The Pound House: Dripping Springs' First, School, Church, Hospital, and Doctor's Office

It was early in the year 1854 when the 3 pioneer families came, the attraction the abundance of cypress trees along the rivers. Shingles made from the trees could even be used to purchase land. They were hardy people.

We first heard the involved story of the local founding fathers at our Homestead B & B. Nannie Ross (who named the community Dripping Springs) came with her husband John Moss and her sister Sarah Pound and her husband Dr. Joseph Pound, all from Mississippi. They were joined by Kentucky pioneers, Malvina and husband John Walla, the latter a very distant relative of Robert E. Lee (“a fourth cousin twice over.”) We are reminded of a comment made by Polly Osterkamp, a Texas radiographer, namely, “My grandfather was the only private in the Confederate army!”

It was early in the year 1854 when the 3 pioneer families came, the attraction the abundance of cypress trees along the rivers. Shingles made from the trees could even be used to purchase land.

They were hardy people. They had to be or they would not have survived. Joseph Pound of Kentucky first came to Texas at the age of 19 for its war against Mexico. He fought as a private soldier. He returned to Kentucky to study medicine and served in action as a Confederate Civil War surgeon until he developed scarlet fever. He became a training officer for the Frontier Regiment; the US flag he flew from his horse is one of the artifacts on show in his home.

A historical marker outside the Pound House reminds visitors how difficult it was for Confederate army surgeons.

In short supply were drugs, surgical instruments, and horse-drawn ambulances. Instruments were either bought in Europe and smuggled through naval blockades, or captured from enemy forces. Drugs came in by blockade-runners or hidden in pompadours, bustles and petticoats of sympathizer ladies of the north.

Substitutes for quinine were teas made from dogwood, willow, and poplar bark. Garden poppies were milked for opium. Sutures were made from horse hair softened by boiling or from silk clothing.

This was the first war to use female nurses and the first to use general anesthetics. Amputated limbs were stacked like wood around the field hospitals. It was the bloodiest war in history until the atom bomb.

Photographs of Dr. Pound and his wife Sarah. The home today. Marianne Simmons, the docent, waits to answer questions about the original smokehouse.

Marianne, the docent today and a former executive director of the Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead, now runs the nearby Onion Creek Farm. In the bottom image she shows Dr. Pound’s Civil War flag that he flew from his horse.

Wanda, Dr. Pound’s great great-granddaughter, stands beside the tree that survived being struck twice by lightning, patched with concrete blocks by the Pound descendants. Inside, beside a photograph of her mother, Marjorie Hammack Owens, she shows the family resemblance.

Wanda says she would not have wanted to be born in the 1850s but she does enjoy looking at the dresses from the Pound past, particularly Grandmother Georgia’s Easter Star dress.

Below image: some of Great-Great-Grandfather’s mortars and pestles.

The great-great-granddaughter of Dr. Joseph Pound holds up his tooth extractor (in her right hand) and his Laennec stethoscope. We tell her the French doctor designed it in 1816 to be one inch farther than a flea could jump.

A world of medical history sits on the shelves in what was the doctor’s office. Across the “dog trot” breezeway was their bedroom with a small room built on the side wall for patients too ill to be allowed home.

Andrea Larson, the executive director of the Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead, holds up the pannier bags that used to hang from Dr. Pound’s horse. Behind her stand the good doctor’s magic bottles and instruments.

The Pounds had 9 children and 2 died in childhood. Georgia, their seventh child, recorded an audio interview towards the end of her near 100-year life-span in which she said the Indians respected her father as a medicine man and because he was courteous to them. He came back from a night town meeting, once so exhausted he left his horse covered with a blanket on his porch and not put away in his barn and in the morning found his horse was the only one in town not stolen. Wanda says she remembers a story that he made a house call on a sick family and when he came back to their homestead next day they were all dead, massacred by Indians

The Pounds brought roses from Mississippi, a runner called the Treasure Rose, and every February and August, Wanda shows up to cut them back; the same roses that have survived more than a century and a half!

The roses seem indestructible surely like the spirit of Texas itself.

Check back next Tuesday for the third installment of our Texas series.

Photography by the authors.

The Andersons, who live in San Diego, are the resident travel & cruise columnists for Physician's Money Digest. Nancy is a former nursing educator, Eric a retired MD. The one-time president of the NH Academy of Family Physicians. Eric is the only physician in the Society of American Travel Writers. He has also written five books, the last called The Man Who Cried Orange: Stories from a Doctor's Life.