A Consistent Influence

For more than 100 years, the SMS has been a
constant voice for the local medical community


SMS Building, 1979
The Stanislaus Medical Society building was completed in 1979. Today, it is not only the home of the Medical Society, but also the Stanislaus Foundation for Medical Care and the Physicians Service Bureau.



In 1848, California was ceded to the United States and gold was discovered. In 1854, Governor Bigler set boundaries for Stanislaus County which had previously been considered an almost valueless portion of Tuolumne County. A Dr. Adams had founded the vanished county seat of Adamsville. In 1871, the Central Pacific Railroad started the town of Modesto which became the fifth county seat. Mention is made of such names as Jackson, Marks, Hall, McLean and White as physicians. By January 31, 1895, fifteen physicians were licensed to practice in the county. The old County Hospital had been built in 1891.

The Medical Society

W.J. Wilhite MD, First SMS President
W.J. Wilhite MD,
First SMS President

With 1900, began an era of better roads, electricity, the telephone and the automobile. In 1903, Dr. Surryhne built the first private hospital in Modesto. Dr. Surryhne and Dr. F. DeLappe formed an informal society of two. Dr. J. C. Robertson began practice in 1906. To Evans he was the “damned preacher” while DeLappe was the “beardless youth”.

B.F. Surryhne MD, First SMS Secretary
B.F. Surryhne MD,
First SMS Secretary

By 1910, some sort of society was established with Dr. W. J. Wilhite as president and Dr. B. F. Surryhne as secretary. Records of the State Society established that in 1915 an organization of eight members existed with Dr. Surryhne as president and Dr. S. W. Cartwright as secretary. Between 1916 and 1922, Dr. Reamer had served as president twice and as secretary four times. The Society meetings usually took place at the Hotel Modesto and an average attendance was between eighteen and twenty. Unfortunately, the records of the local Society were lost before 1940.

Clara Finney MD, First Woman Doctor in SMS
Clara Finney MD,
First Woman Doctor in SMS

The depression was acutely felt and during World War II, many of the doctors were in service. Dr. Gant acted as president in 1941 and was unable to locate the early records. In 1946, physicians returned from the services and new men joined them. Prior to that time, the County had one G. U. man, a few E. E. N. & T. men and several women physicians who tended to exclude adult males from their clientele. Many of the new men had been trained in specialties, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, G. U., general surgery, internal medicine et cetera.