Monday, May 25, 2009

Dr. Edward S. Stuart, Hospital Founder

How Jennie Stuart Memorial Hospital began

Edward Shanklin Stuart was born in 1828, near the Antioch Church in the northeastern part of Christian County, Kentucky. His father, Samuel Stuart, died at the young age of 33, leaving his mother, Elizabeth Shanklin Stuart, to raise little Edward who was only five and his brother William.

Early settlers

Edward's paternal grandparents, William and Janet Stuart, were early settlers in the Antioch community, arriving in 1806 from North Carolina. His maternal grandparents, Edward and Mary Shanklin, came from Shenadoah County, Virginia, at about the same time and settled in Todd County, east of present-day Fairview.

Mary Shanklin, was a midwife. It is noteworthy that, in 1808, she attended the birth of Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederacy, in a little cabin near the site of the present-day Jefferson Davis Memorial in Fairview.

Young Edward Stuart becomes a doctor

Perhaps his grandmother's work as a midwife sparked Edward's interest in medicine. In 1848, at the age of 20, Edward began a year of medical study under Dr. H. W. Darnell of Fairview. Then he attended the St. Louis Medical College for two years and graduated as a Medical Doctor.

Dr. Stuart returned to Christian County and set up practice in Crofton. A few years later, his mentor, Dr. Darnell, offered him a partnership, and Dr. Stuart accepted and moved back to Fairview.

Dr. Stuart's life in Fairview

1858 was a year of life changes for the doctor. Dr. Darnell retired, leaving Dr. Stuart to carry on the practice alone. And Dr. Stuart married a girl from Fairview, Miss Jane E. Vaughn, whom people called "Jennie".

Dr. Stuart and Miss Jennie had two children: May born in 1871 and Willie born in 1877 who died as an infant. (It is interesting that the Stuarts were married for 13 years before having children, but it is quite possible that there were miscarriages.) They also took a foster child, Sally Vaughn, into their home and raised her as their own.

William H. Perrin's History of Christian County, Kentucky, published in 1884, reports that Dr. Stuart owned about 900 acres of land in the Fairview area. It also notes that the doctor was well-respected as a medical practitioner and as a gentleman, that he was a Democrat who had steadfastly refused public office, and that he had been the high priest of the Masons in Fairview for fifteen years.

"Dr. Ed" and Miss Jennie enjoyed a marriage of over fifty years. In 1912, Miss Jennie fell in Hopkinsville while shopping and broke her hip. She was taken to the only nursing facility that Hopkinsville had at the time, an infirmary that a group of doctors had opened in an old house on the northwest corner of Fifth and Clay streets. She passed away there, about three weeks later.

The Jennie Stuart Memorial Hospital

After Miss Jennie's death, Dr. Stuart found around $25,000 that she had saved and hidden throughout their Fairview home. Dr. Stuart donated that money and additional funds to build a proper hospital in Hopkinsville. The brick building was constructed on West 17th Street by the Forbes Brothers and opened in 1914 as the Jennie Stuart Memorial Hospital. In addition to the funds he had already donated, Dr. Stuart willed his estate to the hospital.

The September 1, 1917, issue of the Kentucky Medical Journal included a few words about Dr. Stuart:
Dr E.S. Stuart, the venerable Fairview physician whose beneficience is responsible for Jennie Stuart Memorial hospital at Hopkinsville, on July 21st quietly celebrated his eighty ninth birthday today at his home. Dr Stuart is showing plainly the weight of his years but still enjoying good health and able to walk downtown in Fairview. The hospital which Dr Stuart has given Hopkinsville has proven to he one of the greatest gifts possible to suffering humanity. The splendid service it makes possible has been the mean of saving many lives.

The Jefferson Davis Memorial was built in Fairview just a block or two east of the doctor's home over a period of years beginning in 1917, and Dr. Stuart enjoyed watching its construction. This was the reason for many of his walks to downtown Fairview.

Dr. Stuart spent his last days in an apartment created for him at the Jennie Stuart Memorial Hospital and passed away there in 1922 at the age of 94. Today, Hopkinsville's Jennie Stuart Medical Center still honors the frugal Miss Jennie Stuart and the generous Dr. Edward Stuart in its name.

The Dr. Edward S. Stuart House

The Stuart house can still be seen in Fairview, KY. It is located about a block west of the Jefferson Davis Memorial on old Highway 68. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. If I am interpreting the Register correctly, the dates of construction were 1850 and 1870. The back part of the house, a story and a half, was built first. Notice the recessed entry.

It seems likely that someone else built the house, and Dr. Ed and Miss Jennie bought it sometime after their marriage in 1858. The two-story front section of the house was added in a second construction, probably by the Stuarts. The east end of the addition contains the halls and stairways and the west end contains the living areas. Heat was not needed in the passageways, so only the west end has a chimney.

- - - - - - - - - -
Read more on the web:
Todd County, KY, Family History Book, see page 294.
Who was Jennie Stuart?
Jennie Stuart Hospital

Related articles on Prairie Bluestem
Jefferson Davis Memorial Park photos
The Fairview School, built in the early 1900s


Anonymous said...

I remember the fine care my parents and other relatives received there, but had no idea where the name came from.
Tom Standard

Genevieve said...

Hi, Tom. I think we're fortunate to have Jennie Stuart hospital in Hopkinsville. We have quite a large medical community associated with it -- many specialists and even a cancer treatment center.

If you're not happy with Jennie Stuart, you can go to Madisonville, Paducah, or Nashville. Clarksville is building a new hospital as well.

When I think how far people in some rural areas have to travel for medical services like we have available here, I feel very fortunate.

John Ruberry said...

Amazing how you find history everywhere. Great post.

Genevieve said...

Thanks for stopping by, John. I enjoyed researching the life of Dr. Stuart. He was just a simple, country doctor, an old man a hundred years ago. But he continues to help Christian County citizens every day through the hospital he founded. That's inspiring.

Mark said...

I followed the link to look at the original hospital, and noticed the Carnegie Library building. It looks very similar to the Carnegie Library in Rome, Ga. I wonder if there was a standard design. I'll have to look at our old library building to make sure I'm remembering correctly.

Mark said...

With a little Googling I see that there was no single design for Carnegie's many libraries around the country. But Hopkinsville's looks very similar to Rome's, so maybe there was a set of designs. Based on the look of the downtown in the postcard photos, Hopkinsville appears to have been about the same size as Rome.

Mark said...

I was finally able to find an image of an old post card from Rome that had a not-too-great view of the library. It's good enough that I can tell it does not look like the Hopkinsville Library, but there are some distinct similarities.

Genevieve said...

Hi, Mark. At this site, I read that many of the Carnegie libraries had an exterior staircase that led upward to a prominent doorway to symbolize elevation through learning and a lamppost outside to symbolize enlightenment. A lot of the Carnegie libraries I've seen have pillars at the front entry. That "library look" might be what you're seeing, even if the buildings are different.

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