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 Jiggetts, RN 1901-1992

Dr. J. Ida Jiggetts was born in NC and grew up near Shelby, NC.  Her father, Rev. Dr. John Roberts was was the Principal of the Shelby (than Cleveland) High School where her mother, Ida E. Roberts was also a teacher.  Her mother had been a teacher at Lovejoy Academy earlier in her career.

When Jiggetts finished high school she enrolled in Mercy Hospital and School of Nurisng in New York City.  Most schools in NC were closed to her because of her race (African American).  She later graduted with an Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania after studying medical social work and public health nursing.  She earned Master's and PhD degrees from New York University.  During her graduate studies Dr. Jiggetts became very itnerested in Judaism and was one of the first African Americans to take a study trip to Isreal.  She has wrote 2 books; Religion, Diet and health of Jews and Isreal to me. 

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