Early history of PCMH told at Historical Society
Pike County Historical Society met Jan. 14 at Pike County Memorial Hospital to hear the early history of the hospital researched and presented by local historian Betty Allen.
What is now known as Smith-Barr Manor was the original hospital and the site where it is located was known as Stark’s Grove.
Susanah Barr came from Pennsylvania to Louisiana with her parents in 1840. Four years later, her father died, leaving a widow and four small children. Susanah and her sister did sewing and later opened a very successful millinery shop. After her siblings died, Susanah inherited real estate with a value of $14,000. In 1903, she willed the property to a board of trustees to be used in building a hospital. She died in 1912. At the time that the fund was merged with the Smith gift, it totaled $27,000.
The other benefactor involved in establishing PCMH was Otis Smith who was born in Louisiana in 1866 and died in Michigan in 1923. He graduated from Louisiana High School in 1883 as valedictorian of a class of 16.
His lifelong interest in the manufacture of tobacco began at the Sam Reed Tobacco Co. in Louisiana, which is now the Sterne Mortuary building. When this company was sold to P. Lorillard Tobacco of New York, he went along to manage a plant.
He graduated from law school, but never practiced law and eventually became president of the George Helme Co. Smith contributed $100,000 to the hospital fund.
The trustees went to the county court in 1924 to propose a levy for maintenance of a hospital, but it failed. They tried again in 1926 with success and ground was broken in 1927.
The hospital was completed in 1928. Many local citizens donated to equipment, furnishings, etc. Architect George Barnett’s bill was $7,800. The first board of trustees was headed by C. G. Buffum, Sr. Dr. C. P. Lewellen was president of the staff and Laura Hornback, RN, was superintendent. Seems appropriate that in 2014 our modern hospital is also led by a woman, Lorraine Harness.
Residents are fortunate to have this excellent medical facility in the county. Allen commented that residents should appreciate the work done by those before us and the differences they made for us, and hope that those after us feel the same about us.
A tour of the hospital was held at 6 p.m. and was led by Paulette Powelson, RN. Attendees saw the physical therapy department, newly modernized outpatient surgery and the dialysis unit on the second floor. The society made a monetary donation to the dialysis unit in honor of Powelson.
President Paul Lewis called the meeting to order at 6:30 in the hospital cafeteria and the invocation was given by the Rev. Randall Cone. All enjoyed a roast beef dinner served by the dietary staff.
Secretary Marilyn Johnson read minutes of the October 2013 meeting and the treasurer’s report was given by Linda Harmon. A generous donation was received from Fred and Phyllis Wilkins of Blue Springs, Mo. in memory of his Pike County ancestors.
Louisiana Area Historical Museum President Martha Sue Smith reported on another successful Church Walk held in December and said Dorothy Webb will be arranging that event in 2014. Chuck Hoffman said Cade Waddell, recipient of the Louisiana Historic Preservation scholarship was attending South East Missouri State University and that paving stones are still available for the Louisiana riverfront.
The next meeting of the society will be Tuesday, April 8 in Louisiana with a program about Mesker buildings downtown.