Cleveland County


Learn more about the history of nursing in Cleveland County

Schools of Nursing

  • Toney, S. P.  (2009) Gardner-Webb University School of Nursing: History & Heritage. Westmoreland Printers Inc:  Shelby, North Carolina.

Health Care Institutions 


  • Photograph of school nurse working in Cleveland County in the 1920s (thought to be Miss Cora Beam).
  •  Gardner, Newman A. – Born March 11, 1833 in Cleveland County, N.C.  Enlisted in the Confederate Army1861, Co. K., Capt. John Brown Jenkins.  Was nurse in a Confederate Hospital at close of war.  After the war he was a  farmer.
  • Nurse Margie Hamrick has a scholarship named after her at Garner Webb University.
  • Excerpts from the Heritage of Cleveland County related to early nursing and health care in Cleveland County.

 Frances Elliott Davis, RN  - First African American Red Cross Nurse 1882-1965

According to Notable American Women by Sicherman and Green,  Frances Elliott Davis was born on April 28, 1882 near Shelby, NC.  Her mother, Emma, was the white daughter of a plantation owner. Her father, Darryl Elliott, was a sharecropper with African American and Cherokee ancestors. Their interracial marriage was not legally recognized in North Carolina.  Davis’s father left her life early, in preservation of his own, and her mother died when she was 5 years old. Davis managed to obtain a basic education while living with a variety of foster families in Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
In 1913 she graduated from the Freedmen’s Hospital Training School for Nurses in Washington, D.C. and was the first African American nurse to enroll in the public health nursing program at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City. After completing the program, Davis went to work for the American Red Cross (ARC) as a public health nurse in Jackson, Tennessee.  She was the first African American nurse employed by the ARC.  During World War I, Davis volunteered to join the US Army Nurse Corps, but was denied because of her race.   In 1919, Davis moved to Michigan to begin a nursing school at Dunbar Hospital in Detroit, the first nursing program for African American nurses in the state. Later she returned to public health nursing at the Detroit Visiting Nurse Association, the Detroit Health Department, and as an industrial nurse at the Ford Motor Plant in Detroit.  Davis died in Detroit on May 2, 1965.


Dr. J. Ida Roberts Jiggetts, RN 1901-1992

J[ohn] Isa [Dura] (Roberts) Jiggetts was born in Washington, N.C. on April 4, 1901, the daughter of the Rev. John Wesley and Ida (Roberts) Roberts. The family moved back to Shelby, N.C. during her infancy when her father became presiding elder of that district of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. He later was first principal of Cleveland County High School, while her mother taught at Love Joy Academy. Ida, known as ―Bobbie‖ in the family, finished Shelby Graded School in 1915, and continued her studies at Allen High School in Asheville, graduating from a three-year course in 1918. She then studied for her R.N. at Mercy Hospital and School for Nurses, and continued with college courses in Medical Social Work and Public Health Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, ultimately earning a M.S.W. In her twenties she married J(ohn) Philip Jiggetts, an attorney, born in Newport News, Va., June 13, 1898. He died at Flushing, N.Y., February 16, 1966. They resided in Harlem. She continued her education, earning a B.A. from Teachers College Columbia, an M.A. from New York University and, in 1957, a Ph.D. from the same school. Apparently when they settled in Harlem, she took a position with the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association. Later she was Director of Social Services at St. Mark‘s Community House. In 1942 she joined the Department of Welfare, New York City, as a supervisor and medical social worker, moving in 1946 to be a counselor at Furness Junior High School, Philadelphia. In 1948 she became a psychiatric social worker with the Veterans‘ Administration in New York City, taking a similar position in 1951 with the Department of Mental Hygiene at Manhattan State Hospital. With the same agency, she moved to the Bronx After-Care Clinic as a social worker in 1954. From 1958 to 1963 she was director of social services at Riverside Hospital in New York City. From 1963 to 1969 she was a consultant for the New York City Department of Health in public health social work. She turned her attention to Mount Vernon, where she and her husband had owned a second home since 1951, when she became director and psychotherapist for Project Concerned. This led to the founding of the Mount Vernon Narcotics Guidance Council in December 1968. She served as chairman and executive director for many years. In childhood, there were only two Jews in Shelby, one of them a peddler with beautiful goods. This, and her family‘s deep faith and awareness of the Old Testament, led to a lifelong fascination with Judaism. After World War II she made several study trips to Israel and published two books: Religion, Diet and Health of Jews (Bloch, 1949) and Israel to Me: A Negro Social Worker Inside Israel (Bloch, 1957). There were plans to publish her doctoral dissertation, Integration and Absorption of Yemenite Jews in Israel, but this does not appear to have happened. Dr. Jiggetts remained active into her nineties, and was still living at 293 Westchester Avenue, Mount Vernon, at the beginning of 1992. Her health declined and a relative arranged her to move to a nursing home in Shelby, N.C. where she died on October 13, 1992. 

Article about Dr. Jiggetts in Ebony Magazine January 1962 p 92-100

Jamerica Smith Jones, RN

Jamarica Jones was born on March 7, 1950, the daughter of Rev. Alonzo and Ozzie Smith.  She graduated from the Associate Degree in Nursing program at Garner Webb University in 1972.  Jones worked from 1975-2010 as a child health nurse with the Cleveland County Health Department.  As a public health nurse she worked hard to reduce the harmful effects of asthma on children and their families.

In 2005 she was named an “Asthma Champion” by the Cleveland County Asthma Coalition for helping children differentiate between asthma triggers and symptoms through the use of games and interactive play.  In 2009 she edited the “No Wheeze Gazette” an asthma newsletter for children with asthma and their parents.

 Jones writes poems inspired by her family and her personal experiences. Her first book of poetry, Legacy in Words, was published in 2012