St. Francis Hospital


St. Francis Hospital as it is known today, originated as a ten-bed structure built in 1923 by Floyd Neiman, Marceline Contractor, for Ola Putman. M. D., as a memorial to his father, Benjamin S. Putman, M. D., who had served the Marceline area forty-seven years as physician and surgeon. He called it the “Putman Memorial Hospital“. It is situated at 108 East Howell Street.

Dr. Benjamin B. Putman was a member of one of the oldest families of Linn County and was born in North Salem township of that county June 10, 1844. He had a rural environment during his youth, and had begun the study of medicine during the Civil War. He read medicine in the office of a practicing physician, Dr. D. I. Stevenson, and in 1864 took a course of lectures in the St. Louis Medical College. With this preparation he entered upon a country practice, and in 1872 returned to the St. Louis Medical College, where he was graduated with the degree of M. D. He first practiced at North Salem, and for 28 years made his home at Bucklin. During twenty years of that time he conducted a drug business in connection with his practice. Doctor Putman in 1889 established his home at Marceline, and during the nearly 20 years that remained to him, he worked with seldom a vacation or interruption to his continuous service covering a wide extent of country around Marceline. On locating at Marceline, he became local surgeon for the Santa Fe Railway, and during the last fifteen years of his life, looked after the surgical practice of coal mining companies in that vicinity. The work of his profession was to him a primary responsibility and a great duty which he performed unremittingly and with little concern for its material rewards. He was a member of the Missouri State and District Medical societies, served at one time as mayor of Marceline, was a Democrat and a 32nd degree Mason. He was active until his death in 1912, at the age of 69.

Dr. Ola Putman, builder of the Putman Mem­orial Hospital, and father of Dr. George Benjamin Putman, was born at Bucklin, June 6, 1878. He re­ceived his early schooling at Bucklin, then because of poor health went to Colorado and attended the Denver University and Gross Medical College. He was a graduate of Rush Medical College in Chicago in the class of 1901, and practiced at Marceline from 1901 until his death on December 4, 1933, a period of over thirty years. He was surgeon of the Santa Fe Railroad for thirty years, was Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a member of the County, State and American Medical Associations. He was one of the most advanced of the early surgeons of Missouri and attracted nationwide attention. He was one of the first surgeons west of the Mississippi to perform a Caesarian operation. He was a pioneer in the treatment of hay fever and asthma, from which he was a great sufferer. He discovered and isolated the first case of tularemia in Missouri. He was associated with his father until the latter’s death in 1913. In 1923 he built the 10-bed hospital as a memorial to his father and was its active head during the last ten years of his life.

Dr. George Benjamin Putman represented the third consecutive generation in his profession at Marceline. He was born at Marceline July 22,1907. After graduating from high school in 1925, he took two years of medicine at the University of Missouri, was awarded his A. B. degree by Harvard University in 1929, and in 1933 was graduated in medicine at the Cornell University Medical College in New York City. Doctor Putman had experience as an in­tern at Jersey City Medical Center, and in 1934 returned to Marceline to take over the work in which his father and grandfather before him had earned deserving distinction. He was a member of the Linn County, Missouri State, and American Medical Associations. He took over his father’s practice in 1933 upon the latter’s death and continued to care for the people of the Marceline area until an untimely and sudden accident abruptly ended his medical career. On the night of February 22, 1942, he was driving through a snowstorm to attend a maternity case when he had a motor car accident and sustained severe contusions, concussions and laceration of the brain. He has been hospitalized since.

The Putman Memorial Hospital continued operation under two local doctors for a couple of months after Dr. Putman’s accident but was finally closed on May 1, 1942, and remained unused until April of 1946. Mrs. Ben (Mildred) Putman sold it to two elderly ladies of Keytesville, Missouri, Mrs. James (Elizabeth) Robertson and Mrs. Robert (Mary) Guthrie. These two ladies purchased the building for $20,000 then deeded it over to the Sisters of St. Francis whose Motherhouse at that time was in Chillicothe, Missouri, in memory of their two brothers, J. Hudson Smith and William Smith. Arrangements for the transaction were instituted by the Rt. Rev. Thomas J. McCartan, then pastor of St. Bonaventure Church, Marceline, Missouri.

St. Francis Hospital was not ready to serve the public immediately. Months of remodeling, repairing, and renovating were required before the building was in shape. New equipment was installed and the hospital space utilized in a manner to enable the Sisters to care for sixteen patients. The Hospital was re-opened on August 15, 1946, and dedicated formally on October 6, 1946, with the late Bishop C. H. LeBlond of St. Joseph, Missouri, as the principal speaker. In a perfect Indian summer setting the St. Francis Hospital was dedicated “to the service of humanity.” Bishop LeBlond told the large gathering present: “With all the efforts of the United States directed for five long years to war, to the destruction of human life and property, the dedication of an institution for unselfish service to the community of Marceline has marked the beginning of a new era. The Catholic Sisters in charge have dedicated their lives to care for the sick, to relieve the suffering of humanity. That is their principal task and that is why St. Francis Hospital will be a service institution.”

Sisters of St. Francis

The School Sisters of St. Francis originated in Voecklabruck, Austria. In 1922 twelve of the Sisters came to Conception, Missouri, at the invitation of the late Abbot Conrad Frowin, O. S. B., Conception Abbey, Missouri, and the late Rev. Lukas Etlin, O. S. B., of the Benedictine Abbey at Conception, who was serving as Chaplain of the Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde, Missouri. An American branch of the Franciscan Congregation was started and two years later, in 1924, a Novitiate was opened at Conception. In 1935 the Novitiate and Motherhouse was established at Chillicothe, Missouri. The Sisters are engaged in teaching, nursing, caring for orphans and the aged, conducting day nurseries, managing hospitals and related activities in Austria, and they hope eventually to branch out into these activities in the land of their adoption. In the spring of 1956 the Sisters purchased, with the counsel and help of the Most Rev. Bishop John P. Cody, then Bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, the Dr. Nichols Sanatorium property at Savannah, Missouri, and the Novitiate and Motherhouse was established in Savannah and called La Verna Heights. The Sisters have an Apostolic School for young girls there and a Retirement Home for Ladies.

From this Congregation come the Sisters who devote their lives to the care of patients at the St. Francis Hospital here. Shortly after the Putman Hospital was remodeled and redecorated through-out, it became a member of the Catholic Hospital Association, the Missouri Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association and had an open staff to all accredited medical doctors and accepted all patients anywhere in the country.

Shortly before the dedication of the hospital three medical doctors opened offices in Marceline and became members of the staff of St. Francis. They were Dr. B. B. Hurst, Dr. C. A. Campbell, and Dr. Philip A. Ottman. The original staff of Sisters in 1946 were Sister M. Reinholda, Administrator, who has successfully held that position to the present; Sister M. Frieda, Sister M. Assunta, Sister M. Meinolfa, and Sister M. Gemma. Staff nurses were Mrs. Phil Buckley, Mrs. Louis Hedrick, Mrs. George Rosado, and Mrs. Ben Landreth.

Although the stork made an emergency landing at the St. Francis Hospital the night of June 29, 1946 to deliver Jane Frances to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Lohmar, the hospital was not opened for patients until August 15. In looking back over old 1946 records it is interesting to note such items as:

  • Sister Reinholda, Superintendent, reports $2,417 obtained for the hospital in a house- to-house canvass, to help towards the cost of $16,829 spent to date in repairing, re-modeling, and redecorating.
  • Sheets for the hospital beds have been ordered several months ago but have not yet arrived. In the meantime, the families of the patients are requested to provide their own sheets.
  • The beautiful altar in the chapel was given by Father Thomas J. McCartan who arranged the transfer of the hospital to the Sisters of St. Francis from Mrs. James Robertson and Mrs. Robert Guthrie, who purchased the building from the Putman family. The altar weighs more than 1,000 pounds. The six new candlesticks are gifts of St. Margaret’s Hospital of Kansas City, Kansas. The gold chalice and ciborium were gifts of Dr. and Mrs. John H. Lucas of Brookfield.

New Wing Added to St. Francis Hospital

No sooner was the thirteen-bed hospital opened than it was realized more rooms were needed for patients. Many times beds were placed in the halls for emergency cases. Consequently, a contract for a three-story wing and remodeling and redecorating of the original building was let in July of 1950 and completed in the spring of 1952, at a total cost of $227,000. The Sisters borrowed funds and assumed this debt that Marceline and surrounding communities may have the advantages of a modern hospital. Open house was held in May 1952, and from an old copy of the Daily News-Bulletin we read: “Three hundred and ninety persons yesterday, May 18, attended open house at St. Francis Hospital,. Marceline, to see what the School Sisters of The Third Order of St. Francis have done in modernizing an old, ten-bed institution to give to It the reputation of being the finest medical center in this area of Missouri.”

“The Sisters, who have mortgaged their Motherhouse in Chillicothe to finance improvements at the hospital, guided visitors through every floor of the new wing just completed – even the top third floor, which houses the Sisters’ vari-colored quarters.
“Throughout the new 3-story wing, which was built at a cost of $227,000, the color theme is manifest. The 13 new rooms for patients are all finished in various colors-blue, green, pink, rust – colorful drapes bedeck the windows.”

“First floor of the new wing is devoted to diagnostic work and offices. It contains the surgery, laboratory, x-ray department, labor and delivery rooms, and emergency rooms. There are also the doctors’ room, Chapel, Chaplain’s suite and guest rooms, and waiting room.

“On the second floor Sisters showed guests new patient rooms and the nursery, which has six bassinets and two incubators. Six infants, one in the incubator, were in the nursery yesterday during open house.”

“On the third floor are the Sisters’ quarters and recreation room.”
“In the basement, which was also open to visitors yesterday, are the laundry, dining rooms, general kitchen, diet kitchen, store rooms and the boiler room that houses two oil furnaces.”

“The completed new wing gives a 30-bed capacity to the hospital, which serves a wide area, receiving patients from all over Missouri and from out-of-state cities.”
“More than 4,300 patients have received treat¬ment in the hospital since its original section was opened in 1946 by the Sisters of St. Francis to the close of this past year of 1951.”

“Sister Reinholda has been administrator of the hospital since it opened. Dr. Robert W. Smith, chief of staff, came to Marceline from Kansas City, in 1948. Other staff doctors were Paul T. Berry, Philip A. Ottman, John R. Dixon, Florian L. Harms, and John H. Lucas.”

“Registered nurses are Sisters Frieda, Bernilda, and Assunta. Sister Assunta is also supervisor of nurses and of the nursery. Sister Bernilda is the night supervisor. Sister Eucharia is x-ray technician, Sister Celine is laboratory technician, and Sister Gemma is laundress. Sister Meinolfa is dietician, and Sister Bertha is housekeeper.”

“Other nurses, nurse-aids and assistants are Mrs. Phil Buckley, Mrs. Louis Hedrick, Mrs. Betty O’Connor, Mrs. Maizel Stanley, Mrs. Flossie Brown, Miss Lena Mae Hall, Miss Anna Marie Kornbrust, and Mrs. R. W. Stauffer.”

In 1957 the original part of the hospital, built in 1923, was provided with a sprinkler system and fire alarm, likewise a stand-by emergency unit in case of power failure. In 1959 both the old and new parts were completely air conditioned at great cost to the Sisters.

Proposed 44-bed Hospital To Answer Growing Need For Expanded Facilities

The figures released by St. Francis Hospital administrator, Sister Reinholda, appear interesting from several standpoints. The report of hospital activities for 1962 reveals an unusually active institution whose role and influence are felt over a wide area.

Founded in 1946 as a ten-bed general hospital by the small group of Franciscan Sisters, whose Motherhouse is now at Savannah, Missouri, St. Francis Hospital has enjoyed a steady and healthy growth until today it has begun an expansion program which do credit to a community several times the size of Marceline.


The very fact that the hospital had nearly 90% average daily occupancy in 1962 proves the necessity for still more expansion. In order to meet the increasing demands the Sisters have completed arrangements for a new building on the outskirts of the city to cost over $1,600,000. Site for the new hospital is in the north part of Marceline off Highway 5 and the address will be 225 West Hayden Street. The Sisters are already assured a Hill-Burton grant totaling $566,000 but they must raise the balance themselves. The complex will include, besides the hospital, a new Chapel, Convent and Chaplain’s Residence. The Hill-Burton funds will help towards 36 beds; however facilities are planned to include eight additional beds, for the Sisters know they will have need for more than 36. The money for these additional beds and other buildings on the site will be borrowed. Architects for the project are Shaughnessy, Bower and Grimaldi of Kansas City, Missouri.

Contracts have been awarded as follows:

  • PLUMBING AND HEATING: Industrial Heating & Plumbing Company of St. Clair, Missouri;
  • ELELCRICAL WORK: Fickie Electrical Company of Kansas City, Missouri;
  • LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT: American Laundry & Machinery Co. of Chicago. Illinois;
  • KITCHEN EQUIPMENT: Smith-St. John Manufacturing Co. of Kansas City, Missouri;
  • GENERAL BUILDING CONTRACT: Irvinbilt Construction Co. of Chillicothe, Missouri

Work of clearing the site was started on February 14, 1963, and already much of the excavation has been completed. It is estimated that the complete unit of buildings will be ready to be turned over to the Sisters by the Spring of 1964.

Since the Federal Government is assisting the Sisters with funds only on condition they abandon the 30-bed hospital now in use, the Sisters will retain the name of ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL for the new structure and change the name of the present facility, using it as a home for the aged and chronically ill–long a dream of the Sisters. For years they had planned to add another wing to the existing building to face Gracia Street but eventually abandoned that plan in favor of getting help by choosing an entirely new location for the hospital.


  • Chaplain: The Rev. Lyle Kennedy came in September of 1961. He is of great assistance to the Sisters as legal and spiritual advisor; also he has done much in planning the new Chapel and Chaplain’s Rectory along with their mutual friend, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph B. Code, of Keokuk, Iowa.
  • Medical: Robert W. Smith, M. D., came to Marceline in 1948 and has done much to assist the Sisters through their various emergencies and difficulties. George Gary, M.D., arrived in Marceline in 1954. Glennon Horner, M.D., came in 1960.
  • Sisters: Sister M. Reinholda, Administrator since the opening of the hospital in 1946; Sisters Bernilda, Frieda, Assunta andAlphonsa of the nursing staff; Sister Eucharia, X-ray technician; Sister Celine, Laboratory technician; Sister Bartholomew, head cook; Sister Martha, seamstress; Sister Stanislaus, Medica records; Sister Gemma, housekeeper; Sister Paula, bookkeeper.
  • Lay Staff: The Doctors and Sisters are assisted by a staff of approximately forty capable lay employees.

St. Francis Hospital has cared for a total of 18,587 patients from the time it was opened to the first of March, 1963, and 2,044 babies have been born including nineteen sets of twins. Last year it admitted patients from fifty-five Missouri cities and towns other than Marceline. Of the 1,675 patients admitted in 1962 to the hospital, 402 of them were Catholic, indicating that although under Catholic auspices and part of the vast Catholic hospital organization throughout the country, St. Francis ministers to all races and creeds. To serve further the public at large, both as to numbers and in increasing nursing facilities, the Sisters are looking forward hopefully to the new hospital on the outskirts of the city.

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