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Dr. S.R. Howard, the Hillsboro veterinary surgeon of yesteryear

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, when I was working at the Highland House Museum a while back, I happened to meet a gentleman whose relative was a veterinary surgeon and dentist here in Hillsboro back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

That afternoon, I learned about Samuel Rogers “S.R.” Howard, who opened a veterinary business in uptown Hillsboro on North High Street across from the Highland County Courthouse more than a century ago – and since I had been writing on Masonry in Highland County, I can also report Dr. Howard was Master of Lodge 38 in 1898 and 1899.

Dr. Howard was born in 1861 in Circleville in Pickaway County, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Howard. He received his veterinary education at the Ontario Veterinary College of Toronto, Canada, was certified by The Ohio State Veterinary Medical Association and came to reside in Hillsboro around 1889.

When you think about it, folks, having a well-educated and well-trained veterinary surgeon and dentist back in those times was certainly a good thing for a community to have. After all, horses in particular served as transportation, farm machinery and so forth in the 1800s and early 1900s.

A local newspaper editorial from around the turn of the century had this to say about the good Doc: “Dr. Howard came to our county over six years ago not knowing a soul or having been in our county before. Under these, another other difficulties, we are glad to say he has remained.

“Time tells everything, and thus is has been with the doctor in our midst.

“His ability as an educated veterinary surgeon, and his personality as a gentleman and good citizen, compels us to recognize him as a man worthy of patronage and respect. His terms are reasonable and compatible with the times, and his services are at your command day or night.”

Getting back to horses, do you know how to tell the age of a horse? Well, Dr. Howard wrote a poem about that, appropriately entitled “To tell the age of a horse.”

Here is Doc Howard’s poem in its entirety:

“To tell the age of any horse, inspect the lower jaw of course. The six front teeth the tale will tell, and every doubt and fear dispel.

“Two middle ‘nippers’ you behold, before the colt is two weeks old. Before eight weeks two more will come; eight months the ‘corners’ cut the gum.

“The outside grooves will disappear from middle two in just one year. In two years, from the second pair; in three, the corners, too, are bare.

“At two, the middle ‘nippers’ drop, at three, the second pair can’t stop. When four years old, the third pair goes, at five a full new set he shows.

“The deep black spots pass from view, at six years from the middle two; the second pair, at seven years; at eight the spot each ‘corner’ clears.

“From middle ‘nippers,’ upper jaw, at nine, the black spots will withdraw. The second pair at ten are white; eleven finds the ‘corners’ light.

“As time goes on the horsemen know the oval teeth three-sided grow. They longer get, project before, till twenty, when we know no more.”

Perhaps in our next colloquy we will examine the time Dr. Howard treated ol’ Henry Frost’s cows that had chowed down on dynamite (that story’s a blast), but let’s pause for now and we’ll continue next week.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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