Wake County


Learn more about the history of nursing in Wake CountyImage result for north carolina nurses

Rex Hospital graduates 1942


  • Clara Adams Ender Brigadier General and Chief of the Army Nurse Corps
  • Rose Ehrenfeld First Nursing Director of the State Department of Public Health.
  • Blanche Catherine Hayes, St Agnes graduate, Red Cross nurse in Tarborro. First African American school nurse in NC.
  • Flora Wakefield Wake County Public Health Nurse.
  • Hall, I.H. (Jan., 1946) Amanda Bunch, Midwife.  The Health Bulletin p.13
  • The US Library of Congress has an audio cassette of (male) nurse Bobby Finch, a US Army nurse from Wake County who served during the Viet Nam War 1964-1968.
  • Oral history of Annie McKoy, a nurse at St. Agnes and Wake Medical Center
  • Ruth Holleman was born June 10, 1924 in Sampson County.  A graduate of Westbrook High School, Mary Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing, and the Nurse Anesthesia Program, Bowman Gray School of Medicine/North Carolina Baptist Hospital. Ruth served as chair of Rex Hospital's Department of Anesthesia and later as nurse anesthetist for Dorothea Dix Hospital. She also provided volunteer anesthesia services for St. Agnes Hospital, Central Prison, and Butner Hospital.
  • Mrs. Ruth Will, public health nurse in Wake County.  Article and photograph in th Health Bulletin, December, 1961 pgs 2-4
  • Excerpts from an unpublished, 1967 memoir by Clarise Auerbach discussing her mothers involvement with early (180s-1920s) nursing and health programs in Wake County.
  • Mary Lewis Wyche remembers founding the Rex Hospital School of Nursing
  • Julia Choate Baxter, Korean War Nurse born in Raleigh, NC
  • Ruby Brooks WWII Navy Nurse
  • Marie Mason  WWII nurse, Campbell Universties first nurse - see pages 82-83 in the Summer 2013 Campbell University magazine

Dorothy Esta Dennis Segars, RN’68, BSN from Voices (2012) by Dr. Evelyn Wicker

I am one of seven siblings, born and raised in Wake County, North Carolina. I attended Fuquay Consolidated High School in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, until the tenth grade when I transferred to Apex Consolidated High School, in Apex, North Carolina. After graduation I attended Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing, in Durham, North Carolina. I had aspired to be a nurse since the fourth grade when I saw what I thought was a nurse in my geography book taking care of a native in Africa. Later I learned the picture was of a Catholic nun. At the time I had not been exposed to other religions except the usual Baptist and Methodist faiths. Before continuing my education, I took a one-year sabbatical before moving on to nursing school.

            I arrived at Angier B. Duke Nurses Home late, the last in my class to arrive. Waiting for me were two upperclassmen named Davis and Flateau. My father had driven me to school in a borrowed old red truck; we were lucky to make it all. We could not go the speed limit so I kept a good lookout for Linwood Avenue. I arrived in time for the group photograph.

            By my graduation in 1968, only nine of our original group of twenty-one had completed the program. My classmates left for various reasons and, yes, grades were a reason for dismissal.  I managed to stay one step ahead. Elsewhere 76 and 81 were considered passing grades. However, not at Lincoln; these grades were failing grades. To make things worse, the terminology had different meanings; for example, “sponge” was used for cleaning at home. The first chance that I got I looked up the use for sponges in medicine. It might have helped initially if there was a show and tell for all of the new preclinical students. We had a lot of material to digest in a matter of months in order to be prepared to care for assigned patients. I received an award at graduation for technical competency, no errors in medication administration. At one point, I received two failing grades and called my mother wanting to go home. She told me to hang up the phone, go upstairs, and study; my mother’s decisions were law. I went upstairs, learned to play pinochle and played every chance I got. It was a good stress reliever. I continued my same study routine and my grades improved. I passed state board on first writing.

            I became a nurse because I wanted to care for people, to help them feel better, and assist in curing their ills. I did that and much more in many areas of employment. After graduating from Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing, I was recruited to work at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I returned to Lincoln Hospital, paid my dues by working one year in the Emergency Room under the guidance of Mrs. T. Jones and Ms. Edwina Sellers. Then I accepted a position in the Psychiatry Department at Duke University Medical Center (DUMC), IN Durham, North Carolina. Later I worked at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, also in Durham, North Carolina, in the Department of Medicine. Then I transferred to the area I love the most, the Department of Psychiatry at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. While at the Veterans Medical Center, I returned to school to earn my BSN. Due to scheduling problems, I resigned my position and went to work part-time in the Infirmary at North Carolina Central University and also did private duty nursing.

            My degree allowed me to work in leadership and supervisory roles with the state of North Carolina. While working in Geropsychiatry with the state of North Carolina. I established a behavioral model program that was very successful.  I praised the staff for wanting to try new ways of doing patient care and the psychiatry unit for being extremely supportive. I returned to DUMC in 1981 to the psychiatry unit. Later I worked in the Duke Outpatient Surgery Program, Duke Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center and a Women’s and Children’s Medical Outpatient facility. I assisted the Department of Social Work as a Discharge Nurse Coordinator; served as night supervisor (later changed to Assistant Director of Nursing) of Duke South (now Duke Clinics) and Duke North; and assisted with several research programs in the Department of Oncology and Hematology. I was employed at North Carolina Central University on two occasions in my nursing career; first in 1994 as night charge nurse in Student Health and in 1998 as a tutor/ counselor on a special grant in the Department of Nursing. Six years ago I worked with a community owned Health Education Company to teach non-nursing personnel to administer medications, and taught blood-borne pathogens and seizure precautions. While employed with this company I became certified in the Medicaid Personal Care Services Curriculum.

            Over the years I have received awards for job performances, as well as received Civic and church recognition. I can honestly say my initial education from Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing prepared me for a variety of positions. What do I hope to leave as a legacy, besides my rite of passage? I hope that I did make a difference in all the lives I touched, for the better.

            Lastly, in my leisure time I was an amateur bowler and have won several tournaments. I am also a lifetime member of the WIBC National 600 Club.


Della Marie Harris Clemons, RN’ 46  from Voices (2012) by Dr. Evelyn Wicker

            I was born in Wendell, North Carolina, one of twelve children. My father was a farmer and my mother was a housewife.

            While in nursing school I was a cadet in the Nurse Cadet Corps. I attended St. Joseph and White Rock Churches while in school. I worked a short time at Lincoln after graduating, while preparing for the licensure exam. After receiving my RN license, I took a short course in anesthesia. This course of work proved very challenging but not as satisfying as I had imagined. My work experiences included; St. Agnes Hospital in Raleigh, N.C; school nurse with a Federal Program under the Supervisor of Public Health Department in Raleigh, N.C; supervisor in the Department of Corrections Department, later known as the Correctional School for Women. I WAS FIRST Black nurse and the first RN at the Corrections Department. I had applied at Dorothea Dix Hospital after I graduated, but they would accept me only as an aid. As a continuous learner I earned the bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1965, and I continued to be involved with the Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association. I retired from the Department of Corrections after twenty years.

Health Care Institutions

Information about Dix Hospital

  • Interactive timeline for Dix Hospital

  • Faust, R.A. (1977).  The story of Dorothea Dix Hospital.  Raleigh, NC:  State publication.
  • Finnell, P.H. (1933). A short sketch of Central State Hospital. Raleigh, NC The Health Bulletin. pg.13-16.
  • Report of the Superintendent of Dix Hospital 1904.
  • Report of the Superintendent of Dix Hospital 1924.
  • 1910 Report from the NC Board of Public Charities has information about Dix Hospital.
  • Information about Dix Hospital from NC ECHO
  • Play (PDF) written by an English professor at Catawba College based on the poetry of Nurse Juanita Tobiin during her 20 year career at Dix Hospital in Raleigh
  • Dix Hospital School of Nursing papers are located in the NC State Archives.
  • Information about Mary Elizabeth Hospital in Raleigh 1914-1978.

 from the state archives in Raleigh:

Dorothea Dix School of Nursing Related Papers, 1905 - 1951 - The Dorothea Dix School of Nursing opened in 1902 and trained nurses through World War II, becoming a member of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. After the last graduating class of 1949, the school still offered an affiliation in psychiatric nursing to students who had completed 21 months of basic nursing course from approved schools of nursing, until 1951. The bulk of this collection consists of photographs of nursing school graduating classes, covering 1930 to 1948, and including the Cadet Class of 1944. Other materials include publications, The Dorothea Dix School of Nursing, 1947, and Dixiana, 1951, and general records of the school. (1 manuscript box)


The Morning Post
Raleigh, North Carolina
30 Dec 1898, Fri  •  Page 8

  • "Dixiana" a student newsletter from Dix Hosptial

Information about Rex Hospital school of Nursing

Rex Hospital circa 1900

Graduates of nursing school

  • Debray, J.N. (1965).  The effects of a diploma school of nursing on Rex Hospital.  Master's Thesis, Duke University.
  • Mitchell, M.F. (1987).  A half century of health care: Raleigh's Rex Hospital, 1894-1944.  North Carolina Historical Review. 64(2).  pp 162- 198.
  • Williams, A.C. (1994)  Rex Hospital: a centennial celebration.  Raleigh, NC:  Rex Hospital.
  • Wyche, Mary Lewis.  Brief autobiographical sketch discussing the founding of the Rex Hospital School of Nursing.
  • Wyche, M.L. (1938). The history of nursing in North Carolina.  University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Mary Lewis Wyche remembers founding the Rex Hospital School of Nursing. -

The Union Herald
Raleigh, North Carolina
31 Jul 1919, Thu  •  Page 4 -

News and Observer
Raleigh, North Carolina
03 Apr 1919, Thu  •  Page 1
  • St. Agnes Hospital School of Nursing
  • Established in 1952 under the sponsorship of the Raleigh Council of United Church Women, the Board served as a ladies auxiliary to the St Agnes Hospital of Raleigh. St. Agnes was established in 1896 as a general hospital for Negroes. The records consist of minutes, committee reports, correspondence, and a membership list.

Students at St. Agnes School of Nursing



Some significant collections in NC State Archives

  • Mary Elizabeth Hospital  School of Nursing (Wake County) Scrapbook
  • North Carolina Nurses Association, 1903-1980. Proceedings of the Conventions, Board of Directors Minutes.
  • Dorothea Dix School of Nursing, 1905-1951.
  • Rex Hospital School of Nursing, 1896-1967. Lists of graduates, correspondence, miscellaneous materials, etc.
  • NC Public Health Association, 1911-1987. Annual Convention Records, secretary’s notebooks, etc.


  • Towle, L.H. (2003).  A heritage of healing:  two hundred years of medicine in Wake County.  Birmingham, AL:  Associations Pub.Co.
  • 1918 Health Report on Wake County from the NC Board of Health.
  • List of nurses who cared for students at NC State University during the 1918 Spanish Flu. Bessie Roper of Asheville died while nursing students at UNC -Chapel Hill during the Spanish Flu epidemic.  Nurses Eliza Riddick and Lucy Page died while nursing students at Nc State University in Raleigh, A "Volunteer Nurses Memorial Fountain" was constructed in their honor in front of the ofl Wake County Court House.  When the old Court House was demolished the plaque was moved to the NC State campus.
  • Elliott, B. (December, 1961).  "We go where we're needed".  Raleigh Times. (about Wake County public health nurses).
  • Photographs of Clark Infirmary on the NC State University campus.
  • Books available in the Wake County Public Library about the histories of Dix and Rex hospitals.
  • WWI era photograph of Red Cross nurses and soldiers in Wake County
  •  -
News and Observer
Raleigh, North Carolina
14 Mar 1917, Wed  •  Page 10

Dorothy Stevens Montague, RN,  was commissioned a 2nd Lt, upon her graduation from Rex Hospital School of Nursing, in the Army Nurse Corps as an operating room nurse on 1 May 1942. She was from Raleigh, NC. She was assigned to the 5th Evacuation Hospital in England (APO 230). She arrived in France in June 1944 as part of the invasion force.  She was from Smithfield.

"Trained Nurses" listed in the 1918 Raleigh Telephone Directory (Astricks designate African American nurses)

 Bee Annie Miss, St Augustine's School

Blue Leiia C Miss

Bowon Alice Miss

*Briseoe Mary F

Biritt Flethar" Miss, 

 Brown Josephine Miss.

Casey Alice Miss,

Crews Grace K Miss, 

Davis Anna M Miss, 

 *Day Parthenia

 Dunn Birdie Miss, 119 N Dawson

 Eaton Sadie E, 

 Fdwards Alice A Miss,

Hall Margaret Miss. 

Hlerndon Alma F Miss, 

 Hill Mamie E,

 Hurley Mary K Miss, 

 Hinskey Carrie Miss.

Hill Patrick Alice Miss, 

 King Beulah E .

*Lane Addie,

McCleneghan Portia Mrs,

Mitchell Annie E,

Mom Icy Louise Miss,

Morgan Winn Fnla.

Page Ducy U Miss, 

 Page M Louise Miss,

 Palmer Eva Miss

Parham lola Miss,

Parker Lucile C Miss, 

Pratt Nancy J

•Price Sadie.

Scott Alma J Miss.

 Simmons Mary C .Miss.

This week on Flashback Friday we feature a ‘linen’ type postcard depicting the long-gone 1915 Wake County Courthouse on Fayetteville Street.


Wake County Court House, beautiful granite structure, built in 1915, cost $225,000. On the lawn, in front of Court House, stands the memorial to the volunteer nurse, Miss Eliza Riddick, who lost her life in influenza epidemic of 1918.



An early newspaper article about the first Raleigh Nurses Association ( a precursor to the NCNA) meeting;

News and Observer Tues 27 Nov 1900

                        Trained Nurses’ Association

      The trained nurses of Raleigh have formed an association for their mutual advantage and protection.  Following are the names of officers:

            Miss Mary L Wyche, president.

            Miss Bessie Mordecai, vice president.

            Miss Rosa Hill, recording secretary.

            Miss Mary Pitman, treasurer.

     They will at an early date open a reading room and library where any member can go and spend her leisure moments.  They will have the latest works pertaining to their profession.  They will keep an official registry at McGee’s pharmacy, showing when and where any of the members may be found.

            Parties out of the city wishing the services of a nurse can communicate with McGee’s pharmacy, or Nurses’ registry.



Nursing students with pt an family at St. Agnes Hosptial in 1949



Nurses employed at St. Agnes in 1938 according to the Wake County  Telephone Directory

Hilda Artis

Grace Brownlee

Bessie Bush (Head Nurse)

Ossie BYers

Martha Coble

Zelda DeBerry

Theresa Drummand

Oma Henderson

Evelyn Johnson

Roxanna Kittye

Lollie Marshall

Agnes Middleton (Director of Training School)

ida Murray

Jaunita Majeh

Dorothy Paige

Johnsie Patterson

Anne Phillips

Hazel Rattray

Julia Reeves (Head Nurse)

Ruth Speight

Eddessa Williams

Ruth Williams

Dorothy Young


Nurses at the private African American McCauley Private Hospital according to the 1938 Wake County Telephone Directory

Lottie McKenzie

Dorothy Trevan

Sharon Winston


Other African American nurses in the 1938 Wake County Telephone Directory

Sadie Eaton

Lillian Cannady

Lula harris (Public Health Nurse)

Blanche Hayes

St. Agnes graduates who worked in West Virginia

Lucinda Boler (1927 graduate)

Annie Bell Wingfield LaMan (1920 graduate)

Lillian Robinson (1916 graduate)

Cathleen Shepherd (1924 graduate)

St. Agnes Faculty 1933-34

Ethel Young - Director

Sister Anna Mary - Matron

Thelma E. Reid - Day Supervisor

Mattie Westcott -Night Supervisor

Frances Stetson - OR Supervisor


St. Agnes Faculty 1940

Ethel Young

Sister Anna Mary

Mattie Westcott

Katie Thompson

Doris miles

Edith Anderson

Julia Reeves

Lucille Zimmerman


The NC State Archives in Raleigh ahs the follwoing collections:

Mary Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing, 1914-1985.  This is a scrapbook made for Dr. Harold Glascock.

NC Nurses Association, 1903-1980.  Proceedings of the Conventions, Board of Directors Minutes, etc.

Dorothea Dix School of Nursing, 1905-1951.  Primarily photographs of nurses graduating classes.

Rex Hospital School of Nursing, 1896-1967.  Lists of graduates, correspondence, miscellaneous materials, etc.

NC Public Health Association, 1911-1987.  Annual Convention Records, secretary’s notebooks, etc.


News and Observer
Raleigh, North Carolina
14 Mar 1921, Mon  •  Page 10


The News and Observer
Raleigh, North Carolina
02 Sep 1914, Wed  •  Page 3