Sponsored by: Dr. Cathy Moss and Dr. Will Owen IV in memory of Dr. W. L. (Larry) Owen III

The first dentist arrived in Charleston in 1774; soon thereafter others followed and established practices throughout the colony. In these early years, dentistry was carried from urban areas, such as Charleston, Beaufort, and Columbia, to more remote areas by itinerant practitioners who traveled on horseback and in buggies.

According to Dr. Neill W. Macaulay, in the 1830s there were about 25 dentists in practice in South Carolina, the majority of them “more or less stationary.” Still, as late as the 1880s a number of dentists continued to travel great distances to treat patients in communities without a full-time dentist.

Dr. Charleigh Thaddeus Dowling, who practiced in the Orangeburg and Barnwell areas of South Carolina during the late-19th century was one such traveling dentist. Outfitted with a case of instruments, a portable chair, and a foot-driven engine, Dr. Dowling was equipped to serve the needs of his patients, regardless of where they lived.


This painting was commissioned by Astra as one of a
series recreating the history of American dentistry.

The Macaulay Dental Museum