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Dr. Baskett removed roach from Mrs. J.B. Adrian’s ear

This newspaper clipping shows Dr. and Mrs. J.N. Baskett on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1938.


Before homes had electric lights, indoor plumbing or telephones, Dr. J.N. Baskett was treating his Marion County, Miller Township patients with all the all the knowledge afforded to him during his extensive medical training.

But when he was summoned to the home of Mrs. J.B. Adrian late one hot August evening back in 1887, he encountered a situation that left him stumped.

It seems that a bug had crawled into Mrs. Adrian’s ear, and she was experiencing excruciating pain. He tried to remove the bug, without success. As Mrs. Adrian’s suffering continued, the following afternoon he decided to give it another try. The Quincy Daily Journal of Aug. 19, 1887, carried the news:

“The physician succeeded in extracting the bug, and found it to be a cockroach, nearly one inch in length and broad in proportion. … After the bug had been extracted she received immediate relief and is now free from pain.”

Kentucky born

Dr. John Nicholaus Baskett was born in 1853 Kentucky, and was raised in Lincoln County, Mo., the son of a farm laborer. However humble his beginnings, he didn’t allow his past to deter his ambitions. In 1879, he graduated from Ann Arbor Medical College, which was the precursor to the University of Michigan Medical School.

A two-year program at the time, the college wouldn’t adopt a three-year curriculum until the year after he graduated, and the four-year program wasn’t introduced until a decade later.

But graduate he did, and with diploma in hand, he moved back to Missouri, settling during the spring of 1879 in the Mount Zion neighborhood of Marion County, just to the west of Hannibal. He boarded with William Hutcherson, a cattle trader, and his wife Martha.

In August 1884, Dr. Baskett was called to the S.O. Hendren home in the Mount Zion neighborhood to attend to 70-year-old Mrs. Hendren, who had fallen off the back porch, breaking her collarbone. Almost two years later, Dr. Baskett was united in marriage with Mrs. Hendren’s daughter, Corinna.

He practiced medicine in the rural area of Marion County until the early to mid 1880s, when he took a post graduate course at Bellevue. Following that, he moved his family to Hannibal. He pursued later medical education at Chicago, Vienna and Frankfort, Germany.

Knights of Pythias

Like many men of his era, Dr. Baskett joined a fraternal organization – the Knights of Pythias – based upon the ideals of loyalty, honor and friendship. The Coeur DeLeon Division No. 13, U.R.K of P., met the last Wednesday of each month in Armory Hall, which was located on the southeast corner of Broadway and Fourth St.

On Friday evening, June 8, 1888, Dr. Baskett, at age 35, was in attendance with other K of P dignitaries, for the conferring of the second degree upon a fellow K of P member.

James E. Price, 32, was the commander, and was seated with two other dignitaries of the organization, Charles H. Anderson (an insurance agent) and W.F. Drescher (a partner in a Hannibal men’s clothing store.) It was somewhat warm in the top-floor meeting hall, but nothing unusual for the season. While the three were conversing, all at once Mr. Price stood, and then fell toward the floor.

His colleagues, believing that he had fainted, grabbed their friend’s arms and moved him to the reception room. Dr. Baskett, nearby at the time, began in earnest trying to revive the young man, and kept working for nearly an hour before all hope for recovery had faded.

The young man’s unexpected and untimely death threw his family, neighbors and friends into a frenzy. In addition, the fraternal order, of which Mr. Price had been a prominent leader, was in shock.

Mr. Price was a partner in the family’s wholesale and retail grocery interests. Having lived in Hannibal nearly all of his life, he was still single. His mother and siblings were left to mourn him.

Leadership roles

Dr. Baskett was instrumental in the planning and construction of Levering Hospital, and served as a physician in charge of that hospital from 1904 until 1928. He was a member of the Hannibal board of education from 1906 until 1912. He was an active member of Fifth Street Baptist Church and an honorary deacon. It was his affiliation with the church that led him to a leadership role in the moving of LaGrange College to Hannibal in 1929. He served on the college board throughout the remainder of his life. At the time of his death he was also vice president of Hannibal National Bank.

In 1908, he was the doctor in charge of Miss Alice Michaels’ care at Levering Hospital. A story previously published on this site in March 2018 explains that Miss Michaels was critically injured when her hair got caught in machinery at a Hannibal shoe factory. Dr. Baskett reattached her scalp and performed skin grafts to aid in the young woman’s recovery.

518 S. Fifth

Dr. Baskett and wife purchased a home at 518 South Fifth Street in the 1890s, next door to where Amos Stillwell was murdered in 1888. The Baskett house was built prior to the Civil War. During the remodeling of the house in 1926, an old Confederate flag was found in the wall, wrapped in a Chicago Times dated March 24, 1863. At the time the flag was discovered, the house was owned by Dr. Baskett’s son in law, J.W. Chandler.

Back to the farm

Corrine Hendren Baskett and her husband, Dr. Baskett, inherited the Hendren farm in Miller Township upon the death of her brother, L.C. Hendren, in 1924.

Dr. and Mrs. Baskett moved from their home in Hannibal to the farm, where they would each live out their natural lives. Corrine Baskett died May 21, 1938 at the age of 77. Her husband died Dec. 29, 1938. They are buried together on the south end of Section A, Riverside Cemetery.

Mrs. Dr. J.N. Baskett (Corinna Hendren) is pictured in 1900. Hendren family photo

Dr. and Mrs. Baskett are buried in Section A of Hannibal’s Riverside Cemetery. To the south of their graves are those of their daughter and son in law, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Chandler, and their son Oscar Chandler II. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

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