Dr. Roscoe Conklin Harrison

Dr. Rosco[e] Conklin Harrison

Founder of Harrison Memorial Hospital, Kimball, W. Va.

(By H. Dodford Dismuke, M. D.)

Welch Daily News
September 21, 1926

About 22 years ago there came to McDowell County a new physician and surgeon. He was not a new man in the county nor a stranger in the community; but, like mother goose, at this time he was garbed in new feathers. He had hitherto been known to his mine colleagues, with whom he dug coal and pulled coke, as Roscoe Harrison; and, for several years he would leave them as Roscoe and return to them in the spring the same. But about 22 years ago he became Dr. Roscoe Conklin Harrison to them and remained so until his demise in November, 1923.

The subject of this sketch was born in North Carolina near Raleigh about 45 years ago. Very early he was carried to Alabama, where his early schooling was obtained. When in his teens he was brought to West Virginia where he obtained his further literary training in what is now known as Bluefield Colored Institute.

He was an industrious boy and worked in the mines between school times and thus earned money to defray his expenses. His ambition for acquiring knowledge was soon made known and he was early recognized as a genius. Upon the completion of his course at Bluefield he was seized with a desire to study medicine; accordingly he matriculated at Meharry where he completed three years study. Before he had duly graduated from Meharry he had displayed such wonderful ability as a physician and surgeon that he was given license to practice his profession in the state. Being always hungry for more information in his chosen profession, he soon set a task for himself to cover 100 pages of medicine and collateral reading each day. This he religiously followed until he made of himself a product to be considered among the best read men in the state.

His choice in the field of medicine was surgery, and to equip himself he studied, attended various clinics throughout this and other countries and pursued post graduate courses so that at his death he was rated as one of West Virginia's best surgeons. Many marvelous and wonderful operations were successfully performed by him. He enjoyed the respect and confidence of the leading surgeons throughout the country.

Not only in the field of medicine was he a master but like the great Weir Mitchell, whose profoundness in medicine was felt the world over, he was a literary satel[l]ite. He could sing the Iliad and Odyssey of the blind bard - Homer. He was conversant with the works of the asthmatic Virgil, and was at home in geometric realms of Euclid and the astronomic fields of Galileo.

Harrison was truly a scholar. The writer has listened to the expressions of many who have told him how the man has held them spell-bound with his profound knowledge of apparently all things.

Harrison was modest. No where in print appears a line he caused to be printed of his work or his achievements. His ambition was to serve humanity; his goal the consummation of a worthy act. Because of his exceeding modesty, the world knows but little of him. But as the writer has on several occasions said, if ever the medical profession erects for its leaders a monument or builds for them a Hall of Fame, some where on the former or in a conspicuous place in the latter should be placed the name and likeness of that eminent physician and surgeon of Kimball, McDowell County, West Virginia, - Roscoe Conklin Harrison.

African Americans

West Virginia Archives and History