Dr. Breeding Home

One of Livingstonís older historic homes is located at 607 North Spring Street in Livingston. The home is presently owned by Cynthia Carmack and husband Kevin Carmack. Most everyone who grew up in Livingston from the 1920's on will identify this house as the Dr. Breeding home. Some information about Dr. William Martin Breeding and wife Ida F. (Burks) Breeding will be included in this story. Mrs. Ida F. (Burks) Breeding was the daughter Dr. Robert Lee Burks and wife Eliza Francis (Jakes) Burks. But first, some information about another home the Breeding family lived in before moving to Spring Street.

A few years prior to her death, Mrs. Lena (Breeding) Dean, one of three daughters of Dr. and Mrs. William Martin Breeding, shared some of her memories of when her family lived in a home on East Broad Street later owned by William Lester Holman and wife Mae Holman. This house is presently owned by Budd Bishop and wife Julia Bishop and has been completely restored and converted into an art studio. Separate from the home on East Broad Street, Dr. Breeding had a small office that sat in the right hand corner of the yard where the driveway is now. The Breeding family lived in this house approximately five years. Lena (Breeding) Dean spent some of earliest childhood years in that home.

E.B. Gray was a close friend of Dr. Breeding. He reminisced one afternoon about some of his memories while we sat on the screened in porch of his home. One of Dr. Breedingís hobbies was playing crochet, and from what E.B. told me, he was quite good at it. On the south side of the Breeding home, a crochet court was laid out. Dr. Breeding was just one of many local men around Livingston who often played crochet at the Zollicoffer Municipal Park once located on the Hilham Highway just outside of Livingston. An extremely nice court with lights for playing at night was one of the activities that could be enjoyed there.

On the nearby property that fronts Church Street, (the location of the building that once housed Webb Real Estate), Dr. Breeding had that entire lot scooped out for the purpose of creating a large pond. Once it was established, he stocked it with a variety of fish. Fishing was another sport he enjoyed very much. He owned a very special fly rod he ordered for the extravagant price of $50.00, and would allow no one to use it without his permission. He would often have his wife get out that special fly rod and give her instructions to go get E.B. and have him catch a mess of fish for their supper. Mrs. Breeding would accompany E.B. to the pond and carry along a dishpan with her. Sure enough, it wouldnít be very long at all until the E.B. filled pan full of good size brim. Joe Milton Moredock went along once to watch while E.B. fished and talked non-stop about how he would love to have just one of those fish. Mrs. Breeding finally got tired of listening to him beg and gave him one, but not before he was told to take the fish and go on home!

One especially cold winter, the pond froze over and Dr. Breeding decided he would set up the crochet court on the ice. Lights were strung across the pond and fellows that included "Dad" Roberts, of the Roberts Hotel, Horace Keisling, Ras Fleming, Bedford McDonald, and Arlis Hodges, along with Dr. Breeding, gathered there for a crochet game on the ice. For such an unusual setting, the game went along smoothly until the ice gave way with "Dad" Roberts and he fell in. Luckily, the water was only about knee deep where the ice gave way with him, but that brought the crochet game to an unexpected end.


Dr. Breeding was one of Livingston's early doctors.


  Dr. Breeding also owned a 20 gauge shotgun that he often allowed E.B. to go dove hunting with. The area where the chocolate plant is now located was just a big pasture then, and it was there E.B. would take the gun and hunt doves with it.

Once when E.B. was only four years old, he developed a severe nose bleed his parents couldnít seemed to get stopped. Dr. Breeding was called and ended up spending the night at the Grayís home trying to get the bleeding under control. Eventually he managed to get the bleeding stopped, and some years later, E.B. began sneezing and couldnít seem to stop that either. After a while of non-stop sneezing, a large splinter that had been lodged in his nose came out and the mystery of why he had the nose bleed all those years before was solved. Without the efforts of Dr. Breeding who was willing to spend the night, E.B. feels sure he would probably have bled to death.

Dr. Breeding told a story about a time when he was riding horseback to a patientís home out in the country. On the way, a fellow called to him and waved a friendly hello. Dr. Breeding stopped the horse and after speaking to the man, told him, "I donít believe I know you." "Oh, yes you do," the man told him. "Iím so and so." Dr. Breeding replied, "No, I donít think that could possibly be your name." The man was quite puzzled by the fact that Dr. Breeding was disagreeing with him about who he was, but what Dr. Breeding said next was even more disturbing. He said, "That man told me some two years ago he would be in to pay a bill he owed me, and when he never showed up, I knew then he had died." After hearing this from the doctor, the man told him to be sure and stop by on his way back home. As Dr. Breeding neared the manís house on the return trip, a calf was tied to the mailbox in payment of the long over due bill.

E.B. and Lura Grayís home is located right next door to the place where E.B. grew up. Across the street was the home of Arlis and Willie Mae Hodges. Arlis was once a barber in Livingston. The Hodges had three children, Virginia, Houston, and Earl Glenn. When Earl Glenn was just a toddler, he somehow managed to topple over in a tub filled with water, and when his mother found him, he was not breathing. Her screams brought E.B.ís mother, Mrs. Era Gray, running across the garden lot between the two houses. There was a wire fence around the garden, but that didnít stop Mrs. Gray. She jumped the fence and took the limp and lifeless baby from Mrs. Hodges and began to work with the him. It seemed hopeless, but Mrs. Gray didnít give up. In desperation, she began to swing the baby by his heels, and when she did that, water began to pour from his mouth and nose. While all this was going on, Dr. Breeding was summoned to come help with the situation. When he arrived, the baby had not only started to cough and breath again, but was crying loudly. Dr. Breeding determined that Earl Glenn would be alright, and he did make a full recovery. E.B. and Earl Glenn continue to be friends and talk often by telephone.

E.B. said Dr. Breeding never turned anyone away who needed his help no matter what the circumstances. He was often seen wearing shirts with the collars and cuffs frayed around the edges. He felt taking care of his patients was more important than an outward appearance. He lived in the home on Spring Street until his death at age 75.

An obituary appeared in the Livingston Enterprise in 1951 that says this:

Dr. W.M. Breeding, 75, of Livingston, died Friday, August 31, in Lady Ann Hospital in Livingston. Dr. Breeding who earlier in the year was awarded a certificate in a ceremony held here for "50 Years Of Medical Service to Humanity," had been ill for several months.

Dr. Breeding was graduated from the University of Tennessee Medical School, then located in Nashville, in 1900. He has practiced in Overton County since that date, with the exception of three years.

Born in White County near Sparta, Dr. Breeding came to the Overton County Fair in 1900 and remained here for 50 years. He began his medical practice at the age of 24 years and was very active in his practice until the last few months of his illness.

When Dr. Breeding came to Livingston, there were only four other doctors practicing in the town. In 1903 he was married to the daughter of Dr. Burks and to them were born three sons and three daughters. Mrs. Breeding died in 1927 and a few years later, Dr. Breeding married Miss Allie Chisam who was killed in an automobile accident in 1949.

The general practitioner claimed that he saw the first smallpox in Overton County since the Civil War. During the period he was county health officer, there were two smallpox epidemics in the county.

In 1912, Dr. Breeding reportedly diagnosed the first case of hookworm in Tennessee. During that year he concentrated on the hookworm disease program sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. He has said that over twenty percent of the school children of the county had hook worm at one time but there was only one fatality.

Survivors included three daughters, Mrs. A.L. Dean, Livingston, Mrs. T.F. Windham, Crossville, and Mrs. Kenneth Forshee of Indianapolis, Indiana; three sons, Lee A. Breeding, Nashville; William Breeding, Jr., Crossville, and Edward S. Breeding of Linden. Three step children, W.E. Chisam, Spencer; Mrs. Tom Bond, Soddy; and Mrs. Harry Kelly of Bridgeport, Alabama.

He was a member of the Church of Christ and a Mason. Funeral services were conducted at the Livingston Church of Christ on Saturday afternoon by Bro. B.H. Hunt of Livingston and Dr. John L. Meadows of TPI, Cookeville, with burial in the family cemetery in Livingston. Masonic rites were conducted at the grave by Livingston Lodge No. 259, Free and Accepted Masons, with Joe Terry, officiating.


The former home of Dr. Breeding is presently owned by Cynthia Carmack and husband Kevin Carmack.