interests...He always had turkeys as far back as I can remember. He did not like ducks or geese...or Guineas...they always were getting out and messing up his flowers. His chicken yard looked like a Babylon of varieties...He specialized in the bizarre. He had “frizzled” chickens with curled up feathers...”bunnie” chickens that had no tails...bantams, and various other varieties for color and size. He kept all of these together and every setting of eggs was always a surprise package!

Love, Dad