Reflections looks back at the life and times of two of Sumter's most respected and beloved medical doctors. This article features Dr. John J. Bossard and Dr. J. S. Hughson and is to be presented in two episodes. Next week's Reflections will feature Hughson. These two sketches provide readers with views of medicine in the "old days." Information and photos used to produce these articles were taken from The Item archives and from the writings of Cassie Nicholes, whose recollections of Sumter are found in Historical Sketches of Sumter County: Volumes I and II.
Dr. John J. Bossard was born on Rural Hall Plantation in Georgetown County on Feb. 26, 1825. His family moved to Sumterville in 1832 when he was seven years old. His parents were Anglo-French and played a significant role in the colonies before and during the Revolutionary War.
His father was John Postell Bossard, "a direct descendant of Col. George Pawley and John Postell, both of Revolutionary fame, who was a successful planter, who served in the state militia as captain, major and adjutant general. His mother, Charlotte White, was of English ancestry."
Dr. Bossard attended local schools before enrolling at Davidson College, from which he graduated in 1845.
His medical studies began under the guidance of Dr. J. B. Witherspoon and were expanded at the Medical College in Charleston. He graduated in 1848 with his medical degree and returned to Sumter, where he opened his practice.
"In 1861, he was commissioned by Gov. Pickens as surgeon of the Ninth South Carolina Volunteer Regiment of State Troops; he remained for one year. He then entered the Confederate Army as a surgeon with the rank of major and served until the end of the war. It was his nephew, Andrew Buchanan, who, with another young man, risked his life in the defense of Sumter in the Battle of Dingle's Mill. Dr. Bossard would return to Sumter, where in addition to his medical practice he would enter local politics and serve one term as alderman and two terms as mayor. He would also serve as president of the Sumter County Agricultural Association for as long as it existed. He was an active member of the South Carolina Medical Association of Surviving Surgeons of the Confederate Service and would be selected as a delegate to the State Medical Convention."
He married Frances Conyers Colclough, the widow of J. A. Colclough. Their marriage was blessed with a daughter, Mary Charlotte, who married William Percival Smith. Their daughter, Frances Conyers Smith, lived at 23 S. Harvin St., the home where six generations of Dr. Bossard's descendants lived. Dr. Bossard was an active member of First Presbyterian Church throughout his life.
He died on Nov. 29, 1907, in his 83rd year; his funeral was attended by "scores of friends and former patients."
"John Joseph Bossard was held in high regard by his fellow citizens, for he was recognized as a man of 'great discretion and of brilliant attainments.' Standing high in the medical profession, he was acclaimed among the best physicians in South Carolina. It was said of him that he possessed in 'full measure' the characteristics that go to make up a true gentleman."
He was always kind and generous, especially to the poor, answering their calls for medical help even when he expected no remuneration for his services. A sense of a duty done was the only reward he desired.