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1899 King's Daughters' Hospital

An organization called the Bethany Circle of the King’s Daughters was organized in 1896 by twelve members of the First Presbyterian Church. These women did charitable work in the town of Madison. Meeting weekly, they sewed for the poor and gave assistance where they could. During a visit to the home of a needy family they discovered a boy with a serious bone disease that needed professional attention or he would suffer amputation of his leg. Finally finding someone who would care for the boy in their home the women approached the father with the good news only to be rejected, the father not wanting the boy to be removed and placed in someone else’s home.

This caused the women to see the need for a hospital where people could get help, no matter their financial situation. The women invited women from other churches to join in their cause and soon over 100 women were working towards the goal of a hospital for Madison. They soon took their appeal to the general public, requesting funds and aid for the hospital. Mrs. Drusilla Cravens came forth and offered to buy a home situated on Presbyterian Street that could be used for their purposes. The home consisted of fifteen rooms with a lawn around it. The ladies then provided $1,000 to make improvements and set the building up as a hospital. Organizations of the town provided the furnishings and the city agreed to support the hospital with a $25.00 a month contribution. A nurse was acquired from Philadelphia. The dedication took place on August 25, 1899. The first patient was the young boy who had started the whole idea.

After the first year it was plain more money was needed if the hospital was to survive. Providentially, Mrs. Pauline Durant of Boston was visiting the city and heard of the hospital’s plight. Her father had died on the river some years previously and the citizens had seen to it that he received a proper burial. In his memory Mrs. Durant donated $5,000 to the struggling institution. The following year the hospital made more than enough to cover expenses and the hospital was now on sure footing.

Many improvements and expansions took place at the hospital in the succeeding years and in 1915 the cornerstone for a new hospital was dedicated. In 1936 extensive improvements were made and the Sanderson addition was opened in 1937. The hospital could now boast fifty beds, with an obstetric and children’s ward.

The hospital has now grown far beyond the imaginations of those first women who saw a great need and proceeded to do something about it.

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