Thursday, August 1, 2013

Neighbor "Doc" Dix

When I was a girl, I often heard my father refer to "the Dick's Place," at least, that is what I thought he was saying.  As I began doing the research for the manuscript about Isaac B. Werner's journal, I discovered that the land to which my father referred had actually belonged to Dr. Isaac Dix, whom neighbors called Doc.
Dr. I. H. "Doc" Dix
Doc Dix was one of Isaac's best friends.  Doc had not only the local post office but also a small store in his home.  He and his wife Susan had lost three children in early childhood before coming to Kansas to claim both a homestead and a timber claim in the north half of a section a mile west of Isaac's claims.  Their daughter, Mabel, thrived on the Kansas prairie, and the Dix family remained on their land long enough to mature their claims.  Apparently Doc wasn't too handy with tools, as he often hired Isaac to install windows and doors in the family soddy, as well as help with outbuildings.  Isaac exchanged that labor for merchandise from their store. 
With his claims matured and his daughter getting old enough to attend school, Doc began thinking about moving into Saratoga to resume his medical practice.  He believed his wife would prefer living in town with other ladies to visit nearby, and he felt the year-round school in Pratt would offer Mabel a better education than she could get in a country school with the short winter and early spring sessions.  In addition, Dr. Dix thought the Pratt County seat would be a good place to resume his practice, whether Pratt or Saratoga were ultimately chosen.  (Isaac uses Pratt and Saratoga interchangeably as the location of Doc's new home, but it is certain that Doc eventually lived in a house on the north side of Pratt, near the water towers, as an old photograph identifies a house in that location as belonging to Dr. Dix.  When Saratoga lost the county seat battle to Pratt Center, many residents and businesses literally moved their houses and business structures into Pratt, and that might also be the explanation for the confusion about the location of Doc's home.)
Isaac was very disappointed when his friend first mentioned the possibility of moving, but he did understand the reasons Dr. Dix gave for the move.  On December 29, 1887, Isaac made this entry in his journal:  "At 7 degrees I off early to Emerson, Dix decided finally to move.  We loaded up on my hayrack, & women bedded down warm & comfortable.  Back to my place with load by noon, fed & chored.  P.M. at 22 [degrees] & up 32 thawing, but clouding up from S. made it soon colder, we off again.  Roads in places snow in ruts makes hard pulling.  By sunset passed Iuka & by 7 to Pratt Center.  I had to stop twice on road, warm up.  Unloaded our 2 loads of goods into Dix's Saratoga house.  A disagreeable cold S.E. air & wind during night, we all roosted in new house."
Several times I have put out the call to visitors to my blog to search old albums and other keepsakes for photographs and information relating to my research about Isaac and his community.  Imagine what a thrill it was for me when Marsha Lynn Brown at the Pratt Historical Museum sent me a photograph of Dr. I. H. Dix!  Thank you Marsha!!  For the rest of you, keep your eyes open for photographs and information that I might use.

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

Great to get a photograph to fill in a blank. Isaac would have missed his friend after the move. "Bach"ing is not all it is cracked up to be when you are a farmer.