The Lawrence County News published an article about Dr. Z. D. French sometime in 1955. Writers apparently decided to comment. (Dr. French was quite a character in his time, and you can find a lot written about him on this blog.)
1-12-1956 We have never seen a dead man come to life again as interestingly as has Dr. Z. D. French. The comments of this column have brought out a lot of interest.
Sherman Z. Stewart writes as follows: “According to the story as I always heard it his name was Zeba French. He had no middle name but his first wife was very affectionate and always called him Darling, so he added this as his middle name making it Zeba Darling French. Where he got the name of Zeba, I do not know.”
Hamilton C Keller also wrote, concerning the doctor’s name. Ham said, “The “Z” stood for Zebu, no doubt a contraction from Zebul found in Judges, Chapter9, and verse 30.”
So that is that. The grand old man has served his time; reduced to aches and pain; we hardly think it kind of us to dig him up again.
LCN 1_5_1956 Mrs. Gertrude Brian of Sumner, the only living niece of Dr. French reported that his name was Zebidee D. French and that the D was just an initial. Dr. French’ daughter, Mrs. Clyde Price, lives in Oklahoma.
Byron R. Lewis of Bridgeport has sent in quite a sketch on the French family, in which he says that the doctor was named Zebu D. French. His historical sketch reports that Zebu French and Lydia Walcot French were born in Massachusetts leaving that state in 1815 for the west. Chauncey French was born in Indiana and his wife, Jane Travis was born in Kentucky. They came to Illinois and settled in Lukin Township, Lawrence County, and from there went to Dubuque, Iowa, where Zebu D. French was born on June 24, 1837, the only child born out of Lawrence County. He practiced medicine for 22 years in Sumner, moving to Lawrenceville in 1891. He was married three times. Dr. French served in the medical corps in the Civil War.
(Ed Note: Maybe the moral of this story is: if you have an unusual name, you probably should explain it to someone before you die, so this type of confusion doesn’t persist decades after your death.)