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Dr. Daniel Payton
(1827-1893)
 

Dr. Daniel Payton arrived in Salem, Oregon in 1865, where he helped to organize the medical department of Willamette University in 1866, taking the chair of Therapeutics, afterwards Obstetrics and Diseases of Woman and Children. He held that position for thirteen years and received the honorary distinction of Professor Emeritus. From 1874 and 1875 he was dean of the medical school at Willamette University. Meanwhile, he also served as director of the Salem public schools for twelve years, Mayor of Salem for one term, and Representative of Marion County in the Oregon State Legislature for one term.

His wife, Elizabeth, traveled with him to Oregon. They had married in Missouri in 1847. His wife, Elizabeth died in Salem in 1878, leaving the four surviving children out of five born during the marriage. He remarried in 1882 in Douglas County, Oregon to Mrs. Henrietta Stemmerman. Dr. Payton and his second wife were, for a short time, proprietors of the Snowden Springs in Douglas County. Henrietta Stemmerman Payton would remain with him to the end of his life.

Dr. Payton was born in Alabama in 1827 but was reared in Missouri. He came from a family with longevity. The grandfather, who was named Daniel, of Kentucky was a planter lived to advanced age. The father, with his family, moved to Missouri about 1834, and became a merchant in Kirksville, Adair County, Missouri. The failure of the State Bank of Illinois in 1843 crippled his resources. In his early years, Daniel Payton received some education in the local subscription schools and afterwards a more regular course in Winchester, Kentucky. When his father's prospects were blighted by financial disaster, he engaged in farm work for several years, and as soon as possible took up the study of medicine. His preceptor was Dr. George W. Hatton of Appanoose County, Iowa. Dr. Payton married in Missouri, in 1847, to Miss Elizabeth Hatton, a native of the state, sister of his medical preceptor and of Dr. J.B. Hatton, deceased.

He first practiced in Wayne County, Iowa, where he was elected county treasurer and afterward county judge, without serious interruption to his medical practice. In 1860, he appears to have completed a medical course, presumably at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Keokuk, Iowa. He is said to have held several positions of honor and trust in Iowa, and probably practiced there until he set out for Oregon in 1862. Traveling by ox and mule teams across the plains of Oregon they were in a party of forty families taking five months to reach eastern Oregon. It is likely that he was a member of the Keokuk wagon-train of which Dr. Justin Millard was the leader. Arriving in Union County on October 5, 1862, they built a fort near LeGrand being the pioneers in that region. Dr. Payton was one of the three commissioners appointed to organize Union County. Union County was then part of old Wasco County.

In 1865, Dr. Payton and his family moved to the capital city of Salem, Oregon. He began his practice in Salem and was very successful in his profession and enjoyed a large practice. His move also involved organizing the medical department of Willamette University in 1866. He first served as Chair of Therapeutics, afterwards Obstetrics and Diseases of Woman and Children. He held that position for thirteen years and received the honorary distinction of Professor Emeritus. From 1874 and 1875, he was dean of the medical school at Willamette University. In 1878, the Medical Department was moved to Portland, Oregon. Payton retired from active teaching when the Medical Department closed. The trustees of Willamette University recognized his services in the following minutes:
"Dr. Payton was one of the principal founders of the Medical Department of this University. During its entire history he has held in it a professorship, and was for two years Dean of the Faculty, and during all these years the medical school and the University has had no friend more devoted, and more faithful and more useful than he. The valuable services he has rendered have often been at a personal sacrifice."

The year the Medical Department moved to Portland, his wife Elizabeth died. He continued to conduct his medical practice in Salem until 1883 and devoted his efforts to his newfound speciality, gynecology. Desiring to perfect himself in his chosen specialty of gynecology, he made three sojourns in New York in 1882, 1886, and 1888, to follow the post-graduate courses for physicians. He remarried in 1882 in Douglas County, Oregon to Mrs. Henrietta (Lane) Stemmerman, born in New York, a daughter of Joseph and Margaret (Huston) Lane, both deceased at an advanced age. Dr. Payton and his second wife were, for a short time, proprietors of the Snowden Springs in Douglas County. Dr. Payton was a member of the Salem Freemasons, past master in the order. He was a member of the Christian Church in Iowa, and Vestryman in the St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Salem.

In 1883, Dr. Daniel Payton moved to Stockton, California. He resided at 302 Lindsay Street in Stockton. He served on the City's Board of Health for two years, was a member of the American Medical Association and San Joaquin County Medical Society and was an honorary member of the State Medical Society of Oregon. Dr. Daniel Payton died of apoplexy April 7, 1893 in Stockton, California at age 66. He was survived by his brother Rev. John Payton, a Macon, Missouri clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and a soldier of the Mexican-American war. His wife, Henrietta survived him as well as four children from his first marriage. The children were Bessie (Mrs. Edgar Farrington) of Eugene, Oregon; Belle ( wife of Dr. A.C. Helm, proprietor of the Oregon House) of Ashland, Oregon; Minnie ( Mrs. E.S. Suyland) of Stockton and John Eberly, M.D. of Eugene, Oregon. Dr. Daniel Payton's son, Dr. John Eberly, journeyed to Stockton and took his father's remains back to Salem, Oregon for a Masonic funeral. Dr,. Daniel Payton was buried on April 10, 1893, in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery. His tombstone reads:

Thou art gone to the grave but we will not deplore thee,
Thou sorrows and darkness encompass the tomb,
The savior has passed through its portals before thee,
And the lamp of his love is thy guide through the gloom

Compiled by Monica Mersinger

Bibliography:
Larsell, Olaf, The Doctor in Oregon, Binford and Mort, 1947

Gatke, Robert Moulton, Chronicles of Willamette; the Pioneer University of the West, Binford and Mort, 1943, p. 339 and 348, also cite #138, Trustee Minutes, p. 48, p. 402

Hughes, Joanne J., collected 1850 census information, Wayne County, Iowa

Tinkham, George H., History of San Joaquin County, page 662 and 663, publisher and date unknown

Dr. Payton Dead, Stockton California newspaper clipping, date cica 1893, provided by Joanne J. Hughes

Salem Pioneer Cemetery web-site: www.open.org/~pioneerc/pb34. 2004 Burial Details of Dr. Daniel Payton

St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Salem: A Chronicle of Parish Life, 1853-2003, Salem Public Library, 2004

 

 
Dr. Daniel Payton
Dr. Daniel Payton
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Grave marker for Dr. Payton

Grave marker for Dr. Payton in Pioneer Cemetery
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