Ott in a Hurry

Sometime in the sixties I noticed several boxes of letterhead stationery that my father had ordered for his home office. At the top he put this self-description: “A. C. Guyton – Builder.” I found it a little puzzling. My father was a physiologist who left early every morning for the medical school, spending his daytime hours in the lab and the classroom. He was a writer who authored a world-renowned medical textbook. Yet according to the stationery he considered himself to be a builder. Continue reading “Ott in a Hurry”


Change of Plans

Kate Smallwood accepted Billy Guyton’s proposal of marriage in 1908 and almost immediately left Mississippi for a 5-year term as a Methodist missionary to Suzhou, China. A few months before leaving Suzhou to return home she wrote to her sister, who was also engaged,

You wanted to know Billy’s and my plans. He writes me that he is going home this summer and when you see him, ask him to tell you, because his plans are my plans, and what he does or what he wants me to do, you will find me trying my best to do. I am glad you are in love. I hope you love Mr. Johnson as much as I love Billy, but I doubt it. Maybe you will someday.

I asked Aunt Ruth, Kate’s daughter, if her mother was a changed person when she returned to Mississippi from Suzhou. My intent was to know if she had changed philosophically or religiously. Continue reading “Change of Plans”

Life and Learning in Suzhou

Billy Guyton followed through on his commitment to go to medical school, 2 years of preclinical classes at Ole Miss and then 2 clinical years at the University of Virginia. As planned, he had little time to feel the lack of female companionship.

Kate onswingmrbuckonright 2

His fiancée Kate Smallwood, on the other hand, was a bit surprised to be surrounded by potential suitors among the large group of Methodist missionaries in China. During the term of her 5 years there, the missionaries traveled together to the Methodist camp in Kuling, to the Ming Tombs, even to Tokyo and elsewhere. They went to conferences and joined in games. These and other photos give the evidence.


Continue reading “Life and Learning in Suzhou”

Kate Goes to Suzhou

This post begins a story of persistent will and horizons enlarged. It’s a personal story about my grandparents Mary Katharine “Kate” Smallwood and Billy Sylvester Guyton, who met as teenagers growing up in a small town and on a farm, respectively, in northeast Mississippi. Continue reading “Kate Goes to Suzhou”