Dr. Joseph Byrant Convicted of Manslaughter

December 12, 1889
Decatur Daily Dispatch
Decatur, Illinois

A DeWitt County Physician Convicted of Manslaughter.


Clinton, Ill., Dec. 11.—Dr. Joseph BRYANT of DeWitt, aged 71 years, was late tonight sentenced to one year in the penitentiary for manslaughter. He attended a woman in confinement and it was charged that he was drunk and the woman and the twin children to which she gave birth died because of his failure to give them proper attention.

Submitted by Sheryl Byrd

Friday, December 13, 1889
Clinton Public
DeWitt County, Illinois

Was the Verdict of the Jury in the Case of Dr. Joe Bryant for Malpractice.

Dr. Joe BRYANT, who was a practicing physician in the village of DeWitt, was called about one year ago to attend the wife of William JOHNSON in her confinement. Before the arrival of the doctor, one child was born, and the second child was in a preliminary stage of birth. Dr. Bryant was drunk and did not realize the importance of the case, and when the women who were present told him that another child was to be born he scouted the idea but proceeded on the hypothesis that the first was the last. As a result of his treatment of the case, Dr. Gardner, of Farmer City, had to be called in to treat the suffering woman, but it was too late. The second child died at its birth. Dr. Bryant was not only unfit on account of his drunken condition to attend the case, but he was also so abusive to the women who were in attendance on the sick woman that he had to be removed from the house by force. Mrs. JOHNSON died the same night. The first child born is still alive.

This case excited so much feeling in the neighborhood that at the next term of the grand jury the matter was brought before that body and Dr. Bryant was indicted for manslaughter. The case was called in the circuit court last Tuesday, State's Attorney BOOTH, assisted by Mr. Mike DONAHUE, prosecuting. Dr. Bryant was ably defended by FULLER & INGHAM, but the best they could do for him was to get the jury to make the sentence as light as possible, and as the result of their efforts he escaped with one year in the penitentiary.

Dr. Bryant is now seventy-one years old. He came from Ohio to the village of DeWitt in 1863, and has been practicing medicine ever since. He has been a drinking man all his life and with age the habit increased on him. He has had a fair practice in his profession. Before coming to DeWitt he was a horse doctor in Ohio. In his younger days he was hostler for a doctor in Ohio, and having a lot of his old employer's medical recipes, he made use of them after coming to DeWitt and put out his shingle as an M. D. He had no medical education, but was allowed to practice on the ten years' clause in the Illinois medical act.

Submitted by Judy Simpson

December 5, 1890
Clinton Public
DeWitt County, Illinois

The reception of Dr. Jos. BRYANT, after his incarceration for manslaughter, was the most happy affair DeWitt has seen for some time. About sixty met him at the depot, and the M. D. made no choice, but was profuse in his kisses to all the ladies who presented themselves, his estimable wife among the number. While at the depot a great number met at the residence with full baskets to fill the M. D. with the necessaries of life, thinking that he was in a famishing condition, but as he said, "many thanks, I have been in good hands since I left you." Some eighty in number took dinner and staid till late, learning of the doctor the intricacies of his incarceration which he says were more than up to the standard. He desires to say that the management is first-class, and Surgeon FURGUSON he wishes to say is a gentleman of the first water, having extended to him all the courtesies it was possible for him to do. The DeWitt Cornet Band intended to escort him to this residence from the depot, but the sudden death of Rev. A. M. McCONKEY on Thursday before the arrival of Dr. Bryant precluded the idea. Taken all in all, a regular good time was had. This should have been entered before, but all circumstances did not permit.

Submitted by Judy Simpson