Five years ago, I was forwarded an email from a researcher looking for information about Dr. Thomas C. Tinsley for a book on African-American physicians who served during World War I. Dr. Tinsley, he said, had lived and worked in Wilson in the 1920s. I had never heard of him.
Doug Buckley and Joanne Fisher published African-American Doctors of World War I: The Lives of 104 Volunteers in 2015. Today, I stumbled across a reference to Dr. Tinsley in a Wilson record — the first I’ve seen. On 5 April 1926, at his office at 525 East Nash Street, he signed the death certificate of Caroline Brown, who had died the day before.
Dr. Thomas Clinton Tinsley was born in Henderson, Vance County, North Carolina in 1887. He received a bachelor’s degree from Shaw University. In 1910, he graduated from University of West Tennessee College of Medicine and Surgery. a defunct black medical school founded in 1900, and shortly after set up practice in Asheville, North Carolina.
Asheville Gazette-News, 20 July 1912.
Tinsley quickly moved on, however, and on 13 November 1913, Scotland Neck’s The Commonwealth published a welcome to Dr. Tinsley and his wife, Lois Hoffman Tinsley.
By 1917, however, Tinsley had returned to Henderson and from there volunteered for military service. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Army Medical Reserve Corps; trained at Fort Des Moines, Iowa; and served in France. Tinsley was awarded the Croix de Guerre and was honorably discharged in 1919.
“Ridgewood, N.J.,” New York Age, 22 June 1918.
In 1920, Tinsley briefly took a position in Mexico with Atlantic Refining Company. When he returned to the U.S. the next year, he established a practice in Durham, North Carolina, where he became a charter member and officer of the Durham alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
By 1925, Tinsley was in Wilson. On April 25, the Pittsburgh Courier reported that Dr. T.C. Tinsley of Wilson delivered a lecture on “Sinuses and Focal Infection as Effecting Dentists and Physicians” at the Old North State Dental Association convention in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The peripatetic Tinsley had moved on by 1930, however.
The photo accompanying Dr. Tinsley’s 1920 passport application. He had taken a job in Mexico.
Dr. Thomas C. Tinsley died in 1954 in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was buried in Henderson, North Carolina.
U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line], http://www.Ancestry.com.