Letter to the Editor:

Allison B. Hudson

Dear Editor,

Who was the first practicing African-American physician in Ascension Parish?

Was it the very well-known and often-celebrated Dr. John Lowery, who according to The Chief of October 13, 2010 was Ascension Parish's "first African-American physician," having begun his practice in 1894?

Or, was it the obscure and all-too-often ignored, Dr. George Rice Crawford, who,

according to The Chief of February 24, 1874, was a "colored physician," working

out of his Donaldsonville office at "Elizabeth Street near St. Patrick Street?"

Some basic research indicates that Dr. Crawford was likely born into slavery in

Maryland about 1841, and as a member of the USCT (U. S. Colored Troops) he

probably arrived at Donaldsonville with the occupying Union troops sometime near the town's August 1862 bombardment by Admiral David Farragut, or after the June 1863 battle of Fort Butler, both which witnessed a desperate need for medical support.

If this be the case, once the war ended in 1865, could it be that Dr. Crawford

may have set up his medical practice at Donaldsonville as early as that year,

predating Dr. Lowery by near 30 years?

Another Chief article of January 13, 1877 again identifies him as "Dr. George Rice Crawford," and seemingly indicates that he was an active member of the African-American benevolent association and fire brigade situated at Donaldsonville, known as the Blue Bucket Exchange.

Indeed, Dr. Lowery was a notable and historic Ascension Parish personality worthy of serious recognition for his achievements, but is he worthy of being called the "first African-American physician in Ascension Parish" when this evidence clearly indicates otherwise?

Glenn Falgoust

Fort Butler Foundation