While looking back through West Virginia newspapers from this week in 1910, I came across this ad for The Campbell Hospital. I had never heard of this facility so I thought I would look a little further into information on the facility.
My first stop is WV History On View, a WVU site that archives some amazing historical photos for the state of West Virginia. I found a cleaner version of the photo from the newspaper. It is dated around the same timeline as the newspaper clipping.
In a history book I find this entry: Aug. 1, 1906. Dr. J. A. Campbell opens the newly constructed Campbell Hospital on North Heber Street; the first operation is performed there seven days later.
I went back to WV History on View to look up the good doctor and found this dandy photo:
Using the date noted from the history book, I was able to find the newspaper clipping announcing the hospital’s opening.
Moving ahead through the newspaper archives, the week after the hospital’s opening I find another clipping with more details on Dr. Campbell. He had been practicing for 18 years and although currently residing in Beckley, was originally a Fayette County native. And, from the sounds of it, he was financially well-off.
I am always fascinated when I find “local news” that details the ailments of West Virginians of “that day”. I have found a few while researching my personal genealogy.
From the above article and this 1906 advertisement, we find that Dr Campbell specializes in “Diseases of Women and Children”. Looking up the school he attended in Louisville KY, a history read notes of the school in the 1850s: “The basic requirements to apply for a doctor of medicine degree was to study medicine for at least three years with a reputable physician. Once a student attended two regular sessions at the school of five months each and completing the required thesis and examination, the degree could be awarded.” Additional history on the school can be found here: https://louisville.edu/medicine/about/history but it really does not note Diseases of Women and Children.
So, knowing his name and where he “probably” was buried, I went to Find-A-Grave to see if I could find additional personal information out and maybe see an obituary to offer some insight. But the only photo there was of his Certificate of Death and a notation of his burial at Wildwood Cemetery in Beckley. Using his date of death, I searched for an obituary.
I was able to find his obituary in The Raleigh Register. Turns out he was a mayor at one point. A quick search shows his one year term from 1920-21. As mayor, he was instrumental in extending roads in Beckley, to make for easier transportation. From this obituary, we find that Campbell Hospital was Beckley’s first hospital when it was established in 1906. It does not give further information on how long the facility was in place or if it bought and names changed.
Through the end of 1906, you can find repeated mentions of patients at the hospital in the “Local News”.
Less than half a year after it’s opening, the Campbell Hospital moved to a brand new building on Heber St, just below the court house.
In addition to all of the modern conveniences noted in the previous clipping, we see here in a later Local News clip that the facility will also have a passenger elevator.
Their goal was to have the hospital open and ready for occupancy by mid-March.
Not only will they have elevators but they will also have up-to-date X-ray machines as well! Clippings like this remind me to appreciate modern medicine and its more readily available services a little more.
The new facility was a true source of pride for the community. Every article sings the praises of the hospital and of Dr Campbell.
And, like clockwork, the local personal news of treatments at the hospital are back in the circulation!
In Sep 1907 we see the first ad with the photo of the facility similar to the ad that originally caught my attention (which was published three years later).
The next month, the ad is updated to include the partners’ names as well as the capacity of the hospital: 25 beds.
That particular ad runs on the regular through April 1908 and I pause on an announcement by Dr. Campbell. He is running for office on the platform of saloon opposition.
In October of 1908 Dr Robert Wriston opens offices of his on in the Combs building. I wonder how this will fair for his work at the hospital?
I just had an AHA! moment! Like, seriously a slap up side of my head AHA! My Ma used to sit with an elderly woman on Neville Street, Min Wriston. She would sit with her at night time, just to be there if she needed anything. It just dawned on me that she was the widow of Dr. Campbell’s practice partner Dr Robert Wriston! Her daughter lived there as well, Mat. She gave me some first day canceled stamps because she knew I collected postage stamps as a hobby! Holy crap a flood of memories involving Ma’s time there, the old house (long gone now but used to be where the bank was). What a joy to make that connection! Reading his obituary, I see that he partnered with another physician in 1913 and they founded Beckley Hospital.
A few weeks after announcing the opening of his own practice, we can confirm that Dr Wriston did, in fact, resign his services from Campbell Hospital.
And, right on track, the next month the ads have been updated. “Surgeon In Charge” is a new edit. Could it be they parted on not-so-nice terms? And here we see the rates are $10 per week. If only that were modern day rates!
In August 1909, we see that the hospital is still going strong and packed full of patients.
Consistently since they opened the Campbell Hospital has noted multiple patients suffering from typhoid. In this clipping we see several members of the same family suffering from the illness.
When September comes to a close, an announcement has to be made in the newspaper to quell a rumor that Dr Campbell admitted patients suffering from the contagious disease of diphtheria. That particular disease now has a vaccination that is given to babies in the United State. Around the time of this rumor though, there was major concern across the country. Met Life had circulated millions of pamphlets with an appeal to parents to “Save your child from diphtheria.” A vaccine was developed in the next decade, and deaths began declining significantly in 1924.
Local personals detailing treatments for various ailments and afflictions continued on through January 1910. For a few months it was quiet and then in March, a new advertisement noted a new doctor on premises. A.G. Bowles, MD joined the staff as Assistant Surgeon.
In April, a second doctor, Dr A.M. Reid, would be added to staff.
Through June we see patient updates and advertisements (only noting Campbell and Bowles) and then Dr Campbell decides to run on the Republican ticket for the position of County Commissioner.
In August a kind woman of the community passed out literature to help the invalids while the time away.
In August, The Campbell Hospital expands its services to include treatment of alcohol and opium habits. I cannot help but wonder if his political and professional stands met at a crossroads?
By September the advertisements changed to reflect the new treatments available.
With their top of the line facilities and modern treatments offered, the hospital stayed busy, drawing patients from other states.
Dr Campbell continued campaigning through the fall.
This clipping appeals to me because I grew up in Carlisle and it makes me wonder who he tended to in this small community.
In addition to typhoid, another common procedure at Campbell Hospital seems to be amputation for a variety of reasons.
By early 1912, the advertisements had the names of surgeons removed and has been stripped down to the original photo (which has never changed over the years), the name of the hospital and the location.
Shuffling through all of the patient updates and the same repeated ad, I was stopped in my scrolling tracks by this clipping. The Campbell Hospital was destroyed in a massive fire thatt hit the business district. In three hours almost fifty buildings were burned, some like Campbell Hospital were totally lost.
I am not sure if the above ad means that the Campbell Hospital was housed at Wildwood, the former home of Alfred Beckley. If so, this is an image of his home.
I searched for images on WV History On View and found these images:
Business kept plodding along as we see patient updates, presumably from the Beckley Home.
Dr Campbell was determined to rebuild on the lot where the old hospital was destroyed.
Mrs. Campbell purchased additional properties to allow for expansion of the hospital being built.
By the end of August, construction had begun on the new hospital.
After almost a year of being displaced, the new hospital was finally ready to open.
LONG before the days of HIPAA privacy regulations, newspapers seemed to post the intimate details of every patient at the Campbell Hospital.
And the last clipping I can find that mentions Dr Campbell’s hospital is this one, dated Aug 30, 1917. I do not know what happened to the hospital proper, Dr Campbell’s obituary (above) lays out his life. Below there are throwback clippings that note the hospital closed in 1912. That would have been the time of the fire but leaves me wondering what happened to the new hospital that was built on the same ground where the burnt hospital once stood.
A look back on the 50th anniversary of the devastating fire that destroyed the Campbell Hospital.
A throwback photo the the original location of the Campbell Hospital
Of course my favorite history column by Shirley Donnelly would have a piece on the Beckley area hospitals!