In A New World of Medicine,
Cadiz Twins Cling To "Country Practice"
Cadiz Record, Thursday,April 10,1958
By Bill Powell,Paducah Sun-Democrat Executive Editor


Bud Futrell call his four sons in and talked earnestly to them about what they wanted to be. The sun was hot that day in Johnson Hollow in Trigg County and the twins,John and Elias, thought about the long rows of corn and hard clods and the stubborn roots in the new ground and decided to try a new ,awesome world.

When Bud Futrell offered them the choice between a farm apiece and education-even a frightening doctor's education---the twins, venturesome John and deliberate Elias---quickly told him they'd take the schooling.

Bud Futrell, who had farmed all of his life, told his daring twin sons to go ahead. He told them to go as far as they could go in the world of medicine. He told them to study hard and work hard and to be the best if they could . And then he told them something else:

"When you get to be doctors and settle down to practice, there is something you must never do. You must never turn anyone down who is sick or in pain. You must never turn your back on anyone who needs you."

The twins went to college at Western State and University of Louisville's School of Medicine and when they became full-fledged physicians they came home to Cadiz, the county seat of their county of Trigg.

They have been there ever since and through lean years and good years, and through whatever bitterness that came along, they have remembered clearly the admonition of old Bud Futrell. Dr. John and Dr. Elias have climbed a high hill.

To Trigg countians they are men who work wonders; unselfish men who put human beings and their medical needs far above all other things.

Dr. John and Dr. Elias have proved this over and over agian. They prove it every day in their crowded "clinic" and in modern Trigg County Hospital and along the big roads and backroads where cars sometimes stick and stop in the deep ruts.

They prove it by staying briskly apace in the world of staggering medical developments and remaining, at the same time, the amiable,patient

"Country Doctors" the world dearly loves and sorely misses.

Copied from Scrapbook of A. P. Wilson

Cadiz Record, Thursday,April 10,1958

Some of the Patients Paid Off in Pigs,Goats and Turnip Greens

In 1899,little Linton, scattered near the Kentucky-Tennessee line in Southwest Trigg County, was far off the beaten track. Dirt roads led to Cadiz and to Bumpus Mills in nearby Stewart County,mTennessee, but mostly, Linton's life revolved right around Linton.

The birth of twin boys at the home of J.B.(Bud) Futrell and his wife caused considerable commotion January 25,1899. They were the only twins in that part of the county.

Twenty-one years later the same twins, breaking sharply out of a pattern set in remote Johnson Hollow, caused more commotion when they went off to college to begin studying to be doctors.

People were proud, but they didn't know exactly what to think about the energetic,mischievious sons of Bud Futrell who, it was said down at the Linton store and grist mill, turned down the gift of a farm to take "schooling". They could understand Lamont and Lee, Bud's older sons. They had accepted farms and already settled down in their prosperous reliable father's footsteps.

At Dry Ridge, No Plain Purpose

John and Elias had not thought of being doctors when they were children. Without purpose, and seemingly without results, they went to Dry Creek grad school and then to bustling,exciting Cadiz High School.

In high school the restless twins turned 18 and the American forces in Europe began massing for the spectacular, war-ending battles of the Somme and St. Mihiel and Oisne and Meuse-Argonne.

John and Elias didn't know the end was beginning, of course, so they left high school and and joined the Army. They were in three months, and all the time, clad in the jaunty hats and puttees of the day, they attended officers training school at old Ogden College in Bowling Green.

After the war they finished high school and then started on the long road to the medical profession.

At Bowling Green, the twins separated for the first time in their lives. John finished pre-med in 1921 and entered the university of Louisville in 1922. Elias stayed at Western until the fall of 1923, when he joined twin John at U. of L.

A Small Office Over A Feed Store

John graduated from medical school in 1926 and came to Cadiz. He rented a small,bleak office over a Main St. feed store and started practice. Soon, Dr. J.L. Hopson, popular oldtime doctor across the street, died, and John stepped into his booming proctice.

"I didn't intern" said John. "He couldn't afford to" said Elias quickly. "He married Mary DeBaun of Springfield and had to go to work."

Elias graduated from medical school in 1928 and interned at Paducah's Illinois Central Hospital for a year. Then he joined John.

Although the early years of Dr. John and Dr. Elias were busy ones, they still struggled financially. Dr. Hopson left them a big practice, but in those harsh, frustrating years few people could pay "People got sick at the same rate but the dollars were few and far between", said Dr. John. Occassionally, though, someone paid in cash or in produce or livestock and the twins scraped out a living. Many times they went out in the country and came home with a pig aquealing or a goat baa-ing in the back of their car. Country people, too proud not to pay, insisted that the twins take in pay whatever they could use from the farm.

They were not always lucky enough to get pigs or goats or calves, though.Often, pay was a head of cabbage or a sack of scrawney turnips or a basked of turnip greens. But everything counted, and Dr. John and Dr. Elias gradually made the financial grade.

Dr. John Battled the Mud One Whole Day; Dr. Elias Rode a Swimming Horse

The twins have always had a rigid practice of going anywhere they were asked to go. And they go anytime, and in any kind of weather.

One winter day in the 1930's they were called to Lamasco 10 miles away to see a man ill with pneumonia. Dr. John went in his black Model-T touring car, and the trip took all day long. The Ford sank to its axles every few miles, and farmers along the way had to pull it out. Dr. John got stuck four or five times going and coming, and it was getting dark when he hit the good gravel near Cadiz on the trip home.

There were other rough trips,too. Often the twins went as far as they could go in their car and then went the rest of the way ih a wagon or buggy. Sometimes they even took to boats to get across the high wintertime backwater. And once in awhile, they rode as far as they could go and then went the rest of the way by footpath to the bed of some suffering person.

One of the hardest trips Dr. John ever made was in the flood of 1937. A family at Lock E on the rampaging Cumberland River had to have medical help. Someone came after Dr. John and he got in an open outboard motorboat five miles below Cadiz and went 6 or 8 miles upstream to the sick family.

In The Way, A Flood

Before that, in the early 1930's,Elias made his worst trip. He left his car at a swollen stream and rode horseback to the home of someone seriously ill. Along the way he had to ford a flooded river.

When Elias got to the farmhouse, he told the farmer:" That horse seemed to be having trouble finding the bottom when we crossed the river." "Your horse wasn't walking, he was swimming." said the farmer, who was well acquainted with the depth of the floodwater at the ford.

Dr. Elias waited until the water ran down before he braved the return crossing.

Cadiz Record,Thursday,April 10,1958

The Biggest Mixup Came The Day Little John Thought He Was Elias

The twins look almost exactly alike. Both are 5 feet,10 inches tall. John weighs 166, Elias about 160. Most people can tell which is which if they see them together but if they see them separately they have a hard time remembering who they are talking to.

Elias smokes a black pipe; John Kool cigarettes. Usually they wear identical clothing; dark suits and white shirts. The brothers live side by side in Cadiz but their houses are not alike. Dr.John lives in the old Wash home; Dr. Elias lives in a new home built on the site of the old Judge Garnett house,which burned several years ago.

The twins have had their share of grief caused by people getting them mixed up. One time in the Army a sergeant checked John at the head of a column of marchers then he thought he saw him again at the end of the line. He said something and the boys laughed and the sergeant put them both on K.P.

In college one day an anatomy teacher named Konhauser was giving John's class an examination. He went out in the hall and met Elias. Angered, he{teacher} ordered Elias into the room to "tend to his business".

Probably the most talked-of mixup was by John himself when he was only three years old. Someone had brought little John to town and for some reason,left Elias at home. John wound up in a furniture store and found himself looking into a full-length jmirror for the first time in his life. Little John gasped,and then he said"Why, Lias, who brung you?"

Most people call Elias "Dr. Lias" even now. The twins parted again during World War2. Both volunteered for service but only John was accepted. He spent three and a half years in uniform. He followed the combat through North Africa and through much of the Italian campaign. He was a a captain.

The Army Rejected Dr. Elias

Elias tried to get into the Army twice. First he was rejected for physical reasons. Then when his ailment became acceptable, he was declared essential and told to stay at home.

Until this year,neither of the twins ever had a serious illess. But last February, John became ill with stomach ulcers and had to take a rest. At Vanderbilt, doctors told John he would have to take things easy for quite a while. John dieted and took his medicine faithfully though and after six weeks of rest was pronounced healed.

There is only one other doctor in Cadiz and only two more in the whole county of approximately 15,000 people.

Every morning the twins get up early and make thir calls at amodern 20-bed Trigg County hospital which they helped the community build. Then they come to their office and,always,their waiting room is jammed with sick people. They start seeing people in the building which housed Futrell Clinic before the hospital was built.They handle patients in their offices or in the large,well-euipped treatment rooms behond the offices.

Occasionally,patients stay in the clinic overnight if, for any reason,they cannot be admitted to the hospital. "We stay her until 4,5,6,7, or 8 o'clock-until we get through"said Dr. Elias. "Then we make house calls we haven't been able to get to" said Dr. John. "We like to make house calls in the daytime for relaxation" Dr. John added. "Night calls",they both said "are something else again". But they make them at any hour and they go any place theyare needed. Many black nights they drive as far as they can go and then stagger over rocks and rough places to the bedside of a sufferer in a remote place.

"We'll go anywhere we're asked to go" said one of the twins." This is the way we started, the way we believe a doctor should be, and the way we intend to keep on doing as long as we are able."

continuing.. The brothers see an average of 100 patients a day,counting the ones it takes hours sometimes to reach. One Saturday recently,with the weather rainy, 91 patients came to the clinic and before the day's end,all were attended to. Monday, with the rain stll falling,more than 80 came to the clinic on Main Street.

Work Load Staggering

The work load of the twins is staggering. People close to them say they can't see how they do it. Dr. John and Dr. Elias both smiled when someone said this, and one of them said:"Why, this doesn't bother us a bit in the world. We just keep at it until everything is done and if there is any time left over, we rest a while."

Frequently, both doctors are on the go all night, An average day spans 12 to 16 hours. Their home phones ring madly and seldom does a night go by that one of the twins is not called out after midnight. "But this doesn't hurt anything" said Dr. John. "A phone ringing at 3 in the morning doesn't bother me a bit in the world. We've made up our minds to answer all calls,all the time, and I guess we've gotten used to the pace." "We feel" said Dr. Elias, "that we have relieved a lot of suffering by going out at night".

They're Hard to Scare

The twins are hard to excite and harder to scare. One time they were called to the home of some people who had been in a fight and cut up one man. As Dr. Elias stood over the man's bed,trying to sew up the man's cuts,the fight broke out again. Knives flashed and pistols and clubbs appeared. "I got the man up and we went out in the yard as the fight went on. There,behind a tree, I sewed him up and treated his wounds by the lights from my car," he said

Futrells Say They'll Retire "When People Stop calling"

The brothers have delivered thousands of babies. They haven't kept count of them but estimate the number at "around 6,000".. They have delivered lots of twins but no triplets. Once they delivered Siamese twins,joined at the chest,but the babies were born dead.

The twins are proud of the advancemnet of the medical world and of hospital facilities. They fought for Trigg County Hospital and was getting ready to lead the town in construction of the plant with all local funds wehen some help came from the government. The help came in Hill-Burton funds and the government put $220,000 into the project., The community gave $100,000. "It is better that we have hospitals, and that people come to them in great numbers instead of being treated at home",said Dr. John. "We can see and help more people this way" said Dr. Elias.

Both doctors find time to belong to several civic and service organizations and take a prominent part in their churches. Dr. Elias is a Methodist because his family is Methodist. Dr. John still is in the Baptist Church, where both were raised.

In spite of thier backbreaking load the brothers attend medical meetings and take refresher and other courses. One goes to a meeting while the other stays home and takes care of the patients. The one who attends tells the one who stays home what he learns. The twinw take vacations the same way. One carries a double load while the other has fun. Then they swap places. Except for the "go anywhere anytime" doctors the Futrells are not the least bit old fashioned. They keep the best equipment and use the latest recommended proctices of diagnosis and treatment.

Twice the Work of One

Their aim,they said "is to be like one top-notch doctor doing the work of two men". The Futrells hate commercialism in the field of medicine. To them, patients are people-individual human beings and not waiting room numbers. "Although all patients look alike--that is to say one is never egarded as being better than the other--each one is a different homan being with his own feelings and his own problems" said Dr. John. "And everybody deserves the best we can do for them whether they live in a mansion or a shock" said Dr. Elias The twins are well off but not rich. "They've done half of their work without pay" said a farmer in the waiting room. "Those fellows are remarkable. They treat people and find out later about the pay. Sometime they never even mention pay",said a man in the drugstore next door to the clinic.

"When Dr. John and Dr. Elias quit, Trigg-medically speaking------will have to change its way of living" said a man on the street corner near the clinic. Retirement,for the sons of Bud Futrell, is out of the question. "We'll quit " they said, "when people stop calling us."

Copied from scrapbook of A.P.Wilson

The March 1979 issue of the Thomas-Bridges Newsletter carried this item:
"Dr Elias N. Futrell, 80, native Trigg Countian and honorary member of the Thomas-Bridges Association, died Feb. 15, 1979 at Cadiz after a long illness. Dr Elias, and his twin brother, Dr. John, who die in 1974, practiced medicine in Trigg Colunty for 45 years. The Cadiz Record published a page-long tribute to these two beloved physicians in its issue of Feb. 22, 1979. They were given a special tribute by the Thomas-Bridges Association the night of April 7, 1973 at which time they were made honorary members of the Association."
A Special Thank You to Roxanne Gess-Smith for our Country Doctor Graphics

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