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The development of medicine in Logan County

By Logan County Genealogical Society

July 11, 2014

Editor’s Note — The following is a reprint from The Centennial Issue (Celebrate West Virginia Homecoming ’96), Henry Clay Ragland’s History of Logan County, The Early Years….Updated, Volume One by Samuel W. Rogers Jr.


By Dr. H. H. Farley and Dr. L. E. Steele


The history of medicine in Logan county can be classified in three divisions—the home remedy, the first doctors and the first hospitals.


Of course at the beginning there was the home remedy with the pioneer settlers concocting their own medicines, using patent cure-alls, and patronizing the mid-wives.


The first two doctors in the county were Dr. M. F. French and Dr. W. F. Farley. Later in 1894, Dr. S. B. Lawson came to what was then called Aracoma.


Like the pioneer citizens, the first doctors were of the finest stock. These pioneer medical men lived lives with and among the people, endured hardships, gave their talents and lives towards the preservation of life in Logan county.


Transportation was a big obstacle for the pioneer doctors. They traveled by horseback over mountains, fording rivers, and through woods at nighttime with only a flickering lamp to show the way. It was customary, always for him to eat a meal with the family where he was calling and in the majority of cases, he spent the night. The railroad bicycles that the doctors used later seemed like a blessing.


The hospital of record in Logan county was a stock company which formed and set up what was known as the Logan Hospital. This company purchased a building, which is now used as the nurses’ home at Mercy Hospital. The hospital was established in the early part of 1906. Dr. H. H. Farley moved to Logan in August 1908 and along about the latter part of that year, he and Dr. L. E. Steele purchased stock of the Logan hospital, which was owned by various citizens throughout the area and a short time there after made an addition to the building in which the hospital was housed. In 1910 Dr. S. B. Lawson purchased a third interest from Drs. Steele and Farley and in 1914 a brick building was erected which is the present site of the Mercy Hospital.


Dr. Lawson withdrew his interest later to form a company and to build what is known as the Logan General Hospital. In the following years, there were several owners of the hospital and the building was run for a short time as a hotel and was finally sold in 1947 to Dr. W. E. Brewer who is at present operating the institution.


In the year 1910 the Holden Hospital was opened and was operated by the Island Creek Coal Company for a considerable number of years. At the time of its opening the hospital was in charge of Dr. W. F. Farley, who remained at Holden until the time of his death. The company later leased the building and operation to Dr. J. W. Lyons and Dr. L. G. Combs and their associates, who operate the hospital at present.


Dr. W. W. Guthrie who now operates the Guthrie Hospital in Huntington, opened a small hospital at Man in the early ’40s which was in existence for about a year.


The Medical Profession has progressed in the county and there are several organizations; the Logan County Medical Association, The Auxiliary, and The Logan County Dental Association.


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Logan County Genealogical Society meetings are held on the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Logan Area Public Library at Logan. Anyone wishing to learn more about researching their ancestors is welcome to attend the meetings or follow them on Facebook at Logan County WV Genealogical Society.