William Simpson Hutto was born in Melbourne, Arkansas (Izard County) on March 26, 1876. His parents, Henry Pickney Hutto and Ellou Hutto had moved to Arkansas from Mississippi. When William was 3 years old his family relocated to an adjacent county (Faulkner) and established the town of Damascus named by his brother, (William A. Hutto, a Baptist minister). Young William S. began attending the University of Arkansas School of Medicine at age 19 and started his practice. At 21 years of age he passed the state examination to become “Registered as Accredited Physician in the State of Arkansas”.
(In a related family, were three doctors also, Henry, John, and Tom Hutto. At one time six Dr. Huttos practiced medicine in adjacent counties in North Arkansas.)
Dr. William Simpson Hutto first practice site was in Conway County. There he married Fronie Huett. Three children, Willie, Erma and Ralph were born of this union. Fronie died of Tuberculosis. In 1916, Bill married Jessie Lois Cleveland and added 4 children to the family, Cecil, Iva, Lela Marie and Vera Lou.
While in Conway County, still a young doctor, he was called to amputate a leg. With the help of the man’s family they gathered clean white rags, boiled water in a pot in the back yard, placed the man on the dining room table and proceeded with the operation. The man lived. Years later he was greeted by the man at a chance meeting.
Around 1915 he moved to Van Buren County to practice the remainder of his life. He was County Coroner two terms (1935 – 1938). Known affectionately as “Dr. Bill”, he was pleasant, reassuring, had a ready smile and a kindly attitude toward patients. He was trusted to have the latest treatments and medicines from the medical journals. Guessing he delivered 5,000 babies without losing a mother he was proud of the many sets of twins and two sets of triplets he brought into the world.
His feeling of empathy was clear to those who called for his help. He struggled to travel on horseback following each call’ there were many streams, and fording rising water was difficult in rainy weather. At one time he taught his horse to swim across the Red River to get to his patients in cold, damp pneumonia-season weather. One time his horse refused to swim a swollen stream. Remembering that the horse was afraid of gun shots he called a neighbor to shoot a gun to frighten the horse. The steed swam. In several acts of kindness he took patients to his house to care for them until they were sufficiently recovered to move on.
As well as a physician, Dr. Hutto was a fine builder. In the railroad era he built houses to entice a depot to be constructed at a site close to his office. In Clinton he built a 32 room hospital and living quarters. By this time he was so respected he had one of the largest practices in North Arkansas.
Throughout all of this period he was on the staff at Van Buren Hospital, was a member of the Arkansas Medical Society, a major property owner in the area and was a staunch member of the First Baptist Church.
Dr. Hutto died on his birthday, March 26, 1955 at 79 years of age having practiced about 60 years, since the age of 19, about 40 years in Van Buren County. He was a builder and a shaker, bold in everything he undertook. His burial is in the Springfield Cemetery in Conway County, Arkansas.
Betty L. Battenfield, June 2019