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Dr. John J. Ensor (1826-1909)  

Dr. Ensor

Dr. John J. Ensor (1826-1909) Portrait

Sullivan County Manuscript Collection 0078.  Archives and History Division, Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism, Blountville, Tennessee.

The photo was donated by Larry Biddle to the Archives and History Division, Sullivan County Department of Archives and Tourism in January 2009.

Journal of the American Medical Association Citation: 52:791

Name:               John J. Ensor

Cause of death:            senile debility

Death date:       Feb 12, 1909

Place of death: Bristol, TN

Birth date:         1829

Type of practice:           Allopath

States and years of licenses:TN, 1889



U. S. Army Hospital Department surgery set owned by Dr. Ensor

Dr. J. J. Ensor was born near Johnson City, Tenn., May 28, 1829.   Dr. Ensor was a pioneer of both Washington and Carter Counties, and died in Bristol, at the age of eighty-nine years.  The youngest of four children, he was educated at Washington College, and began the study of medicine in 1846 under Dr. A. Jobe, of Elizabethton. He began practice in 1848, at Jonesboro, and the following year removed to Blountville. Since 1870 he had a large practice at Bristol.

During the Civil War he is believed to have been a surgeon with the First Confederate Tennessee Brigade.  But this information has not been verified as yet. (As of May, 2010)

February 12, 1852, he married Amanda, the daughter of William and Jane (Rutledge) Anderson, and born in this county in 1831. Her grandfather was the famous Gen. George Rutledge, of King’s Mountain. Their children are Hannah E. (now Mrs. M. Thomas), George M. and William T.

J. J. Ensor, one of a family of four children, was the youngest born to Thomas P. and Hannah (Jobe) Ensor. His birthday was May 28, 1826, and his birthplace was near Johnson City, Tennessee. He had attained to his eighty-fourth year before death overtook him, and brought to a conclusion a life which had been full of self-sacrificing service and practical benevolence. His father, Thomas P. Ensor, was a soldier in the War of 1812, and fought under General Jackson. He was born near Baltimore, and became a pioneer of both Washington and Cotter county, Tennessee. His death occurred at Bristol at the age of eighty-four.

The late Dr. Ensor attended the public schools of his native county, and was graduated from Washington College. He took up the study of medicine in 1846, reading under Dr. A. Jobe at Elizabethton, and in 1848 opened an office and began practice at Jonesboro. Jonesboro was the center of a radiating country practice until 1849, when he moved to Blountville. He reached a high place in his profession, at Blountville, and when the war broke out his services were called into the Confederate cause as brigadier surgeon for the First Tennessee Brigade.

Some years after the war in 1870, seeking a larger field for his professional services, Dr. Ensor located at Bristol, and continued to practice there until his death. During his career at Bristol he became recognized as one of the leading physicians and surgeons of eastern Tennessee, and his practice was exceedingly large, and he was often called into consultation by his fellow members of the profession, and was almost continuously active until his last days. He was well known in eastern Tennessee for his uprightness and his friends were everywhere in proportion as he had made acquaintance either through his profession or as man to man.

In 1871 Dr. Ensor performed surgery on former president Andrew Johnson.

Dr. Henry Quincy Adams came to Bristol, Tenn. from Wytheville, Va. in 1873 to open the first civilian hospital.

Historic Sullivan; a history of Sullivan County, Tennessee, with brief biographies of the makers of history

HISTORIC SULLIVAN A History of Sullivan County, Tennessee with brief Biographies of the Makers of History BY OLIVER TAYLOR BRISTOL, TENN. THE KING PRINTING CO. {Le Rot Press) 1909


Location: Sullivan County

Campaign: East Tennessee Campaign (1863)

Date(s): September 22, 1863

Principal Commanders: Col. John W. Foster [US]; Col. James E. Carter [CS]

Forces Engaged: 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, XXIII Army Corps, Department of the Ohio [US]; 1st Tennessee Cavalry Regiment and Artillery (approx. 1,200) [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 192 total (US 27; CS 16)

The battle began at noon and lasted until four o'clock in the afternoon. 9 The Confederate forces numbered twelve hundred and fifty-seven, while there were double that number on the Federal side. Capt. Davidson's battery, that participated in this fight, had distinguished itself in the battle of Manassas. As an example of marksmanship for which the American soldier is renowned — Capt. Davidson was told that Federal sharpshooters were in the belfry of the Metho- dist church and he decided to fire upon it. He was asked not to hit the bell and its location was pointed out to him ; he then sent one ball just above and one just below the bell although the church was a quarter of a mile away.

Dr. J. J. Ensor, who acted as surgeon, timed the battle from the firing of the first gun.

At Hamilton's hill Jones reinforced Carter and another stand was made. The Federals were driven back, retiring to Blountville, but later retreated further. The returning citizens of the town found that what homes were left had been looted and what was not taken had been destroyed. There was nothing to eat and the women were com- pelled to beg meal from the soldiers. The casualties were not great on either side — the Con- federates losing only three dead and eight or ten wounded, while the Federals had twelve killed and as many more wounded. The Institute and Methodist church were used as temporary hospitals and Dr. J. J. Ensor and Dr. Nat Dulaney, Sr., aided the Federal surgeons with the wounded.

The casualties were not great on either side — the Con- federates losing only three dead and eight or ten wounded, while the Federals had twelve killed and as many more wounded. The Institute and Methodist church were used as temporary hospitals and Dr. J. J. Ensor and Dr. Nat Dulaney, Sr., aided the Federal surgeons with the wounded. 12

Dr. Ensor related the following: Among the wounded on the Federal side was an Irishman, who wanted to be relieved from service. Receiving a flesh wound on the head he feigned unconsciousness and was placed in the temporary hospital. When the surgeon went to examine him he was moaning in an delirious manner, "send for a praste ( bring me a cand'l; send for a praste, bring me a cand'l." The surgeon, not wishing to operate on him in that condition, passed him by for the time, remarking, "the poor fellow is in a bad way." The wounded soldier confided to Dr. Ensor his desire to quit the army and the doctor told him he would not interfere with his plans. The next day the patient was at breakfast with the Ensor family when a servan t entered and said the Federal surgeon was coming. The Irishman on learning this jumped up from the table and broke through a window to get back in the hospital. When the surgeon made his rounds he found his patient stretched out, apparently weaker than the day before and still faintly and incoherently calling, "send for a praste, bring me a cand'l." The surgeon passed him by. The man, sure of being put on the dead-list, left for parts unknown.


From Dr. Terry Hambrecht (June, 2010), who is doing extensive research on Civil War Confederate surgeons:

In answer to your inquiry, I have a Dr. John Julian Ensor in my register. He appears to have served as a civilian physician by treating soldiers in Co. H, 43rd TN Infantry (see attached). He was born in TN in May, 1826, perhaps May 28, 1826 (see attached 1900 Census record). He died in Bristol, TN, on Feb 12, 1909, not 1910 as one of your sources indicates.

I have no evidence that he served as a "brigade surgeon" or that he had an appointment in the 1st TN Brigade, or that he had an appointment in the CS Army.