Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

It is Given to Few: by J. Ralph Jett


Reprinted from the June 1929 Issue of the Western Empire Magazine:

Nineteen years ago there came into the little town of Two Buttes in Baca County, a suffering, and broken man. Upon his graying head sentence had been passed, and he had no thought but that his doom was sealed. Great Men of the medical fraternity had said to him” you have but one year to Live. use it as best you may.”

Dr. Verity, himself a noted surgeon, stricken with dropsy, hoped that perhaps the Great West, to which he had sent many others, would offer him also some needed relief. He turned his eyes to the setting sun, and here, under the blue sky in nature’s great sanitarium, he found out only relief, but life and a partial return to the robust health he had once enjoyed.

In his new found strength came the call to begin where he had left off, and looking about he found himself in a homestead community — the people poor, coming here to grasp at their last opportunity to own a home. No hope here of great reward for efforts, and no thought of it. Rolling up his sleeve, he said, “so be it” and set to work.

Perhaps God, In his infinite wisdom, saw it to spare Dr. Verity, to minister to these, his humble us children. As Christ, the greatest healer went amongst the lowliest of men, so did Verity, his servant go among the lowly homesteaders giving them cheaply many times gratuitously, the same full-service he had rendered in the homes of the wealthy for large fees.

Perhaps doctor Verity sensed the intercession of Divine Providence, in the motive therein, for though made many flattering offers to use his talents elsewhere, he remained true to his trust in his modest little office at Two Buttes, while the world made a pathway to his door.

Dr. Verity is a humanitarian in every sense of the word. Not merely does he deal with the afflictions of the multitude, not only does he bring into the world dozens of little Baca County folks, but he seeks also as best as he may to guide their destiny to become good men and women. His good works are legion and his further ambition unappeased.

We will cite but one instance of Verity’s surgical skill. This was featured in Rollin H. Ayers the Heights of Manhood.

Rollin H Ayers book The heights of Manhood

A little Baca County girl of four summer’s stood in a farmyard watching with interest the efforts of her brother, a year older manfully swung a large ax to cut the day’s kindling supply. Something attracting her she suddenly stooped over in the path of the ax, and it crashed into a skull, penetrating the brain.

That night she lay in the office of Dr. Verity. her little life wavering on the brink of eternity, the spark kept alive through the supreme effort of the tight-lipped old surgeon, who grimly held on and said, “She shall not die.” Particles of bone were removed from the brain, and those present wondered and marveled at the great hands which held such delicacy and mastery.

The fight was won, and the little girl of poor parents, having nothing to amuse her in her convalescence was showered with gifts by Dr. Verity and his friends. When well, she attended school at Two Buttes and ranked high in her classes.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to Dr. Verity is the Two Buttes Band of which he is the founder and sponsor. He purchased the instruments for this band two years before he was able to organize it with sufficient members. Then a capable director was secured, and the band is now one of the finest in the southwest. In 1927 it won third prize against hard competition of large bands. The referee was John Philip Sousa, the old master.

Dr. Verity's Band 1927

Asked how he came to start this band, Dr. Verity said when I was a small boy in the hills of Wisconsin, I used to hear the martial music of the Civil War bands, as they marched at night. That beautiful music floating on the air imbued me with a firm resolve to someday my life to have a band and to be the drummer. So Baca County benefits by the dream of a small boy many years ago, and we suspicion that Dr. Verity experienced the thrill of his life when shaking the hand of the greatest band leader in the world.

Dr. Verity was born near Oshkosh Wisconsin, and grew there into manhood. He attended Rush Medical College of Chicago, long a famous Institution. He early became interested in fractures and devised the splint, known as Verity Suspension Splint, new and unusual at the time but in common used today. He is quoted on special fractures, by Nicholas Senn, professor of surgery, Rush Medical School in his book, Practical Surgery. His work in the field has garnered much acclaim. In fact, in 1885 he wrote “The Treatment of Compound Fractures by Drainage and Wiring”. This pioneering piece was published in the 1886 Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Verity’s next ambition is to erect a building for his community, where domestic science can be taught to girls and useful arts to the boys where they can be enjoyed all the social activities in the community.

So after ordinary men have passed the age of usefulness, this venerable physician carries on, his stamina and his power seemingly unimpaired, looking towards the future in which he may further serve.

Is leonine head and beetling brows suggest sternness, but one looks closer and sees the twinkle of blue eyes, a consideration, and indulgence for all mankind.

I can see Dr. Verity, when he answers his final call, at the portals of the Great Beyond. Around his massive shoulders are the arms of the Greatest Physician, and I hear the words —

“It is given to few to be of service to many. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my children, ye have done it also unto me. Welcome home, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25-40)

2 responses to “It is Given to Few: by J. Ralph Jett”

  1. This is fascinating. If my geneology research is correct, I am Dr. Verity’s great-granddaughter.

    • Hey Sarah, That is really cool. Dr Verity served Baca County well. What a great heritage for you.

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