Effie Cottrell Home Hospital

Submitted photo Effie Cottrell created a maternity hospital in Rushford, the Cottrell Home Hospital. She delivered her first baby in 1927 and her last in 1959, at the age of 67.
By : 
Anne Spartz
Rushford Area Historical Society

We know that many people who live in Rushford today were born right here in Rushford, at Effie Cottrell’s Home Hospital on Park Street, two doors east of the Presbyterian Church. Sarah Kopperud (now Hunst) wrote an essay that was published in the Tri-County Record on July 1, 1993 about her great-grandmother, Effie, that we would like to reprint here with her permission. 

Sarah is the daughter of Glen and Letitia (Arnold) Kopperud of Rushford and the grand-daughter of Sidney and Bertha Ann (Cottrell) Arnold. Effie was born December 19, 1892 in Rushford to Mr. and Mrs. William Blanchfield. She married Fred Cottrell on February 14, 1920.  She died April 5, 1960 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester after suffering a stroke. 

The former Cottrell Home Hospital was owned by Carrol and Darlene Tudahl as their residence at the time of the August 2007 flood and was so damaged as a result that it had to be torn down. They built a new home on the same lot, where they reside today.  

Sarah wrote, “A few weeks ago I was walking down Main Street of my hometown. I stopped in front of a small white house where my grandparents had lived and where I had spent a large part of my childhood. It is a very special place to me, but it is also a very important place in Rushford’s history. My great-grandmother had been born there and in that very house, she brought many lives into this world.

“Effie Letitia Cottrell, who graduated from high school in 1914, went to St. Mary’s Training School for Nurses in Rochester, where she trained under Charles and William Mayo. In May of 1917, she graduated from St. Mary’s and went to work at Mayo Hospital.

“In 1920 Effie moved back to Rushford. The town was in need of a maternity hospital so Effie started the Cottrell Home Hospital. According to her records, Effie delivered her first baby in 1927 and her last in 1959 at the age of 67.

“Being neat and clean, the hospital was very traditional. There were three birthing rooms; she used a bassinet with a heat lamp over it to keep all of her babies warm. Women loved to have their babies there because of her great food and wonderful care and hospitality.

“Effie was a very professional, particular woman. The sheets were always starched and her uniform was always snow white. She wore her red, knee length hair in braids that were wrapped around her head. Working seven days a week, 24 hours a day, Effie was always on duty. ‘She never took a vacation,’ I once heard an old friend of hers say, ‘and she very rarely went out of town to shop. She was always around if her patients needed her.’ Of course, besides delivering babies, Effie had other household chores to keep her busy. There was always sterilizing, cooking, cleaning the rooms and bathroom, and waiting on the new members.

“Effie was very well-liked. Being easy-going and caring, everyone took her as their friend. She took pride in what she did and she cared for the mothers and the babies she served. Effie would always have the honor of carrying the baby to the car and would call the mother the next day, ‘just to make sure everything was going all right.’  Visitors were always welcomed and, if room permitted, she would take in injured men and women who couldn’t take care of themselves.

“Effie was a real servant to mankind. She meant many different things to many different people. She once took in a young baby whose mother had died, and cared for her until a family could be found to take her in. The baby is now mother, a wife, and a teacher in our local elementary school. 

Another time she saved a young man from reform school by taking responsibility for him and becoming his parole officer and guardian. He is now retired, after having become a successful businessman and father. Again Effie took in another mother on the brink of a nervous breakdown, befriended her and counseled her back to health. Afterwards, the young mother successfully raised a family of six children, all of whom are active, productive members of their communities.  

“Besides being seen as nurse to all of Rushford, she was also a wife and mother of one child, Bertha Ann, my grandmother, whom I loved very much. A member of the American Legion Auxiliary, of the Eastern Star, of the Red Cross, and of the Presbyterian Church, Effie gave her support to many substantial organizations.

“ Effie accomplished many things there weren’t expected of women of her time, accomplishments that most women never dreamed of.  She provided a service, a very important service to Rushford’s history. She touched many people’s lives. I would like to have met my great-grandmother and learned from her and her experiences. Many people tell me how special she was, what a wonderful human being she was.

“As I stood in front of that house, I started thinking about who I am and who I’m going to become. I started thinking about all of the important decisions I have had to make in the past and all of the important decisions I will have to make in the future. I decided something that day. I decided that I wanted to be like my great-grandmother. I want to be a servant to my community and to the world.

“I want to have more than just a job.  Like my great-grandmother, I want to make a difference.”

We hope you have enjoyed this step back in time and learning about a part of Rushford history.  This information was taken from Volume IV History of Rushford, Chapter IV (Medicine & Health) on Page 183 by Dr. Alden O. Droivold, D.V.M., published by the Rushford Area Historical Society in June of 2000.  

Please stop in to visit our Depot Museum located at 401 S. Elm Street in Rushford. We are normally open from 10-3 on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.  Stop in and meet Judith Koskie,  new Depot Assistant.