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St. Mary’s Hospital: 150 Years of Serving the Community

“The St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary was formed only two years ago by members of the Children’s Free Ward Association to provide volunteers for more varied purposes.*

-The Saginaw News February 8, 1962.


The source of this week’s recipe is Mana From Heaven, a cookbook published by the St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary in 1978. By the time the book was published, St. Mary’s Hospital had celebrated numerous milestone anniversaries and was well into its second century of serving the community. St. Mary’s Hospital –Ascension St. Mary’s continues to be a vital resource.


A history of the hospital published in 1949 recounts the hospital’s founding:


IN THE YEAR 1874, Reverend Father Van DerBom, the first Pastor of St. Mary’s Church, now the Cathedral, suggested and discussed with a number of prominent citizens of East Saginaw the proposition of erecting a city hospital for the care of indigent sick. The need for hospitalization for thousands of men then engaged in the lumbering business in the northeastern part of the Lower Peninsula was recognized, principally by the casualties happening to men engaged in the woods and saw-mills. The citizens of the City became interested in the new project and united with Father Van DerBom in his efforts to secure the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, with Mother House for the United States at Emmitsburg, Maryland, to take up the work of establishing and maintaining a hospital in Saginaw. The twenty-second day of August, 1874, four Sisters arrived, and with the aid of the good Pastor and interested citizens the work began. It is impossible to mention the names of all who gave freely of time and aid, especially financial aid at this period, but it is proper to acknowledge that Doctors Chester H. Sample, Benjamin B. Ross and Harvey Williams, then prominent physicians and surgeons, promised loyal support and professional services for such a worthy cause. They also made known to others the need of a hospital in the city, and many joined them in their task by rendering services of all kinds. Dr. Chester H. Sample gave the new hospital its first operating table.


The first hospital was opened in a fifteen room dwelling known as the "Monitor House". This was an old frame building located on North Washington Avenue, between Carlisle and Astor Streets. The house was made as acceptable for hospital purposes as possible, with limited finances. Like all beginnings it was small, but at the end of one year it was found necessary to seek larger facilities and room for more beds. Plans were made and money raised to build on another site. The block now owned by the institution, bounded by South Jefferson St., Owen St., Emerson St. and Meredith St., was chosen and partly purchased. A three story frame structure was erected, accommodating many more patients. The building was completed in 1875.

(St. Mary’s Diamond Jubilee, 1874 – 1949.)


And this simply covers the very first years of St. Mary’s Hospital and we need to leave you adequate time to bake this week’s recipe – appropriately from the Daughters of Charity.


There is much more to the story of St. Mary’s that we will explore in future posts.


*One of the St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary’s early signature projects was crafting hand puppets for pediatric patients. The team member writing this remembers receiving one - ‘Co-Co the Clown’ to be precise – before being discharged from St. Mary’s after a c. 1961 tonsillectomy. (The puppet had a dark green robe trimmed in black…)

The Recipe: Sour Cream Apple Pie

6med. apples, peeled and sliced thinly

¾ c. sugar

2 T. flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

½ c. dairy sour cream

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 9-inch unbaked pastry shell


For Streusel Topping:

½ c. flour

½ c. firmly packed brown sugar

¼ c. butter or margarine


Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, combine apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss lightly. Add sour cream and lemon juice. Spoon into pastry shell.


For topping: In small bowl combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over apple mixture.


Bake for 40-50 min., or until topping and pastry are lightly browned. Makes one 9-inch pie. (delicious)

 Daughters of Charity


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