Guide to the George Cupples Papers
George Cupples was a pioneer surgeon and civic leader living in San Antonio, TX during the mid-1800’s. He was born in Berwick County, Scotland, on October 13, 1816, the son of Robert and Camilla (Campbell) Cupples, His father was a noted surgeon, receiving an appointment as surgeon to the Queen’s Royal Navy. Before he finished his professional education at the University of Edinburg, he was appointed Assistant Staff Surgeon in the British Auxiliary Legion of the Spanish service, serving for two years from 1836-1838 before returning to Scotland and graduating in medicine at the University of Edinburgh in August 1838. From 1839 to 1843 he pursued his professional studies at the University of Paris. He married Alexia (Bourland) in Paris in 1843 then emigrated to Texas in 1844, settling in San Antonio.
Dr. Cupples served under John C. (Jack) Hays as surgeon for the Second Regiment during the Mexican War. As first surgeon of the Seventh Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers, he served in the Confederate Army in 1861 and 1862, becoming medical director of the Eastern Military District of Texas in December 1862. In June 1864 he became medical director and inspector of the cavalry corps in the Trans-Mississippi Department.
Cupples was prominent in both local and state medical associations serving as president of the Bexar County Medical Society in 1853, as the second president of the Texas Medical Association in 1853 and as TMA president again in 1878. In 1876 he helped found the West Texas Medical Association. As chairman of the association's section on state medicine and public hygiene in 1886, he headed the committee on legislation and advocated regulation and licensing of physicians. He was a member of the American Medical Association and Texas delegate to its national meetings in 1853, 1881, and 1884. He was also delegate to the International Medical congresses in 1876 and 1887 and in 1893 was appointed by Governor Hogg to represent Texas at the Pan-American Medical Congress at Washington.
Cupples was also active in civic affairs, serving as notary public in Bexar County in 1847 and elected as county commissioner and alderman at San Antonio in 1851. He became city health physician in 1854, and he was president of the San Antonio board of health in 1866 and in 1873.
Cupples was noted as an innovative surgeon and is thought to have been the first doctor in Texas to use anesthetics. He was distinguished among his associates for his intellectual superiority and his physical courage. After the death of his first wife in 1860, he married Mrs. Laura L. Sheaban in 1871. He died at his home in San Antonio on April 19, 1895.
Robert Read Nixon, "Cupples, George."Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcu25), accessed August 27, 2012. Published by the Texas State historical Association.
Nixon, Pat Ireland. A century of medicine in San Antonio : the story of medicine in Bexar County, Texas. San Antonio, Tex: Privately published by the author, 1936, pp. 168-170.
Red, George Plunkett (Mrs.) The medicine man in Texas. Houston, Tex: Standard Printing and Lithographing Co., 1930, pp. 128-129.
The George Cupples papers include an eulogy written by Cupples, a copy of a hand bill advertising a talk by Cupples and 2 handwritten patient case books.
The collection is open for research use. Materials may be viewed in the reading room of the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, located on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Some materials are very brittle or torn on the edges and may require an electronic copy or photocopy for use.
[Identification of item], in the George Cupples Papers, MS 200, University Archives, UTHSC Libraries, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Materials in this collection were donated in 1970 to the library of the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio by the Bexar County Medical Society.
Received as part of a donation of manuscripts and historical books from the Bexar County Medical Society Library in 1970.
Finding aid created by: Anne Comeaux, September 2012.
Detailed Description of Collection