Dr. James Samson was born on the family farm which was located on the Centre Line of Harwich Twp, 1.5 miles east of Blenheim, on the 24th of February, 1843. His parents, Mungo Fairly Samson and the former Nancy McBrayne had been born in Scotland. Dr. Samson was the eldest of 11 children. His siblings were; John, Isabella, William, Mary, David, Effie, Archibald, Malcolm, Marion and Nancy. His parents are both buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Blenheim. Dr. Samson, proved to be an exceptional student in local schools and taught school before attending Victoria College in Coburg. He studied medicine and graduated in 1868 (sources: The 1872 Ontario Medical Register and the Directory of Deceased American Physicians).
After completing his studies, Dr. Samson returned to Blenheim. He appears in the 1880 Kent County Directory as living at Vester House (a boarding house) and being in partnership with Dr. Van Velsor.
Dr. Samson built a large home, located at 46 George St., in Blenheim. This home is included on the Chatham-Kent Municipal Heritage Register. In 1873, he founded the communities’ first newspaper with a partner (surname Ash) known as “The Rondeau News”, producing the first publication on September 11th. He was known to contribute articles for the paper and established himself as a notable public speaker. He took an interest in the Reform Party. His newspaper started a campaign to be incorporated as a village. The Village of Blenheim was incorporated January 1st, 1875. Dr. Samson took the lead to campaign for rail service for Blenheim. Dr. Samson did not believe in sending patients a bill. His philosophy was that a patient would pay him, what they could and if they could not afford to pay him, then there was no point in sending a bill.
In 1882, Dr. Samson ran to be a member of parliament for the County of Kent representing the Liberal Party but he was defeated by the Conservative candidate, Henry Smythe. It is known that Dr. Samson, became medical partners with Dr. Daniel Van Velsor. Dr. Van Velsor died in 1889 and he was replaced by Dr. Charles Baldwin Langford.
Dr. Samson sold his home and practice to Dr. Langford and moved to Windsor in 1895 where he continued to practice medicine. Dr. Samson advertised his practice in the 1895 Farmers Business Directory for Elgin, Essex, Kent and Lambton Counties. Dr. Samson was a member of the Wayne County Medical Society. He was often a contributor to the Detroit Free Press on a variety of topics. Dr. Samson, was a gifted diagnostician, taking careful patient histories, in a time when laboratory tests were minimal.
On the evening of the 22nd of November, 1898, Dr. Samson returned to Chatham-Kent and he was the guest speaker at the official opening of the new Merlin United Church.
Dr. Samson appears in the 1913 Bell Telephone Directory. His office was located at 7 Chatham Street West and his telephone number was 19.
Dr. Samson, was a bachelor most of his life. He married Lillian G. Baines on the 5th of December, 1914. She was born in Detroit, Michigan on the 11th of April 1871. Her parents were Charles and Eliza Jane Baines and her father was an auctioneer. She had 2 younger brothers named Charles and James. By 1891, the Baines family was residing in Windsor, Ontario. According to the 1911 census, Lillian was 39 years old and living with her mother at 5 Victoria Ave. in Windsor.
Dr. and Mrs. Samson moved to St. Petersburg, Florida around 1915. According to the 1916 St. Petersburg, Florida Business Directory, they were residing at 900 Beach Drive. According to the 1920 census, Dr. and Mrs. Samson resided at 832 Bay Street North in St. Petersburg. It also records that Dr. Samson continued to practice medicine in a general practice.
Dr. Samson enjoyed the study of astronomy. He was also a sought after speaker on a number of subjects, for a number of organizations and he frequently appeared in the social section of the local newspapers.
Dr. Samson died on the 16th of July, 1924 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Upon learning of the death of Dr. Samson, the Town of Blenheim, lowered it’s flag to half mast. His funeral was held in Detroit and he was buried at the Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit.
*Dr. Daniel James Van Velsor and Dr. Charles Baldwin Langford are also featured on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.