AUTHOR Gary Kent says when he and Charles Stitz decided to pen a book on Albury medic Arthur Andrews they expected it to be much slimmer than the resultant 572 pages.
However, that outcome is not surprising given, that in addition to being a surgeon, Dr Andrews was an historian, coin collector, farmer, hotel investor, museum founder and campaigner for Albury to be the national capital.
Even that list can be extended with other roles he had ranging from honorary magistrate to chairman of the Albury School Board.
Both Stitz, who owns Albury's Books on Dean, and Kent, a semi-retired public servant from Canberra, first became aware of Dr Andrews through their interest in numismatics and the surgeon's seminal book Australasian Tokens and Coins.
"I spent a lot of my time in the public library (in Sydney) handwriting out the reports of the Australian Numismatics Society, which he was the president of and that's where I first heard his name," Stitz said.
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"Many, many years later when I moved down here I found that he had been a leading light in Albury and made the connection which sparked my interest and I started to research him."
Kent, who has a family connection to Vines Florist in Albury, was asked by Stitz to assist with researching and was left wowed by Dr Andrews, who came to the Border as a medically-trained English immigrant in 1874.
"When we started I don't think we thought it would be on this scale," Kent said.
"I think we thought it would be a slimmer volume than it turned out to be, but once we got into it (there was plenty to use with) the amount of information about his medical career in England, (and) we found letters he wrote to some of the great coin collectors, in the Mitchell Library, about his coin collecting book, (as well as) letters he wrote to people about the books on the history of Albury."
The end work, The Country Surgeon, The life and times of Arthur Andrews of Albury (1848-1925), gives, as noted historian Geoffrey Blainey writes in his forward for the book, "partly a history of the city, as well as a biography of one of its worthiest citizens".
Through countless press reports, the book, which will be launched on Saturday August 5, shows a town growing, institutions being established and the squabbles that accompany those twin elements.
There are even echoes for today, with an argument about extending Albury's original hospital in Thurgoona Street or building a new one, something which came to fruition in Wodonga Place.
Reflecting our recent experience of COVID border inspections, Dr Andrews had the task of in 1913 of inspecting railway passengers for evidence they had been vaccinated for smallpox before they could leave their train.
While Dr Andrews' activities, including testifying to coroners, were regularly chronicled in publications such as the Banner and Border Morning Mail, the personal side was harder to portray.
"There's very little family correspondence we could find," Kent said.
"One of the great great nephews in England had copies of letters that Andrews wrote to his brother around 1920, so we've quoted those in full in the book because it gives you a real flavour for what was going on in his own life.
"But it's not one of those biographies where you've got it all about his personal feelings, love affairs, all of that.
"He actually led a very even-tempered life, he was very well adjusted, there was no sign of depression or angst or anything like that and he was able to devote all his energy into working on building up Albury."
Tragically, Dr Andrews first wife Edith, who emigrated after meeting him in England, died at the age of 26 after an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in her giving birth to a stillborn daughter the day before her death in 1876.
She is buried in the Anglican section of Albury cemetery.
Dr Andrews wed his second wife Caroline in Melbourne in 1879 and they had six children, four of whom survived to become adults.
Stitz suggests the drive of Dr Andrews came from his mother who was "very progressive" and a polymath.
"You truly wonder how he found the time, because he also built most of the furniture in his home, how the hell he found the time to have any sleep one wonders," Stitz said,
The surgeon's major publishing legacy at a local level is The History of Albury - 1824 to 1895 and Stitz and Kent look at how it was received and perceptions of it today among historians.
"While The History of Albury has been criticised by some as a mere calendar of the events in the period in question, without interpretation, this stricture cannot detract from its value as the first comprehensive record of the time," they write.
The biographers would like greater recognition for Andrews in Albury and giving him modern-day acknowledgement was a motivator for their work which is the result of six years toil.
"Knowing his nature it doesn't (surprise me) but It's a big gap we think, which needs to be filled, and we're filling it," Stitz said.
Kent added: "One reason why he's not commemorated (widely) is that when he was around everybody knew him.
"Many of the children were delivered by him, he was on every committee in town, he was one of the leading citizens so there wasn't a need to commemorate him.
"It's only in recent decades he's completely fallen away."
It is thought Andrews Street, which runs from Alexandra Park past the PCYC club in East Albury and was gazetted in September 1949, was named for the medico.
The public launching of The Country Surgeon will be held from 3pm Saturday at Adamshurst in Albury with Farrer MP Sussan Ley officially launching the book.
It is for sale online as well as at Books on Dean.
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