The Grange Courts A Doctor

Windsor’s Crossroads is a community in the southwest corner of Yadkin county, NC and you’ll be forgiven if you haven’t heard if it. It’s a small, rural area centered on the meeting of Buck Shoals Road, Hunting Creek Church Road, and Windsor Road.
It doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry or any sort of written history as far as I can tell, but has a rich past that includes some of the oldest churches and graves in the county. It was also an eyewitness to Stoneman’s Raid, and he burned down the local mill at Buck Shoals in April 1865.
More recently, it has become known for it’s blossoming Amish community, who began settling in the area in 1985 and eventually built a general store called Shiloh in 2006. Today, that store and the other Amish businesses bring in tourists and revenue from all over the state and even from out of state.

But we need to go back before that, to an unknown time, in an unknown year, though prior at least to 1936. A year in which a number of families in the area decided to start a chapter of a social organization called the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, or simply the “National Grange.”
Most people reading this will never have heard of it, but the National Grange was a big deal in it’s day. Founded just after the Civil War as an agricultural advocacy group, it’s purpose was to encourage local families to see to the well-being and improvement of their local communities. Sometimes this meant dabbling in politics as well, and the organization had considerable lobbying power in it’s heyday.
In modern times, the decline in farming nationally has meant a decline in Grange membership, and it’s a shadow of what it used to be. Indeed, there is no Grange at Windsor today, though its spirit of community service is now carried on by the local Ruritans.
But in 1957, the Grange at Windsor’s Crossroads was formidable and active.

I’d be remiss to talk about the Grange without also talking about the place they met. Originally a two story school building constructed in 1916, the school had been a victim of consolidation in the county during the mid 1930s and was closed, though the school board had retained ownership of it. Post-closing, the Grange rented it as space for meetings but the building was mostly empty and deteriorated during those decades.

The building in the 1950’s.

But things changed in 1955 when the Grange managed to purchase the property. The transaction required a legislative act by the NC General Assembly and approval from the county school board, but the deal was eventually done. The local Grange set out to renew the old building, and they even won a national award for their work in the process.
By 1957-58, when most of today’s story takes place, the building was being used twice monthly for Grange meetings plus picnics, classes, and other community functions.

Today, the building is a lasting monument to the work of those who were members of the Grange, and many descendants of the original members are now continuing that work as part of the Ruritans.

The building in February, 2023. Author’s photo.

It was likely in this building during one of the bimonthly meetings that someone must have brought up the problem of the lack of medical care in the community. The residents of the area had no options for healthcare locally and were likely forced to drive all the way to Yadkinville or farther to see a doctor.
Talk of securing a local physician went on for several years, but it wasn’t until the meeting of January 7th, 1957 that serious discussion began and it was decided that night to attempt to recruit a doctor for the local area (if possible) within just six short months. A committee was formed.

The meeting following that, a member from the Boonville Grange was brought in to talk about what that small community 20 miles north had to do over the course of two years to secure their own doctor, and it seemed what it boiled down to was providing a medical building. That posed a problem for Windsor’s Crossroads. The money to construct such a building wasn’t available, and the ability to get the money was dependent on having the promise of a doctor to fill the space they were going to construct. Because of this, it was decided to write to the North Carolina Medical Care Commission, likely to ask for a tax-exempt revenue bond to pay for a new medical building.
But while they were waiting and growing anxious to hear from the NCMCC, something happened.

Photo from Dr Scherer’s FindAGrave memorial.

Irvin George Scherer was born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1929 the son of George and Dovie Scherer.
Raised in what must have been a deeply religious family, Irvin felt the call to missionary work, but due to medical problems was never able to follow that path. Instead, he decided to take up medicine, earning his degree from the University of Kansas.

Lois Scherer, 1957.

In 1954, with a degree in hand, and through unknown circumstances, he met and married his wife Lois Anita Varner, who was a resident of Asheville, NC.
He quickly put his degree to use as he joined the Navy that same year and would serve his country as a Naval doctor from 1954 until 1957. And it’s in 1957 during the last weekend in February that Dr. Scherer knocked on the door of a Grange member in the community of Windsor’s Crossroads.

Scherer had been stationed in Charleston, SC but was to be discharged June of that year. On his weekends he and his wife would make the drive to the Asheville area and look for places nearby where he might take up a practice of his own once his hitch was over. It was during one of these weekend excursions to Yadkinville that Scherer had asked another doctor he met in Knight’s Drug Store about possible opportunities. The unknown doctor had pointed him to Windsor’s Crossroads and so he came to the small community to see what was needed and if there might be a place for him.

The excitement must have been palpable, as the other members of the Grange were called to come meet Dr. Scherer, and they eventually paraded him through the community. For his part, Dr. Scherer and his wife even looked at a promising house they might take if he were to move to the area.
There are moments in life where things seem to fall into place, and providences which tell us our path is correct, and this must have been the case for all parties involved on that day in 1957.

The Scherers in 1957

But there was still the problem of a medical building. This was discussed that first day, but despite the difficulties, in the end all parties decided to proceed in the good faith that any obstacles could be overcome.
A week later on March 1st when Dr. Scherer returned with his credentials, and to quote the Grange account, he “not only cast his lot with us as a physician, but also as a spiritual and civic minded citizen, determined to join hands with all of us…” And so, Windsor’s Crossroads now had a doctor, if not a doctor’s office.
But on that very night plans were already being formalized for a building. A modern building with room for reception, nurses, doctor’s offices, examination rooms, a lab and drug storage, and even two restrooms. But how would this all be accomplished by July and ready for Dr. Scherer after he was discharged from the Navy? The money simply wasn’t available. It was estimated at least $10,000 (a little more than $100,000 in today’s money) would be needed for the lot and the building.
For several days afterward the pace must have been feverish as the people of Windsor’s Crossroads explored their options.

Enter George Hoots. Hoots was a former member of the Grange at Windsor’s Crossroads who now lived in Statesville, and he had two things the community needed. First was the small lot next to the community building, which Hoots owned, and the second was his ability as a general contractor.
Hoots was not only a home builder and contractor, but co-owner and vice president of Statesville Wood Products, which would probably have been in the same general area the Godfrey Chip Mill is today, and specialized in treated lumber. He was a well known home builder and had the ability and capital the Grange needed.
Probably only a week after Dr. Scherer left, the Grange members made a car trip down to Statesville to see Hoots. Hoots agreed to help in some capacity, and Dr. Scherer was telephoned from Hoots’ office to set up another meeting.
On April 6th, both Scherer and Hoots would be present at the Grange, and a deal was struck. Hoots proposed that if the community could acquire the first $3,000, he would finance the rest and Scherer could pay it off in installments. This seemed like a reasonable and advantageous agreement, but even so, Windsor’s Crossroads did not have $3,000.
In the end the problem was solved, as they always were, as a community. With 33 cosigners, plus Dr. Scherer, Windsor’s Crossroads took out a bank note. This happened on April 21st.
On April 22nd, construction started.

The first shovel full of dirt is removed for construction. Likely by J.S Thomasson.
The foundation laid, Tennessee Crabapple stone is used on the front façade.

The 25 x 46 foot building was not the rival of any local hospitals or clinics, but it was to have everything Dr. Scherer and the community might need. And even reading about it these 66 years later, you can feel the excitement that must have been present as the work was progressing. And the work didn’t take long.
It was that rarest of construction projects that seemed to go just as planned.

Dr. Scherer with his first nurse, Dorothy (Wood) Wagoner.

Dr. Scherer was discharged from the United States Navy on June 26th, 1957.
On June 27th, he was moving his wife and son into a house provided by a Grange member.
By July 1st, the keys to the new building had been delivered into his hands.
On July 8th, he opened his practice at Windsor’s Crossroads.
The small community in southwest Yadkin county now had its own doctor. The plan to find and situate a physician in less than a year would have seemed like a pipe dream had it not actually happened.

Miss Betty Myers, 4-H pie baking champ, and Ray Madison, Grange improvement project chairman stand in front of the new medical building.
The building as it appears today, as seen from the front of the community building. It is now a private residence. (author’s photo, February, 2023)
A Google Street View image from the front of the building. Though it has been remodeled and is now a private home, the stone chosen for the front is still visible. The upstairs and barn roof are a modern addition to the original structure.

Dr. Scherer would remain in the clinic building for almost 20 years, serving the local community he had pledged himself to. His presence was no doubt a welcome one, and I’m sure that everyone remembered the seeming whirlwind that had blown up around his coming and the construction of the clinic.

Dr. Scherer and Dr. Ward.
Dot Wagoner followed Dr. Scherer to the new location and became it’s office manager.

By the 1970’s, things had changed. People were more mobile, were driving more. The population of the surrounding area had grown. In addition to adding another physician named James S. Ward (also a Navy man) to the clinic at the Crossroads in 1975, Dr. Scherer was also spending at least some time at Hoots Memorial Hospital in Yadkinville. The number of patients was growing and the original building was likely not capable of keeping up.
So in 1976 with donations and the blessings of the surrounding towns of Harmony and Union Grove, a new clinic was to be built that could provide care for the rural residents, not just of Windsor’s Crossroads, but of a tri-county area that lacked medical access. To that end, in addition to a $175,000 loan from the Farmer’s Home Administration, residents in three counties raised another $17,000 to see the new medical clinic built.
At the end of April, 1976, the Tri-County Medical Park opened on highway 901 between Union Grove and Harmony, a little over 7 miles down the road from the old building at Windsor’s Crossroads. Dr. Scherer continued to see the same patients he had as well as many new ones from the surrounding communities.

Dr. Scherer’s former office at the Tri-County Medical Park, and the park’s sign above. February, 2023. Author’s photos.

Dr. Scherer retired in 2009 and would pass away in 2014 after a life of service, most of it to the people of this area. Besides birthing babies and treating colds, he was remembered for teaching bible school lessons at church and at rest homes.

The practice at Tri-County Medical Park would eventually close after his retirement.
The building remains, but today it is empty. Another building in the park is still home to a dentist’s office.

First and foremost, this story was told to me by the members of the Grange at Windsor’s Crossroads. Many of the pictures are also theirs.
They put together two complete scrapbooks of their accomplishments for 1957, which are not just limited to their efforts to secure a physician. There are many interesting photos and articles they saved that tell the story of the Windsor’s Crossroads community.
Most of what you have read in this article is from that account, and if you would like to know more, I highly suggest you check out the complete books.

Grange Scrapbook 1
Grange Scrapbook 2

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Published by Abandoned NC

I went back to my old home and the furrow of each year plowed like surf across the place had not washed memory away. -A. R. Ammons

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