|Birth: ||Oct. 17, 1853|
|Death: ||Aug. 7, 1901|
South Carolina, USA
Robert Barnwell Rhett, Jr., eldest son of Robert Barnwell Rhett, a distinguished South Carolinian, was born at Bellevue, the homestead of his mother's family, near Huntsville, Ala., October 17, 1854. His early boyhood was passed at Bellevue and at Columbia, S. C, but after the Civil War he joined his father at Charleston, where he attended a private school. His early education was obtained in part at the Holy Communion Church Institute, now Porter Academy, where he became a pupil in 1868. Three years later he entered the Virginia Military Institute, where he remained until 1874. For pecuniary reasons he was obliged to leave the Institute before completing his course, and he went to Colorado, expecting to find employment as an engineer. Failing in this, he started homeward on foot, walking about a thousand miles, and working his passage as a cattle stoker for the remainder of the distance-four hundred miles or thereabouts.
Soon after this incident he entered a factory at Nashville, with a view to secure the means to carry him through a medical college. This, too, proved disappointing, and after three years of industrious application to his duties the place he was striving to attain was given to another. Finally, in 1877, his father secured a scholarship for him in the Medical College of the State of South Carolina, at which he obtained his doctorate degree in 1879. As an undergraduate he served one year as interne at the Charleston City Hospital, and after graduation Dr. Rhett was appointed City Dispensary Physician.
Very soon he developed aptitude for surgical work, and before many years became one of the leading surgeons of his region. He prepared himself so thoroughly for the performance of even the lesser operations in surgery that his results were beyond the average, even before the days of perfected aseptic methods. He was a skilful general surgeon first, but by preference he was an abdominal and gynecologic surgeon, which fields developed the particular talents which he had cultivated in the largest measure.
During the Spanish-American war Dr. Rhett was in charge of the city hospital, where he had the opportunity of treating a large number of United States soldiers ill with typhoid fever. With characteristic devotion, he gave several hours daily of his valuable time to this eleemosynary work, and was rewarded by obtaining 95 per cent. of recoveries, a record rare in hospital practice.
His capacity for work was marvelous. From January 1, 1901, to July 18, 199 days, he performed 261 operations, in addition to carrying on his extensive medical and obstetric practice, finding time meanwhile to keep abreast of the literature of his profession.
At the time of his death Dr. Rhett was President of the Medical Society of South Carolina and Dean of the Charleston Medical School. With the college organization he was most prominently connected, and to its welfare he was unselfishly devoted. At the time of his death he was a member of the South Carolina Medical Association, of the American Medical Association, of the Southern Surgical and Gynecological Association, of the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and of many other medical and civic bodies.
He is also credited with designing the South Carolina Flag.
Margaret Butler Cornell Rhett (1865 - 1912)*
Robert Barnwell Rhett (1891 - 1943)*
Richard Cornell Rhett (1893 - 1933)*
William Paterson Rhett (1895 - 1983)*
Edmund Middleton Rhett (1899 - 1922)*
South Carolina, USA
Created by: Saratoga
Record added: Jul 26, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 55489857