Biography of Charles Sumner Newlon, M.D.
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Dr. Charles Sumner Newlon, who for the past fifteen years has engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery in Kansas City, Missouri, and who for many years prior to this period was a physician and surgeon of the state of Kansas, was born at Newton’s Grove, Cass county, Iowa, in 1858, a son of Dr. William Smithson and Maria (Wimp) Newlon. The ancestral line is traced back to his great-grandfather, John Newlon. The grandfather, Hiram Newlon, was born in Virginia and was a cousin of Dolly Madison, wife of the fourth president of the United States and also a relative of Mrs. Patrick Henry. The wife of Hiram Newlon was Margaret Field, of Kentucky, a cousin of Governor Shortridge, of Alabama, also of Wade Hampton and of Judge Field, of Louisiana. Dr. W. S. Newton, father of Dr. Charles S. Newlon, was also a prominent physician of the west. He collected the indigenous plants of southern Kansas for the Centennial Exposition and made many geological surveys in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, contributing valuable collections to Washburn College and the Smithsonian Institute. In 1882 he investigated and wrote articles upon the screw fly. About this time he contended through the medical press that consumption and some ten or twelve other diseases were caused by germs. He discovered five or six fossil cephalopods, a crawfish and several insects new to science. He also discovered a number of medicinal plants and introduced them into the practice of medicine, some of these being eliphantopes, sabbatia, grindelia, hellanthus, etc., and for many years he published the Golden Rod, a scientific paper.
Dr. Charles S. Newlon acquired his preliminary education in the common schools and afterward attended the Kansas State University. He resolved to follow in his father’s footsteps professionally and under the direction of his father took up the study of medicine, also attending lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Keokuk, Iowa, from which institution he was in due time graduated. His father, two sisters and two or three cousins were alumni of the same school. Throughout the intervening years since his graduation Dr. Newlon has engaged in the practice of medicine and he is now a member of the Jackson County Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association and the American Medical Association. He held membership in all the ethical medical societies of Kansas prior to his removal to Kansas City. He was also United States examining surgeon for pensions at Parsons, Kansas, and filled the position of health officer for Altamont, Kansas. He was medical examiner for sixteen life and accident insurance companies and was superintendent for about ten years of the state school for the feeble-minded at Winfield, Kansas. During his incumbency the plane was raised to equal the standard of any instituiton of like character in the United States. Educational, industrial and humanitarian methods were adopted to make the patients happier, healthier and mentally stronger and Dr. Newlon also installed the hospital, built the Custodial building, barn, bakery, water tower and system, laundry, assembly hall for religious exercises and for recreation. He made the first statistical survey and hereditary history of all the epileptics in Kansas and was also instrumental in establishing an epileptic colony at Parsons, Kansas, to which he transferred some forty patients and was offered the superintendency of the institution but was forced to decline. Prior to this time he had refused an offer to the superintendency of the State Hospital for the Insane at Osawatomie.
Outside the strict path of his profession, in which he has rendered direct and valuable service to his fellowmen, Dr. Newlon has done other important public work. For three terms he was mayor of the city, also served as alderman and in numerous minor. offices. He was elected and served as secretary and trustee of the Labette county high school for a number of years, this being perhaps the only public building in the state erected without voting bonds. The financiers objected by injunction against levying a tax in advance but the supreme court sustained the board and the present county high school building is a monument to cash, economy and structural architecture.
Dr. Newlon has also figured prominently in other public connections. He was vice president of the state republican league, chairman of the Labette county republican central committee and committeeman for the town and township for years. Many times be has been a delegate to county, congressional and state conventions and has done everything in his power to further the principles for which the party stands and to secure their adoption as factors in public life. Dr. Newlon has also taken all of the degrees in Masonry, including those of the blue lodge, chapter and commandery, and he is an Odd Fellow, an Elk and a Woodman. He derives his religious training from the Congregational church, of which his parents were lifelong members. He volunteered for military hospital service and had the secretary of war’s certificate to that effect. His life has indeed been one of great usefulness and value to his fellowmen.
In early manhood Dr. Newlon was united in marriage to Miss Lizzie Sullivan, who was born and reared in Nashua, New Hampshire, and by whom he has two children: Jess and Olga. Mrs. Newton takes an active interest in club and social work.