Updated: Jun 30, 2020
by Sarah Langsdon, Head of Special Collections
Oftentimes it is when we are researching some other topic that we find just a tid-bit of information that pulls us in and calls for deeper research. This happened to me when I was researching a home at 2332 Jefferson. While digging into the Ogden Standard Examiner, I came across an advertisement for the Cottage Hospital and Maternity Home listed at that address in 1926. The matron of the hospital was Mrs. C.A. Erwin. (Side note, as a historian, it is very difficult to find information on women because they are often only referred to by their husbands’ names.) Upon further digging, I found that C.A. Erwin was a patrolman in Ogden, and in the Polk Directory for 1926 he is listed as Claude Andrew with his wife Grace; they both resided at 2332 Jefferson. Mrs. C.A. Erwin (Grace) is also listed as the matron of the Cottage Hospital in a separate entry.
So exactly who was Grace? Well, I was able to find that she was born in 1889 in Colorado. She married Claude in 1915, after her first husband had passed away. This was a second marriage for them both. By 1920 they were listed in the census as living in Ogden. Grace started running advertisements for her maternity home in 1925, first at 238 22nd Street, where it remained for one year before Grace moved to the Jefferson address. She offered 5 beds in the hospital and charged $30-$35 for a ten day stay. In the 1926 newspaper, only Cottage Hospital and the Dee Memorial Hospital are listed as medical facilities.
One may wonder what kind of business she was actually running. Cottage hospitals come from England, where smaller rural hospitals served people. By 1925 the Dee Memorial Hospital had been running for over 15 years and was providing most of the medical needs for the community. I think Grace just named her maternity home after the older cottage hospitals to harken back to that feeling of receiving medical care in one’s own home and not a sterile hospital. A maternity home offered women a place to get away before they gave birth to relax and prepare for the birth. They were then able to stay for their recovery before they had to return to their hectic daily routines.
So what qualifications did Grace have? Turns out none. In 1929, a bench warrant was issued for her arrest for the charges of operating a maternity home without a license. I looked through the diaries of the Dee family members that ran the hospital, as well as those of a prominent doctor, but found no mention of Grace or her hospital, so they had no ties to the services she provided there. Interestingly enough, the state dropped the charges against Grace and she and her family moved to Idaho.
A typical research question into a home leads to the discovery of yet another Ogden woman who has long been forgotten to history. Makes me wonder just how many more we will find out there.