Dr. Elmer E. Hinton medical bag on display at Bancroft Depot Museum

By Eileen Porter

Elmer E. Hinton was born on May 12, 1912, at Hamlin in Brown County, to father James D. Hinton (born 1875, died 1941) and mother Lula Alberta Hinton (born 1885, died 1956). He graduated from the University of Kansas Medical School, specializing in internal medicine and served as a medical officer aboard the U.S.S. Lampson during WWII from 1942 to 1946. Upon leaving the military, Dr. Elmer Hinton served as a staff physician at the New England Deaconess Baptist Hospital and the Veteran’s Hospital at Brockton, Mass., before becoming Chief of Medicine and President of the Staff at The Cambridge City Hospital.

The Elmer E. Hinton Award was established in his memory at New England Deaconess Hospital for Outstanding Physician-Patient Relationships, which is still awarded annually to a First Year Medical Resident in Internal Medicine.

While attending medical school, Dr. Hinton met Eleanor Edith Reed of rural Bancroft in Nemaha County, who had transferred from Kansas State Agriculture College to attend nursing school at the University of Kansas. They married during WWII, while he served in the U.S. Navy aboard ship, where she worked as a nurse.

After the war, they moved to Boston, Mass., where the reputation of Dr. Hinton established himself as a distinguished physician — becoming one of the first doctors to undertake the exhaustive studies required to become a Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

My Aunt Eleanor was the third child of Thomas L. and Helen Morse Reed of rural Bancroft. My Grandfather Tom was the youngest of the 11 children of Peter and Sarah Reed, who moved from Kentucky and established a farm home near Bancroft in the 1870s. P. Reed’s father, George Workman Reed, later moved to this area as well. Those three generations of Reeds are buried in the Soldier Cemetery.

But I digress, Uncle Elmer was a medical doctor day in and out. He was one of the few physicians in Boston who continued to make house calls to his older patients well after it was deemed inefficient to do so. Efficiency was not as important to him as spending time with the people who had entrusted their care to him. When he could break away from his duties as a physician and medical administrator, he took trips, but he was never on vacation from his profession.

Every other year or so, he was able to join Aunt Eleanor on a cross-country journey from Boston to eastern Kansas to visit family. He never got in his car without his medical bag, which he first used during medical school at Kansas University. Although I have no first-hand knowledge that he needed to use it while visiting in the Bancroft area and Hiawatha where he had sisters living, I am confident that friends and neighbors were well aware that there was a “doctor in the house” – the Reeds’ house, that is – in rural Bancroft and the Hinton home in Hiawatha.

Uncle Elmer’s medical bag was a fixture in the Reeds’ home whenever he was present. Now, due to the gracious support of the Board of the Bancroft Depot Museum, it is on display just a few miles down the road from where the old Reed home once stood.

To get to the Bancroft Depot Museum, take Kansas Highway 9 west of Goff, to Kansas Highway 62, then south proceeding three miles to 24th Road then turn left – or east – and continue driving to the southeast corner of intersection 24th and S Roads, with the museum being on that corner.

As reported in the Nemaha County Kansas Historical Society Pioneer Press quarterly, Vol. 36 – Issue 2. Appointments to visit this free admission museum can be made by calling 785-866-5288, or Rodney Brown at 785-851-9530, or e-mailing him at Brownfarms86@gmail.com.

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