Tuesday, February 6, 1894 was a cold day in Richmond. The Virginia General Assembly was in session, and the Richmond Dispatch news coverage centered on the lawmakers and the happenings at the Capitol. That afternoon six veterinarians gathered at the office of Dr. W. H. Harbaugh, a surgeon in charge of the veterinary hospital on South Adams Street, a few blocks west of the Capitol. After a lengthy discussion of the various problems confronting the veterinary profession, both in the Old Dominion and the nation, the men took the action for which they had come together. The following statement was prepared and signed by the six:
"We, the undersigned veterinarians, have organized ourselves into a society to be known as the Virginia State Veterinary Medical Association.”
Signed: W. H. Harbaugh
E. P. Niles
A. W. Swedberg
W. T. Gilchrist
T. A. Donaldson
George C. Faville
Drs. Niles, Faville and Gilchrist were appointed a committee to draft rules and by-laws.
Drs. Harbaugh, Donaldson and Swedberg were appointed a committee to have the organization incorporated according to the state laws of Virginia.
Dr. Harbaugh was elected Chairman of the Board of Censors and Drs. Gilchrist, Faville, Niles, Donaldson and Swedberg associate members.
More than 35 years later, in a brief history of the organization, Dr. Faville noted that without the "untiring efforts and zeal” of Dr. Harbaugh "it is doubtful if we could have made the start we did.”
Dr. Faville was too modest. Certainly, Dr. Harbaugh played a vital role in the formation and continuing life of the young association, but it was Dr. Faville, the record indicates, who for many years was the glue that held the organization together.
The next day two more veterinarians joined the fledging group. They were J. H. Adamson and Joseph T. Bushman.
It is obvious that the men who met in Dr. Harbaugh’s office had decided on their course of action. The Association was not something that came out of a discussion in a single afternoon, but a decision that had been on the minds of participants for some time. They had met when and where they did for the simple reason that the General Assembly was in session, and thus, they could seek the incorporation of the Association by the lawmakers as quickly as possible.
Just two days later, on February 8, the General Assembly approved the act establishing the then-named Virginia State Veterinary Medical Association.