north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
           On January 6, 1889, James Francis Shober, the first black physician with a medical degree to set up practice in North Carolina, died. Educated initially at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Shober completed medical studies at Howard University in 1878.

           Shober was born in the Moravian community of Salem in 1853 to Betsy Ann Waugh, an eighteen-year-old slave. Circumstantial evidence indicates that his father was Francis Edwin Shober, an attorney and Congressman, 1869-1873. The elder Shober separated himself from the Moravian church and moved to Salisbury.

      After schooling, James Shober returned to his native state and began practicing medicine in his home at 713 Princess Street in Wilmington, then the state’s largest city. As the only black doctor in a city of over ten thousand, he was quite busy. Shober, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, took part in the Old North State Medical Society, a professional organization that serving African American doctors that is still active today. His life was tragically short, as he died at the age of thirty-six.

      In 1984 Dr. Herbert Eaton of Wilmington told the remarkable story of James Shober in own autobiography Every Man Should Try.



References:
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 340-341—sketch by William S. Powell
Journal of the Old North State Medical Society (March 1954)
Hubert A. Eaton, “N.C.’s First Black Doctor is Not Forgotten,” Wilmington Star-News, February 14, 1982
The Lonely Road: A History of the Physicks and Physicians of the Lower Cape Fear, 1735-1976 (1977?)
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