One of the many ways we can address the healing of racism in the U.S. is to tell the stories that havenever been told. To remember those who were sent by the Lord, crossed our paths, and continue to inspire.

In December 1890, a smallpox epidemic struck Houston and the City Health Dept. constructed a Smallpox Hospital, also known as the “Pest House “It consisted of three frame buildings, where the sickest were housed, and eight tents used for the overflow of patients, the quarantined and the convalescent.

When the epidemic broke out, Mother St. Louis, General Superior, offered to send four Sisters from St.Joseph Hospital to nurse the patients and the City gratefully accepted. In her book, Serving With Gladness, Sr.Loyola Hegarty, relates that one of the physicians who worked with our Sisters was the first African American doctor in Houston.

Dr. Edward Burrell Ramsey was born on November 6, 1852, in Hogansville, Georgia. He was one of nine children, the son of Ed and Frances Ramsey, who wereheld in slavery. This was his life for his first nine years. When freedom came, he wasstanding at the gate when his master rode out to purchase gifts for his emancipated people. He asked Edward what he desired, and he said, “Please bring a blue spellingbook.” The book was brought and this gift plus freedom marked the first turning point in his life.

His greatest help came from a preacher who was also a teacher. Edward paid him 25 cents a month for instruction out of the 50 cents a month he made hauling logs. He walked several miles at night to reach his teacher.

His hunger for knowledge led him to Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia. At Clark he formed manyfriendships which would last a lifetime. Among them was I.B. Scott who became the Bishop of TrinityMethodist Episcopal Church and later encouraged him to move to Houston.

Afterwards, he attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville and graduated in 1880. His first wife hadpassed away after only two years of marriage. While attending Meharry, he met and married Henrietta Southhall. Dr. Ramsey first practiced in Troup County, Georgia and later moved to Houston in 1883 at theinvitation of Bishop Scott who had seen a great need for Black physicians in Houston.

While serving at the Smallpox Hospital with our Sisters, he contracted the disease himself. He reported that Bishop Scott and a friendly white physician would hide him from house to house at night to keep himfrom having to go to the “Pest House.”

Dr. Ramsey was loved by all for his unselfish, friendly ways. He devoted himself to civic, fraternal, business,benevolent, educational, and religious efforts in the Houston community. It was said that he gave away morethan he saved.

Some of his favorite sayings were: “Saw wood and say nothing.” “Trust God and keep a stiff upper lip.” “Toerr is human, to forgive divine.”

Dr. Ramsey was very devoted to his patients and experienced a heart attack while seeing patients on November6, 1927, his 75th birthday. He died at Houston’s Negro Hospital, which had been designed by Maurice Sullivan,architect of the Villa de Matel. He is buried in Franklin, Tennessee with other family members.

Let us continue to tell the stories that have not been told and come to know many new people to include inour Litany of Saints.

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