Vicksburg Historical Society

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Vicksburg Hospitals

History of Franklin Community Hospital and Bronson Vicksburg Hospital

Part of Vicksburg's charm is the many beautiful old homes stretched along its tree-lined streets. And, when thumbing through old views of Vicksburg’s streets, the Peter Franklin residence on North Main always seems to stand out. Those of us who have lived here all our lives know the history of this stately old building, but "newcomers" to the area since 1969 might not realize that what is now known as Morris Manor was once Franklin Memorial Hospital.

The history of Vicksburg’s own hospital began, and would eventually end, in Kalamazoo. In 1900 the Kalamazoo Hospital Association was formed by local doctors in an old house with 12 beds. The Kalamazoo hospital was reorganized in 1903 and named for Titus Bronson. In 1905, a 46-bed facility was built, providing "state of the art" laboratory and operating facilities.

Vicksburg's early doctors - Dr. C. H. McKain, Dr. Frank Coller, Dr. David Squires, Dr. S. C. Van Antwerp and Dr. Z. L. Gilding - routinely performed surgeries either in their offices, or at the patients' home, as no other options were available. However, when the Kalamazoo hospital opened, they began doing their surgeries there - a better, safer situation for the patient, but a definite hardship for the family. Getting to and from anywhere, especially in winter, could present quite a problem in the days of the horse and buggy.

Vicksburg needed a hospital of its own, and someone decided to do something about it. When Mrs. Ella Singleton died in 1909, it was discovered that she had left a bequest of about $1900 to be kept in trust against the day when enough money could be added to it to build a hospital in Vicksburg. Thus, the Ella Singleton Hospital Association was born.

Another lady was inspired by this gift, Mrs. Peter Franklin. After Mr. Franklin's death in 1920, Mrs. Franklin, who had no direct heirs, began thinking about the eventual settlement of her own estate. She finally decided the best way to dispose of her large home at 146 North Main Street, her household furnishings and whatever money was left at the time of her death, would be to donate it to the community for use as a hospital. She so stipulated her wishes in her will, made out in 1921. At this point, the hospital association was re-named the Franklin Memorial Hospital Association.