Philander McDermott has been a resident of Arkansas since his birth, and his example of industry and earnest and sincere
endeavor to succeed in life is well worthy the imitation of the rising generation. He was born on May 11, 1846, in the
territory now included in Chicot County, at which time the State was a Territory and the county a wilderness.
Dr. Charles McDermott, his father, was a native Louisianian, born September 22, 1808, and was reared in his native
State, receiving his early education there and finishing his course at Yale College, from which institution he was graduated
with high honors. He entered the college about the year 1834, when Rev. Lyman Beecher was one of its prominent
professors and was a classmate of Joseph E. Benjamin, now Lord Beaconsfield. Later he began the study of medicine,
attending the lectures at a celebrated medical college, and upon his graduation ranked among the highest in his class. He
began practicing his profession in Louisiana, where he became eminent as a physician and surgeon. He was for many years
a prominent correspondent of the Scientific American, in which he was among the first to discuss and favor the germ theory
He removed from his native State to the Territory of Arkansas in 1838, continuing his practice, and here also became a
prominent planter, opening up a farm of about 2,000 acres in Chicot County, near where the flourishing and enterprising
town of Dermott is now situated, the town being named in his honor. He was a man whose intellect was far above the
average, and to his fine natural abilities were added the wisdom and experience of a useful and well-spent life. He was well
known for his devotion to the church, being a strict Presbyterian, and endeavored in every way to rear his children in the
faith which he loved and obeyed.
Being an uncompromising Southern man, he became a voluntary exile to Spanish Honduras after the late Rebellion, and
remained there about two years, being a resident of Tegucigalpa, where he engaged in the practice of his profession, and
also made large investments in real estate which proved a great loss to him. Finding that he could not live there in peace, on
account of his outspoken views of the subject of religious customs of that country, and owing to repeated but baffled
attempts to assassinate him, he disposed of his business there and returned to his native land, very much reduced in means,
the most of his property having been spent in trying to establish himself and family in their adopted home under a new and
Possessing a hopeful and determined disposition, he was not disheartened by his losses, but again entered actively upon the
practice of his profession, and retrieved in a measure his fallen fortunes. His death, which occurred October 13, 1886, was
mourned by all, for he was public-spirited, honorable and upright to a degree that commanded the confidence and esteem
His wife, who was Miss Hettie S. Smith, was born in Louisiana, in 1818, and was a daughter of Ozane Smith, an extensive
sugar planter of Louisiana. Their marriage took place about 1834, and their union resulted in the birth of sixteen
children--ten sons and six daughter--only five of whom are now living: Jane (wife of Rev. M. W. Shaw, of Clinton, La.),
Katie (wife of P. E. Lambert, a merchant of Monticello, Ark.), Philander, Charles A. (a merchant of Visalia, Cal.), and Dr.
Edward O. (a prominent young physician and surgeon of Dermott). Those deceased are William, Benjamin, Susan, Emily,
Edward, Sr., Scott, Sr., Scott, Jr., Maggie (wife of J. B. Mercer), William, Jr., Annie B. (wife of J. R. Anderson), and one
that died in infancy unnamed.
Philander McDermott, whose name heads this sketch, was reared in Chicot County, Arkansas, receiving fair early
advantages, but his collegiate course was abruptly terminated by the Civil War, in which he became a soldier before he had
reached his sixteenth year. In the early part of the war he enlisted in Company B, Second Arkansas Consolidated
Regiment, and served throughout the entire war, surrendering at Marshall, Tex., in 1865. He was in the battles at Mount
Elba, Mark's Mill, Royson Springs, Jenkins' Ferry, and numerous smaller engagements and skirmishes.
After his return home he began life as a farmer, at the age of twenty years, which work received his attention until 1885,
when he rented out his farm and entered the mercantile business at Dermott, his stock comprising druggists' materials,
sundries and light groceries, being valued at $2,000 or $2,500. He has done well in his business ventures, and is accounted
one of the well-to-do residents of the county.
September 7, 1866, he was married in Amite County, Miss., to Miss Ella Jenkins, a native of that State and county, a
daughter of Ransom Jenkins, who is now deceased, but was formerly a prominent cotton planter of that county. Her
mother is now the wife of Dr. Thomas Jackson, and resides on the old homestead in Mississippi. Mr. and Mrs.
McDermott are the parents of three sons and three daughters: Arthur, Ada, Benjamin, Hettie, Emma and Stinson. Mr.
McDermott and his wife are consistent members of the Presbyterian Church, and in his political view he is a Democrat, and
takes an active part in the success of the party, both locally and nationally. He is upright and honorable in every respect,
and enjoys to the highest degree the esteem and confidence of the citizens of Chicot County.