History of Hospitals in, Will County Illinois
From: History of Will County, Illinois
By: August Maue
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1928


Silver Cross Hospital. - The word hospital and the word hotel have the same derivation. A hotel is a place where strangers are received as guests; a hospital is a place where sick strangers are received. The city hospital in the French cities is called "Hotel de Dieu" God's hotel. What could be more beautiful? As if the place where the suffering are cared for was especially under God's providence.

The Will County Union of the King's Daughters and King's Sons was organized in July, 1890.

The original idea of the Circles of the King's Daughters was to use the funds accumulated by their work to furnish and maintain a room in some hospital. At one of their enthusiastic discussions of the matter, William Grinton, who happened to be present, suggested that they and the King's Sons unite their efforts and build a hospital, stating that if they would do so he would donate the necessary land in either one of his subdivisions known as Hickory Hills and Sunnyside respectively. The subject was taken up by the respective circles and after duly discussing and considering it, they decided to undertake the herculean task of building the hospital. In the work of accomplishing the undertaking Mr. Grinton's daughter, Lorene, was one of the prime factors and a most effective and indefatigable worker. When the question of a name for the hospital came up it was her happy idea of permanently associating the workers with their work that found expression in the selection of the name, Silver Cross Hospital. The emblem of the organization the King's Daughters and the King's Sons was a Maltese cross and this suggested to her quick perception the name chosen.

The hospital was incorporated in April, 1891.

On Monday, September 12, 1892, "Shovel Day," ground was broken for the building and this marked an important and notable stage in the progress of the work begun in so humble a manner two years before in the direction of a realization of the hopes and aspirations of those great and small who had devoted themselves to the cause in season and out of season, under discouraging conditions. The "Watcher's Circle" have the credit of having done the first work for the hospital. The names of those comprising it are as follows:

Gertrude Akin
Minnie Allen
Kittie Beiber
Lottie Beiber
Agnes Cameron
Agnes Clark
Lulu Erb
Grace Grinton
Jessie Grinton
Mary Hyde
Janie Kerr
Ella Mather

Lydia Mather
Annie Matteson
Edna Mueller
Frances McClelland
Bessie Palmer
Edna Palmer
Hattie Sprague
Winifred Stevens
Rue Winterbotham
Louise Wolf
Martha Wolf

The corner stone was laid by the Masonic fraternity on May 17, 1893. A sealed box was placed in the stone containing the following articles:
Copy of Silver Cross Hospital incorporation.

Engrossed copy of land transfer by William Grinton.
Brief account of connection of the King's Daughters and King's Sons with the work.
First badge of the order worn in the country (contributed by Miss Keith).
Souvenir coin from Union Workers' Circle, Wilmington.
A piece of ribbon brought over in the Mayflower in 1620.
One set souvenir postage stamps.
Ribbon that decorated the shovel when ground was broken.
Joliet Daily News of September 13, 1892.
Chicago Tribune of April 30, 1893.
Chicago Tribune of May 2, 1893.
A copy each of Joliet Daily News, Times and Republican of May 13, 1893.
Scroll giving the roster of the occasional Grand Lodge A. F. & A. M. of Illinois, organized for the purpose of laying the corner stone and by whom laid.
A copy of the by-laws of Mt. Joliet Lodge No. 42 and Matteson Lodge No. 175, participants in ceremonies.
A copy of the last issue of the Fraternal Reporter.
A souvenir spoon presented by Mrs. Potter Palmer with some verses.

"Trolley Day," the day on which fares on the trolley lines of the city were collected by members of the "fair sex" and a fair and liberal portion of which fares were devoted by the officials of the lines to the benefit of the hospital was inaugurated July 15, 1897, and the Daily Republican of that date, contained an extensive and interesting article relating to the hospital, from which the following extract, which refers to the dedication is taken:

"The Board of Trustees at that time were:

Chas. Pettigrew, George H. Munroe, John Keyes, Howard T. Keltie, Egbert Phelps, C. H. Talcott, A. C. Clement, Wm. Harwood, Charles Noble, G. M. Campbell, J. D. Paige.

Board of Lady Managers:
Mrs. Adelia F. Mack, chairman; Miss Louise Rowell, treasurer; Mrs. Andrew Wagner, secretary; Mrs. Chas. Pettigrew, Mrs. E. Williams, Mrs. William Harwood, Mrs. Charles Richards, Mrs. W. W. Stevens, Mrs J. B. Mount, Mrs. Charles Talcott, Mrs. Charles Carpenter, Mrs. S. D. Chaney, Miss Jennie Thompson, Mrs. C. M. Sherwood, Mrs. Gurney, of Wilmington."

The Board of Lady Managers has since been dispensed with, and they are now known as the "Ladies' Advisory Board."

The first officers of the Board of Directors were as follows:
President-Charles A. Noble.
Vice President-J. D. Paige.
Secretary-C. H. Talcott.
Treasurer-Charles Pettigrew.

The hospital was informally opened early that fall because of an unfortunate man who came to the hospital to be treated. The first patient received was W. Frenier.

The first superintendent of the hospital was Miss M. J. Kober. Miss M. A. Porter was head surgical and Miss M. Main was head medical nurse.

St. Joseph's Hospital, Joliet, Illinois. - Progress has been the watchword of the ages. The history of the universe is a history of progress; a history of slow, steady advance of continuous journeying onward. But perhaps never has there been such marked progress as in the present generation. All about us we see it in every field of endeavor.

Nor is the hospital field an exception. Here as elsewhere, we find abundant evidence of rapid advance; of advance in construction, in equipment and in technique. We note from the earliest ages a progress of slow, steady betterment.

It is a far cry from the hospital of the sixteenth century whose sole requisites were "freedom from debt and four doors for ventilation," to the hospital of 1928 with its modern equipment, which challenges the admiration of an enlightened public. St. Joseph's Hospital is another evidence of the progress that has taken place in the hospital field.

In December, 1880, Rev. Gerard Becher, at the time rector of St. John's Church, Joliet, Illinois, who had become acquainted with the Franciscan Sisters of Avilla, Indiana, asked for three Sisters to come to Joliet to care for sick in private families.

In 1881 when the city of Joliet was visited by typhoid fever and in 1882 by an epidemic of smallpox, there was a demand for more Sisters and several responded, among them Sister Frances and Sister Ida; both are living.

During the smallpox epidemic Sister Georgia made the proposition to Doctor Hosmer to take all the sick out of the city to an empty farm house, some two miles in the country. He was pleased with the suggestion and at once the afflicted were loaded into the Black Maria and hauled to the first hospital which was given the dignified name of "the pest house."

When the epidemic was over the grateful citizens of Joliet donated $6,000.00 to the Sisters as a remuneration and token of their gratitude. This sum with some subscriptions taken up by Dr. H. E. Stephen's father enabled them to buy the stone building situated on the corner of North Broadway and Division Street. It was a modest two story structure built in 1865 of stone which was quarried in the back yard. The old quarry has been filled in with good soil and a beautiful garden now adorns the once barren spot. The building was remodeled and on August the 12th, 1882, the Sisters moved in and being very tired all went to bed as they had no patients.

At midnight the Sisters were aroused by pounding at the door and rattling of a bell. The first accident case was brought in. He was a young man, named McCarthy, severely injured by falling from a freight car. One leg had to be amputated. The Sisters had no operating table, so put the patient on a common wooden table, and as the gaslight was very poor, a Sister stood by holding two old fashioned lamps. The patient recovered without having an infection.

In the course of time many improvements and additions to the hospital were made. In 1895 a new chapel was built and the middle part of the present hospital, and in 1905 another addition, in 1914 a large addition was made on the north side - in 1924 the Nurses' Home was built, in 1927, two stories were added to the central part of the Hospital, 5,000 patients were cared for in 1927. In 1920 St. Joseph's Hospital opened a Training School for Nurses.

May St. Joseph's Hospital continue as in the past, to grow and to flourish!

May it continue to the praise and pride of its able staff of physicians and surgeons, to the exceeding joy of its kind Sisters, to the honor of the city of Joliet and to the welfare of its suffering inhabitants!

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