Negro representation in West Virginia medical circles is probably higher in Raleigh County than in any other section of the state.
Serving the Negro population of Raleigh County are six physicians and two dentists. The practicing physicians are Dr J.M. Grandison and Dr. V.A. Christina, both of Lester, and Dr. H. C. Hargrove, Dr. Milton A. Butts, Dr. A.D., Belton and Dr. R.J. Howard, all of Beckley. The dentists are Dr. N. L. Collins and DR. G. F. Becks.
Dean of Negro physicians in the county is Dr. Grandison, of Lester. A native of Quinnimont in Fayette County, Dr. Grandison has been practicing in Raleigh County since 1904. He was the first of his race to locate here.
Dr. Grandison, born in 1881, was graduated from Leonard Medical School at Raleigh, NC in 1904. Leonard is a division of Shaw University.
He first began his practice at Adkinsville(East Beckley) in 1904, moving to Lester in 1910.
Another Negro physician practicing at Lester is Dr Christian, whois also a prominent real estate and theater owner there and serving his third term as a Lester councilman.
Dr Christian was born in Charles City County, VA. He attended Layland Academy and Virginia Union University at Richmond, Columbia University in New York City, and was graduated from the University of Michigan School of Medicine at Ann Arbor in 1926.
He interned at Freedman Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1927 and began his practice at Lester the same year.
Youngest among the county's Negro doctors is Dr. Milton A. Butts of Beckley, who is a nephew of Attorney J.S. Butts, also of Beckley.
Dr Butts was born at Petersburg, VA. He attended Virginia State College at Petersburg and in 1946 was graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashvill, Tenn., while serving in the Army under the Army Specialized Training Program. He interned at Harlan Hospital in New York City.
He is married and a member of the West Virginia Medical Society and Gamma Tau Fraternity.
Dr. A.D. Belton, who has been practicing in Beckley since 1928, is a native of Palatka, Fla.
He is a graduate of Florida Baptist Academy at Jacksonville, Fla., received his AB degree at Lincoln University in 1922 and his medical degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1926. He did his internship at Freedman's Hospital in Washington.
Dr. Belton first practices at Mount Hope, locating there in 1927. He is a member of a large number of medical and civic societies, including the West Virginia Medical Society, of which he is executive secretary; medical supervisor of the West Virginia Home for the Ages and Infirm at McEndree. Dr Belton is also on the Board of Trustees at the Ebernezer Baptist Church.
Proceding Dr. Belton to Beckley by a few years was Dr. R. J. Howard,Dr Howard was born at Ruffin, N.C., attended the Agriculture Institute at Lumberton, N.C., Agriculture andTechnical College at Greensboro, and was graduated in 1919 from Meharry Medical School at Nashville, Tenn. He did post-graduate work at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
He first set up his practice in 1920 at Mullens, but in 1921 moved to Beckley. Dr. Howard is a member of the West Virginia Medical Association, the West Virginia Medical Society, and Tri-County Medical Society and the Johns Hoskins Reading club.
Beckley's oldest practicing Negro physician is Dr. H. C. Hargrove. Hde was graduated from West Virginia Institute (West Virginia State College) in 1904. He entered Howard University in Washington, D. C., in 1904 and received his medical degree there in 1908.
Dr. Hargrove came to Raleigh County from Sewell in Fayette County in the spring of 1909 and settled in Atkinsville (now East Beckley). He was the third Negro doctor to locate in Beckley, following Dr .J.M. Grandison, who is now at Lester, and a Dr Bampfield.
Two Negro dentists serve the Beckley Negro population.
Dr. N. L. Collins of Beckley has been practicing here since 1942. He was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, was graduated from Nerihi High School at Richmond, Ohio, and attended the University of Cincinnati and Columbia University in New York City. He was graduated from Howard Dental College in Washington, D.C., in 1924
Dr. Collins is a member of the National Dental Association, the West Virginia Medical Society of which he is assistant secretary-treasurer of the Tri-County Medical Society and Alpha Phi Alpha and Chi Delta Mu fraternities. He is also a member of the Raleigh County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Masons and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Collins is also active in Raleigh County Republican circles.
He is also a visiting dentist at McKendree Hospital and is owner of the Beckley firm, Collins and Associates, a real estate agency. During World War II he was assistant Raleigh County coordinator of the Selective ServiceBoard.
Dr. G. F. Becks, born at Orange Court House, Va., attended Virginia Theological Seminary at Lynchburg, Va, graduating there in 1917. He received his dental degree from Howard Dental College in Washington, D.C., in 1921. He practiced dentistry at Staunton, Va., from 1921 to 1922, took the West Virginia Dental Board examination in 1922 and set up his practice at Mount Hope in 1922. He came to Beckley in 1923. He is a member of the West Virginia Dental Society and has a son, Godfrey, who lives in Gary, Ind.
Dr. Hargrove, Beckley's oldest practicing physician, recalls the early history of Negro medical practice in Raleigh County.
Wrote Dr. Hargorve in his memoirs:
"I came to Raleigh County from Sewell in Fayette County in the spring of 1909 and settled in the east end of this littls town (East Beckley) known then as Atkinsville, a little later known as Sylvia and after being incorporated into Beckley it became known as East Beckley, the name it now carries.
"It was just a very small town located high on top of a great mountain peak in what I called a vast mud hole, for I have seen in the wagon and buggy days wagons on Neville Street near the site of our present post office, buried to the hub in mud, and they sometimes would have to remain there for two or three days, or until the weather became warm enough to thaw them out.
"I was the third colored doctor to locate in this town. Dr. J. M. Grandison and a Dr. Bampfield preceeded me, but their stay here was very short. I had it very hard the first two years here, in fact my little wife and I went through what we called a long starvation period. No one seemed to want the service of the little boy doctor, as I was called.
"I feel very grateful today to Dr. McRay Banks of Raleigh , Dr. Robert Wriston of Beckley and the late Dr. Campbell of Beckley. These three wonderful and generous doctors saw my condition and gladly began to turn over some of their practice tome, both white and colored patients."