William Arthur (Pop) Warner, pioneer Panhandle physician, the son of Peter and Adelade Victoria (Scriven) Warner, was born on August 8, 1864, at Brimfield, Illinois. His father, a Methodist minister, reportedly purchased land in the Texas Panhandle "sight unseen" during the late 1870s for thirty-three cents an acre. However, the family remained in Illinois, and William began his college education at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. He then attended medical school at Northwestern University, where he received his M.D. degree. On May 31, 1897, Warner arrived at Claude, Texas, to set up his medical practice. After establishing himself and buying a house, he sent for his fiancé, Phebe Kerrick, whom he had met at Illinois Wesleyan. They were married at Claude on February 17, 1898, and became the parents of two sons and two daughters; their second child, William, Jr., died at the age of fourteen. Warner's parents moved to Claude in December 1898, after his father retired from the ministry, and resided there until 1916, when they moved to Rockport for their health. For several years Warner was the only doctor in Armstrong County, and he often traveled as far as thirty-five miles from Claude in all types of weather to call on patients. His buggy, drawn by his horse, Old Scarleg, was often a welcome sight to the residents of isolated farms and cow camps; later, beginning in 1908, he made his house calls in a one-cylinder Cadillac. Warner was said to have delivered over 2,000 babies during his thirty-five years as a physician. In 1909 he erected the two-story Warner Building, which housed his office and drugstore, a barbershop, and the facilities for the Claude News. The second floor was used intermittently as a public reading room and lodge hall. The structure remained a familiar landmark in Claude until March 4, 1915, when it was burned. Warner is most famous as the organizer of Lone Star Troop No. 17, the first Boy Scout troop west of the Mississippi, in 1912, only three years after the movement came to America from England. In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, Warner joined an army medical unit and was stationed at Fort Bliss. There he attained the rank of first lieutenant and organized Company 39, an ambulance unit, which was ordered overseas in 1918. Warner saw active service in St. Nazaire and Marseille, France, where he cared for sick and wounded soldiers. He also supervised the burial of troops killed in the Meuse-Argonne campaign. Discharged after the war's end, Warner returned to Claude and resumed his medical practice. He continued working with the Boy Scouts as a scoutmaster for twenty years and was a recipient of the BSA's Silver Beaver, the highest award given by the organization. He was a member of the Claude Methodist Church and a favorite of the town's youth. In spite of a lingering illness during the last three years of his life, he remained active in community affairs until his death at an Amarillo hospital on July 31, 1934. He was buried in the Claude Cemetery.
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Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876–1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). Lana Payne Barnett and Elizabeth Brooks Buhrkuhl, eds., Presenting the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Lan-Bea, 1979).
Health and Medicine
Physicians and Surgeons
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
H. Allen Anderson,
“Warner, William Arthur,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 15, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
August 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: