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Health care for everyone in Hall County — a doctor's dream for 100 years
Johnny_Vardeman
Johnny Vardeman

Good News Clinics of Gainesville provides health and dental care for uninsured patients unable to afford it.

The clinic on Pine Street, however, isn’t unprecedented in Hall County. In the 1920s, a free clinic was offered by two physicians in the upstairs of City Hall. It was called the Charity Clinic operated by Dr. H.S. Titshaw and a Dr. Blackwelder. It boasted it had operating tables, gas anesthesia and other equipment similar to the Gray Clinic of Atlanta, which had quite a reputation at the time. The city cleared the whole upper floor of City Hall for the doctors.

The only charge for service was a token fee for medicine. The emphasis for the clinic at the time was on venereal diseases, which were a big problem in the area at the time.

Hall County at the time also had Downey Hospital operated by Dr. J.H. Downey.

The Charity Clinic’s goal was to provide free health care to anybody in Gainesville, a lofty objective, though the effort didn’t survive, apparently for lack of a steady source of financing.

Earlier clinic

Dr. A.J. Shaffer operated an infirmary in the 1870s in Gainesville for treatment of diseases of women and operative surgery. The infirmary was housed both in the Gainesville Hotel and Richmond Hotel.

Big deal monument

It was a big deal for Hall County when a monument dedicated to the county’s servicemen who fought in World War I was erected.

The campaign for such a monument began in 1922, four years after the end of the war, and originally would carry the names of the 32 from Hall County who died in service. The community decided to place the monument at the triangle between what is now Thompson Bridge Road and Ronnie Green Parkway/Green Street across from the Civic Center. That intersection in 1922 was known as Thompson Bridge Road/Clermont Road.

Mrs. W.D. Whelchel of the American Legion Auxiliary led the committee to raise money for the monument, which cost $2,500. She organized a committee that included representatives from every voting precinct in the county. The Auxiliary also held a picnic at the fairgrounds with special guests relatives of those killed in the war.

The triangle plot was donated for the purpose by W.A. Roper, a local real estate agent.

Twenty-nine names of the Hall County war dead are on the monument, though 32 were reported killed. Bronze plaques on the large boulder carry the names of all those who served. The monument was relocated to the American Legion Home at the end of Riverside Drive with the widening of Thompson Bridge Road.

Big on dedications

Gainesville used to be big on ceremonies. When the cornerstone for Oglesby Hall was laid at Brenau College in July 1919, there was a grand procession of Masons toting their various tools from the Masonic Lodge in downtown Gainesville, Various Masons made speeches, including Edgar B. Dunlap and Louis Wisdom, who served with Lt. Wilbur Oglesby in World War I. The building was dedicated to Lt. Oglesby who died in France during the war.

His father was Col. J.W. Oglesby, who had three other older sons serving in the military.

Mail call

When the Confederate States of America formed during the Civil War, it had to establish its own mail system separate from the federal system, of course.

Postage rates were a nickel for a half-ounce going fewer than 500 miles or double that for mail going more than 500 miles. Packages were double the letter rate.

Big district

When Ben H. Hill won the 9th District congressional seat in 1875, the district was much larger than it is today. In addition to those counties in the 9th District today, there were Clarke, Oconee, Gwinnett, Morgan, Madison and Franklin.

Last resort

White Sulphur Springs in east Hall County dated back to the 1840s. The health resort and hotel finally failed during the Depression of the 1930s, followed by a fire that destroyed the buildings. Sam. R. McCamy owned it during the 1870s, having bought it from A.R. Dearing and Ferdinand Phenizy for $5,000. Then it consisted of 350 acres and 32 hotel rooms. When McCamy died in 1876, the place was put up for public auction.

Watch for more local history in this column next Sunday.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville; 770-532-2326; johnny.peggy@gmail.com or vardeman1956@att.net.

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