charles m. meacham



In 1920 roads throughout this section of the country were primitive, the reservation site being almost inaccessible at certain seasons except by horseback. When construction gangs began to arrive, army wagons and trucks loaded with lumber and supplies had to be driven over trails, through swamps and over rocky ledges. Wagon mules had either to go without water or to drink from stagnant pools while, if drinking water for the men failed, the situation really became serious. Wagon trains progressed, despite the indignant protestations of copperheads along the winding, uncertain paths.

A modern city has been built at this place, with fire-proof buildings containing the latest equipment and mechanical devices, concrete roads and walks, sewage system with septic tank and filter beds, water pumping station, with water rectifying plant, a 200,000 gallon reservoir and a 100,-000 gallon tank with a 100 foot tower. There is a refrigerating plant, gas system, fire protection, street lights, telephone system, incinerator, and a modern power house with four of the largest boilers used by the government. There is a macadam roadway from Dawson Springs, three and one-half miles, a network of ditches, materials, men, mules, wagon and trucks.
The electric current comes from Earlington, 16 miles away, and a line has been built “over the hills and through the woods” for this distance, Five wells have been sunk.
The following was written October 7, 1922:

“The idea of establishing a hospital for disabled veterans of the World War at Dawson Springs, Kentucky, was first conceived shortly after the close of the war by Mr. Theodore R. Troendle, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Representative D. H. Kincheloe. An appropriation for $1,500,000 for this purpose was secured by Act of Congress under date of March 3, 1919, providing that this amount should be expended on a sanitorium of 500 beds on land to be acquired by gift. The land was acquired by purchase from various citizens of Christian, Hopkins, and Caidwell Counties, Kentucky. The money for this purchase was raised by popular subscription to the amount of $60,000. The remaining $40,000 to purchase the 5,000 acres of land was appropriated by the legislature of the state of Kentucky.

In August, 1920, the work was started by contractors on the present site. It soon became evident in order to complete the hospital in accordance with original plans, an additional appropriation would be necessary, although the original $1,500,000 was augmented by immense quantities of salvaged material from the various army camps, especially Camp Johnston, at Jacksonville, Florida. An additional appropriation was therefore requested in the amount of $750,000, which was granted by Congress. New contracts were let July 1, 1921, and the work was rushed to completion. The buildings were finally completed in February, 1922.

Under date of February, 1922, the hospital was formally dedicated. Memorable ceremonies signified this event. The entire legislature of the State of Kentucky, the Governor and his staff, together with Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Edward Clifford, Representatives Langley and Kincheloe, Dr. S. M. Rinehart, of the Veterans’ Bureau, Colonel James Mattison, of the National Military Homes, Mr. Emmett O’Neal, State Commander of the American Legion, Miss Florence Waite of the Red Cross, Mr. William Lynch and Roy Scott of the city government of Dawson Springs, and many other national government officials and officials of the state of Kentucky and various veterans’ organizations were present. It is estimated that more than 12,000 persons were present at the ceremonies. The buildings were dedicated, but at that time the hospital was not ready for opening. Due to the fact that equipment had to be installed in the buildings and a rectification plant for the treatment of the water had to be erected, the hospital was not opened until April 24, 1922.

The first patient received at the hospital was Miss Grace Patterson, a disabled nurse.
The hospital consists of 28 buildings of permanent construction. The total appropriations consisted of $2,250,000 for the erection of the buildings and installation of equipment. The land upon which the hospital is built cost $100,000. Since these amounts were expended, the government has continued to expend various amounts on equipment and on the maintenance and operation of the hospital, so that to October 7, 1922, the total amount spent by the United States in the building and operation of the Dawson Springs hospital was $2,730,481.38.
In completing this plant, a modern city was built, with fire proof buildings and complete equipment and mechanical devices. The roads leading from Dawson Springs and from the railroad spur were constructed. Streets, street lights, telephone system, refrigerating plants, gas system, and modern power house were constructed. A steel bridge and trestle were built over the Tradewater River; in a word a complete plant was built from the ground up.
It is now equipped to handle approximately 500 patients. At the present time the patient population is 300. The hospital specializes in the treatment of tuberculosis and does not attempt to handle any other class of cases.

Compiled by the Dawson Springs Commercial Club, 1924


The United States Veterans’ Hospital Number Seventy-nine is located three and one-half miles south of Dawson Springs, Ky., on the road leading from Dawson Springs to Hopkinsville. The hospital proper occupies a site within a densely wooded area at an altitude of 635 feet. While the reservation proper comprises more than five thousand acres, only about twenty-five acres are used for buildings and grounds. Ground was broken early in 1921 and much excavating and filling was necessary, as the ground upon which the hospital is now located was broken by deep gullies and it was necessary to excavate and fill these gullies to properly locate the buildings.
At present, the hospital comprises 27 buildings, including Administrative Building, Junior and Senior Officers’ Quarters, Nurses’ Home, Infirmaries, Ambulance and Receiving Ward, Mess Hall, Recreation Building, Chapel, Power Plant, Laundry and Attendants’ Quarters. The erection of four additional Officers’ Quarters and the Personnel Recreation Building has just been completed.

The construction cost of the present hospital was approximately $2,-250,000.00. This money was spent in the erection of the buildings, grading of the grounds, road building and the mechanical equipment. The reservation surrounding the hospital was in a measure donated by philanthropic citizens, and practically the only cost to the Government in the erection of the hospital was the buildings and mechanical equipment. This hospital is the last word in hospital construction. It has been pronounced by experts as the best hospital maintained by the United States Veterans’ Bureau. The operating expenses run about $45,000.00 per month. Approximately 45 per cent of this sum is absorbed in salary. Fuel consumption per day is about ‘six tons of coal in summer to sixteen tons in winter. This coal is purchased locally and hauled by hOrses and wagons a distance of five miles from the mine to the power plant. The electric current used in the hospital is purchased from the Kentucky Utilities Company, and is furnished through a power line from Earlington, a distance of eighteen miles. The average consumption of electric current is about 23,000 kilowatts per month. The water used in the hospital is supplied by six wells, having a depth of from 250 to 500 feet. The water is pumped from these wells through a purifying plant to a 100,000 gallon tank. All buildings are constructed of hollow tile with concrete basements and floors, finished on the outside with stucco and are all practically fire-proof; the laundry, infirmary buildings and mess hall are equipped with automatic elevators.


Major F. H. McKeon, temporarily C. 0. at Dedication.
Dr. H. E. Whitledge, January, 1922, to April 24, 1922.
Dr. John C. Cornell, April 24, 1922, to June 15, 1922.
Dr. H. E. Whitledge, June 16, 1922, to September 30, 1922.
Dr. 0. S. Deathridge, October 29, 1922, to November 11, 1923.
Dr. H. C. Von Dahm, December 1, 1923, to July 15, 1925.
Dr. H. E. Whitledge, July 16, 1925, to present date.


Miss Brooks, at dedication, February, 1922.
Miss Barbara Hunter, April, 1922, to June 1, 1922.
Miss Emma 0. Sedahi, June 1, 1922, to August 31, 1925.
Miss Evelyn J. Davis, September 16, 1925, to April 30, 1926.
Miss Emma 0. Sedahl, May 1, 1926, to December 21, 1927.
Miss Ethel D. Houston, March 1, 1928, to April 30, 1929.

Miss Florence H. Yeiter, May 1, 1929, to June 18, 1929 (deceased).
Mrs. Emma L. Goddard, July 1, 1929, to present date.


Located on the post is a United States Government Post Office named Outwood, Ky. Mr. M. M. Noel is postmaster.


There is a store, run by Mr. John Sullivan, at which may be bought articles of all description, connected with this is a barber shop, clothes pressing establishment and shoe shining parlor.


The Reconstruction Department was formerly composed of the Federal Board for Vocational Education, Occupational Therapy Department, and Physiotherapy Department.
Mr. Oscar C. Campbell was director for the Federal Board for Vocational Education.
In October, 1922, the three departments were united with Miss Edna Duggan as occupational director in charge.

Miss Dorothy D. Rouse replaced the former chief occupational therapy aide in December, 1922, and is filling that position at the present time of writing.

Miss Mary F. Garnett was made head instructor of the Educational Department in February, 1923, and in addition to this work, in October, 1928, she was promoted to assistant chief aide of Occupational Therapy Department. She is also secretary of local board of U. S. Civil Service

In 1928, Mr. Michael Martin was made head aide and placed in charge of the Physiotherapy Dr partment, which administers physiotherapy in its several branches—massage electrotherapy, actinotherapy, hydrotherapy, mechanotherapy, thermotherapy; active, passive, resistive and assistive exercises, and remedial gymnastics.

In the Occupational Therapy Craft Shop, as well as at the patients’ bedside, the craft aides instruct the patients who have been prescribed this work by their ward surgeons, in stenciling, designing, carving, toy making, whittling, jigsaw, jewelry, modeling, weaving, rug-making, knitting, beading, block printing, pottery, leather carving, leather tooling, and basketry. The craft aides are: Miss Viola M. Butts, Mrs. Mattie de Mey, Mrs. Bertha Gerteisen and Mrs. Martha J. Harlow, assisted by Mr. Albert Boyd, 0. T. Orderly, and Mr. Desse Glover, 0. T. attendant.
In the 0. T. School, and at the bedside, the patients have the opportunity of studying, if their ward surgeon so prescribes any mental work.

Miss Mary F. Garnett teaches academic subjects and Miss Jennie D. Carter teaches commercial, agricultural and floricultural subjects. A modern greenhouse and flower garden may be used by her in her floricultural work as well as a large poultry farm, which is under the supervision of Miss Dorothy D. Rouse and which furnishes fresh eggs and chickens for the patients, besides being another form of occupational therapy.


One entire building is occupied by the Dietetic Department. On the first floor of this building is located the main kitchen and the dining rooms which accommodate an average of 250 members of the personnel and patient body; in the basement of the building are the bakery, butcher shop, three large refrigeration rooms and a storeroom for subsistence supplies. In addition to the main kitchen and dining rooms there are two smaller kitchens, four diet kitchens, and four smaller dining rooms which are located in four of the ward buildings.

The entire department is under the supervision of a chief dietitian. She has a head dietitian and two staff dietitians to assist her. There are fifty-two other employes which include the chef, cooks, baker, butcher, waiters, dishwashers and kitchen helpers.

This department feeds an average of 500 people each meal, which includes about 350 patients. It is the aim of this department to purchase the very best foods obtainable and great effort is made to see that the same is properly prepared and served. The same menu is served to all members of the personnel and most of the patients. Exceptions are made where the patient requires a special diet which is ordered by his ward surgeon and supervised by the dietitians, one of whom is on duty on each of the infirmary wards.


Another important unit of this hospital is the excellent circulating library maintained by the Veterans’ Bureau for the benefit of the patients. The therapeutic agency of library service as a necessary and influential branch of hospitalization has become firmly established. This work requires ready sympathy, tact and understanding; a will to please and the sincere desire to be of service, supplemented by a knowledge of library science and practice.

The library here originally consisted of a few hundred books which were kept in locked cases and doled out to readers by promiscuous volunteer help.

Then in September, 1922, Miss Edwina Sue Goree arrived to organize and establish a real library founded on systematic and recognized library economy. This she very efficiently did and in January, 1923, the library opened in its present quarters in the Recreation Building, with a nucleus  of twelve hundred books. A trained librarian or an assistant have been in charge of the work from that time forward. Though the position of librarian has been intermittently filled, the work has been so urgent, and the demand so great that it has been little retarded but ever progressed on the wave of its own necessity.

A well rounded selection of books is maintained. Fiction, travel, biography and poetry are stressed as recreational reading. Some few texts on various subjects are to be found on the shelves, as well as a fairly good collection of histories and reference works. New titles in each class are added several times each year. A choice list of excellent periodicals and newspapers is carried.

A regular schedule of book-delivery to each of the infirmary wards is made twice each week by means of a small book-wagon. This is filled with carefully selected books, directly related to the previously ascertained desires and tastes of each reader on the immediate ward to be visited. So, though confined to his ward or bed, each reader is given the opportunity to have just such reading matter as he may desire. Ambulance patients come to the library to read, or make their book selections direct from the library shelves.

At the present writing—six years following the inception of the library proper—the number of active volumes is 3,650, with a highly commendable turnover in circulation of 27,000 volumes in the year just past and ending July 1, 1929.

The various incumbents of the position of librarian in the six years of its existence have been as follows:

Miss Edwina S. Goree, as organizer, whose length of service was eight months; ‘Miss Ruth King, two months; Miss Harriet Bosworth, six months; Miss Margaret Wahl, one year, two months; Miss Corinne Kittleson, three months; Mrs. Menger, one month; Miss Henrietta Wheeler, one day; Mrs. Kate M. McQuigg, eight months, and Miss Elva R. Cram, present librarian, who has now filled the position two years.

The assistants have been, successively: Miss Helen Parsons, Miss Grace McReynolds, Miss Jackson, Miss Moselle Dinsmore, Miss Jessie Dame, and Miss Jennie West, present.


When the hospital first opened, the following welfare organizations were represented on this post:

American Red Cross.
Y. M. C. A., Mr. Ralph C. Watson, secretary.
Knights of Columbus, Mr. John Sullivan, and Catholic Chaplain.
Protestant Chaplains, Baptist and Methodist.

At present date we have only:
American Red Cross—Mrs. Alice L. Dulin, Mrs. Lucy Lee Netherton.

Catholic Chaplain—Rev. James O’Hara.
Protestant Chaplain—Rev. W. C. Brandon.
Protestant chaplains who have worked at the hospital:


The Rev. W. C. Brandon became chaplain when the hospital opened in April, 1922, and served for five and a half years. He was away about a year and returned in January, 1929, and is still here. While he was absent, the Rev. B. F. Copas served as chaplain in connection with his pastorate of the Methodist Church at Dawson Springs.


The Rev. Hawkins came here as chaplain June, 1922, and remained until November of that year and then Rev. 0. L. Weir became chaplain and served four years and two months. After he left, the Rev. Gass served about 18 months, giving only part of his time here. At present the Rev. L. J. Covington, pastor of the Baptist Church at Dawson Springs, is giving a part of his time to the work here as chaplain.
The Methodist and Baptist denominations have had chaplains here all the time.


Dr. H. E. Whitledge Medical Officer in Charge
Dr. Botton S. Compton Clinical Director
Mr. Joseph G. Kavanagh Business Manager
Dr. William L. Carman Medical Officer
Dr. Wm. S. Donehoo Medical Officer
Dr. W. J. Kesterson Medical Officer
Dr. L. E. Nichols Medical Officer
Dr. Frank M. Gaines Medical Officer
Dr. George A. Stock Medical Officer
Dr. Thomas A. Wayland Medical Officer
Dr. Victor H. Bean Medical Officer
Dr. Walter B. Rile Medical Officer
Dr. Roy H. Baker Chief, Dental Clinic
Miss Esther M. Smith Dental Mechanic
Mrs. Martha L. Hendrix Auditor-Cost Accountant
Mrs. Eura W. Wilson Bookkeeper
Mr. William S. Hanley Personnel Officer
Miss Jessie V. Dame Procurement Clerk
Mrs. John W. Sullivan Stenographer
Mr. Thomas Alexander Property Custodian
Mr. Edward J. Corcoran Special Disbursing Agent
Mr. Albert Adams Property Accounts Clerk
Mrs. Hester Terrell Typist
Mr. Alfred A. Carneal Chief Engineer
Miss Kate Bosma Stenographer
Miss Kellye Clark Typist
Miss Aileen A. Davis Typist
Miss Kathryn L. Daily Clinical Clerk
Miss May Chappel Typist
Miss Thula Morris Stenographer
Mrs. Emma L. Goddard Chief Nurse
Miss Gertrude Hasenjalger Head Nurse
Mrs. Ellen D. Bryan Head Nurse
Miss Martha A. Hill Head Nurse
Miss Matilda Leuth Head Nurse
Miss Mary L. Aihorn Staff Nurse
Miss Freda H. Bennett Staff Nurse
Miss Ada E. Bond Staff Nurse
Miss Marie O’Hara Branham Staff Nurse
Mrs. Emma W. Brown Staff Nurse
Miss Rebecca L. Carlton Staff Nurse
Miss Rubye A. Dotson Staff Nurse
Miss Mattie Frank Staff Nurse
Miss Mary E. Gano Staff Nurse
Miss Mable D. Gohlston Staff Nurse
Miss Emma E. Jones Staff Nurse
Miss Margaret G. Kelley Staff Nurse
Miss Lillian Mahin Staff Nurse
Miss Elsie Matson Staff Nurse
Miss Eva S. May Staff Nurse
Mrs. Mary A. Mills Staff Nurse
Miss Ada A. Poulsen Staff Nurse
Miss Ella Rogstad Staff Nurse
Miss Dorothy F. Smith Staff Nurse
Miss Lillie Soli Staff Nurse
Miss Lucille E. Theobald Staff Nurse
Miss Ruth White Staff Nurse
Mrs. Sallye T. Whitmarsh Staff Nurse
Miss Sarah S. Williams Staff Nurse
Miss Sarah G. Wiseman Staff Nurse
Miss Dora E. Wood Staff Nurse
Miss Margaret E. Speerstra Chief Dietitian
Miss Cleo G. Norman Head Dietitian
Miss Lura A. Cowan Staff Dietitian
Miss Dorothy D. Rouse Chief Aide, 0. T.
Miss Mary F. Garnett Asst. Chief Aide, 0. T.
Michael Martin Head Aide, P. T.
Miss Viola Butts Staff Aide, 0. T.

Miss Jennie D. Carter Staff Aide, 0. T.
Mrs. Mattie W. deMey Staff Aide, 0. T.
Mrs. Bertha B. Gerteisen Staff Aide, 0. T.
Mrs. Martha J. Harlow Staff Aide, 0. T.
Mr. Haydn H. DeFrees Reconstruction Asst.
Miss Elva R. Cram Librarian
Miss Jennie West Library Clerk
Mr. John B. Robinson Pharmacist
Mr. Raymond F. Dixon Laboratorian-Bacteriology
Mr. Samuel C. Hemmings Laboratorian-Roentgenology
Mr. Wallace Warren Head Attendant
Mr. Lee G. Linder Chef
Mrs. Anna Lindsay Head Waitress
Mr. Dallas Jackson Labor Foreman
Mr. Lonnie J. Parsons Garage Foreman
Robert F. Elder Supt. of Laundry
Mr. Daniel Q. Gould Engineer in Charge of Power Plant
Mr. Preston Lamb Electrician
Mr. Leonard W. Hancock Plumber
Mr. Robert L. St. John Carpenter
Mr. Walter B. Rice General Storekeeper
Mr. William S. Cox, Jr Subsistence Storekeeper
Mrs. Alice L. Dulin Red Cross Director
Mrs. Lucy Lee Netherton Red Cross Worker
Rev. W. C. Brandon Protestant Chaplain
Rev. James O’Hara Catholic Chaplain
Mr. M. M. Noel Postmaster
Mr. John Sullivan Manager of Veterans’ Supply Store

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