A Quaker Doctor Paid Someone to serve in His Stead
William Stout, born in 1825, was the son of Joseph and Naomi Stout. His father built four-horse wagons, and his mother made the covers for the wagons. The Stouts sold the wagons in Fayetteville for one hundred dollars each. The profits from those sales paid for young William’s education, first at a Quaker school that was the forerunner to Guilford College, and then to medical college in Richmond, Virginia.
William Stout earned his license to practice medicine after working under two doctors. He and his wife, Hannah, from Coleridge, were married in 1858, and had six children. Dr. Stout and Hannah also raised a nephew after the boy’s mother died.
Many of the Dr. Stout’s slave-owning neighbors would not call on him to help their sick and wounded. “He didn’t believe in slavery and he didn’t believe in war,” said his great-great-granddaughter, Geneva Brown. She also said she was told that, during the Civil War, her great-great-grandfather gave a man $500 to serve in his place. Dr. Stout’s beliefs as a Quaker precluded him from joining the fray; he also did not want to leave his community without a physician. Later, she said, the government reimbursed him the money.
Most of his rural patients could not afford to pay Stout cash for his services. Instead, he would often arrive home laden with corn, wheat, potatoes, apples, peaches or whatever crops a farmer had to spare. Some sick patients were brought to Stout’s home by their family members, and they stayed until they had recovered.
Dr. William Stout died in 1904, six months after his wife, Hannah, passed away.