Dr. Daniel Johnston and Estella Johnston

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Dr. Daniel Johnston and Estella Johnston

Rose Hill Cemetery Tour 2007

Dr. Daniel Johnston and Estella Johnston

Dr. Johnston, 1856-1949 and
Estella Johnston, 1859-1922

Dr. Daniel Johnston

Dr. Johnston, the first medical doctor in the Chickasha area, was born in 1856 in Mount Vernon, Iowa to George and Chastina Mathewson Johnston. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and also attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Keokuk, Iowa. On March 4, 1878, he married Estella Rees. They had one daughter Blanche (Mrs. Joe) Dews who lived in Chickasha. After practicing medicine in Iowa, Dr. Johnston first came to Oklahoma to make ”the run” into Indian Territory in 1888-1889. He had two brothers practicing medicine in Purcell and moved to that area. He also was a doctor in Erin Springs, Oklahoma for a few years. When the Rock Island railway line was extended into the Chickasha territory, the family moved briefly to the little shack town of Pensee, north of the Washita River. In 1892, Dr. Johnston moved his small one-room frame building on skids from Pensee and opened his office in Chickasha in April 1892, the day it was officially declared a town. In a diary kept by Dr. Johnston, he wrote, “ . . . in no time Chickasha was full of doctors, lawyers, merchants and the usual gamblers and toughs. U. S. marshals tried to keep the law, but things were pretty wild and if I was called out at night I carried my medicine bag in one hand, a sawed off shotgun in the other and always wore my trusty Colt.” Dr. Johnston’s practice took its toll on his health and in 1904 he left the doctor’s life for the quiet of the outdoors and a farm. In 1909 he sold the farm and helped in the floral business. His first wife Estella passed away in 1922. Dr. Johnston later remarried, and for several years, he and his wife, Minnie, made their home with his two granddaughters, Maude and Dana Jo Dews of Chickasha. Dr. Johnston, who also had a grandson, Johnston Rees Dews, passed away following a lengthy illness on June 23, 1949 at the age of 92.

Estella Johnston

Estella Rees, born on September 2, 1859, was one of nine children born to pioneer parents in Newton, Iowa. She was educated at the Hazel Dell Academy in Newton. When she was seven years of age, she joined the Presbyterian Church and was a very faithful member all her life. One of her early memories as a child was of her family members protecting their crops. Having been treated badly by the Indians on numerous occasions, family members would frequently set fires around their cornfields to prevent them from being burned by the Indians. In 1878, Estella married a young medical student, Daniel M. Johnston. They lived in Rockwell City for seven years where their only daughter, Blanche (Mrs. Joe Dews), was born. The family moved to Purcell, Oklahoma in 1888-1889 and eventually to Chickasha in 1892. Shortly after, she began working in the greenhouse business on Fifth and Dakota in Chickasha. This is now known as the Chickasha Greenhouse, located on west Iowa. Five years before her death, she suffered a broken hip in an automobile accident. Despite being left handicapped, she remained active in the community until she developed pneumonia on February 18, 1922. Mrs. Johnston, said to be the first white woman to locate on the Chickasha town site, passed away in her home a few days later with her husband and only daughter with her.

(photographer: Jeremy Macy)