Catawba County


Learn more about the history of nursing Catawba County

Image result for Nurses North carolina 1950s

Nurses at the Emergency Polio Hospital in Hickory 1944.  See articles below about the "Miracle of Hickory"


  • Eunice Turner Mental Health Nursing Pioneer from Catawba County.
  • Elna Jones was a World War II nurse from Hickory, North Carolina who later nursed in the triad area of North Carolina.
  • Miss Jane Williams becomes nursing director of the Catawba County Health dept.
  • Mrs. Lila Kuehnert, RN WWII nurse from Conover
  • Obituary of Frances Allen,RN Catawba County Public Health Nurse 1940s during the polio epidemic.  She earned her RN at the Knowxville General Hospital school of Nurisng and furthers ed education (BSN, MSN) at UNC-Chapel Hill.

    Emma Frances Allen, a native of Ellenboro in Rutherford County, was born on May 12, 1916 to Joseph and Delilah Allen.  She graduated from Knoxville General Hospital School of Nursing in Knoxville, Tennessee as a Registered Nurse in the 1930s. Shortly after graduation she moved to Hickory to become one of Catawba County’s first public health nurses.  During the 1940s she was instrumental in establishing and staffing the Emergency polio hospital known as the “Miracle of Hickory”.  She also served as the county “deputy nurse” during World War II.  In that capacity she encouraged inactive nurses to return to practice, recruited nurses for military service, encouraged local young women to go to nursing school and she organized home nursing and first aid classes.  In 1951 she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in public health nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill followed by a Masters degree in nursing in 1962.  Nurse Allen briefly left Hickory to teach at Berea College in Kentucky and at Western Carolina University.  She returned to Hickory and taught at Lenoir Rhyne College’s nursing program.  In 1984, Lenoir Rhyne established the Frances Allen Scholarship of Excellence in Community Health Nursing.  She died in Hickory on October Oct 29, 1999.


  •  -

Hickory Daily Record 
Hickory, North Carolina
24 Jun 1920, Thu  •  Page 1

Schools of Nursing

Health Care Institutions

  • McKay, E.M. (November, 1935). Catawba County Preventorium for under nourished and under privileged children. The Health Bulletin 8-9.
  • Barrick, M. (2010) Exceptional care, a century strong: A mission of mercy and healing.  Minors Printing:  Wilkesboro, NC. (A history of Frye Hospital in Hickory, NC).
  • Byerly, W.G. (1993).  25 years, Catawba Memorial Hospital 1967-1992:  past perspective, present status, future considerations.  Winston Salem, N.C.:  Jostens Graphics.
  • Richard Baker Hospital /Frye Regional Medical Center


  • Catawba County Historical Society information about the "Miracle of Hickory' - Hickory's response to a polio epidemic in the 1940s.
  • Google photographs of the Miracle of Hickory
  • Information about Hickory's response to the polio epidemic from the NC Museum of History.
  • Elliott, M (n.d.) The "Miracle" of Hickory: Mass Media and the "Miracle" 
  • Haines, D.  "The Hickory Miracle".  Carolina County, February, 2005.  pp 26-27.
    Intern teaching pre natal clinic
  • Sink, A. E. (1998) The grit behind the miracle.  Lantham, MD, University Press of America.  This book describes the role of the nuses in the polio epidemic in Hickory in the 1940s.
  • Drummond, A.Y. (1924)  Drummond's Pictorial Atlas of NC.  Scoggins Printing Co., Inc, Winston Salem, NC
  • See "1944" in the Timeline portion of this website for more information about the "Miracle of Hickory" Emergency Polio Hospital.
  • January 19, 2001 article in the Hickory Daily Record about parish nursing.
  • 10-22-1999 article about parish nursing from the Catawba Valley News.
  • 9-15-1967 article in the Observer Enterprise about Mrs. Edna Whitworth, the OR supervisor at Catawba Memorial Hospital.
  • Article about the "Miracle of Hickory" - how the town erected an emergency polio hospital in just a few days in the 1940s.

Motts Grove prenatal clinic


Nursing graduate Mamie Shuford

Image result for Miracle of Hickory  NC 1940sNurses at Frye Regional Medical Center