Three generations of Massengill’s are represented in the collection: John David (1844-1919), Samuel Evans (1871-1946), and Pauline (Massengill) DeFriece (1896-1975).
John David Massengill was born 11 May 1844 to Joseph and Nancy (Smith) Massengill in Sullivan County, Tennessee. He graduated from Baltimore College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1874 before returning to eastern Tennessee where he practiced medicine for 44 years. John married Josephine Evans and had four children: Norman Hood, Samuel Evans, Fannie, and Kate. He died 8 January 1919 in Blountville, Tennessee.
Samuel Evans Massengill was born 5 February 1871 near Piney Flats, Tennessee. As a boy, he often traveled with his father during his visits with patients. As such, he graduated from Roanoke College in Virginia with his pre-med degree in 1890. He finally graduated from the University of Nashville in 1899 with his medical degree after having also attended Tennessee Medical College and College of Physicians and Surgeons in St. Louis. Rather than become a practicing doctor, Samuel concentrated on pharmaceuticals and trying to get needed supplies to country doctors, like his father, more quickly. He started as a representative for the Arthur J. Connor Company of Boston, covering the Tennessee-North Carolina-Kentucky border area. In 1897, Samuel and his brother Norman founded Massengill & Brothers, a wholesale drug house, in Bristol, Tennessee. By 1917, Norman decided to retire from the company, and the name changed to S.E. Massengill Company. The company expanded to manufacturing its own drugs rather than being a wholesale company. In 1937, the S. E. Massengill Company suffered a major setback when it was discovered to have been responsible for at least 100 deaths from the toxic elixir sulfanilamide. Despite the setback, the company continued to operate as a family-owned pharmaceutical firm until 1971 when it was sold to Beecham Pharmaceuticals. Samuel married Ina May Jobe and had two children: Hattie Pauline and John Tipton. He died 15 December 1946.
Pauline Massengill was born 27 July 1896 in Sullivan County, Tennessee. In 1918, she married Frank W. DeFriece with whom she had three children: Frank Jr., Josephine, and Marthina. She set in motion the chain of events that led to the purchase of the Cobb-Massengill historic home in Rocky Mount, by the state of Tennessee. She also established the Rocky Mount Historical Association, an organization that maintains and operates the site. Because of her family history, Pauline also took great interest in the establishment of the Country Doctor Museum in Bailey, North Carolina, and donated artifacts and papers, along with financial donations. She died November 1975.