Dr. J. J. Jones Private Hospital in Wilmington

With advances in health care in the last few decades of the 19th century, demand for hospitals staffed for around-the-clock care by nursing professionals and equipped with clinical laboratories, surgical suites, and other modern appliances took place.  Wilmington progressed in this evolving national era of medicine when the Homeopathic Hospital opened on February 10, 1888, at Shallcross Avenue and Van Buren Streets.  Before that time, city physicians treated patients in their homes, and If they were gravely ill, they might send them by train or boat to hospitals in Philadelphia.

Dr. John L Jones
Dies as a Martyr to His Profession, Dr. John J. Jones. Source: News Journal, July 25, 1930

Delaware clinicians rapidly welcomed the success of this modern, scientific approach to medicine. Hence, more and more started admitting their patients to the hospital to receive professional nursing care when the attending doctor was not available.  Thus, with Homeopathic’s success, Wilmington practitioners, city leaders, and philanthropists opened a second, voluntary, nonprofit institution, the Delaware Hospital, in 1890. 

Also, Dr. John J Jones opened a proprietary (for-profit) institution for his patients.  Known as the “Dr. J. J. Jones Private Hospital,” it stared in 1896 at 1012 Delaware Avenue in Wilmington.  For his enterprise, Dr. Jones built a large building next to the New Century Club, which was being equipped with all the latest improvements the Morning News reportred on January 2, 1896.

Dr. Jones was born in South Wales on October 13, 1855, and he came to this country in 1858, settling in Wisconsin.  After graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore in 1897, the young caregiver briefly practiced in Frostburg, MD, before moving to Wilmington in 1893.  Here the clinician soon established himself as one of the leading medical providers in northern Delaware, and in 1896 he established his private hospital to attend to cases requiring around-the-clock care.

An advertisement in Polk’s Medical Directory in 1896 advertised Gynecological and Abdominal Surgery procedures at the facility, an entirely new building constructed after the most approved methods of modern sanitary science.  It was limited to twelve patients, and each patient had a room to herself with gas and electric lights and electric call bells. Trained nurses were in attendance day and night.

Dr. J. J. Jones' Private Hospital
Dr. J. J. Jones’ Private Hospital in Wilmington. Source: Polk’s Medical Register and Directory, from Google Books

As time went on, the hospital evolved, focusing on general medicine and surgery.  By 1912,  Dr. Jones’ hospital had 30 beds. According to the American Medical Directory, while he served as the physician in charge, his first assistant was Dr. Elizabeth Allison.   The College of America Surgeons and the American Medical Association put it on a list of approved, highly efficient center in 1928

One day in July 1930, Dr. Jones pricked his finger with a needle while operating on a patient, and blood poisoning set in.  After struggling for two weeks, he died at his hospital on July 24, 1930.  His son, Dr. Lawrence J Jones, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, continued the facility. 

The Wilmington hospital gave way to the war effort in Nov. 1943, its contents being sold at an auction.   Dr. L. Jones agreed to this as the War Housing Center, wanted to convert the treatment center into 19 apartments.  While the hospital was discontinued, Dr. Jones continued seeing patients in his office. 

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Georgetown On Guard for Halloween in 1918

Halloween fun postponed in Georgetown. News Journal, Oct. 30, 1918

The end of October, the occasion for ghosts and goblins, is usually a scary time in Sussex County as the day for a good old-fashioned Halloween frolic nears.  However, in 1918 people in Southern Delaware must have felt as if they had lived through an actual nightmare as they suffered through the Spanish influenza pandemic.  Having struggled through this dreadful reality for weeks, many people decided they were not up to the usual antics and scary tales.

Although the danger has eased by the last few days of October, the Board of Health in Georgetown decided to stay on guard.  Fearing that witches, clowns, goblins, ghouls, and hundreds of people congregating in the county seat would spread influenza, the Board of Health decided not to permit any celebration in the county seat on Oct. 30.

Following that decision, public health officials posted notices that the Halloween observance would be held on Friday night, Nov. 8.  By that time, all danger of the spread of the disease would be over, and conditions in some of the other villages and towns in Sussex County would be improved enough for them to join Georgetown in the observation it was believed.

When the delayed celebration took place, one of the largest crowds that had ever attended a Halloween celebration in town thronged the streets.  It was estimated that more than 500 people from the neighboring towns were there and Market Street from Race to Railroad Avenue were “a surging mass of humanity,” the Morning News reported on Nov. 12, 1918

Hallowe’en greeting, 1925. A postcard from Historic New England via the Digital Commonwealth https://bit.ly/37LVEXL
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Delmarva Spanish Flu Archive

As the nation struggles with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we have been doing research on the impact of the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918 on Delmarva. As we research what events in Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia over 102 years ago, we have created an archive related to the 1918 Pandemic on Delmarva.

Click here to visit the Delmarva Spanish Flu Archive

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Wilmington Had the “Halloween Flu” in 1918

The end of October was usually a scary time in Wilmington as Halloween, with all its frolic, grinning jack-o-lanterns and mystic spirits, rolled around.  But with the city living through an actual nightmare, the Spanish Influenza, the city police department banned public celebrations and general public revelry.

As Chief George Black announced the order, the News Journal remarked that the “Halloween Flu” had hit the city.  Despite the order, bands of young people in costume appeared on Market Street but quickly found that the police were not joking when they ordered all false faces to come off and advised the clowns and other “fantastics” to go home.  Confetti and ticklers were also suppressed as soon as they put in an appearance, and the patrolmen quickly put the quiet on any undue noise and carnival frolicking, killing off the Halloween spirit.

This left many young people wishing the “happy days” were back when Wilmington used to have big Halloween parades with bands and decorated fire apparatus and all the fixing, according to the newspaper.  With the police ban in place, the reporter suggested that people might as well put those masquerade suits away in camphor and save them until next year.

Indeed, when Halloween rolled around in 1918, it was a far different sight from that of past years, when throngs of merrymakers and some mischief types failed the streets, gaily masked in every conceivable costume.

Halloween Greetings, a postcard from early in the 20th century (Source Historic New England, https://bit.ly/2FkAkgj)

Spanish Influenza on Delmarva

For more on the Spanish Influenza of 1918 in the region, see the Delmarva Spanish Flu Archive

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New Castle County Ambulance

AN AMBULANCE FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY IN 1916 — If someone needed an ambulance outside the City before 1916, word had to be telephoned to the Phoenix Fire Company in Wilmington. But constant calls to the New Castle County Hospital and requests for service throughout rural New Castle County, caused the Phoenix Fire Company to report that they couldn’t take care of both the needs of Wilmington and the county.

Thus, the Trustees of the Poor purchased an eight-cylinder Cadillac ambulance. The Harris Engine Company provided the chassis and the Hoover Works of York, PA made the vehicle body. The New Castle County Hospital Ambulance went in service around December 5, 1916. Delaware City’s Hobron Collins served as the chauffeur for the unit stationed at Farnhurst..

The New Castle County Almshouse at Farnhurst, completed in 1884, had changed the name of the institution to the New Castle County Hospital in 1889.

New Castle County Ambulance

The New Castle County Ambulance

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Daughters of the American Revolution Presents Newark With an Ambulance

NEWARK — DAR PRESENTS AMBULANCE TO COLLEGE — Newark’s first ambulance, a gift from the Daughters of the American Revolution to the Delaware College, went in service on October 4, 1917.

Manufactured by the White Ambulance Company, it was the same type used by the government and the Red Cross. Students from the College served as attendants day and night and they received training from Dr. Steel, and Miss Beck, who was in charge of the College infirmary. Should the government happen to need the truck for war duty, the College agreed to hand it over.

The first week, the college ambulance corps answered two calls. The first was when Miss Emille Pennington, a teacher at the Newark Public School, was taken to the Delaware Hospital to undergo an operation. A few days later the corps transported Mrs. Elkton Adams to the Homeopathic Hospital in Wilmington. The chauffeur on that run was K. R. Bowen, while H. C. Cleaver served as the attendant.

Newark Ambjulance

DAR gifts ambulance to Newark

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Harford County Lynching Memorial Committee Launches Blog

The Harford County Lynching Memorial Committee had prepared to hold a remembrance and soil collection event at the end of March , but the the pandemic disrupted outreach plans. And with community engagement put on hold for an undetermined period, the committee decided to launch a blog as a way to keep people informed about its research, plans and activities.

The committee was established in March 2019. The purpose of this group is to memorialize the victims of this difficult era in the County.

Here’s the link to the new weblog. https://harcomlmp.blogspot.com/

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Wilmington Needed Ambulances When the Spanish Influenza Struck

As the City of Wilmington marshaled its resources for the deadly struggle to alleviate suffering during the pandemic of 1918, branches of local government rendered unwavering service combating the so-called Spanish Influenza.  One of the most challenged governmental operations, the ambulances, toiled under great strain. The division’s never-ending, tough work made even tougher by unprecedented “heart-breaking calls” left the crews reeling.

The City of Wilmington started contracting with the Phoenix Fire Company in 1877 to operate the emergency transport system.  Forty-one years later as the calendar turned to a tragic year, 1918, the Phoenix Ambulances struggled with a heavy workload, the City’s booming industries pushing everything to the limit to meet war demand.  Then once autumn arrived the virus crept into the City as doctors started reporting cases of a mysterious infection.  Some of these were so severe that they needed hospitalization.1

Toward the end of September, a handful of emergency calls turned into an unimaginable influx.  Around the hospital at Ninth Street and Delaware Avenue, the ambulance gong clanged continuously night and day, the units hardly able to carry all the sick.  Consequently, people started pressing their automobiles into service, their mission being indicated by Red Cross flags, as they brought “men wrapped up in blankets to the hospital.”

The calls surpassed what the City could handle so a plea to help the overburdened system went out on October 5, asking for assistance to increase medical transportation capacity.

The article continues on Mike’s History blog

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Wilmington Nurses Paid a Heavy Price Fighting the Pandemic of 1918

When the Spanish Influenza hit Delaware in 1918, the surge devastated Wilmington and overwhelmed city hospitals. With sickness everywhere that October, doctors and ambulances could not keep up.  Gongs rang continuously on the streets day and night as the emergency vehicles rushed the most critical cases to Homeopathic, Delaware, and Physicians’ and Surgeons’ hospitals.  This never-ending stream of sufferers quickly overloaded the City’s healthcare system.

Once the sickest arrived at the hospital, the medical providers on the frontline of caring for the stricken, the nurses, faced grim danger grappling with the invisible virus.  The war had already thinned their ranks, but now on the homefront, they battled an added enemy. Nevertheless, the exhausted professionals struggled around-the-clock in chaotic, unpredictable conditions, under extreme pressure once the surge walloped Wilmington.  All they could offer was palliative care and the little relief that the pharmaceuticals and therapies of the age might provide while realizing they too could become infected, no matter how careful they were.

A Plea to Help the Nurses

The first plea for help came from Dr. Robert E. Ellegood, president of the Wilmington Board of Health.  In this deteriorating situation, the City urgently needed nurses to care for the mounting caseload, he reported as the first two deadly weeks of October got painfully underway.  Anyone who could help in any conceivable way – trained or not — would be “a godsend by giving some exhausted nurse a chance to take a little rest.”

The article continues on Mike’s History Blog

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Delaware Women Serve on Juries After Registering to Vote

Although women gained the right to vote in 1920, they had to push for equal rights when it came to jury duty. The new voting privilege did not automatically allow them to sit on juries or hold office in many places.  Here is the way the New York Times explained the matter: “Merely because she may help decide who shall be elected sheriff, court clerk, mayor or president it does not follow that she may also decide who is guilty of murder, arson, or wife-beating.” 1.

The ladies were too delicate and too much needed in the home to be subjected to the unseemly business of the court, many argued.  After listening to shocking testimony, they would then have to discuss it with strange men behind closed doors, opponents noted.  Anti-suffragists asserted similar arguments during the long struggle for the franchise, raising the specter of women serving on juries as one of the many reasons for opposing votes for women.

A Wilmington newspaper sketched out the entitlements that came with the vote:  “Not only may women of Delaware be summoned for jury duty and be eligible for office holding in the event of ratification of the suffrage amendment is sustained, but they may be admitted to practice law at the bar of the state, the Evening Journal reported

Article Continues on Mike’s History Blog

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