Pampa's first resident doctor was Dr. Vittorio Emanuel von Brunow, who was generally known in this area as Dr. Brunow. The German word "von" means "the house of" and the initial "v" is not capitalized.
He was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on October 27, 1862. His parents were Count Phillip von Brunow and Countess von Brunow. Count von Brunow was prominent in diplomatic circles in the services of Russia for many years. Count von Brunow's family returned to their old home in East Prussia in 1864.
Dr. von Brunow received his elementary education in Wittenberg, Saxony, and later studied in Austria and Russia. He was a graduate of the University of Vienna and the University of Warsaw, where he took a degree in 1887. This was followed by study in the medical clinics in Berlin and at Koln and Hamburg.
In 1892 he returned to America and took a very important part in medical research and the scientific development of therapeutics. His medical attainments were the result of exceptional training, ripened by broad experience and constant study.
He practiced at New Orleans for a time, and later at St. Louis and in Chicago. He then went into Indian Territory, and after a short period of practice there, moved to Gainesville in 1900.
Dr. von Brunow came from Gainesville to the Texas Panhandle in a surrey. German, he had probably heard of the Thut family who were German-speaking Swiss, and he stayed at first in the Thut Hotel near Lefors.
Soon after arriving in Pampa in 1903, Dr. von Brunow had a white frame building constructed at 101 South Cuyler. The von Brunows lived upstairs, and the lower floor was used as a doctor's office, drugstore, post-office and telephone office.
The building at 101 South Cuyler was the third location of the Pampa Post Office ... from 1903 until 1913. Records in the National Archives show that Vittorio E. von Brunow was appointed the fourth postmaster of Pampa on October 23, 1903.
Whenever a bag of mail was thrown from a train, someone brought it to the post office, where people stood around and waited until letters and other items were sorted and placed in the 24 pigeon holes reserved for them.
The first telephone service in Pampa was in the von Brunow house. There were 24 plugs which connected Pampa with Miami and Panhandle. Some ranchers in Roberts County ran a telephone line into Pampa when the "central" part of the service was in Dr. von Brunow's drug store. The line was run on the fences, with wires over the gates and places where it could not be used on the fences. This caused some confusion as the cowboy would come by and staple the wire to the post, not knowing it was the telephone line.
When Dr. von Brunow first came to this area, he drove a beautiful fast team of brown horses. After a few years he purchased the first car in Pampa. The car was a red, one-cylinder Velie with a steering bar instead of a steering wheel. The doctor tore over the rough wagon paths and frightened most horses within hearing or seeing range. He got tired of having to fight roads full of chug holes, so he borrowed a road grader and evened some of the country roads.
He could not pronounce the letter "V." One day Beryl Wynne (Mrs. DeLea Vicars) asked what he did when the car would not run. He replied, "I just put some 'vaseline' on the 'valves' and then the 'Vealie' runs." On one occasion Dr. Walter Purviance accompanied Dr. von Brunow on his calls. The Velie stopped and would not run again. Dr. Purviance remarked that the car needed doctoring, too.
During the early days here (ca 1915-1917) the doctor helped a U.S. Marshal apprehend a desperado working on the Shoe Nail Ranch. The desperado had written to his gang in Oklahoma that he had located some good horses for them to steal, and the doctor had recognized the desperado's picture on the postcard.
Dr. von Brunow had many birds and animals stuffed and mounted. Once each year a taxidermist came from Amarillo to clean these stuffed birds and animals and oil their eyes. A bald eagle, which the doctor shot before it was illegal to do so, is mounted on the wall and seems to look down on the office of the White Deer Land Museum.
The doctor like hunting and fishing but his real hobby was in research work. He was also a philanthropist but only his closest friends knew of his many gifts and kindnesses. For nearly 40 years he served the people in and around Pampa with ceaseless effort and application. His practice was along general lines since he felt that he could best serve his community that way. He organized the Republican Party in Gray County and was its only chairman until the time of his death. He was a member of the Elks Club and the Kiwanis Club. He took a keen interest in current events and subscribed to numerous magazines and newspapers. He was one of the best informed men in the Panhandle and had a remarkable memory.
In 1926, when Pampa was growing rapidly because of the oil boom, the white frame von Brunow house was moved to 825 West Kingsmill and a red brick building was constructed at 101 South Cuyler. Mrs. von Brunow (Lemuel Ganell Smithers) went every day to watch the men at work on the new building to be sure that everything was the way she and the doctor wanted.
The von Brunows had a large apartment in the building and a beautiful rooftop garden where they walked their two white dogs. A picture of a castle in Germany hung on the wall of the apartment, and Dr. von Brunow said that it was his family home.
Lemuel Ganell Smithers von Brunow ("Lemmie" or "Biddy") was a Red Cross nurse at Camp Travis near Austin during World War I when Spanish influenza was rampant. While waiting in New York to go overseas, she caught a cold that developed into pneumonia and contributed to her bad health In later years. She died in the summer of 1936.
At Pampa on February 25, 1937, Dr. von Brunow was married to Mrs. Lonna D. Lan France. She had a thirteen-year old daughter, Vera Lee (Mrs. Bob Andis), who was adopted by the doctor.
Dr. von Brunow died on May 7, 1941, and was buried in Fairview Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and step-daughter and four children by a former marriage: Julia (Mrs. Poy) Wilson of Pampa, Edward of Freeport, Fred of Benton, Louisiana, and J.H. of Port Arthur.
Lonna D. von Brunow died in Amarillo on November 15, 1993.
The red brick Brunow Building burned on Christmas night in 1981. An electrical short was blamed for the blaze that was estimated to have caused close to $1 million in damage.
In November 1996, B and N Farms Inc. sold Lots 11 and 12 of Block 5 of the original town of Pampa to the City of Pampa. It was stipulated that the site should be used as a public park known as "The Dr. V.E. von Brunow Park" in honor of the man who is remembered by his family as one who loved his community, its people and this particular part of the country.