While doing more research last week trying to find an exact date when the Orphanage was built I was reading about Dr. John Taylor Parkinson. He is the man credited with building the orphanage or at least the building that eventually became the orphanage. It was built as a hospital and was called Dr Parkinson’s Cottage Hospital. It served the community of the mid north from the time it was built until 1924 when the present hospital was built.
Dr Parkinson came from England in 1877 and was encouraged to go to Crystal Brook to practice medicine. I would imagine that there were very few doctors in the country areas being opened up for agriculture at that time. It would have been a blessing to have a doctor available for the many diseases, accidents and births. The doctor began seeing patients in the Royal Hotel and apparently was often seen out and about in his trap visiting patients who couldn’t be moved. There are many reports in the papers of the time about him attending people who were sick or hurt.
Dr Parkinson was an English gentleman who loved sports, and being a keen cricketer himself he had his own pitch where he played against visiting teams. He also encouraged the men of the town to be involved in sport for the good of their health.
The doctor was also a favourite dinner guest to hostesses entertaining important guests. He was genuinely interested in people, was a very fine speaker, and loved entertaining people with his stories. He also lectured to community gatherings about diseases and how to treat them or even avoid them.
It is also reported in his eulogy that it wasn’t unusual for him to keep a patient in the hospital well past the time the patient could have gone home. Knowing that his patient would probably be expected to get back to work as soon as he/she was discharged this gave the patient a bit more time to regain his/her strength. He was even known to slip a patient enough money to tide them over till they were well enough to get back to work or to help with the bills piling up during the time the patient was ill. He did this in such a manner that it was not common knowledge and in a way that didn’t make the patient feel obligated.
Dr. Parkinson must have had some money before he came to Crystal Brook because he bought quite a bit of land both in the town and in the surrounding area. In the assessment books of the council all the sections and blocks that he owned are listed with the amount of rates he paid.
Dr. John Parkinson died at the age of 44 from a brain bleed (stroke) on January 29th 1891 and last week it was the 125th anniversary of his death. It is reported that people came from all over the mid north to attend his funeral. He is buried in the Crystal Brook cemetery.