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DR. A. J. STEPHENS. The profession of the physician and surgeon is one that has drawn to it, at all periods of its history, the brightest and most honorable men; for none but an intelligent, well-informed man could be a physician at all, and no physician unless a man of honor, could long retain a profitable practice. Howell County, Missouri, has always been fortunate in its physicians, and it is especially so, during recent years, in its younger generation of practitioners, who have contributed much to the enhancement of the city’s reputation as a center of medical knowledge. Conspicuous among these is Dr. A. J. Stephens, who was born in middle Tennessee, Clay County, November 22, 1853, a son of Nathan and Matilda (McQuery) Stephens.
The father was born in Russell County, Kentucky, as was also the mother, and soon after this marriage they moved to Clay County, Tennessee, where both died. The father followed farming through life. He was a soldier in the Confederate Army for a short time, and in politics was a Democrat. His father, William Stephens, was a native of the Old North State and an early pioneer of Kentucky. He came to Clay County with his son, and there passed the closing scenes of his life. He was a soldier both in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, and his father was a Revolutionary soldier. The Stephens family is of Irish origin. Grandfather Zanby McQuery was a soldier in the War of 1812, and the Mexican War also. He was a native of South Carolina, and an early pioneer in Kentucky, in which State his death occurred. Dr. A. J. Stephens was fifth in order of birth of eight children, as follows: William T., who served in the Confederate Army, is now living in Texas County, Missouri; Elizabeth, widow of George Neggles, is living in Texas County, Missouri; Lucy J., the wife of B. Inman, resides in Texas County, Missouri; Malinda deceased) was the wife of Jeff Grogan, of Texas County; A. J., subject; Sarah A., also a resident of Texas County, is the wife of Mr. Croxdel; Narcissa P., wife of William Ford, resides in Shannon County; and Robert E., a farmer of this county.
In Clay County, Tennessee, Dr. A. J. Stephens obtained his early education, and when but a lad he left home and came to Texas County, Missouri For one year he was in the Elk Creek Academy, then went to Houston, Texas County, and attended school two years; then went to Mt. Grove, Wright County, and attended school two years longer. Later he took up the study of medicine under Giles Foister, and at the same time he became a teacher. He studied medicine and attended school up to 1879, and that year was married to Miss Lizzie Bolin, daughter of Robert Bolin, of Howell County.
Mr. and Mrs. Stephens located in Howell Valley, bought a farm, and Mr. Stephens farmed and taught school. He completed his. course at the Missouri Medical College, of St. Louis, in 1891, with high honors, and began practicing the year previous while on his farm north of West Plains. Later he moved to West Plains, and has since built up a good practice. In 1891 he tool a trip to California, but after remaining there two or three months, and not liking the country, he returned to Howell County. The Doctor is a member of the South Missouri Medical Association, makes a specialty of diseases of women, and has become well known all over southwest Missouri as a successful surgeon in removing tumors and other difficult operations. He performed the first and only operation in removing an ovary tumor weighing many pounds, and has been successful in all his operations, having performed many. He is generally called in by the physicians of the county for consultation. The Doctor is the leading surgeon in southwest Missouri, and as such is well known. Socially he is an Odd Fellow, a member of West Plains Lodge No. 263, and politically a Democrat and a strong advocate of his party. He is a thorough student of his profession, keeps well up with the times, and does much in the prevention and cure of ills that flesh is heir to. He is active in educational matters, and he and family attend the First Baptist Church of West Plains. Mrs. Stephens is a member of that church. Four children have been born to their marriage: Opie, died in infancy; William S., Perry L., Maggie A. and Fred M. The Doctor is one of the leading men of West Plains and Howell County, and is an honor to the profession.