October 1, 2012

Anderson's Administrator v. Darland, Pulaski, 1921


Click here for a list of my other Pulaski/Rockcastle/Laurel County KY articles


[June 1, 1915] -

Chancellor Hugh G. Kyle, of Rogersville, has made permanent the injunction against J. S. Anderson, the so-called "Indian doctor," of Kingston. This means that the famous Kingston "yarb" doctor will have to move out of the state  [Tennessee] if he practices. [1]


[October 3, 1916] -

Trial of "Negro Doctor"

Creates Great Deal of Interest in Court at Somerset.

Quite a number of Lincoln county people have been treated by the so-called colored doctor of Somerset and much interest has attached to the suit by the State Board of Health to force him to quit business. Great crowds attended the trial at Somerset last week. The Somerset Commonwealth said of the trial: An injunction is being asked, by the representatives of the commonwealth to prevent Dr. Anderson from continuing the practice of medicine and the treatment of patients at his sanitarium at Ferguson in this county. Dr. McCormack, the head of the State Board of Health is prosecuting the case in the name of the commonwealth and has as his counsel the Commonwealth's Attorney Walter N. Flippin, (whose duty it is to prosecute the case) and Attorney McNutt of Rockwood, Tenn., who was instrumental in forcing Dr. Anderson to discontinue the practice of treating patients in the state of Tennessee. 

Dr. Anderson claims to be an Indian and treats his patients with the herbs and roots of the forest and field which he claims are nature's original remedies.

From evidence introduced by the defense Dr. Anderson surely must be able to accomplish results as some of the best people of Pulaski county testified to having been cured by his treatments after the failure of all other doctors and medicines, some having traveled over different parts of the country to consult with specialists and take health resort treatment. Chiefly among this class was Attorney O. H. Waddle, who is defending Dr. Anderson in this case, he having visited New York in search of a specialist who might be able to offer him a remedy whereby he might gain relief, finally tried Dr. Anderson and he is now almost fully restored to health and vigor at the advanced age of 65 years. [2]


[July 6, 1918] -


Rockwood, July 6. -- Suit of Annie Anderson, of Kingston, vs. J. S. Anderson, the "negro doctor of Rasputin fame," formerly of Kingston, now of Somerset, Ky., for divorce and alimony, was decided in Knoxville last Friday,granting the plaintiff divorce and $11,526.58 alimony.

Ben V. Smith and son, of Somerset, attorneys for the plaintiff, were allowed a fee of $2,100 by the Roane county court.

This case was first tried at Kingston before Chancellor Kyle, and was appealed to the Knox county court. [3]


[April 20, 1919] -

GIVES $32,000


Special to The Leader.

SOMERSET, KY., April 19. -- Dr. J. S. Anderson, a Negro physician of Somerset, has given more than $32,000 to the State University, a school for Negroes at Louisville. Anderson announced some time ago that he would give three dollars for every dollar raised toward a fund to build a dormitory for boys. The exact sum secured was $10,695 and Anderson made good.[4]


[May 3, 1919] -


Somerset's Famous Physician May Have to Pay His Colored Divorced Spouce--Federal Curt News.

Arguments were hears by Judge A. M. J. Cochran in Federal Court last night on a motion by attorneys representing Anna Anderson, of Kingston, Roane county, the colored wife of Dr. James S. Anderson, the famous physician of Somerset, Pulaski county, this state, who claims to be a Choctaw Indian, seeking to enforce collection of a judgement for alimony she obtained against Anderson for $10,000. They were divorced last year and the woman claims that he has never paid her the alimony that she was awarded in Tennessee courts. She was represented by Senator McNutt of Tennessee, and Hon. Ben V. Smith and son, of Somerset, while Dr. Anderson was represented by Attorney M. L. Jarvis and B. J. Bethurum, of Somerset. The alimony with interest now amounts to $13,737.83, which is the amount of judgement asked in this court. Judge Cochran did not hand down a formal opinion in the case before he left here for his home, court having been concluded for this term Anderson has made a remarkable reputation as a physician and has patients go to his sanitarium at Somerset from many states. He is said to have amassed a fortune. Recently he gave $30,000 to a colored educational institution in Louisville. It was reported in the papers at the time he was a negro, but he denied it and claimed to be a pure Choctaw Indian. [5]


[November 20, 1919] -


Doctor Made Name in Fight With Health Board

SOMERSET, Ky., Nov. 19. -- Dr. J. S. Anderson, famous Choctaw herbalist, died here today. His estate is reputed to be worth $100,000. Recently he gave $30,000 to a negro Baptist school in Louisville. The State Board of Health has made strong effort for four years to stop him from practicing medicine.

Anderson was really a full blooded negro, although he claimed to be half Indian. His fight with the State Board of Health attracted statewide attention. Patients visited his sanitarium from all parts of the world and at times so great was the rush that many were compelled to wait for days to see him. After a long battle with the State authorities he was compelled to cease the practice of medicine in Tennessee and four years ago he located in Somerset. [6]


[November 20, 1919] -


SOMERSET, KY., Nov. 20. -- Dr. J. S. Anderson, famous Choctaw herbalist reputed to be worth $100,000, is dead. He made his money by selling herbs, altho the State Board of Health has tried for four years to prevent him from practicing medicine. Anderson was a full-blooded Negro, altho he claimed to half Indian. He recently gave $30,000 to a colored Baptist school at Louisville. [7]


[November 22, 1919] -

Dr. J. S. Anderson, famous Choctaw herbalist, died at Somerset Nov. 19. His estate is reported to be worth $100,000. Recently he gave $30,000 to State University of Louisville. Dr. Anderson was really a full blooded colored man, although he claimed to be half Indian. Patients visited his sanitarium from all parts of the world and at times so great was the rush that many were compelled to wait for days to see him. [8]


[January 1, 1920] -

The will of J.S. Anderson, Choctaw her[b]alist, of Somerset, who amassed a large fortune, bequeaths $10,000 to J. F. Wilson, colored preacher, and his friend in poverty in whose lot at Harrodsburg Anderson's body was buried. [9]

(Findagrave.com entry for John James "J. S." Anderson. Maple Grove Cemetery, Mercer County, KY.)


[January 30, 1920] -

Mercer Girl Inherits Estate of Somerset's Indian Doctor

Harrodsburg, Ky., Jan. 30 -- A Mercer county girl and her two sisters have inherited the bulk of the big fortune of Dr. J. S. Anderson, Choctaw Indian herbalist, who recently died at his large sanitarium at Somerset.

Among the people who went from this county to be treated at the Indian's sanitarium was Miss Bessie Darland, a school teacher. She became his secretary, and by his will, just probated, she is chief beneficiary. She receives in fee simple four houses and lots, a barn and garage at Kingston, Tenn.; three farms in Pulaski county of 123 acres, 78 acres and 173 acres, respectively. The land lies near Somerset and is said to be worth $100 an acre. Miss Darland also receives an automobile, all bequests being to "my faithful and efficient secretary." Misses Myrtle and Bertha Darland, her sisters, receive a house and lot jointly in Ferguson, Pulaski county. They are daughters of Martin Darland, who for two years has been manager of Dr. Anderson's farms. [10]


[January 31, 1920] -


Herbalist Remembers Secretary and Sisters in Will

[Special to The Herald]

HARRODSBURG, Ky., Jan. 30. -- The will of Dr. James S. Anderson, Choctaw Indian herbalist, who died at Somerset several weeks ago, was probated in Somerset this week. Misses Dessie, Myrtle and Bertha Darland, of this county were very liberally remembered in the distribution of his property.

Four houses and lots, a barn and garage in the town of Kingston, Tenn., a farm of 123 acres in Pulaski county, near Somerset, designated as Farm No 2, another farm, designated as Farm No. 3, containing 173 acres, near Somerset, a farm of 78 acres are left to Miss Dessie Darland.

A house and lot in Ferguson, Pulaski county, is left to Misses Myrtle and Bertha Darland jointly. All property is given to the beneficiaries with an absolute and unconditional title, to sell the same and make fee simple titles thereto.

The young women are daughters of Martin Darland. Two of them were teachers in Mercer county. Mr. Darland formerly lived here but for the last two years has been farm manager for the late Doctor Anderson. [11]


[February 1, 1920] -


HARRODSBURG, KY., Jan. 31. -- The bulk of the estate of J. S. Anderson, Indian herbalist, is left to three daughters of Martin Darland, who was Anderson's farm manager. Miss Dessie Darland was his secretary. Her sisters are teachers.[12]


[February 26, 1920] -


Opened at Somerset.

Somerset, Ky., -- The Sanatorium here, formerly owned and operated by the late Dr. James S. Anderson, Choctaw Indian, has been re-opened by a company of local business men organized for the purpose of treating Cancer, Tumor and Ulcer, with Watson's Cancer Remedy, discovered a number of years ago by Dr. F. . Watson who has made scores of wonderful cures in several cases of cancer.

There seems to be no doubt that this institution will be a great success, as they have this wonderful remedy, competent physicians, nurses and modern equipment in every respect. The Watson Cancer Sanatorium will accommodate over one hundred patients in the main building, and there are separate buildings for colored patients.

Those interested, may write The Watson Sanatorium Corporation, incorporated, Somerset, Kentucky, and receive a small booklet giving full particulars as to the Sanatorium. According to the latest official census, there are about six millions of cancers in the United States, and 180,000 cases in Kentucky. The Watson Cancer Sanatorium should be the benefactor of humanity.

(Advertisement.) [13]


[October 28, 1921] -

Anderson's Administrator v. Darland.


192 Ky. 624; 234 S.W. 205; 1921 Ky. LEXIS 121

October 28, 1921, Decided

PRIOR HISTORY:  [***1]  Appeal from Pulaski Circuit Court. 

DISPOSITION: Reversed and remanded.

COUNSEL: CHRIS L. TARTAR for appellant.

W. M. CATRON for appellee. 




 [*625]   [**206]  OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUDGE CLARKE--Reversing.

Prior to January 1, 1917, J. S. Anderson, a negro man who claimed to be an "Indian herbalist," bought a farm near Somerset, Ky., and erected thereon a three story sanitarium containing sixty-five rooms. In February, 1917, the appellee, Dessie Darland, a white woman, entered the sanitarium as a patient but some time thereafter accepted employment at $ 100.00 per month as Anderson's secretary and remained in the sanitarium in that capacity until his death November 19, 1919. After the death of Anderson, the appellant, M. L. Jarvis, was appointed and qualified as curator of his estate and later as his administrator with the will annexed. As curator, he took possession of and had appraised as the property of deceased all of the personal property in and about the sanitarium. Thereupon appellee instituted this action of claim and delivery pursuant to sections 180-193 of the Civil Code and recovered possession from appellant under an order of delivery of an [***2]  automobile, a typewriter, the furniture that was in her room and that in the parlor and the back parlor and the contents of a grocery store located in the basement of the sanitarium, the alleged value of which was $ 2,219.50.

In the first paragraph of his answer defendant denied plaintiff's alleged ownership and that his possession was wrongful. In a second paragraph, he alleged that all of the property claimed by the plaintiff was owned by and in possession of Anderson when he died and that same rightfully came into possession of defendant as  [*626]  curator, etc. In the third paragraph of the answer it is averred that Anderson purchased and paid for all of this property; that he at all times thereafter retained possession thereof and was insolvent; that no consideration ever passed to him from plaintiff for any of the property; that no transfer of same had ever been made or recorded from decedent to plaintiff and that any pretended gift of same by him to her was a fraud upon his creditors and void.

The material allegations of the answer were traversed by reply and upon a trial at the conclusion of all the evidence a verdict was directed in favor of plaintiff and defendant is [***3]  appealing from the judgment entered in accordance therewith.

The only proof introduced by plaintiff tending directly to sustain her claim of ownership is that of her two sisters, Mertie and Bertha. The former testified that she was matron of the sanitarium from July, 1917, until the death of Anderson and that she had heard him give to plaintiff the automobile, the contents of the front and back parlors and the grocery room in the basement; that plaintiff had purchased with her own money most of the contents of her own room, including the typewriter, and that she had heard the doctor give to plaintiff the other articles in her room; that the typewriter was used by plaintiff in the performance of her duties as secretary to Anderson; that the sanitarium was supplied with things needed from the grocery store, but that her sister frequently sold articles therefrom to others; that decedent continued to use the automobile occasionally until his death but only upon consent obtained from plaintiff; that prior to decedent's gift to plaintiff of the grocery store and furniture in the two parlors he had carried the keys to those rooms but thereafter plaintiff carried same and no one was permitted [***4]  to enter them except by her consent; that when patients in the sanitarium and others desired to use the piano or enter either of the parlors and asked of Anderson the privilege to do so, he referred them to plaintiff; that she always carried the keys to her own room.

It is admitted by this witness that none of the articles claimed by plaintiff were ever removed from their customary places in the sanitarium; that the stock of groceries was exhausted and replenished by the doctor several times after the gift of same to plaintiff, and that the back parlor was used by Anderson as a bed room.

 [*627]  The testimony of plaintiff's sister, Bertha, who went to the sanitarium as drug clerk in July, 1918, and remained until Anderson's death, is to the same effect, except that she does not claim to have heard the doctor give any of these articles to plaintiff but that he had frequently told her he had done so and that they were hers. This was all the testimony for the plaintiff except that of herself, which for the most part recited merely her duties and services as secretary to Anderson, although a part of it, to which no objection was interposed, was incompetent since it tended indirectly [***5]  at least to sustain  [**207]  her claim. See Keene's Extrx. v. Newton, 192 Ky. 6, 232 S.W. 71.

The defendant testified that Anderson was in full possession and control of the sanitarium at the time of his death; that he found all of the articles claimed by plaintiff in the sanitarium when he took possession of same as curator and that he accordingly took possession of same and had them appraised as the property of the decedent; that plaintiff then claimed the property here involved, but that the only answer she would give when asked how she came into possession of same was "they are mine" and would make no further explanation.

Defendant was not permitted to state whether or not decedent at the time of his death was insolvent as it is made to appear he was by an avowal. Of this ruling of the court complaint is now made. This evidence, however, was clearly incompetent since it referred to a time more than two years subsequent to the time of the alleged gift and the court did not err in excluding it.

Other witnesses introduced by the defendant were not permitted to state they had heard Dr. Anderson say frequently that he had given the piano, grafonola and other articles [***6]  in the parlor to his niece, Ruth Thompson; and of these rulings of the court defendant also complains. This evidence, in so far as it related to times subsequent to when plaintiff's witnesses had stated the property was given by the doctor to her was, we think, competent since it is of equal dignity and wholly inconsistent with and contradictory of much of the evidence introduced by plaintiff to sustain her claim of ownership.

But even without this evidence the facts and circumstances admitted by the witnesses for the plaintiff and testified to by witnesses for the defendant tend strongly to show that Anderson did not surrender to plaintiff absolute possession and control of the property now claimed by her and was abundantly sufficient to make the decision [*628] of this essential fact a question for the jury. The rule is thoroughly established that, "to make a valid gift inter vivos, there must be an intention to transfer title to the property as well as a delivery by the donor and an acceptance by the donee. Mere intention to give without delivery is unavailing and delivery is insufficient unless made with an intention to give." The rule as to the weight and sufficiency [***7] of evidence in such cases is also settled and is thus stated in 20 Cyc. 1223:

"As a general rule to establish a gift inter vivos there must be a preponderance of clear, explicit and convincing evidence in support of every element needed to constitute a valid gift. It is necessary to establish by this kind of evidence competency of donor, delivery, acceptance, and the parting by the owner with his control or right of domain over the subject of the gift. This rule is especially applicable where the gift is not asserted until after the donor's death and where a confidential relation existed between the parties."

As thus stated these rules have been expressly approved or applied by this court in the following recent cases: Stark v. Kelley, 132 Ky. 376, 113 S.W. 498; Foxworthy v. Adams, 136 Ky. 403, 124 S.W. 381; Dick v. Harris, 145 Ky. 739, 141 S.W. 56; Taylor v. Purdy, 151 Ky. 82, 151 S.W. 45; Reynolds v. Thompson, 161 Ky. 772, 171 S.W. 379; Goodan v. Goodan, 184 Ky. 79, 211 S.W. 423; Moore v. Shifflett, 187 Ky. 7, 216 S.W. 614, and Hale v. Hale, 189 Ky. 171, 224 S.W. 1078. [***8] By reason of the confidential relationship that existed between deceased and the plaintiff as his secretary and this being a suit to acquire, not defend possession after the death of the alleged donor, it was certainly incumbent upon plaintiff to establish by clear, explicit and convincing evidence every element necessary to constitute a valid gift. Conceding the delivery may be actual, constructive or symbolical, yet in the relationship existing here, the fact that plaintiff carried the keys to the back parlor, which admittedly decedent continued to use as his bed room, and to the grocery store operated thereafter and until his death as a part of the sanitarium and to the room occupied by her as a bed room is of but little probative value, and even when considered in connection with her other evidence, is certainly not clear, explicit or convincing evidence that he had delivered to her exclusive possession or control of the furniture and supplies therein, or any possession or control inconsistent  [*629]  with decedent's further use of same just as theretofore or that he intended so to do or that plaintiff so believed. We are, therefore, quite sure that she utterly failed to make [***9]  out a case as to these articles.

As to the contents of the front parlor and the automobile, we have concluded, not, however, without much hesitation, that there was sufficient evidence for plaintiff to carry the case to the jury, since there is evidence that the doctor did not thereafter make any use of either except occasionally by permission of plaintiff, as heretofore pointed out. The evidence as a whole presents many facts and circumstances wholly inconsistent with and contradictory of the evidence that Anderson intended to give these articles to plaintiff and especially that he surrendered all control and dominion over them and delivered same to her.

The judgment is, therefore, reversed and the cause remanded for another trial consistent herewith. [14]


[October 29, 1921] -


White Secretary of "Indian Herbalist" Shares Estate

[Special to The Herald]

FRANKFORT, Ky., October 29. -- The automobile and parlor furniture claimed by Dessie Darland, white, secretary of J. S. Anderson, negro, "Indian Herbalist," and once owner of a sanitarium near Somerset, is given to Miss Darland, but the typewriter and other furniture of a grocery left by Anderson and claimed by Miss Darland were held to be parts of Anderson's estate by the court of appeals today.

Miss Darland entered Anderson's sanitarium as a patient and later became his secretary. At his death she laid claim to the automobile, typewriter, furniture in her room, parlor and back parlor furniture, and contents of the grocery all worth $2,850.

The court held that the evidence was sufficient to show that the automobile, bedroom and parlor furniture used by Miss Darland was given to her. [15]


[1] Excerpt from "Southern Medical News - Tennessee." Southern Medical Journal, Nashville, TN. June 1, 1915. Volume VIII, Number 6. Googlebooks.

[2] "Trial of 'Negro Doctor.'" The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 3, 1916. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052023/1916-10-03/ed-1/seq-1/

[3] "Anderson Must Pay $11,520 Alimony." The Chattanooga News, Chattanooga, TN. July 6, 1918. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038531/1918-07-06/ed-1/seq-1/

[4] "Gives $32,000." Lexington Leader, Lexington, KY. April 20, 1919. Page 43. Genealogybank.com.

[5] "Indian's Wife Asks For Her Alimony." Richmond Daily Register, Richmond, KY. May 3, 1919. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069168/1919-05-03/ed-1/seq-1/

[6] "Choctaw Herbalist Dies; Estate is Worth $100,000." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. November 20, 1919. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[7] Excerpt from "News of Kentucky." Lexington Leader, Lexington, KY. November 20, 1919. Page 16. Genealogybank.com.

[8] Excerpt from "Colored Column." Richmond Daily Register, Richmond, KY. November 22, 1919. Page 6. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069168/1919-11-22/ed-1/seq-6/

[9] Excerpt from "Heard About Town." Richmond Daily Register, Richmond, KY. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069168/1920-01-01/ed-1/seq-4/

[10] "Mercer Girl Inherits Estate Of Somerset's Indian Doctor." Richmond Daily Register, Richmond, KY. January 30, 1920. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069168/1920-01-30/ed-1/seq-1/

[11] "Indian Doctor Bequeaths Fortune to Mercer Girls." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. January 31, 1920. Page 6. Genealogybank.com.

[12] Excerpt from "News of Kentucky." Lexington Leader, Lexington, KY. February 1, 1920. Page 36. Genealogybank.com.

[13] "Cancer Sanatorium (Advertisement)." The Central Record, Lancaster, KY. February 26, 1920. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069201/1920-02-26/ed-1/seq-4/

[14] Anderson's Admr v. Darland192 Ky. 624, 234 S.W. 205 (1921).

[15] "Woman's Claims Cut." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. October 29, 1921. Page 5. Genealogybank.com.

[16] Findagrave.com entry for John James "J. S." Anderson. Maple Grove Cemetery, Mercer County, KY. 


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