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William G. Blake, M. D. There are few men who have practiced medicine so long in Eastern Oklahoma as Doctor Blake of Tahlequah, with which city he has been identified as a resident physician since 1883. He is now one of the most honored figures not only in his profession but in the citizenship of Cherokee County. His active career covers fully half a century, since he was a soldier in the war between the states, and has been engaged in medical practice for more than forty years.
Though he has now passed the seventieth milestone on the journey of an active and well spent lite, he is still in the full vigor of mind and body, and shows less years than the date of his birth would indicate. He was born at Stockton, Cedar County, Missouri, February 22, 1845, and was the youngest but one of a family of eight children. His parents were Dr. William G. and Sarah (Penington) Blake. They were both natives of Tennessee, and were of Scotch-Irish stock. They moved to Missouri a number of years before Doctor Blake was born, and finally in 1845 located at Stockton, where the father successfully practiced medicine for forty years. He died in 1885 at the ripe old age of eighty-five, after a career of long and varied experience and capable service to his fellow men. He and two of his sons served in the Confederate army during the war, and he held the rank of surgeon in his regiment.
The junior Doctor Blake was likewise a soldier for three and a half years, and at the close of the war held the rank of sergeant-major. He was in Hunter’s Regiment. This regiment was engaged in duty chiefly west of the Mississippi, and in a skirmish at Westport, now included within the City of Kansas City, he received a flesh wound in the left arm. In the meantime he had lived at his father’s home in Southwest Missouri, had gained an education in the local schools, and as soon as the war was over sought higher educational advantages, attending school for a time at Kentuckytown, Texas. He afterwards taught one of the first free public schools in the State of Arkansas.
Doctor Blake began his professional career in 1872 at Hinesville, Madison County, Arkansas. He lived there and enjoyed a successful practice until his removal to Tahlequah in 1882. From boyhood Doctor Blake has been a student of medicine, a career for which he seems to have been fitted by nature as well as by training. His father was his early preceptor and later in life he entered the Missouri Medical College at St. Louis, from which he received his degree in 1880. He has never relaxed his studious practices, and has shown a progressive spirit such as younger men might admire and take as an example. He has frequently interrupted his practice to take courses at the lending institutions in this country, chiefly at St. Louis, Chicago and New York. He has spent time at the Chicago Policlinic, the Illinois School of Electro-Therapeutics, the Post Graduate School of Medicine of New York City, and has frequently attended prominent clinics in various hospitals. At his office in Tahlequah he possesses a large and well selected medical library, and from time to time has invested a large amount of money in office appliances, including equipment for electrical and other treatments and many surgical instruments. In his time he performed much of the arduous service of the pioneer physician, riding over rough roads through all sorts of weather, but in latter years has confined his labors to office work and consultation.
The esteem in which he is held by the local medical profession is well illustrated by the fact that he has served as president of the Cherokee County Society since its organization just after statehood. He is also a member of the Oklahoma State Medical Society and the American Medical Association, and for eight years was health officer of Cherokee County. He has never sought political preferment, though a stanch democrat in politics, and has kept in the rank and file of citizenship. For thirty-seven years he has been affiliated with the Royal Arch Chapter of Masonry, and during twenty-one years of that time has held the office of high priest in his home chapter.
In 1870 Doctor Blake married Miss Bettie Odell. Mrs. Blake was a woman of many sterling qualities of heart and mind, and as his helpful companion and the sharer of his joys and sorrows traveled with him through life for forty-four years. Her death occurred March 4, 1914. Eight days later Doctor Blake was called upon to mourn the death of his son, Dr. Edwin W. Blake, who had graduated from the Missouri Medical College and was already established as a physician of recognized ability, and for several years had been practicing with his father. Dr. Edwin W. Blake married Zetta E. Thornton, a daughter of Rev. J. T. Thornton of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Another son of Dr. W. G. Blake, Burriss, died at the age of twenty-one, while his only daughter, Sadie, died at the age of twenty, just at the entrance to a beautiful young womanhood. Doctor Blake has thus been left with only his son’s wife, Mrs. E. W. Blake, as his closest relative, though of admiring friends he has a legion in and about Tahlequah and in fact throughout the State of Oklahoma.