John Foster Archbold undergoing emergency surgery at a Thomasville hospital in the early 1920s led to the establishment of John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital.
In attendance at the hospital with Archbold was his nurse, who wrote that she and Archbold, after returning to New York, “talked things over.” Archbold said he had received skilled attention at City Hospital, but realized the old hospital was “inadequate for a wonderful, growing community like Thomasville.”
At that time, the seed was planted for the new hospital, according to information provided by the Thomas County Historical Society Museum of History.
Archbold, whose family owed Chinquapin Plantation in Thomas County, loved Thomasville. He consulted with Thomasville friends, including a physician, and decided to build a new hospital in memory of his father, John Dustin Archbold.
Work on the new hospital got under way, and City Hospital patients were transferred to the Archbold facility on July 8, 1925.
Much earlier, in the mid-1800s, people who became ill expected to be treated at home by their physician, who cared for their family and household employees.
In his Ante-Bellum Thomas County, William Warren Rogers wrote that the first Thomasville hospital was founded in 1860, by Dr. R.J. Bruce, who advertised he would not charge people who could not pay.
According to Rogers’ book, Thomas County hospitals during the War Between the states were not hospitals, but a church and school building.
First Methodist Church, which then faced south and was located in the middle of Broad Street at Broad’s intersection with Clay Street, and Fletcher Institute, the town’s leading school, located on West Jackson Street at the present site of Harper Elementary School, were the next two structures used as hospitals.
In December 1864, War Between the States federal prisoners were moved to Thomasville from the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville. For two weeks, prisoners lived in an open stockade, building huge fires at night.
About 500 of the men died from smallpox and typhoid fever.
Many of the ill prisoners were transferred from the camp to the Methodist church, which was converted into a temporary hospital. Later, others were taken to the Fletcher Institute.
According to information provided by the Thomas County Historical Society Museum of History, the most comprehensive report on Thomasville Charity Hospital comes from a copy of hospital material placed in the cornerstone of John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital.
Cornerstone information shows Charity Hospital was the result of activity of a few of the community’s most prominent citizens. The institution was founded in 1898. Trustees bought a lot at the intersection of Monroe and Hardaway streets, where they built a four-room cottage to care for the sick.
The cottage, Thomasville Charity Hospital, is believed to be still standing, although it has been moved from Hardaway to Hansell and Monroe streets.
Dr. Thomas Murdoch McIntosh’s hospital — at the southwest corner of Remington Avenue and Madison Street — was the site of Thomasville’s first successful appendectomy.
The patient was B.F. Herring, who became sick at his home, and McIntosh was summoned. An appendectomy was in order immediately if Herring was to survive.
McIntosh had not observed an appendectomy, but he had studied reports on the surgery. He had performed the operation twice. Neither patient survived.
Neighbors were summoned to bring lamps. Women boiled water to sterilize instruments. The patient was placed on a packing crate under a large hanging oil lamp in the dining room of his home.
McIntosh proceeded with the surgery, his long, flowing beard divided in half and tucked into a cotton bag behind his back.
McIntosh did not sew up the patient after the surgery, but packed the wound with gauze, purportedly because he was not sure Herring would live. Three days later, the patient seemed to be getting along fine. McIntosh removed the packing to the accompaniment of screams from the patient that could be heard for blocks. The physician then sewed up the incision.
Herring lived well into his 90s and survived McIntosh by many years.
City Hospital was chartered in June 1903. Trustees raised enough money to buy a lot on Gordon Avenue between Hansell and Seixas (now Victoria Place) streets, and a hospital was built.
Later additions were made, largely through the generosity of winter residents. Money was contributed by others to add an up-to-date, well-equipped operating room in a separate structure.
The hospital continued to grow. Immediately after World War I ended in 1918, a campaign got under way to raise $25,000 to enlarge the hospital, add nurses quarters and renovated the property.
Some $12,000 was raised from Thomasville organizations and institutions. Mrs. John D. Archbold and Mrs. H. Melvin Hannah made contributions that totaled $13,000, and renovations were completed.
It was several years later that Mrs. Archbold’s son, John F. Archbold, underwent emergency surgery at the hospital and decided to build a new hospital for Thomasville in memory of his father.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier an be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.