Cherokee County


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

Quick Facts about Cherokee County 

People and Biographies

Scott, B. (3-29-87) Healer of the Hills. Asheville Citizen Times. This article follows home health nurse Marilyn Augustin who worked in Clay, Cherokee and parts of Macon Counties.

Nurse Bessie Mae Sneed Dakin, a Fort Sanders Hospital (Knoxville, TN) graduate was with her businessman husband in the Philliines when the Japaneese invaded at the start of WWII.  She nad her husand were held for 3 years in various Japaneese internment camps.  She wrote about her experiecnes as a captive in Captured By The Japanese (available on Amazon)

An article about Nurse Elsie Lail, RN who was from Topton and worked as a public health nurse in Cherokee County. She graduated from the Knoxville General Hospital school of Nurisng class of 1946.  Born in Murphy, NC, and raised around Cherokee.

  • She was a member of the Army's Cadet Nursing Corps, then worked as a public health nurse for about 35 years.  She "retired" and moved back to Western NC, where she now owns a restaurant.
  • Nurse Elsie Lail's obituary

Nurse Lula Owl Gloyne was the first Eastern Band Cherokee Registered Nurse. In the 1920s, she served her tribe and community as a US Indian Health Service nurse providing home health and midwifery services. In the 1930s Gloyne was responsible for the founding of the first hospital for the Cherokee tribe.

Pollitt, P.A. (2010)  Public Spirit. Minority Nurse.

Mrs. Bessie Mae Sneed Dakin was born in Cherokee County, went to nursing school at Fort Jackson Hospital in Knoxville and was later captured by the Japanese and held 3 years in the internment center at  Santo Tomas University in the Philipines during WWII.  She was living with her husband, a mineral engineer when they were captured.  She wrote about her experiences in a book Captured  by the Japanese published in 1946 under her maiden name, Bessie Sneed.  She is buried in Murphy, NC

Ernestine Walkingstick, R.N.

  • Like most registered nurses, Ernestine Walkingstick had worked in several capacities before settling into the position of the Director of Community Health Nursing for the Cherokee Indian Reservation.  She was an ideal community health nurse. She knew the reservation well – she knew the families from the babies to the elderly. She was instrumental in establishing and assisting in the clinic for the Indian population in the Robbinsville area. She also initiated, coordinated and operated the eye clinics and ENT clinics at the Cherokee Indian Hospital.  She was a “nurse” in the purest sense – dedicated to the health and welfare of “her people.  Her volunteer activities were legendary. She raised countless dollars for the Cherokee Children’s Home and was an active member of the North American Indian Women’s Association, Eastern Band of Cherokee Community Foundation, Western North Carolina Community Development and the Qualla SAFE House.

Sue Lynn Ledford was born and raised in Cherokee County.  Ledford received her Bachelor Science in Nursing and Masters of Public Administration degree from Western Carolina University.  She is currently a doctoral candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill, and holds the position of the Wake County Human Services Public Health Division director.   Ledford’s current role as Wake County Public Health Division Director encompasses 12 municipalities and includes Raleigh, the county seat and state capital where she has served since 2009.  The Wake County Human Services Department is a consolidated agency that provides public health, social services, behavioral health as well as housing, and transportation for a population of approximately one million residents.  Most of her professional career has been in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.  Sue Lynn’s passion for early intervention, preventive health services and innovative strategies have fueled a dynamic career at the local, state, and federal levels.  As a nurse, her work has spanned the health care spectrum of hospital, community, school health, and public health focused upon system change and integrating services across disciplines in the larger context of social and community organizations.  Various efforts have included international disaster relief in Sri Lanka, as well as working with Native American populations in Western NC and South Dakota.    Ledford was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 from GlaxoSmithKline.   In 2006, Ledford help create the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative program.  Ledford has a strong leadership background as the president of the School Nursing Association of North Carolina, board member of the North Carolina Partnership for Children Inc, and president of the North Carolina Association of School Business Officials.  Sue Lynn is married and has four children.  Her leisure time includes biking, hiking, and exploring the state of North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.  Ledford has always had a passion for the nursing profession and believes that nursing is truly one of the most versatile careers in healthcare.  Ledford states,

“Nurses are patient-centered and patient focused in our care delivery; whether we are caring for patients in a hospital, the community, schools, disasters, or caring for the public health needs of a population group we understand that positive health outcomes depend on holistic nursing care.” (from the 100 nurses/100 counties project in 2014).