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Dr. David Rose by Mrs. Elizabeth Rose

Updated: May 8

Written as published in "More Tales of Sebastian" courtesy of the Sebastian Area Historical Society.

Taken from the Stories of Early Life Along Beautiful Indian River,

Anna Pearl Newman, 1953.

Dr. Rose was president of the Sebastian Board of Trade in 1916

(The St. Lucie County Directory)

David Rose, born in Port Dover. Ontario November 6, 1854 Died in Vero Beach, Florida December 5, 1942. He was the son of Scotch Parents from Inverness, and Abernathy, Scotland, who met on the boat that brought them to America.

He was a graduate of Toronto University, and began his practice in Waterford, Ontario, moving to Chicago in 1892.

In 1902 to avoid the rigors of the winters in Chicago, he went to Oklahoma City; he went to Oklahoma City and built up quite a practice.  In 1905 he was married to Miss Sarah Wentworth, and they visited his sister in Sebastian on their way back to Oklahoma, and so fell in love with Florida that they bought five acres of land in Sebastian. In 1908 they moved here and put 3 ½ acres to grove, expecting to be able to live off that much citrus, but they soon discovered that an abundant living was not to be had on that amount of citrus, and as there was no Doctor between Melbourne and Ft. Pierce, and people learning that he was a Doctor, they began calling him so frequently that he went to Jacksonville and took the State examination and started in on general practice. He rode on Horseback along trails and through the woods with his medicine in his saddlebags day and night.

In the building of the railroad bridge across the Sebastian River much Labor was brought in without adequate housing and sanitary provisions. One night Dr. Rose was called to care for a man who was gashed half way around the middle.  The man lay on the ground. The only light was the automobile headlight.  There on the ground he dressed and sewed up the wound, and the man lived to tell the tale. 

Many such incidents he could relate of primitive conditions facing a country Doctor. 

“Saturday nights and Sundays were anticipated with dread, for payday brawls were common.”

In 1927 Mrs. Rose lost her life in an automobile accident, and in 1928 he married Mrs. Elizabeth Wagener, who had been a lifelong friend of the former Mrs. Sarah Wentworth Rose.  

Dr. Rose was surgeon for the Florida East Coast railroad for years and took his serious cases to St. Augustine and Jacksonville for hospital treatment, the nearest hospitals at that time. Dr. Rose was a great student and lover of poetry. He loved nature and music, a sensitive soul who “had never learned to play”, but his interests were wide and varied.  He was as much interested in the civic life of the people as the medical, and had a great sense of humor.

Ref: More Tales of Sebastian 

Article Dr. David Rose Pages 139-141

Dr.Harell appointed Dr. Rose on the State Welfare Board to represent the north end of the organization. Dr. Rose later resigned on account of his health, and Mrs. Elizabeth Rose served in his stead, until the condition of his health necessitated her resignation.


Additional information from Margaret Sembler: 

The house to the south of his on S. Louisiana Avenue Dr. Rose had built for his only daughter. The one to the north was for Ned and Evie Sembler, later to be known as the Schumann house. As a young man Charlie Sembler also lived there with his folks.  With his sailboat Charlie was on call to take Dr. Rose for any house calls along the river.  Sometimes it would be to John’s Island for a birthing, and sometimes an overnight stay was necessary. Word that the doctor was on the island got around quickly and all the residents who had nursed along their ailments brought them to the doctor to be treated while he was available.

Mildred Park was the first baby whom Dr. Rose delivered in Sebastian.  That was on April 19, 1908

It was well known that the doctor would not make house calls in the afternoon until his wife, Sarah Gear, had awakened from her nap, and could accompany him in his horse and buggy and later in his automobile; he was one of the very first in town to own such a contraption.

Some of the old timers would tell how well-known the doctor was in the treatment of Typhoid fever. Melva Park was one of the survivors, Estelle Vickers another, also Margaret Sembler’s mother, Sarah Jane Knight. Black patients were usually treated on Dr. Rose’s front steps, while other patients would be allowed indoors. 

Ref: More Tales of Sebastian 

Article: Dr. David Rose Pages 139-141

Of all his well-loved poets, Dr. Rose, being Scottish, could recite Robert Burns eloquently. 

He did fulfill his early desire to grow oranges and had a sizeable citrus grove in his backyard on the sand ridge.

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