“Messenger of Mercy” Half Century, Colon’s Doctor Is Village Pioneer
From a Battle Creek Newspaper, June 7, 1925:
Dispensed Early Services by Bicycle, Had First Automobile in Town – It Was a Rambler, but It Often Failed to Ramble, He Says – Depended Upon Two-wheeled Cart in Urgent Cases
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Ever-burning Light in Window of His Offices Is Symbol of His Readiness to Answer Calls for Medical Aid Night or Day – Has Made Home for Many More Children than the five of His Own.
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(By Staff Correspondent) “ Colon, June 6, — As colon’s “messenger of mercy” for nearly half a century, Dr. Ervin L. Godfrey is thought to be the oldest resident of the village and a pioneer practitioner in the vicinity of the country.
The growth and development of Colon is synonymous with the life of Dr. Godfrey, who has tended sick of the countryside for 46 years, having been a resident here since 1860. he is declared to be the oldest consecutive resident of the village and according to all expectations, will take the gold-headed cane on homecoming days her June 14, 15, and 16.
Of the old school of physicians, Dr. Godfrey first dispensed his services to the village by bicycle. He had the first pneumatic bicycle in town. Later he took a two-wheeled road cart. He started using that as a mode of travel 35 years ago and wore out six or seven of them. He is expected to take part in the big pageant of progress scheduled for the three-day homecoming here next week, when he will ride in one of his old-fashioned two-wheeled cats with an umbrella in the center, just as he used to ride over a quarter of a century ago.
“A lighter cart like that traveled easier, I could drive harder in more urgent cases,” says Dr. Godfrey. And when asked if he would plan to ride in the pageant of progress, he replied, “Yes, if they want me to, I will.”
Dr. Godfrey bought the first automobile owned in Colon 20 years ago. “It was a Rambler, but it didn’t always ramble,” says Dr. Godfrey, “and when I was in any particular haste I always relied upon my horses and little road cart.” He then had a stable of five horses.
Dr. Godfrey standing beside his Rambler in front of his home and office.
Dr. Godfrey’s father was a physician before him, and two of his three sons are dentists. Dr. J. E. Godfrey is in Buchanan and Dr. Glenn Godfrey is in Colon, the president of the village. The oldest son, Claire E., is postmaster in Morris, Ill. Dr. Godfrey also has two daughters. And in addition to his own family of five, he has fathered and made a home for a number of homeless children, who grew up in his home and were given the opportunity of schooling. “How many,” he says, “So many that I can’t remember just exactly how many we have raised.”
The Godfrey home was built 40 years ago and was the finest home in the village at the time it was built. At the rear is a large garden which is tended by Dr. Godfrey himself. He can be seen early in morning working there. when he sleeps, seems to be a mystery, for he responds to a call at any time of the day or night. Many stories are told in the village of little kindnesses done by Dr. Godfrey through the silence of the night to the bedside of some patient.
It is well known fact that a light may always be seen shining in the office window at the Godfrey home at night and Dr. Godfrey’s creed seems to be embodied in his quiet words, “If I am able to go, I’m willing to go at any time.”
Dr. Godfrey has brought three generations of children into the world and has acted as family physician for two and three generations of the same family. He will be 73 on his next birthday.
Being constantly on the road in answer to summons for services, Dr. Godfrey as a young doctor found that he could not attend an entertainment without being interrupted in the middle of the evening by a request to go on a call. “So I soon lost the habit,” he says, “and never go anywhere now,” he says.
Through flood and storm, rain or shine, Dr. Godfrey has never failed when called. Now he is the outstanding figure of the town as he goes, a smiling, white-haired man, on errands of mercy. Dr. Godfrey is not only a village and country doctor. He is a village institution.”