Dr. James Herod



Submitted by Frank Butcher, updated May 28, 2007


The Herod and Ratliff families had migrated from North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama to Mississippi.  For about 22 years, the Herod family lived in the Bethel community, in Attala County, several miles from Kosciusko, Mississippi.  James worked a farm, was a gin owner and did blacksmithing.  He also worked as a physician and a lay Methodist preacher.  In 1850, James sold his farm and lived for a year in Kosciusko while preparing to move to Texas.  In the latter part of 1851, James and Hannah, with 10 of their 12 children, left Mississippi. They traveled with friends and relatives, including two brothers of James, Daniel McCarty Herod and Josiah Herod and their families.  James’ daughter, Jane, had married Edmund C. Adams, and remained in Mississippi.  James’ son, Thomas, also stayed in Mississippi with his wife, Elvira Campbell, but this couple later moved to Texas after the death of Elvira’s mother.
While his brothers made homes in Houston County, Dr. James Herod and family settled in the Smithfield District of Limestone County.  He later bought land and lived at Davis Prairie, east of Thornton.
James and Hannah's family record in their family Bible has been passed down for future generations, and is in the possession of a great great grandson in Corsicana, Texas (1991).
After settling in Texas, Doctor Herod farmed, but did not continue his work as a blacksmith, and did not again operate a gin.  He continued his work as a practical physician who used his own medicines to treat the early pioneers, but apparently thought of himself as a minister, since he reported his occupation on the 1860 census as a clergyman. According to the writings of J. Elizabeth Harris, James never officially received the title of doctor, yet was remembered by his daughter as a physician only.  The book History of Limestone County, 1833-1860, says of him, “The old Doctor was a good old man, did his best for the sick and for his neighbors and friends.”
Mrs. Harris also wrote about one story passed down about her grandfather that speaks to his understanding of human nature and perhaps to his philosophy of medicine.  James’ wife, Hannah, was ill with a cold and had confined herself to bed.  James asked Hannah the hypothetical question that if there happened to be a big wedding that day, would she be able to attend?  Hannah replied to the effect that she thought she could wrap up real good and go.  James then informed her that if she could go to a wedding, then she could also get up and dress and eat her supper with the family.
On August 20, 1875, James Herod died at the home of one of his daughters.  He was given a full Masonic funeral and buried at the Hogan Cemetery.  Georgia Lenamond remembered his wife, Hannah, as being “a very small person, quite active, and very hard of hearing.  She would often get up from her chair and move near the person talking while holding her trumpet so she could hear.”   Hannah died on November 6, 1883, and was buried at the side of her husband.