This column is the third of four describing some aspects of the history of medical care in Marshall. Descriptions of the history of the Affiliated Community Medical Center-Marshall and the Cowin/Anna Maria Memorial Hospital appeared earlier this month. Today's column examines the history of the original Marshall Hospital and School of Nursing. The story of the Louis Weiner Memorial Hospital/Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center will be the subject of the column of April 7.
The first building in Marshall which could be considered a hospital existed across from the First English Lutheran Church on A Street in 1907. A Mrs. Mills would take in people who were ill, and physicians would visit and treat the patients in that home. Dr. C.E. Persons was an attending physician. A modern home now occupies the site.
The first actual hospital site was in the 200 block of south Fourth Street between Saratoga and Lynd Streets, now the site of the Lyon County Apartments. In the 1890s, the city had built Southside School, an attractive neoclassic building for school purposes, replacing a nearby older circular school.
However, attendance in school was a transient occupation in this agricultural environment, and the school was subsequently closed. About 1900, Bishop John Ireland had been encouraging immigration and sent the Sisters of St Joseph of Corondolet to Marshall for educational purposes. They initially used the Southside School as a location to teach "The Fine Arts." In 1911, Dr. F.D. Gray moved his medical practice from Vesta to Marshall and purchased the school to begin a hospital. It has been said that the Marshall Hospital was the first hospital established between Sioux Falls, S.D., and Mankato.
Dr. Gray, a pragmatic physician and businessman, remolded the school building, installing modern plumbing, lighting, an elevator and other updated equipment. To efficiently staff the hospital, he hired a registered nurse, a cook, and began the nursing school to both educate and utilize the student nurses for patient care. Dr. Gray operated the school from about 1913 to the 1930s or so. Some of these nursing students told me they made their own uniforms, received room and board, paid no tuition nor were paid, and completed their general nurse degree when Dr. Gray decided they were finished!
Little information is known or documented about the physical conditions or care in the hospital. Several common surgical procedures were performed there, i.e., tonsillectomies, appendectomies, cholecystectomies, hysterectomies, and obstetrical patients received care and delivered children who were treated, both initially and when other illness occurred. Hospital treatment of non-surgical illness was not common in these early years of the 20th century; most illnesses were treated in the home by the family with physician home visits monitoring the patient's conditions.
The hospital changed over the years, of course, and several pictures exist to attest how it changed with the adding of porches, etc. Dr. Gray initially saw his patients in the hospital and in an attached clinic. He had several associates join him during the existence of the hospital, notably Dr. B.C. Ford, who was associated with Dr, Gray from 1918 to about 1960. It is interesting to note that the hospital was established at approximately the same time as Holy Redeemer Church, certainly a significant undertaking for a town of 2,000, when one realizes the church was built to seat 1,000 people! With the establishment of the Louis Weiner Memorial; Hospital in 1950, the other two Marshall hospitals closed. The Marshall Hospital became a nursing home, and it was razed in 1963.
Dr. Gray practiced in and maintained the Marshall Hospital for nearly 40 years; he was a member of the Louis Weiner Memorial Hospital staff upon its opening in 1950. He, Drs. Ford, Eckdale, Peterson, Yaeger, Murphy, Hedenstrom and others were on the staffs of all three of the hospitals in Marshall. It is said that Dr. Gray performed more than 3,000 procedures during his career in Marshall. His hospital was likely one of the factors which encouraged prosperity in Marshall during the wheat milling days before World War II. The presence of the Marshall Hospital and the Anna Maria Memorial Hospital certainly provided both a nidus and a foundation for the subsequent formation of the Louis Weiner Memorial Hospital in 1950.
Much of the above information has been researched and compiled by local retired surgeon and historian Dr. R. Wayne Taintor and is available at the Lyon County Historical Society and Museum. Notably, a special exhibition of The History of Medical Care in Marshall and Lyon County will be presented during the grand opening of the Lyon County Historical Museum in May. The public is invited.