Kings Mountain Hospital to celebrate
70th anniversary in March 2021
By Loretta Cozart
In March of 1951, Kings Mountain Hospital opened to much fanfare after years of hard work in bringing a medical facility to the city. Mauney Textile Interests purchased a full page ad in the Herald, sharing that “It was built primarily for use of Kings Mountain area citizens, and its facilities are the most modern available.”
In 1942, Miss Lottie Goforth bequeathed her entire $30,000 estate to “build and equip or help build an institution, clinic, or hospital, located within Kings Mountain, to give medical and surgical aid, free or at reduced cost, to the poor and helpless citizens of Kings Mountain.”
Miss Goforth’s estate had been invested in US Bonds in 1944 and 1945 and would be worth considerably more upon their maturity, according to an article in the Kings Mountain Herald. However, the original 22-bed hospital facility was not built with those funds. Executor of her estate, Dr. O.P. Lewis, suggested Goforth’s money would be used to build an additional wing, or to establish an endowment fund and the revenue would be used to aid needy patients in obtaining hospital care.
The facility was dedicated on March 30, 1951 and according to the Herald, “Kings Mountain’s Hospital has been a dream of many citizens since 1942. Then a period of disappointment began,” according to the article.
In February 1943, the NC General Assembly considered establishing a Kings Mountain hospital commission similar to the one established in Shelby, but that went nowhere. Then, the Duke Endowment determined that Kings Mountain was too small to support a hospital.
In 1945, good things began to happen and the “General Assembly enacted legislation empowering counties to go into the hospital business,” the paper reported. That year, citizens voted to borrow $400,00 to build two hospitals, one in Shelby and one in Kings Mountain. Of those funds, $160,000 was allotted to Kings Mountain Hospital. The county hospital board was established, and Kings Mountain’s members included C.E. Neisler, Wray A. Williams and L. Arnold Kiser. They soon realized they didn’t have enough money to go forward with their plans.
In 1947, the General Assembly adopted a medical care program where state funds could be used in a shared cost federal building program. Because some counties did not exercise their option for state-federal monies, more funds were available to those counties who applied. On July 27, 1949, the North Carolina Medical Care Commission approved the plans for Kings Mountain Hospital. Investments on the part of Cleveland County Citizens was estimated at $241,000. Senator Clyde R. Hoey and former state senator Lee B. Weathers participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
According to Martin Harmon, owner and editor of the Herald, “When the red-tape pinched tightest, when the penalize-the-wealthy building formulae of the federal and state government seemed to bar all doors to a Kings Mountain Hospital, when other interested citizens were ready to give up in disgust, Mr. (L. Arnold) Kiser continued to push.”
“He has worked diligently on the project, and many feel that he, more than any other one individual, is responsible for the fruition of this community need,” the Herald reported.
In that 20-page edition of the Herald, several doctors were noted as planning to practice at the hospital. Those include: Dr. Craig Jones, surgeon; Dr. Paul Eugene Henricks, general practitioner; Dr. William Lee Ramseur, general practitioner; Dr. James Edward Anthony, general practitioner and Dr. Phillip Grover Padgett, surgeon.
Interestingly, under the county setup, neither Shelby or Kings Mountain had a resident surgeon or medical staff. All doctors in good standing in Cleveland County Medical Society were eligible to use the Kings Mountain Hospital, as well as all Cleveland County dentists who are members of the dental society.
On March 31, 1951, Kings Mountain Hospital was formally dedicated. It opened its door to patients the following Monday, April 2, 1951.
Kings Mountain citizens embraced the project and did their part, many offering their services. Landscaping for Kings Mountain Hospital was provided by Kings Mountain Garden Club. The club set out dogwood, redwood, pussy willow, oak and flowering trees.
Following the dedication, Mrs. Kiser, Mr. Mauney, and Hunter Neisler, Kings Mountain members of the hospital board, were hosts at a dinner to some 30 trustees and distinguished guests at Kings Mountain Country Club.
Within the first week, Kings Mountain Hospital admitted 13 patients. Mrs. Doris L. Styers of 209 E. Kings Street was admitted opening day and became the first mother at Kings Mountain hospital when she delivered Victoria Elizabeth Styers. Dr. Padgett was the attending physician. Patients three and four were Mrs. Eoline Keeter Hord and her baby daughter Barbara Spake Hord who transferred from Shelby.
The first boy born at the hospital was Barry Wray Bumgardner to Mr. and Mrs. Ray Bumgardner. The first man admitted was Bobby Earl Mabry. Others admitted in the first week were Mrs. Elizabeth Ebletoft of Shelby, Mrs. Jurica Monroe, Mrs. Billie B. Mauney, Mrs. Lydia Dover of Clover, SC, Mrs. Virginia Holye of Shelby, 13-month old Carolyn Falls and Mrs. Mary H. Gaffney.
At the time of the hospital’s opening, Dr. William Lee Ramseur was the second doctor in seniority and the only Kings Mountain native practicing medicine in town. Robert L. (Bob) Moser was the hospital’s first administrator.
Citizens like Miss Lottie Goforth and Mr. L. Arnold Kiser gave their all for a local hospital that served the medical needs of the people of our community. The community was behind the effort and businesses followed suit. Upon the announcement of the hospital, Harris Funeral home purchased the town’s first ambulance.
The 20-page March 30, 1951 special edition of the Herald featured ads large and small but Kings Mountain businesses, exemplifying their appreciation for a hospital in the community. Those running ads included: Mauney Textile Interests (Bonnie Cotton Mill, Kings Mountain Manufacturing, Mauney Hosiery Co., Mauney Mills Inc., Sadie Cotton Mills), City Auto and Home Supply, Neisler Mills, Inc. (Margrace Plant and Pauline Plant), Kings Mountain Drug Company, Carlisle Studios (over B&B Soda Shop), Baird Furniture, City Service Station, Community Implement and Supply, Dellinger’s Jewel Shop, G.W. King
Garage, Kings Mountain Building and Loan Association, Kings Mountain Cotton Oil Company, Margrace Store, Marlowe’s Center Service, Sterchi’s, Ware & Sons, Wee Folk Shop, Western Auto Store, Home Building and Loan Association, Burlington Mills, Belk’s, Plonk’s, First National Bank of Kings Mountain, Superior Stone and Griffin Drug Company.
Atrium Health Kings Mountain will celebrate its 70th birthday on April 2, 2021.In its 69-year history, services have expanded to better serve the citizen of Kings Mountain. It is certain that the hospital will continue to carry out its new mission: to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing - for all.