October 2, 2002

Dr. Wyatt was an old-time physician
by Bob Stealey, Editor

Sally Wyatt recently passed along to me a plethora of information about her great-grandfather, Zachariah White Wyatt, M.D., a native of Marshall County, Virginia, now West Virginia. He was born on Christmas Day 1846, a son of Russell and Sidney Ann (White) Wyatt.

A resident of Bridgeport, Sally pointed out to me that she is the very last descendant of that particular branch of the Wyatt family. A 1965 graduate of Bridgeport High School, she is currently attending classes at West Virginia University. She is the mother of three children.

Although today's Bob'n'Along deals with Dr. Wyatt, I'll mention here that his father, also a Virginia native, later moved to Ohio, where he enlisted in the Union army and served during the War Between the States with the Seventh Ohio Cavalry, Sally said.

Along with his family, Zachariah moved to Greene County, Pennsylvania, after the war and attended the public schools there. Waynesburg is now the county seat of Greene. After graduating from Waynesburg College, he taught school for several years in the vicinity of that city, Sally mentioned.

She stated that, according to records, her great-grandfather moved later to Marion County, West Virginia, where he apparently continued his teaching career. Also, she provided a valuable resource, "History of Medicine in Harrison County, West Virginia," by Alice Jo Hess and edited by Sister Mary Ruth Owen, SSJ. It was published in 1978 by McClain Printing Co. in Parsons. 

During Zachariah Wyatt's teaching days, the book said, he "read medicine" under the tutelage of a local physician and was licensed to practice medicine in West Virginia in 1872. It was 12 years later that he graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore. 

After practicing medicine briefly in Doddridge County, he located in what was known as Goosetown in northern Harrison County. The name Goosetown would later be changed to Wyatt, a town a few miles west of Shinnston. Dr. Wyatt was credited with being responsible for the establishment of a post office at Wyatt in 1883.

The history said the main reason for the change, however, was that he brought the tiny community through a serious epidemic of diphtheria. By 1890, Dr. Wyatt had located in Shinnston to continue his medical practice. He served as a member of the Shinnston Town Council at various times.

Sally said her father, Attorney John B. Wyatt Jr., died in April 1976. She said his law practice specialized in criminal and divorce cases. He was first with the law firm of Wyatt & Wyatt and later with Wyatt, Randolph and Bailey. Her grandfather, John B. Wyatt Sr., was also an attorney and was a native of Wyatt. He died in 1947.

But again, this column is about Dr. Zachariah Wyatt, her great-grandfather. She said he and John W. Davis of Clarksburg, the only West Virginian ever nominated as a candidate for president of the United States, were elected to serve as representatives of Harrison County in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Politically, he was a member of the Republican Party.

Dr. Wyatt was a member of the Harrison County Medical Society from October 1904 until his death. In the Sons of Veterans, he held the office of surgeon and was a first lieutenant.

Sally pointed out quite a peculiarity in the lineage. She said her father, her grandfather and her great-grandfather, who were each born under the sign of Capricorn, all lived to the age of 61. 


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