Health Services: Hospitals, Doctors, Nurses

There were a variety of health services provided in Willimantic, not only for the townspeople but for those in surrounding communities. Official documents list only fully-licensed practitioners, but there were undoubtedly others who practiced medicine without a license - in fact, Google Ngram Viewer suggests that the use of that very phrase increased significantly from the 1890s on, as medicine increasingly defined itself as a profession with a monopoly on practice. To give a local example, the Report of the Connecticut State Board of Health lists the number of those who successfully passed, and failed, the various licensing exams.

It is also not clear how many other health professionals worked in the city while living elsewhere, and other doctors were available in the region. The Willimantic Chronicle, for example, printed ads for E.P. Brewer, M.D., an Eye-Ear-Nose-Throat specialist in Norwich.


In 1910 there were three hospitals (including the private practice of Dr. Hills) in Willimantic, two of which were privately owned:

  • St. Joseph's in Jackson Street
  • Dr. Louis Irving Mason
  • Dr. Laura H. Hills

A temporary isolation hospital opened briefly in 1912 during a smallpox outbreak, while a maternity hospital opened in 1918 on upper Jackson Street.

    Physicians and Surgeons

    The Connecticut State Register and Manual lists the licensed medical professionals in Willimantic in 1910. Presumably these doctors either worked at one of the hospitals or, more likely, worked in their own private practices. Home visits were also likely.

    There were sixteen physicians officially listed in Willimantic:

    • Chagnon, Joseph S. in 859 Main Street
    • Colgrove, C. H. in 227 Church Street
    • Egbert, J. Hobbart in 748 Main Street
    • Gallup, Isaac B. in 770 Main Street
    • Girard Charles H. in 33 Jackson Street
    • Girouard, Joseph A. in 19 Union Street
    • Hills, Laura H. (Also listed as a surgeon) in 17 North Street
    • Keating, William P. S. in 733 Main Street 
    • Mason, Louis in The Oaks
    • McGuinness, Daniel C. in 673 Main Street
    • O'Neill, Owen in 784 Main Street
    • Parker, Theodore T. in 736 Main Street
    • Rogers, Frederick in 700 Main Street
    • Simonds, Clarence E. in 727 Main Street
    • Weldon, John in 784 Main Street
    • White, Robert C. in 20 North Street
    • Wilcox, Frederick E. (5 to 10) 781 Main Street

    The Willimantic census provides additional information on the physicians living in town. According to the 'occupation' column, there were 18 individuals describing themselves as doctors living in 1910 Willimantic, though this depends on interpreting the term "m doctor," possibly 'medical doctor.' The 'workplace' column also provides us with additional information about the type of place they worked at, and suggests that four of these physicians were surgeons as well.

    Workplace m doctor physician physician & surgeon Grand Total
    city practice 1 1
    general practice 2 2
    general practitioner 1 1
    hospital 1 1
    private hospital 1 1
    specialist 1 1
    surgeon 4 4
    (blank) 2 4 6
    Grand Total 1 12 4 17

    Those listing their occupation as "physician" were all male, ranged in age between 26 and 69, and four were single. However, Willimantic also had a female physician and surgeon Laura Heath Hills, who listed her occupation as "MD" and in general practice. 


    Twenty nurses were also listed in the Register and Manual:

    • Alford, Alice M. in 196 Prospect Street
    • Barret, Lou E. in 100 High Street
    • Boden, Mrs. Hepsia C. in 20 Chestnut Street
    • Brown, Alma in 13 Bellevue Street
    • Clark, Leone G. in 232 Lewiston Avenue
    • Clark, Mrs. Orville B. in 448 Pleasant Street
    • Curran, Mary in 223 Jackson Street
    • Day, Fannie M. in 448 Pleasant Street
    • Filmore, Charles L. in 22 Pearl Street
    • Goldsteun, Clara L. in 132 Spring Street
    • Johnson, Mrs. Rose D. in 17 Clark Street
    • Keon, Mrs. Nellie in 61 South Park Street
    • Lennon, Mary M. in 123 Quarry Street
    • Lyman, Emma E. in 68 Maple Street
    • Lyon, Mrs. Carrie M. in 166 Prospect Street
    • McMullen, Mrs. Caroline in 74 Church Street
    • Moran, Catherine T. in 39 Brook Street
    • Pierce, Harriet J. in 17 North Street
    • Reiley, Cora A. in 175 Summit Street

    The census, however, has three times as many individuals describing themselves as nurses who lived in Willimantic in 1910, compared with the official (licensed) number above. Their workplaces also show the variety of working conditions for these individuals, some of whom might be equivalent to the modern home health-care aide:

    Workplace graduate nurse (R.N.) head nurse nurse nurse girl train nurse trained nurse Grand Total
    domestic 4 4
    general 6 6
    general practice 4 4
    hospital 21 21
    out 1 3 4
    outside work 1 1
    private 1 1
    private families 1 1
    private family 2 2 1 5
    private hospital 1 3 4
    state hospital 1 1
    trained 3 3
    training 1 1
    (blank) 2 1 3
    Grand Total 1 1 49 2 1 5 59

    The nurses were all female, 46 having never been married. The "nurse girls" were 15 and 16 years old, while the four "domestic nurses" were in their 50s and 60s. Overall, nurses living in Willimantic in 1910 ranged from 20 to 79 years old, and a dozen of them worked for individual patients.


    Willimantic also had one licensed midwife, Clara Goldstein, listed at 132 Spring Street. In a Willimantic Chronicle advertisement she styled herself "Madam Goldstein, Graduated Midwife." Given the nature of the practice, there were undoubtedly additional women who also served this role.

    Health Services
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