Dr. Joseph Baylis Earle…outstanding Gowensville native

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The third child of Dr. Thomas J. and Jane Kennedy Earle, Joseph Baylis, was born in Gowensville on September 30, 1862. As a child, he demonstrated a natural bent for wanting to relieve the suffering of any unfortunate animal that had been hurt. As he grew older, he demonstrated the same compassion for people.

It was no surprise when he decided to become a doctor. He was an attentive student at his father’s Gowensville Seminary, then graduated from Furman University before obtaining his M.D. from the Medical University of Virginia in 1886.

In 1890, he married a winsome young lady, Minnie Gilreath, the daughter of Sheriff Jefferson Davis and Maria Worthington Anderson Gilreath.

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He set up his practice in Greenville, which became one of the largest in the city. He became known and appreciated not only for his dedication to patients, but for his winsome smile in the sick room (something he subconsciously modeled after his wife, perhaps).

He became the physician for both Furman University and the Greenville Baptist Female College (which became Greenville Woman’s College in 1914 before coordinating with Furman University in 1933).

Declining health required that he retire from his large practice in 1915. He became resident physician at Caesar’s Head during the tourist season from late spring to late fall.

He served on the board of trustees for Furman University from 1898 to 1937.

When the infirmary building was built on the new Furman University campus in 1980, it was named for Dr. Earle.

The memorial marker for the Earle Infirmary reads:

“Commemorating the life and service to Furman University and Greenville County of Joseph Baylis Earle, M.D. 1862-1943. A.M., Furman University, Class of 1882, M.D., University of Virginia, Class of 1886, Furman Trustee, 1898-1937, Physician to Furman.                                                He lived and labored for others.”

He is buried in Section J of Springwood Cemetery in downtown Greenville. His tombstone bears the inscription, “Beloved Physician.”