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Joseph S. Fulton, M. D. One of the pioneer physicians of Southeastern Oklahoma, Doctor Fulton has lived Atoka. When he established his home at Atoka he became the only physician in the town. The country about was so sparsely populated that his practice extended twenty to thirty miles in all directions. Boggy Depot, the oldest and most historic community of the Choctaw Nation, was in his professional territory, and there he was physician to the family of Rev. Allen Wright, one of the greatest and noblest men who ever lived among the Choctaw Indians.
In the early years of his practice Doctor Fulton was frequently called upon to dress the wounds of Indians who had been stabbed or shot in fights among themselves. These fights, says Doctor Fulton, were almost entirely the result of drinking liquor that had been brought into the Indian Nation by ‘bootleggers’ in violation of the federal laws. More than once he had the singular experience of administering an anesthetic to his patients under protest, and afterwards removing a limb. His calls from the historic towns of Caddo and Stringtown were frequent, and his patients were numbered among the leading families of the Choctaw Nation. His life has been filled with interesting experiences, and nature so constituted him as to enable him to get the maximum enjoyment from these experiences. He is buoyant and optimistic, and in addition to being an able and popular representative of his profession has proved himself a veritable apostle of goodness and gladness in his association with all sorts and conditions of men.
Doctor Fulton is a member of the Atoka County Medical Society, the Oklahoma State Medical Society and the American Medical Association, and is an honorary member in the Grayson County and the North Texas Medical societies. Since 1907, when Oklahoma became a state, he has served as superintendent of health in Atoka County. For the past twenty-five years he has been local surgeon for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad.
Joseph S. Fulton was born in Grayson County, Texas, January 9, 1866. David W. Fulton, the father, was born in Arkansas and made settlement in Grayson County when a young man. He was a Confederate soldier in the Civil war, member of the brigade commanded by General Ross. In 1915 he celebrated his eightieth anniversary and is now living retired at Van Alstyne, Grayson County. His wife, now deceased, was a granddaughter of Collin McKinney. Collin McKinney, who settled in Texas when it was a province of Mexico, was a distinguished pioneer, served one or more terms in the Constitutional Convention State Legislature, and for his varied services was appropriately honored when his personal name was given to Collin County, with its capital city known as McKinney. Collin McKinney lived to be ninety-six years of age. Doctor Fulton has four brothers and two sisters: Mrs. Jennie Benton, wife of a merchant at Van Alstyne; Mrs. Emerson, of Van Alstyne, a widow, whose husband was a physician; Robert S., editor and publisher of the Van Alstyne Leader, who owns large quantities of land in Grayson County; Vardie M., who is associated with his brother, Robert S., at Van Alstyne; James D.; and Perry, who lives at Canadian in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma,
While spending the first nineteen years of his life on the old homestead in Grayson County, Doctor Fulton attended the country schools and then for two years taught school as assistant to a young Baptist clergyman who had come from Tennessee to Grayson County. Afterwards for a time he was a salesman for the nursery products of John S. Kerr of Sherman, Texas, one of the widely quoted horticultural authorities in the Southwest.
Doctor Fulton’ is affiliated with Atoka Lodge No. 4, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, and with the Knights of Pythias and Modern Woodmen of America, and he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. On February 26, 1891, he married Miss Lena Cannon. Her grandfather, James P. Dumas, was the first vice president of the Merchants and Planters National Bank of Sherman, and one of the largest land owners’ in Grayson County. Her father, R. M. Cannon, who lives at Van Alstyne, has also been prominent in Grayson County, and the Town of Cannon in that county was named in honor of the family. Doctor and Mrs. Fulton have two children: J. Harold, who was twenty-two years of age in 1915, is associated with his father in the livestock business; Clifford Cannon was thirteen years old in 1915.
Doctor Fulton owns much real estate in Atoka, including his residence, and is secretary and manager of the Atoka Realty Company. However, his principal real estate holdings in Atoka County consist of the historic old McKinney Ranch, located a few miles north of Atoka. The ranch house, on a picturesque elevation of ground, was once the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander McKinney and something should be said of them as pioneer white citizens of the Choctaw Nation. They lived there a number of years, almost in solitude so far as white neighbors were concerned, before Dr. John S. Murrow, “father of Atoka,” had his town named and established. The coming of white neighbors was joyfully welcomed by the McKinneys, and their joy was expressed in unbounded hospitality, for which they became noted over a large area of the district of Pushmataha. Their hospitality was most sincerely and appropriately expressed once each year on the occasion of their birthdays, which fell on the same day. All of Atoka was invited to the birthday feast and observances, and these occasions were enjoyed in the fullest social measure. The McKinneys were childless, and when the proper opportunities came they adopted a child. She was of Indian blood, and thereby inherited a share of Indian lands. In the course of time coal was discovered in the region about McAlester, the present county seat of Pittsburg County, and in that region lay part of this child’s allotment. A coal vein was found beneath her allotment and she became wealthy. Her income, estimated at five hundred dollars a month, contributed to the elaborateness and gaiety at succeeding birthday observances at the McKinney home. A few years later an orphan boy was likewise taken into this generous home. The boy and girl eventually became man and wife. Some of their children now live within the borders of the old Chickasaw Nation, but the four who made pleasure and entertainment for Atoka and lighted a torch of romance in the Indian country have passed away. The story is interesting on its own merits, and also because Doctor Fulton, who many times was a guest of the McKinneys, now owns the little ranch formerly occupied by those revered pioneers. His extensive farming and ranch interests in that locality include about 6,000 additional acres in Atoka County.