Burke County


Learn more about the history of nursing in Burke County in Western NC

People and Biographies

  • Getz, L.M. (2009). The strong man of large human sympathy: Dr. Patrick L. Murphy and the challenges of nineteenth century asylum psychiatry in North Carolina. The North Carolina Historical Review, 86(1), 32-58.
  • Nurse Helen Howard McFadyen

    Many outstanding North Carolina nurses made their greatest contributions to people in other countries.  One of these was Presbyterian missionary nurse Helen Murr Howard McFayden of Morganton.  She was born in Morganton on December 22, 1886 to Hugh and Laura Howard.  After graduating from Patton School in 1907 she went to Women’s College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro).  While there she heard a missionary speak and decided to become a nurse and enter the mission field.  In 1909 she enrolled in the Mission Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Asheville graduating in 1912.  After passing the state board of nursing examination she began her career at the Elizabeth Blake Hospital in Soochow, China under the auspices of the Southern Presbyterian Church’s Executive Committee of Foreign Missions.

    Shortly after arriving she fell in love with another missionary, Dr. A.A. McFayden.  They married in China in 1916.  In addition to raising a family, Helen McFadyen took charge of the male and female nurses in the Men’s Hospital. During the period of Japanese aggression in China in the 1930s before World War II began, mission compounds became safe havens for thousands of Chinese refugees. The McFadyens, protected some 2500 refugees, mostly women and children, while Chinese leaders fed them. When the Japanese took over China during Worls War II, all foreigners, including the McFaydens were interned in what was essentially a prisoner of war camp.  Dr. and Mrs. McFadyen returned to the U.S. in July 1942 in the Japanese prisoner-of-war exchange.   The returned to Morganton and took jobs at Broughton Hospital.  After Dr. McFadyen’s death in 1946, Helen McFadyen returned to Suchow to serve briefly during the post-World War II period.  She returned to Morganton permanently in 1949 after over thirty years of service in China.  She died in her hometown in August 26, 1969.

  • Phifer, E.W. (1977) Burke the history of a county (self published. Pgs 125-126). Discusses Maria Purdon Allen the missionary nurse who became the first Director of Nursing at Grace Hospital in Morganton.  She served in that capacity from 1906-1924.
  • Streeter, C. (2010) Theatrical entertainments and kind words. (A paper about the history of Broughton Hospital)
  • From the book "Voices" by Dr. Evelyn Wicker

  • Lucille Lawrence, RN ‘58: "I was born in Morganton, North Carolina, in 1935, one of four children. My father worked in a furniture store and my mother was a domestic worker. I had always wanted to be a nurse. I went to Lincoln because I had a cousin who attended Lincoln and was employed there as a supervisor of the operating room, Mildred Crisp, a 1940 graduate. After I graduated from Lincoln in 1958, I worked there my entire career (including the merger with Durham Regional Hospital): first as staff nurse, then as a head nurse at night, and then as assistant night supervisor with Ms. Armstrong. Upon the move to Durham Regional Hospital in 1976, I was appointed the 11:00 p.m.-7:00 a.m. night administrator for the hospital. I maintained that position for sixteen years from 1976 until my retirement in 1994. I will always praise and respect my school. Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing prepared me well for my life journey."

Health Care Institutions

  • Franklin, M. & Whisnant, K. (1985).  History of Grace Hospital and Grace Hospital School of Nursing.  Self published.
  • Grace Hospital (in Morganton) School of Nursing's  100 year anniversary.
  • "Grace Hospital Nursing School in 50th year"  (March 17, 1960)  Asheville Times -Burke County Edition. 
  • Grace Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association (n.d.)  Grace Sisters. (A history of Grace Hospital School of Nursing by members of the Alumnae Association (written circa 2006)
  • Photograph of Broughton  Hospital.
  • 1910 Report from the NC Board of Public Charities has a lot of  information about Broughton Hospital (then called Western Hospital) and Broadoaks Sanatorium (page 34).
  • A history of the nurses at Grace Hosptial, Morganton.

Schools of Nursing

  • "Grace Hospital Nursing School in 50th year"  (March 17, 1960)  Asheville Times -Burke County Edition.

More Resources

The Burke County Public Library - Morganton has an extensive newspaper clipping collection of files about Grace and Broughton Hospitals.  In addition, they have Grace Hospital annual reports from 1934, 1937, 1938, 1940, 1941,1942. 1946, 1947, Student handbooks from the Grace Hospital School of Nursing from 1956-57 and 1958 and Grace Hospital school of Nursing Commencement Programs from 1935, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941,1943, 1946, 1947, 1948.