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Madera Biographies: BYARS

   Alfred M. BYARS, M. D.  Though he has recognized skill in the medical profession Dr. Byars of Madera has added luster to an honored name.  His father, Gen. William Henry Byars, a pioneer of the Pacific coast, has been so long and intimately associated with the progress of Oregon that, were his life record given in detail, it would be found in many respects to be a history of his state.  Born in Iowa, he was early orphaned by his father’s death.  In 1852 he left the surroundings of his youth to seek a home in the then unknown west.  In company with his stepfather, Mr. Meyers, he crossed the plains with ox-teams and after a tedious journey arrived in Oregon.  The land upon which the family settled and where they proceeded to develop a farm was situated near Oakland, Douglas County, on the Calapooia River.  There he grew from youth into manhood.  When Indians became hostile and threatened the lives of the pioneers, he shouldered his rifle and accompanied the volunteers who marched out against them.  During the Civil war he was a member of the First Oregon Infantry.  In the early days, before railroads had been built, he was employed as a mail carrier between Yreka and Eugene, making the trips on his pony.  From that work he drifted into the newspaper business and became editor of the Roseburg Plain Dealer in Douglas County.  Removing from that county to Salem, he was elected State Printer and also acquired by purchase the Oregon Statesman, of which he was the editor.  For one term he served as Surveyor General of Oregon.  The various positions, which he held, were filled with such recognized ability and resourcefulness that he was still further honored in being selected as Commander of the Soldiers’ Home at Roseburg.  After his retirement from that office he returned to Salem, where he now makes his home.  While filling all of these important positions, at no time did he sever his connection with or his interest in the work of government surveying and contracting, in which he has built up a reputation for accuracy and painstaking care.  In the work of the Grand Army of the Republic he has always taken a warm interest and has been one of the leaders of the organization in his state.

   By his marriage to Anna Augusta, daughter of William Slocum, General Byars became associated with an old Kentucky family.  In 1852 Mr. Slocum brought his family across the plains from Kentucky, making the trip with ox-team and settling on a ranch near Myrtle Point, Cross County Ore.  Later he removed to Douglas County and died at Roseburg.  During the Indian war his son, Clay Slocum, bore an active part in quelling the hostility of the red men.  General and Mrs. Byars became the parents of three sons, Alfred H. resides in California and William F. is editor of the Goldendale Sentinel in Goldendale, Wash.  In point of birth Alfred H. was third among the children.  He was born at Wilbur, Douglas County, Ore., November 8, 1872, and passed his early childhood years in Roseburg, same county, but at the age of eight was taken to Salem, the family having removed to that city.  Primarily educated in the grammar schools, he was later a student in the Willamette University and afterward was graduated from Armstrong’s Business College in Portland.

   On the completion of his classical studies, Dr. Byars began the study of the profession to which his active life is being devoted.  Under Dr. Davidson of Fresno, Cal., he gained a preliminary knowledge of the science of material medical in 1894. For a year he was a student to the medical department of the University of Oregon at Portland and for a similar period acted as intern nurse in the Fresno County Hospital.  From there he went to St. Louis, Mo., and took his second year’s course of lectures in Barnes Medical College.  During the summer vacation he was again engaged in the Fresno County Hospital, returning in the fall to resume his studies at Barnes Medical College, from which he was graduated in 1898 with the degree of M. D.  On his return to Fresno he was appointed superintendent of the hospital with which he had been connected previously, and continued in charge of the institution until 1899, when he came to Madera.  Since opening an office in this city he has devoted his attention to his private practice and to his duties as district surgeon for the South Pacific Railroad.  His home is presided over by Mrs. Byars, who was Annie Limbaugh, a native of Fresno County and of pioneer parentage.

   Both in local and general elections Dr. Byars supports the Republican ticket.  Since location in Madera he has become identified with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, of Fresno, and was made a Mason in Madera Lodge No. 280, F. & A. M., of which he served as worshipful master.  He is further identified with Yerba Buena Lodge of Perfection No. l., of San Francisco and Woodmen of the World and Foresters.  With high ideals before him for both medicine and surgery, he keeps in touch with every development made in both, and, by the reading of professional journals and by association with the keenest intellects in the profession circle of the state, his own fund of theoretical knowledge is constantly expanding, while at the same time, by means of practical experience in the conduct of intricate cases, he is constantly adding to his professional information and gaining to an increasing extent the confidence of the people of his community.  He is a member of Fresno County Medical Society, San Joaquin Valley Medical Society, the Pacific Society of Railway Surgeons and he California State Medical Society.

Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 464.

Transcribed by Harriet Sturk.

Last update: August 30, 2000
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