Historical Marker Placed at Former Hospital

A historical marker has been placed at the former location of the Marion Dunn Hospital, detailing the history of Arnold’s two hospitals dating back to 1912. A project of Arnold Rotary, Berni Crow is in charge of compiling the information for the signs. The hospital marker reads as follows:

Arnold’s First Hospital – 1921 Marion Dunn Hospital – 1930-1958 Mrs. John (Altena) Shaw opened Arnold’s first hospital in her home in 1921, after being urged to do so by Dr.’s Burnhnam and Dunn. (She had purchased the home from Sylvester Tubbs, who hired George Morrow and Tom Backes to build the house in 1909.) A hospital facility was badly needed at that time, because operations were being performed on kitchen tables in the homes of patients. Shaw’s large two story house was considered the roomiest house in Arnold. It was located five blocks north of the Finch Drug Store (present Gene Tullis home). Altena’s house had a second story veranda along the east side where convalescing patients enjoyed the morning sun (The second story was removed when Clark Lewis owned the home.) Tubb’s daughter recalled, in a 1971 writing, “After we moved in the new house (1909), Earl Gregory’s twins were born in an upstairs room, and five days later, Mr. C. C. Brummett’s daughter, Florence, was born across the hall.” The Sentinel reported that in 1923, during one week, four operations were performed. A cesarean was performed in 1924 when Mr. and Mrs. Will Scott, of Yucca Valley, became the parents of son Franklin (father of Frank, Peg, Pat, and Bonnie Scott). It is believed that this was the first operation of its kind in this part of the country. Others that helped Altena Shaw operate the hospital included: Mrs. George (Myrtle Magnusson) Babcock, Vida Reckmeyer and Mrs. Mary Tryon. Mary had come to Arnold in 1921 with four children, Jay, John, Robert, and Susan Mary, to work at the hospital. Mrs. Tryon was left in charge of the hospital when the Shaws moved away. Tryon was assisted by Crystal Spratt (Will), Burnetha Bryan (Holt), and Emma Gion (Beltz-Mills). The need for a larger facility was apparent. ~The cornerstone for the new brick hospital was laid a year before it was built. It contained a box of letters and a history of events leading up to the completion of the new hospital.~ The Marion Dunn Hospital was built by J. E. Dunn, and was ready for use by March of 1930. Dunn named the hospital for his daughter Marion. ~After the move was completed to the new hospital, the “first” hospital was quickly occupied by Mr. and Mrs. George Troyer, who rented out “light housekeeping rooms.”~ Mrs. Tryon continued as nurse and manager in the new hospital 1921- 1951. Mary Tryon had seen so many changes over those 30 years and her first years were in the day when babies were born at home. She wrote, “When we went on a baby call, the whole family was present. While the doctor waited for the baby, grandpa would bring out his guns and swap lies about hunting and fishing. Other places, someone would bring an old fiddle and there would be music to while away the time. Grandma would make coffee and have lots to eat. It was just fun, an enjoyable time.” Unfortunately, during the 1950s, the entire community found itself split by a furious doctor-hospital controversy that raged for almost a decade, ending with the loss of both the doctors and the hospital. The first problems had begun in 1945, and Mary Tryon had closed the hospital for a year. It reopened under new management, but closed again in 1949. (Years later, Mo Sanford found a scrapbook in a box he had purchased at an auction. He had copies made of the scrapbook containing news articles about the “Dr. Wars” that had been put together by Mrs. Quin Connelly.) By 1951, arrangements had been made to offer the Marion Dunn Hospital for sale to the public. Mary Tryon was able to purchase it for $10,000, which ended her thirty years of hospital work in Arnold. Hospital administrators changed frequently during its last few years; they included Martha Hardin, John and Lily Troyer, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ryba, Ruth Steele, Gladys Ellis, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Silen, Mrs. R. R. Brown, and Mrs. Jim (Lila) Leonard. Doctors who had worked in the new hospital include: Reeves, McShane, Potts, and Scheuneman. The hospital board consisting of Margaret Aydelotte, Bill Hagler, Elmer Geiser, R. R. Brown, and Dessie McIsaac had refused to allow a controversial doctor a place on the hospital staff, for alleged narcotics handling. A public meeting was held with 800 people attending, including The Omaha World Herald and several other reporters, with 50% voting in favor of the boards’ decision. By 1957, all doctors had left, and the hospital became a nursing home for a short time. Even the nursing home was unsuccessful, with the building finally closing its doors in October of 1958. ~Dr. Reeves and Dr. McShane were both featured in an article in Time Magazine’s Medical section in the January 19, 1950 issue.~ After closing, doctors would arrive showing an interest in Arnold and then would locate elsewhere, perhaps due to the “doctor trouble”. In 1968, the building was sold at auction to Mr. and Mrs. Jim Holman who remodeled it for an apartment house, including apartments that were rented out in the basement. It has been privately owned as a home ever since, please respect the residents’ privacy.

(Some information for the markers was taken from the book “One Hundred Years on the South Loup” by Norene Hall Mills. Written and prepared by Berni Crow 6/10/2020

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