[True West Magazine]
“Doc” Hullings was the first doctor to open a medical practice in the rapidly growing mining camp known as Hangtown. Truth be known, the doctor had no medical education, let alone a degree. Hullings also had a reputation for having a short fuse and a bad temper.
Edited from the original work written by Anthony M. Belli
People called him “Doc” Hullings, and he was the first doctor to open a medical practice in the rapidly growing mining camp known as Hangtown. The doctor had a reputation for having a short fuse and violent temper. Some remembered him as a pretty good doctor when sober, but it was said that he was almost always drunk. In fact the doctor had no medical education, let alone a degree. However Doc Hullings was a respected member of the community.
One day a young doctor from the city arrived in Placerville. His name was Dr. Edward Willis, M.D., and he was a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. Young Dr. Willis erected the tent that would serve as both his residence and medical practice. He posted a sign above his door announcing his services as “Doctor & Surgeon.”
When Doc Hullings was told of Dr. Willis’s arrival, he apparently found his tent, and ordered him out of town. Dr. Willis calmly stated he did not intend to leave, then turned his back on Hullings and ordered him out of his tent. Furious that Willis would neither run nor fight, Hullings stormed out of his colleague’s tent, and thought about the situation for a few days.
This time when Doc Hullings burst into Dr. Willis’ tent, some well-armed miners backed him up. Hullings demanded Willis produce his diploma, which he promptly did. Hullings tore it in half and tossed it to the ground. Mr. Paul Clam, a friend of Dr. Willis’s, witnessed the exchange and punched Doc Hullings. As Hullings rose to his feet, he was restrained, and then he openly challenged both Clam and Dr. Willis to a duel.
The duel was held in an abandoned mining pit near the camp. Clam was to go up against Hullings first, and they agreed that the weapon would be a pistol. When the Sheriff gave the command to “FIRE,” both men went down after an exchange of gunfire. Clam was badly wounded from three pistol balls, and Doc Hullings was dead. According to Miner’s Law, any man who abandoned his claim also gave up all rights to his land. Since Doc Hullings had abandoned his claim, Dr. Willis now assumed the position as camp physician. His first job was to save Mr. Clam’s life, and his first “official” act was to sign Doc Hullings’ death certificate.
Original work copyright 2001 – Anthony M. Belli
Edited by Kathy Krizl, El Dorado County IT Department – 2003