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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Georgia's first 'doctor' feared alligators in the street
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Roger Allen - photo by Special

    (Note: The following is part of a series of columns looking at the establishment and growth of doctors, hospitals and the health industry in Georgia and Bulloch County.)

    The “Colony of Georgia in America” was approved by King George II in April of 1732. Appointed as the “Medical Doctor” for the 114 colonists was Dr. William Cox.
    Cox had some curious ideas about his new home, for he wrote that "the greatest health hazard in Savannah is alligators in the streets."
    Unfortunately, Dr. Cox was one of the first — if not the first — settler to die.
    Cox’s assistant was Noble Jones. With the death of Cox, Jones became the colony’s sole medical professional. That was, until the arrival of Dr. Samuel Nunis.
    Born Diogo Nunes Ribeiro in Portugal, he was a “Crypto-Jew,” who converted to Christianity publicly but maintained his Jewish traditions in secret.
    In 1732 he and his family sailed on the ship William and Sarah to Georgia. Oglethorpe called Nunes’ arrival a “God-send” and immediately appointed Nunes the colony’s physician.
    During the Revolutionary War, much of the medical treatment in America consisted of bloodletting (draining the blood), blistering (causing blisters to form and releasing the fluid) and purgation (cleansing of the bowels).
    The two most famous Revolutionary War-era doctors in Georgia were Dr. Lyman Hall and Dr. Noble Wimberly Jones. Hall was ordained as a Congregational Minister. Eventually, Hall settled in Savannah.
    Elected to the Continental Congress, he ended up as one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence. Hall helped to establish Franklin College, which grew into the University of Georgia. Hall also served as Georgia’s governor.
    Dr. Noble Wimberly Jones came to the new colony of Georgia with his parents in 1733. A successful rice planter, he lived on his Wormsloe Plantation.
    Having served in almost every legislative body in Georgia, Jones was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress while working with America’s “father of psychiatry,” Dr. Benjamin Rush.
    Back in Savanah, Dr. Jones was the one who welcomed President George Washington in 1791, he presided over the Louisville Convention which finalized the Georgia Constitution, and then he helped form the Georgia Medical Society. 

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at

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