WILLIAM JEFFERSON BARBER, M. D.
Biography and Genealogy
Choctaw County, Alabama
Mrs. Edward G. Scott, Jr.
(transcribed from: Alokoli : the Choctaw County bicentennial book)
Established to fill a pressing need, the Barber Hospital at Butler, Alabama has won an important place in the life and welfare of the community and Choctaw County at large. Dr. William J. Barber, the founder of the hospital, has, through the hospital’s success, and independently, become known throughout the state as a hospital and public health administrator and as a general practitioner of medicine and surgery. He was also prominent in other fields of endeavor and interest. In the conduct of the hospital. Dr. C. M. Gully and his son. Dr. Virgil S. Gully were associated with Cr. Barber.
Dr. Barber was born at Butler on August 26, 1906, son of Dr. H. W. and Mattie Bruister Barber. His father, a dentist, received his degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and practiced in Butler for forty-two years, or until his death in 1937. He was a native of DeSoto, Mississippi, the son of James Barber, who was born in South Carolina, but he came to Alabama in 1896, settling at Butler. Dr. Barber’s mother was born in Butler, the daughter of Hiram J. and Mattie Nicholson Bruister, Her father was a farmer. Both of her parents were natives of Choctaw County. She and her husband were the parents of six children, among whom Dr. William J. Barber was the fourth born.
The future doctor and hospital operator began his education in Choctaw County Public Schools. Following his graduation from the county high school at Butler, he spent two years in premedical study at the University of Alabama. He then prepared for his profession in the Medical School of Tulane University, from which he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1929. After a year as intern in the City Hospital of Mobile, Dr. Barber returned to Butler and on November 7 1931 opened his office and consultation rooms for his practice. Even before leaving home to study medicine, he had felt the need of a hospital in the community, and for the five years that followed his return, he planned to give the community one. He built the first unit of Barber Hospital in 1936, increasing the number of beds to thirty-two.
In addition to the two Drs. Gully, father and son, the staff consisted of twelve nurses with a total of twenty-four employees. Dr. C. M. Gully was born at DeKalb, Mississippi, in 1877, the son of Virgil and Fannie Gill Gully. He did his premedical work at Mississippi State College and received his degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Nashville in 1904. For many years he practiced his profession in Mississippi, and until he joined Dr. Barber in Butler, was superintendent of the Charity Hospital at Meridian, Mississippi.
His son. Dr. Virgil S. Gully, received his Medical Degree from Tulane University in 1939. From October 9, 1941, to November, 1945, he was in the United States Army Medical Corp., thus serving throughout World War II. At the conclusion of his military career, Dr. Gully joined his father and Dr. Barber at Barber Hospital.
Soon after the opening of the hospital in 1936, Tuman Allen, Sr. returned to Choctaw County as its first Registered Pharmacist. In addition to providing prescription drugs, he also served as laboratory technician, x-ray technician and anesthetist.
Dr. Barber, who gave service in the Alabama State Department of Health, was a member of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, the Choctaw County Medical Society, the American Medical Association, the Alabama Surgical and Gynecological Association, and the Alabama Association of Industrial Surgeons. He was a Mason, a Shriner, and a Steward in the Methodist Church of Butler until his death on June 11, 1956. Dr. Barber is buried in Butler Cemetery, Butler, Choctaw County, Alabama
Dr. Barber married Mary Scurlock of Butler, daughter of Don P. and Lucy Green Scurlock, and they had a daughter, Shirley Ann.
Miss Barber married Dr. Edward Gray Scott, Jr., a native of Riderwood. They are the parents of five children who live in Meridian, Mississippi.