Frances L. Goodrich was a Presbyterian missionary and teacher from Binghamton, NY, who came to Madison County, NC in the autumn of 1890. She’s responsible for getting the White Rock Hospital (originally Laurel Hospital) built in Marshall in the early years of the 20th century. It was a major accomplishment for that time.
Goodrich was friends with a Dr. George Packard of Medford, MA; she convinced him to leave a thriving practice there and move to Whiterock. Packard built a house in Marshall for himself and his wife, Miranda, who’d been a missionary in China during the Boxer Rebellion. Then in the summer of 1914 another missionary by the name of Anna Benjamin Taft, a friend of the Packards, visited Madison County, and was shocked at the lack of medical care for local residents.
Taft died in Brooklyn, NY the next winter. The Anna Benjamin Taft Memorial Hospital Fund was subsequently set up, with the intent of building a new hospital for the residents of Marshall, NC. The White Rock Hospital was built in 1917, adjacent to the Packard estate, which as part of the new hospital’s construction became the doctor’s quarters, or manse.
The hospital operated until about 1931, when, with the onset of The Great Depression, it went bankrupt. Some nurses stayed on until the 1940’s and lived in the doctors’ manse. Ray and Mary Tweed bought the manse about 1950, and when they passed on, the property was left to their daughters Lou Anne Tweed and Marcella Tweed Moore. Lou Anne and her husband Steve Tweed live there today. In their possession is a letter (below the following photo) published pamphlet style by Frances L. Goodrich, sent to Presbyterian churches/parishioners up north to keep them informed of progress at White Rock and to hopefully encourage them to continue funding. Goodrich discusses the hardships faced by nurses who rode out from the hospital and up into the hills to service patients who couldn’t make the trip into Marshall.
France Goodrich’s letter—–>
Four Winter Days
It is nearly a year since word from the Laurel Hospital has gone out to you. The story in other bulletins has been mainly, if not wholly, from inside the hospital, and of the patients treated in it. This time I want to tell you in more detail of the work of the nurses outside, the work of care and of instruction in the homes, of which the hospital is the base, and without which its service would be sadly incomplete.
Every day brings its demands and emergencies and by way of making these days (and nights) vivid to you, I choose four real days in January to chronicle. You must fill out the story, imagining the winter weather, the mountain roads, here deep in mud, there rough with rocks and stones, each mile counting for five or six in level country.
Four A.M. Sunday morning: dark and bitter chill. Doctor and nurse leave the hospital on horseback for a confinement case on Cook Farm Road. Up the hills in the fierce wind, down the long slope between ridges to the turn where the road follows the hogback in curves that seem unending, to the house where help is needed.
Just before daybreak comes the second call: a woman in labor on Spillcorn, ten miles in the opposite direction. A second nurse starts out with buggy and mules, and with obstetrical supplies, to meet the doctor before he leaves the other house, to tell him of this call and to go with him. The wind still comes in wild gusts and there is a cold drizzly rain. The roar of the mad Spillcorn Creek sounds in the ears as they dash with reckless speed over the rough road to be in time.
The first nurse, meanwhile, finishing her work for mother and child on Cook Farm, returns to the hospital leading the other horse.
After the Spillcorn baby is safely arrived, the doctor holds a clinic, unpremeditated, but full. As word passes around that he is in the neighborhood, the folk gather for advice and treatment. Then back to the hospital; the speed is less but the road no smoother or shorter.
On Monday, after bedside treatment of those in the wards upstairs, the doctor saw in the office three for coughs and grippe colds, one general medical, one tonsil, adenoid and middle ear, three wanting medicine for folks sick at home, one for surgical dressing. After this thee mornings work he rode twenty seven miles in saddle and saw the two new mothers with their babies, a serious heart case, two surgical dressings at one place, three at another.
Meanwhile the first nurse put in a full day, riding twenty miles or more to care for the two new babies and to teach the mothers how to look after them.
The second nurse, besides hospital duty, rode in the afternoon to see a patient in need of nurse’s care.
On Tuesday the first nurse went by the short cut over the Sapling Mountain to attend the Spillcorn baby and its mother, and after making them comfortable she took the Bend of Laurel trail. (I wish you could see the loop of river with the steep hill filling the U and the steep semicircle of mountain surrounding it.)
The trail leads “slanchwise,” down the hill, into and up the rushing stream “a piece,” then across the other side by a rough ford and up over rocks to the heights above. Eventually it leads to Revere where the nurses meets the doctor who has ridden over for his weekly clinic. Before reaching there she makes several calls where her services are needed, then assists at the clinic. On the way home she is needed to assist in three surgical dressings. Twenty-five miles in the saddle for a days work.
The second nurse had visited the other mother and baby and also stopped to see a patient with heart trouble, to get report.
Wednesday. The first nurse rode again over Sapling to see the mother and child on Spillcorn Creek, and from there on up the creek to visit a case in a logging camp. In the saddle pockets she had magazines to leave for the lumbermen. The creek was “over bounds,” and the fords hardly safe; in one the horse had to swim the torrent. The stream rises more quickly now than the big trees on the ridge above are cut off.
Then in order to meet the doctor, who was at Upper Shelton Laurel, on the north side of Sugar Loaf, she went over a trail new to her, by the Tater Gap, not an easy way at any time. Her Norse ancestry stands her in good stead in her new experiences and she won through without trouble to Shelton-Laurel and up that swollen creek to Carmen. Here she assisted doctors in clinic with several women, and beyond, three miles farther up the creek, in two lumber camps, there were cases where she was needed with the doctor.
Home by the Creek Road with a stop at another camp on the way. Her day’s trip was thirty miles, making almost a complete circle of the field except the extreme western part.
The second nurse had done the follow-up work with the Cook Farm baby and had gone on three miles beyond to do surgical dressings for three badly burned patients who had been discharged from the hospital but still needed care. In the morning she had been out also, with the doctor, and had assisted with two other patients at the extremes of life, a very old, infirm woman, and one, little child.
Glimpses only have been given of the activities of the doctor, and mention only can be made of the third nurse, who should not be forgotten. She was staying by the stuff, as it was her turn to do, in the hospital with six patients, and countless office calls and dressings be done.
These three nurses were keeping up the night duty between them. It is well that they are women who are glad to serve and who do not count too closely the hours of service.
There is the hospital farm to speak of, with the blue ribbons taken at the County Fair; the building of a garage, the clearing of the bottom land of unsightly stables and sheds and the building of a substantial barn at one end. These and other matters will have to wait another time.
Frances L. Goodrich.
March 20, 1922