Person County


Learn more about nursing history in Person County


  • Sessoms, D. (1960). A safety project in elementary schools. American journal of Nursing 60(9). pp 1288-1289.This is an article by Nurse Sessoms, a public health nurse in the Orange-Person-Chatham health district in 1960.
  • Biography of RN and FNP Sandra Clemmons from the book "Voices" by Dr. Evelyn Wicker
  • From the book  "Voices" by Dr. Evelyn Wicker

  • Thelma Hayes Thornton, RN ‘63 gradute of the Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing, Durham, NC

                   I am the daughter of Lucious Hayes and Pearlie Bass Hayes and was born in Person County, North Carolina. I was the fifth of eight children and was educated in the Person County Schools. I graduated from Person County High School in 1955. Later I entered Durham technical school (now Durham Technical Community College) and became a licensed Practical Nurse. I worked at Duke University Hospital, in Durham, North Carolina, for three years.

                   I married the love of my life, Tom Thornton, Jr., in 1959. We were blessed with three daughters.

                   I applied to Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing (LHSN) and graduated in the Class of 1936. I was one of the first married students allowed to attend, along with my roommate Yvonne Spencer. I passed the State Board of Nursing Examination on the first attempt and continued my training in public health. I’ve been employed as a school nurse, in the Vance County School System and later in the Granville County School System in Oxford, North Carolina. I was also a nurse in a doctor’s office and a camp nurse at Camp Oak Hill in Oxford, North Carolina.

                   I am a member of many church ministries and civic organizations, and I mist recently became a member of the Trustee Board of the Granville Health System.

                   I am grateful for the excellent training I received from the faculty and staff of LHSN and would like to thank them, the wonderful students I met, and my husband for their unwavering support, which gave me the incentive to stay and complete nursing school.


Brief History of the Person County Health Department (from the Health Department webpage 6-13-2012)

Public health services have been provided formally in Person County since 1929.  There were two employees; a public health nurse, Mrs. Ruth O’Briant, and a clerk, Mrs. Maynard Clayton.  The office was located in the back of a building on the corner of Depot and Main Street.  The office then moved to Court House after its completion in the 1930’s.  Person and Orange Counties formally organized a district health department in 1935 with Dr. Sumner, MD as its first director.

Since 1935, the Health Department has had its office on Abbitt Street, the Kirby Building on Main Street and on Madison Boulevard in the building currently occupied by the Person Counseling Center.  The Health Department moved to South Morgan Street in 1983.

The Orange-Person District Health Department expanded to become a five-county district with the addition of Caswell, Chatham, and Lee Counties.  Dr. O.D. Garvin, MD was Health Director from 1944 until 1980.  In 1978, Orange County withdrew from the district, and the four-county department had administrative offices in Pittsboro.  The Person County Health Department was formed formally in 1988 upon the dissolution of the four-county district health department.

In October 2005, the Person County Health Department moved to its current location, 355-A South Madison Boulevard.  The Department is co-located with Person County Department of Social Services and the Person Counseling Center in the Person County Human Services Complex.  The Environmental Health Section of the Health Department is located at 325 South Morgan Street.  There is an eleven-member Board of Health and a staff of 55 and an annual budget in excess of $4 million.  Descriptions of services can be found elsewhere in this website.


A brief history of the Person Memorial Hospital (from its website 6-13-2013)



Before 1914, when a hospital stay was recommended or needed, a Person County citizen had to travel first to Richmond, Virginia and later to Raleigh or Durham to receive treatment or care.

In 1914, Dr. Charles Nichols opened the first hospital in Roxboro in his home. It had eight beds and an operating room. Surgeons came from Durham. Dr. Nichols died in 1918 and left the facility to his son, Dr. Austin Flint Nichols who operated the hospital for two more years until his private practice forced him to close.

Dr. G. W. Gentry, Sr. and Dr. W.C. Williams, an ear eye nose and throat specialist, who practiced in Person County for a short period, opened the Gentry-Williams Hospital in December 1937. They purchased the Dan Andrews house on Depot Street and converted it into an eighteen-bed facility with an operating room. Dr. Gentry operated the hospital until 1945 when he asked the county to take it over, and the Gentry-Williams Hospital became Community Hospital.

About this time the Lester Blackwell Post of the American Legion was looking for a suitable project to honor and memorialize Person County veterans. Ultimately, a committee chaired by Reginald L. Harris of Roxboro who at that time was lieutenant governor of North Carolina, determined that a new hospital would be the most appropriate memorial project. Fund raising began towards the end of 1945 and more than 3,500 donations ranging from five cents to $50,000 were received. It is told that chairman Harris returned at least one donation with a note that if that were all the donor could afford, the donor needed the money worse than the hospital. Fortunately for Person County, the donor responded with a significantly larger donation.

This new hospital cost $896.38.

Person County Memorial Hospital was dedicated September 10, 1950 at Roxboro High School because of rain. Patients were transferred from Community Hospital the next day.

In 1962-63, the nurse's dorm at the hospital was converted to a 23-bed skilled nursing facility with room for a physical therapy department, a respiratory therapy department and a medical records department.

In 1970, a portion of the hospital's first floor was converted into an intensive and coronary care unit and an addition was built to house administration, in-service education, purchasing and storage.

February 1981 saw the dedication of a new $750,000 laboratory-radiology complex.

Through the years the hospital served the community well, but as the community grew and the hospital building aged, it became apparent that facility improvements were necessary. In 1985 a campaign began that raised the necessary funds for the renovation of the older facility and construction of a new building at a cost of $7.5 million. New construction was added to the front of the then existing hospital and housed the medical/surgical unit, laboratory, surgical suite, gift shop and reception/lobby area.

Later construction provided a new kitchen and cafeteria, administrative suite, OB/GYN unit and involved renovation for additional extended care unit beds and activity space.

In 2009, the hospital completed a renovation and expansion project of the Intensive Care Unit, the Emergency Department, and the Surgical Suites.  This latest improvement emphasizes the hospital’s adherence to its vision to provide progressive facilities, technology and programs that maximize the effectiveness of our medical staff.

It is because of these past construction and renovation projects that this facility so capably serves the people of Person County. It is imperative that our hospital maintains it’s competitive edge and continues to construct and renovate to meet the communities medical needs and expectations.

We hope our first Trustees approve.