Dixon Public Hospital

Katherine Shaw Bethea

Photo by Merikay Mestad


The Dixon public hospital dedicated on the first day of 1897, was the result of long planning on the part of the civic minded Dixionites. Stories about the proposed hospital had appeared all through the newspaper in 1896, as for instance the following account which was published along with this picture (Picture to poor to copy) of the proposed site.

"The building will be a substantial brick structure as such a building should be. More attention will be given to convenience and to sanitary appliances than to mere ornamentations. "The main building will be 34 x 50 feet with a western projection, not shown in the cut, 10 x 18. The sun bath room on the northeast corner is about 18 x 24 feet. The artist in his hurry forgot to insert a front door upon the porch, but the builder will see to it that patients will not have to climb through windows.

"The building which now occupies the front of the lot has been sold to Mr. J.B. Clears for $250, who will move it across the ravine and fit it up for a dwelling. "The old house was built and occupied by Wm. Uhl about 30 years ago and is quite a substantial frame structure, but unfitted for hospital uses. "The grounds will be laid out in a fine lawn with walks and driveway, and planted with shubery etc., giving to the surrounds a pleasant appearance.

(Separate Article - same page)


Dixon's first public hospital was opened for patients on New Years Day 1897, after being planned in 1895, and completed during 1896 at a cost of about $12,000 including furnishings. The first building was a two story brick structure erected on East 1st Street on grounds donated by Solomon H. Bethea in memory of his wife Katherine Shaw Bethea. The building was paid for by donations after being ordered at a meeting of the city council Nov. 1, 1895.

The ordance provided that nine women be chosen as a board of directors for the hospital. The first board chosen Nov 1, 1895 included Mary A. Noble, Sarah J. Brubaker, Louise B. Cumins, Elizabeth Shaw, Susan A. Smith, Delia L. Watson, Nellie McMartin, Kittie Finley and Annie Geisenhimer. The board concurring with the city council, named the new institution the "Katherine Shaw Bethea Memorial Hospital".

At the reception held Jan, 1897 attendence was estimated at 3,000 to 5,000 people. The facilities included a reception room, basement, head nurse's room, operating room, bathrooms, etherzing room, laboratory, two sun bath rooms, three kitchens, a dining room and eight private rooms with space for two beds each. The building was heated with hot water and equiped with electric lights.

The Dixon Evening Telegraph May 1, 1951

KSB General Hospital - "The Old & The New"

The best possible nursing care for the community is the aim of the Katherine Bethea Shaw Hospital Nurses Alumnae Association's 75 active members and 25 associate members. A preliminary organizational meeting of the KSBH nursed group was held on November 13, 1919, with Miss mary Schumm (Mrs. George Prescott) presiding, to define the association's object, "Progress of the Profession".

At the next meeting a week later 15 members were present and the following officers were elected: president, Mary Schumm; vice president, Barbara Fry; secretary, Neva Phelps; and treasurer, Bertha Haines. The KSBH Nurses Alumnae Association drew up its by-laws and extended invitations to all KSBH graduates to join. Graduates of other schools working in the vicinity were also invited to membership. Two charter members, Misses Phonse Murphy and Katherine Vaile are still enrolled.

The Florence Nightingale room at the hospital was furnished as an early project of the group and is still maintained by alumnae. In 1948, the association sponsored a banquet and celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the KSBH training school, and was honored by the presence of two former graduates, Miss Ruth McGinnis and Miss Betty Kennedy from California, as well as Mrs. Elinor Hoon Walker, the first nurse to be graduated from KSBH in 1901. Officers for 1950-51 are president, Irene Page; vice president, Miss Karla Fike; treasurer, Mrs. Joanne Mayes; recording secretary, MRs. Margaret Castle; and corresponding secretary, Miss Bessie Book.

Article from the 1951 Centennial Issue

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