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St. Joseph Hospital building 1908. From the Wayne Lammers collection

The Alex van Ravenswaay Hospital
The St. Joseph Hospital in Boonville was dedicated on September 4, 1918, thanks in part to Dr. C. H. van Ravenswaay. But this was not the only van Ravenswaay who chose to call Boonville home.

Alexander van Ravenswaay was born at the Hague August 26, 1889. After graduating in medicine and surgery, Alex served as a doctor in the Dutch Army from 1914-18. Then the Allies commissioned him as a surgeon to take charge of the repatriation of French and Russian prisoners of war from Germany to their respective countries.

In 1919, Alex made his third trip to the United States and set up his medical practice in Boonville. On April 15, 1926, Dr. Alexander van Ravenswaay made Miss Bernice Brummel his bride and the union was blessed with two sons. Theodore was born on July 29, 1927, and Lyle Alexander was born on July 12, 1930.

Like his brother, Dr. Alex (as he was known) became a much loved and vital contributor to the community. He was a member of the American Medical Association, the Southwestern Medical Association, the American Society for the Control of Cancer, the Missouri Medical Association, the Cooper County Medical Society, the Boonville Kiwanis Club, the Knights of Pythias, the Boonville Country Club and the Boonville Chamber of Commerce. He served as president of the Cooper County Medical Society in 1933 and as chief surgeon at St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1934.

Dr. Alex moved his clinic into his own building at 510 E. Spring Street on February 18, 1937. Formerly the Gross Hotel, the remodeled and modernized Alex van Ravenswaay Hospital was located in what is now the Post Office parking lot.

Source: "Historically Yours" by Elizabeth Davis


Dr. John Sappington, 1776-1856

Two births of importance took place in 1776. One was the birth of our nation on July 4. The other took place six weeks earlier on May 15. John Sappington was the third of seven children born to Mark Brown Sappington and his wife Rebecca.

Mark Sappington served during the American Revolution and, after the war, returned to the University of Pennsylvania to study medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush and other notable doctors of the day. He did not, however, agree with the practice of blood-letting.

In 1785, the family moved out west to Nashville, Tennessee. Nine-year-old John finished his basic education while learning to do farm chores, but there were no places of higher education available. But that didn't stop him from learning. He read medicine with his father. It appeared that Dr. Mark Sappington had a good medical library and his son John made good use of it. In 1814-15, John rode 700 miles to Philadelphia to attended a five-month medical course at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

Dr. John Sappington married Jane Breathitt on November 22, 1804, and the family settled in Franklin, Tennessee. The union was blessed with nine children—seven born in Tennessee and the last two in Missouri. (Three of their daughters would all marry Claiborne F. Jackson who would be governor of Missouri during the Civil War.)

Malaria was a killer, and Missouri and the Santa Fe Trail were high risk areas. This was one of the reasons Dr. Sappington left Tennessee in 1817. He knew his services would be greatly needed. He first settled in Glasgow, then moved about five miles southwest of the Arrow Rock ferry. Like his father, Dr. John Sappington didn't believe in blood-letting. He used cinchona. (quinine)

By the time Missouri achieved statehood, Dr. Sappington was well-known for “doctoring with the bark.” In 1820 a method of isolating quinine from cinchona bark was found and by 1823 quinine was being manufactured in Philadelphia. But even with all the evidence of its effectiveness, many doctors denied its worth and continued treating malaria with blood-letting.

The wholesale manufacture of Dr. John Sappington's Anti-Fever Pills began in 1832. While quinine wasn't mentioned, few people were unaware of the pills' main medicine. Even so, it would be decades before the medical world would accept quinine as the first “wonder drug.”

Dr. John Sappington died at his home in September, 1856 and is buried in the Sappington Cemetery.


Cornelius Herman van Ravenswaay

You don't have to be born in Boonville to claim it as home, nor do you need to be born in the United States.

Cornelius Herman van Ravenswaay was born in Borneo on September 4 in 1870 or '71. He attended boarding school and high school in Holland then studied medicine at the University of Utrecht. Additional training was obtained at a charity hospital in Berlin and later in Paris. His original plans were to go to India as a surgeon. Instead, he came to America where he partnered with his uncle, Dr. Samuel van Hoefen, in St. Louis, Mo.

Then he heard of an opportunity in Boonville. Tall brick houses built close to the sidewalks reminded him of the Old World he'd left behind so he decided to move his practice.  Successful and prosperous, he longed to do more community service work. With this in mind, he soon started a little hospital on Third Street at the Jones home but it was small and too expensive to maintain.

In May 1905, Dr. van Ravenswaay discovered that one of his patients had greatly benefitted from the nursing care of Sister Mary Boniface Kuhn of Pilot Grove. The doctor then sent one of his assistants to confer with the Benedictine Sisters and the church authorities granted them permission to establish a sanitarium in Boonville.

The St. Joseph Sanitarium opened at the southeast corner of Sixth and Locust where the Megquier Seminary had been on June 12, 1905. Dr. van Ravenswaay donated $100, assumed responsibility for the rent, and supplied most of the operating room supplies and furnishings. Other necessities were supplied by the sisters, thanks to many local merchants who sold to them on credit.

Land for a larger, permanent hospital was purchased for $2,200 by the sisters in 1911. Unfortunately, funds were not yet available to build a new facility. By 1917, the Sanitarium was filled beyond capacity and fundraising began in earnest by the sisters, doctors, and other community-minded individuals. Dr. C. H. van Ravenswaay, however, was not among them. He had closed his practice and enlisted to serve his newly adopted country during the World War.

While he was gone, the new $49,000 St. Joseph's Hospital was built, and the dedication has taken place on September 4, 1918. The hospital's executive board at that time consisted of Roy D. Williams, president; along with A. G. Blakey, Dr. Jacobs, Thomas Hogan, Frank Sauter and Albert H. Myer.

Upon his return, Dr. C. H. van Ravenswaay continued serving the people of Boonville as chief of staff at St. Joseph Hospital. He also gave $3,000 to the highway bridge fund, helped organize the Rotary Club, and developed the van Ravenswaay Clinic which occupied 18 rooms in the Victor Building at the northwest corner of Main and Spring streets. Additionally, he served more than once as president of the Cooper County Medical Society and was a member of the Missouri and American medical associations. The doctor was a Mason, a Chamber of Commerce member, and a member of the Evangelical Church.


Dr. Henry Clay Gibson

Henry Clay Gibson was born on August 25, 1825, on the Gibson homestead which later became the Missouri Training School and is now a Missouri State Minimum Security Prison. He was the son of William Gibson and his first wife Rhoda Cole. William was from North Carolina and Rhoda was a daughter of Stephen Cole who was the first white settler in what is now Cooper County.

Gibson received his education at Kemper School in Boonville before going to Transylvania Medical College in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1846-47.

Continuing his medical studies, he attended the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Upon graduation he returned to Boonville to practice medicine. Devoted to science and his practice, and wishing to keep up with the latest advancement in his profession, Gibson returned to the University of Pennsylvania for a post graduate course. He became known far and wide as the most able physician in the county.

Gibson married Miss Mittie Nelson, sister of James M. Nelson, on January 11, 1856, but Mittie died in 1857. Fourteen years later he married Mrs. Mary L. (Jones) McCarthy on January 11, 1871.

The new Mrs. Gibson was born in November 1840, in Bolivar, Missouri. Her parents were Caleb and Nancy (Chapman) Jones from Old Franklin. Her siblings were Sarah Adlea Jones, who married William D. Muir, and George C. Jones.

Mary McCarthy Gibson was the widow of Confederate foreign diplomat Justin McCarthy of San Antonio, Texas. The couple had been married in 1860 and had one son named William. McCarthy had died shortly after the war in 1865.

Dr. and Mrs. Gibson were blessed with three children who survived to adulthood: Mary J.; Martha, who married A. K. Mills; and Nancy, who married Joseph O’Meara. The couple’s fourth child, Rhoda Cole Gibson, died in infancy.

Dr. Gibson, before his death, had the distinction of been the oldest practicing physician in this part of Missouri. He died December 14, 1887, and is buried in Walnut Grove Cemetery. Mary Gibson died on October 12, 1921, and she, too, was laid to rest in Walnut Grove.

Dr. Horace Dasher (H. D.) Quigg

Horace Dasher (H. D.) Quigg was born in Hickory County Missouri on March 5, 1863, son of John Wesley “Wes” Quigg and his second wife Lucretia Ann Bradley Quigg.

J. W. Quigg was born December 29, 1820, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and came to Missouri in 1830. He settled in Hickory County where he farmed and served as Sheriff and Collector from 1863-1869.

H. D. Quigg was raised in Hickory County and attended the district school before going off to Southwest Baptist College in Poke County. He then went to the Cincinnati Medical College and graduated in 1890. Quigg opened his practice in Hickory County but moved to Blackwater that same year.

From 1910-1914, Quigg served by appointment as superintendent of the Missouri Hospital for the Feeble Minded and Epileptics at Marshall. Shortly after that, he went to Chicago where he studied to become a specialist in eye, ear, nose, and throat care. He returned to Boonville and established his office as general practice and a specialist.

Also, like his father, Dr. Quigg served the people of Cooper County. For two years he was county coroner. In 1902 he was elected as Cooper County’s representative in the Missouri Legislature, and re-elected in 1904. Quigg served on the Ways and Means Committee and was chairman of the Committee on Health and Scientific Institutes. It was he who introduced a bill empowering the city of Boonville to build High Street.

Dr. Horace Dasher Quigg died on April 6, 1941 and is buried in Walnut Grove Cemetery. His wife survived him until 1976.

Source: Elizabeth Davis, "Historically Yours"


Dental medicine was in its infancy in the mid-19th century. There were few formal schools, and new dentist learned by working under practicing dentists. By 1870, St. Louis was the fourth most populous city in the US. In 1866, the Missouri Dental College was only the sixth dental school opened in the US, and the fist dental school established west of the Mississippi. A few of the early graduates of this school established practices in Cooper County.

Dr. Milton McCoy, born in 1824, was one of the earliest graduates of Missouri Dental College. He relocated to Boonville in 1867 and practiced for 20 years. Milton's son, John C. McCoy, graduated from Missouri Dental College in 1875. He joined his father's practice in Boonville and practiced well into the 20th century.

Other dental trailblazers for Cooper County were Franklin Swap and Roy H. Ellis. Franklin Swap, born August 1830, studied dentistry in Iowa before relocating to Boonville. He opened his clinic in 1866.

Roy H. Ellis was born August 1878 in Cooper County. Roy graduated from Missouri Dental College in 1898 and returned to Cooper County. He Practiced in Prairie Home and Boonville for 23 years.

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