History: The First World War Years
Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Wednesday, November 18, 2015 12:40 PM

Following its 1910 publication, in 1911, the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association, using the standards of the Flexner report, gave Baylor Medical School a B rating.  It was some five years before the school attained an A rating.

Another early doctor of chiropractic in the state, Joe E. Busby, D.C.was  attending the Boone School school in Plainview since 1909, a certified physical medicine school.  He graduated in March, 1912, practiced a few months in Post, Texas, and then enrolled in the Texas Chiropractic College in San Antonio, under the administration of Dr. J. N. Stone. After being given full credit for his work in the school at Plainview, he was admitted to the senior class of Texas' Chiropractic college and graduated in December, 1912.  In 1913 Joe E. Busby D.C. joins with Dr. A. W. Canfil in the establishment of the historic Sweetwater Mineral Wells Sanatorium. 

On April 16, 1913, Texas' Chiropractic college was chartered by the State of Texas for twenty five years as a private, for-profit corporation.  Known as "The Chiropractic College of San Antonio, Texas,”  Its officers were A.R. Littrell, president; J.N. Stone, secretary; and F.S. Hayes, treasurer.  That same year a doctor of chiropractic was successfully prosecuted by the Bexar County Medical Society in San Antonio, for practicing medicine without a license, and the prosecution and persecution of doctors of chiropractic in Texas accelerated.

That same year, 1913, a false rumor arises that B. J. Palmer strikes and injures D. D. Palmer during the Palmer Homecoming parade. However, D. D. Palmer dies October 21, 1913, and his official death certificate lists Typhoid fever and “years of brain congestion” as the cause of death. D. D. Palmer’s Death certificate lists his occupation as “Chiropractic Physician."

The next year, 1914, WWI began, and in the same year Dr. Clyde Keeler, fresh from Carver Chiropractic College, moved to Victoria, Texas.

State chiropractic licensing laws are established in Arkansas, Kansas and North Dakota in 1915.  Arkansas passes the first chiropractic law to go into effect and full operation anywhere in the world.  The Kansas statute was the first one passed, and North Dakota was second, but the Arkansas law went into effect and its board of examiners became fully functional before those of any other state; North Dakota had the privilege of issuing the first chiropractic license in the world...in April 1915.

Also in 1915, the process of forming a  Texas state Chiropractic association begin with 8 charter members who were quickly joined by 19 more. The need for a chiropractic licensing act drove the legislative program for 1917 of the Texas State Chiropractic Association when it was formed in 1916.

By 1916 the Baylor medical school in Dallas had expanded its laboratories, stiffened its entrance requirements, and affiliated with Parkland Hospital.  It finally receives an A rating from the AMA.

Doctors of chiropractic continue to be prosecuted for “practicing medicine without a license.”  In 1917, Dr. Charles Lemly was vigorously defended by Pat M. Neff who found himself under fire because he was such a supporter of the Texas State Chiropractic Association.  Because of these activities the medical authorities tried, but didn’t succeed in removing Neff from his position at Baylor University, where he was later appointed president.

The first chiropractic licensing bill in Texas was offered in 1917.  It promptly passed the house by a vote of 82 to 57, but the bill failed to overcome resistance in the Senate and was defeated.

In 1918 the last of the "substandard medical schools" disappeared when the Fort Worth School of Medicine, affiliated with Texas Christian University, was absorbed by Baylor.

That same year an influenza epidemic swept silently across the world.  Chiropractors got fantastic results from influenza patients where those under medical care died.  It was estimated that 400,000 deaths resulted from influenza during 1918.  In June of that year Dr. S. T. McMurrain went to France as a part of the Medical Reserve Corps of Dallas.  He had a makeshift table installed in the influenza ward in the Base Hospital No. 84 unit stationed in Perigee, in Southwestern France, about 85 kilometers from Bordeaux.  The medical office in charge sent all influenza patients in for chiropractic adjustments from Dr. McMurrain for the several months the epidemic raged in that area.  The detachment commander was so impressed he requested to have Dr. McMurrain commissioned in the Sanitary Corps but the next commander didn’t look upon the commission request kindly and it was squashed.

During the epidemic Paul Myers, D.C., of Wichita Falls was pressed into service by the County Health Officer and authorized to write prescriptions for the duration of the epidemic there – but Dr. Myers said he never wrote any, getting better results without medication.

In 1918 there were at least 54 indictments across the state, the result of an apparent drive to prosecute chiropractors wholesale,  In February, 1918, the Hill County Medical Society held a special meeting concerning Dr. S. T. McMurrain and they decided to run him out of town.  Before the month was out, six cases of practicing medicine without a license were filed and Sheriff notified McMurrain he must pay $50.00 bond for each or get qualified cosigners.  The president of the Farmer’s National Bank in Hillsboro, soon directed McMurrain to several other very influential businessmen who also signed bonds.  Tom Morris, legal counsel for the Universal Chiropractic  Association, came to take charge of the defense.  The local attorney hired to assist Tom Morris in the selection of a jury was Pat M. Neff.  Mr. Neff went on to become Governor of Texas and later became president of Baylor University.

As the glut of returning World War I veterans began to diminish and federal education benefits were discontinued, the fortunes of many chiropractic colleges declined. Many of the newer, often very meager schools began to fail, and enrollments at most schools plummeted. In 1918, J. M. McLeese, D.C., became president of Texas' Chiropractic college.  The college moves to an East Commerce Street location in Downtown San Antonio, and McLeese's recommendations for improvements in chiropractic training emphasized higher admissions standards (a high school education or its equivalent), anatomical instruction by dissection, and training in x-ray and dietary interventions, however, he would limit the standard curriculum to twelve months. He also called for laboratory instruction in pathology, and physiotherapeutic modalities, though he found them to have little more than suggestive effects.

In October, 1919 James Riddle Drain, D.C. and his wife and two children boarded a train for San Antonio "to face the Chiropractic fight for medical liberty in Texas.” He later became President of the Texas Chiropractic College, always a staunch defender of chiropractic.

Sources include:

The Official History of Chiropractic in Texas, by Dr. Walter R. Rhodes; 1978;  Texas Chiropractic Association, Austin, TX 78701

Keeler Committee Biographies; unpublished