Surry County


Learn more about the history of nursing in Surry County

Image result for nurse Mount Airy NC 1900s

The Elkin tribune. (Jan. 6, 1938) p.8


  • 53 years of continuous practice (September, 1965). Tar Heel Nurse. An article about nurse Mary Barrett  of Mt. Airy, NC.
  • Article about Dr. Ora Lea Strickland, RN., PhD, FAAN 2010 winner of the Elizabeth Carnegie Award for Nursing.
  • Dr. Strickland was highlighted in the month of January in the Aetna African American nurses 1004 calendar
  • Nancy Louise (McCormick)  Saunders  (b. 4 Aug 1921 - d. 31 Dec 1987)  US Army Nurse Corp, WWII
  • Oral history of Lunary Love, an Air Force nurse in the 1950s.

Health Care Institutions

  • "The Martin Memorial Hospital was established in 1915 with fifteen beds. Today [1935]  there are fifty. It is a private general hospital with modern well-equipped laboratory and X-ray departments. In 1922 one of the most complete nurses homes in the State was erected." Quote from: Drummond, A.Y. (1924)  Drummond's Pictorial 
Surry County Health Department History from the County Website:

In a 1936 Public Health Survey and Brief History Report, the following was written about the Surry County Health & Nutrition Center...

"Progress marches on and Surry County Health Department is keeping pace in all field of activity, participating and expanding the services to meet the needs of the community.  At no time in the past 35 years has the service lagged or fallen below standards. The services increase each year and as the need arises the Surry County Health Department and its staff and governing board will be there ready to meet it. There have been many difficult times as in all worthwhile endeavors, but these difficult times have better fitted us to go for bigger and better things for the future. We have a dedicated staff, as reflects in the number of years the majority has been working."

Sixty-six years later, the Surry County Health & Nutrition Center is still growing and "keeping pace" with the needs of the community. Their goal was and will always be, "to promote and protect the health of the citizens of Surry County."

From the Past to the Present
The Surry County Health Department was organized in 1920. Dr. L.L. Williams was the Health Officer. The entire staff consisted of Dr. Williams and his secretary. A nurse was added the following year. They worked out of an office in the old Mount Airy City Hall building, on Moore Avenue. In the 1920's, the Health Department operated on a $900 yearly appropriation from the City of Mount Airy and $2000 a year from the county. The city also furnished office space, fuel, lights, water and janitor services, making its contribution total between $1500 and $1800 per year. Later, the town of Elkin appropriated $1500 per year plus offices and utilities for the operation of a satellite clinic in Elkin. In 1934-35, the budget was $6,216.18 with the Health Director receiving a monthly salary of $250. By 1956, the Health Department had out grown its original offices and was relocated to the former nurses' residence for Martin Memorial Hospital on Gilmer Street in Mount Airy. The Health Department had branch offices in Elkin, Dobson, and Pilot Mountain. Today the Surry County Health & Nutrition Center is centrally located in Dobson. The original building on Hamby Road was built in 1983. In 1995, the building was renovated and enlarged to include not only the Health Department, but also the Surry County Government Center. The Government Center houses the & Nutrition Centers of Social Services, Environmental Health, Building Inspections, Recreation & Nutrition Center, County Manager, County Commissioners and Veteran Services. In 1998 the name of the department was changed to the Surry County Health & Nutrition Center to reflect the varied ways that public health protects and promotes health for our citizens. The Health Center has grown from the initial two employees to a staff of over 220 in 40 various programs with a budget of over $8 million. Public Health - Then and Now

In the 1920's, a leading cause of sickness and death in Surry County was pellagra. Pellagra is a deficiency of B complex vitamins that leads to nerve and skin disease. In 1936, 105 cases were registered with the Health Department. After the Second World War, the federal government, recognizing malnutrition to be a major public health problem, set forth to increase the percentage of fat and protein in the populations' diet. The federal government spent money to create high-fat beef cattle and to support production of dairy products. Additionally, they supported the creation of cookbooks which taught people how to utilize the higher fat products in their daily diet. Pellagra has been eradicated from Surry County. Unfortunately, the use of increased fat and protein in diets has led to an increased incidence of chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Nutrition recommendations now emphasize lowering fat and cholesterol in diets. In 1995, the Surry County Health Department published its 75th Anniversary Cookbook. The cookbook has a dual purpose - to promote healthier diets in our community and to raise funds for the Surry County Health Foundation. The cookbook contains recipes submitted by staff members of the Surry County Health Department in their original version. Following the recipe is an easy to follow list of ingredient and preparation substitutions to make the same dish in a lower fat, lower cholesterol, lower salt version. For more information of the Clinical History, click here.

  • Atlas of NC.  Scoggins Printing Co., Inc, Winston Salem, NC.
According to the 1931 Mt Airy telephone book the follwing people are nurses:
Laura Baldwin
Miss Iris E. Belton
Boykin Anne Miss, instructress of nurses Martin Memo Hospital
Bunney, Virginia
Mrs A P Irwin health nurse,
According to the 1949 Mt. Airy telphone book:
Miss Daisy Crouse was the Public Health nurse PHN)  for Elkin
 Mrs. Betty Cruse was the Public Health nurse for Pilot Mountain
Miss Bernnice Harris was a PHN
Maybelle Smith was a PHN in Ararat, VA but lived in Mt Airy
Gertrude Dudley, student nurse Martin Memorial Hospital
Epperson Margie Miss, student nurse Martin Memo Hosp
Flippen Virginia Miss, student nurse
Gentry Irene Miss, student nurse 
Irwin Alexander P Mrs, county health nurse, ofc City Hall,
Rachel Jessup  student nurse
Josephine Joines student nurse
Mary Reeves student nurse (SN)
Ethel Rogers SN
Louise Ross, SN
Marie Simmons, SN
Mabel Sunderland, RN
Mabel Thomas, SN
Jane Truitte, SN
Agnes White, SN\Daisy Wood, SN
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The Mount Airy News
Mount Airy, North Carolina
03 Nov 1910, Thu  •  Page 6


The Mount Airy News
Mount Airy, North Carolina
24 Dec 1908, Thu  •  Page 7 -

The Mount Airy News
Mount Airy, North Carolina
13 Oct 1910, Thu  •  Page 4

Miss Ada Jones was the "Shepherd Towner' nurse for Surry County in the 1920s



Twin City Daily Sentinel  W-S 12-18-1922 p 16


iSurry Co HD.JPG

Chatham Blanketeer  8-5-1940  p.1