The country’s first Black veterinarian, Augustus Nathaniel Lushington, received a historical marker in his name Saturday and the unveiling took place at Fifth Street Baptist Church at 1007 5th St.
The historical marker has been issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Event speakers included the Rev. R. Stuart Jones, pastor of Fifth Street Baptist Church; Dr. Samuel H. Baum, DVM; Dr. Sterling Wilder, of the Lynchburg City Council; Gloria Caldwell, a Lushington family friend; Ted Delaney, director of the Lynchburg Museum System; Jane Baber White, a Lynchburg resident; and S. Allen Chambers Jr., past president of the Virginia Historic Review Board.
White, who also served as a former executive director of the Old City Cemetery, has helped to get more than 25 historical markers placed in the city of Lynchburg and was instrumental in getting Saturday’s marker approved by DHR.
“I think it’s important to continue to uncover or reveal important Black history in Lynchburg,” she said. “This is certainly an important man that I think probably nobody knew about. He was the first Black veterinarian in the whole United States, and we had him right here in Lynchburg and he seems to have been a very honorable citizen because he was very involved in business and he was a very active member of his church at Chapel of the Good Shepherd.”
Dr. Lushington was born around 1861 in Trinidad. He attended Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his degree in veterinary medicine in 1897. By 1900, Lushington had moved to Lynchburg, where he opened his practice as a large-animal veterinary surgeon, primarily caring for horses and cattle on nearby farms, according to the historical marker.
White said she suspects Lushington rode a horse as he visited the surrounding counties to check on farm animals and vaccinate cattle at a dairy farm.
“He did large animal surgery,” she said. “Imagine doing surgery on the mouth of a large horse but that’s what he did.”
Lushington practiced in Lynchburg for nearly four decades. He served also as a probation officer and as president of the Lynchburg Negro Business League. He resided at 1005 5th St., where the sign now is located.
White said undiscovered stories such as Lushington’s contribute to the Lynchburg community and need to be told.
“Luckily, at the City Cemetery, we were privileged to learn a lot of these, because maybe family members were buried there, that’s how we heard about them,” she said. “So I just think it’s exciting to know this wonderful history that is unknown to most people. Who knew we had the first Black veterinarian in the United States right here in Lynchburg? Who in the world knew that? Nobody.”
Multiple sponsors contributed to the Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation to cover the costs of manufacturing the marker, a news release states.
According to the release, DHR markers are erected not to “honor” their subjects but rather to educate and inform the public about a person, place, or event of regional, state or national importance. In this regard, markers are not memorials.