Dr. R. A. Ransom and His Hospital

Dr. Riley Andrew Ransom Sr. operated a hospital for African Americans in Fort Worth for thirty years.

Dr. Ransom was born in 1886 in Kentucky. After receiving his medical degree in 1909, he began practice in Oklahoma. In 1914, when Dr. Ransom moved to Gainesville and established the Booker T. Washington Sanitarium, he was one of only a handful of African-American physicians in Texas. (Photo from Tarrant County College NE.)

ransom gainesvilleIn 1919 the Dallas Express announced that Dr. Ransom was moving his sanitarium from Gainesville to Fort Worth, giving Cowtown its first hospital for African Americans. Reby Cary, longtime educator and civil rights activist, recalled that before hospitals such as Dr. Ransom’s were built, African Americans had to go to the basement of St. Joseph Hospital for treatment.

The 1920 city directory shows that the sanitarium originally was on East 5th Street in Fort Worth’s “African-American downtown.”

A 1926 Sanborn map shows the hospital on Grove Street, one block east of the Fort Worth Press.

By 1930 the hospital was at 1200 East 1st Street.

Dr. Ransom added a nurses’ training school to his hospital. The hospital was small by today’s standards—only twenty beds—but it was one of the largest hospitals for African Americans in Texas. And in 1940 it became one of only three African American-owned hospitals in the country that was accredited by the American Medical Association. The AMA had denied membership to African-American doctors during the early part of the twentieth century. The Texas Medical Association denied membership to African Americans until 1955.

Dr. Ransom’s African-American patients sometimes paid him in cash, sometimes in eggs or vegetables from their garden. Dr. Ransom had white patients, too. His head nurse later recalled that some of Dr. Ransom’s white patients probably came to him with diseases of a personal nature that they’d rather their “regular” doctor not know about.

Dr. Ransom’s hospital went through a few name changes in the next twenty years: Booker T. Washington Sanitarium became Negro Baptist Hospital, . . .

which by 1930 had become Fort Worth Negro Hospital, . . .

which in 1938 became Ethel Ransom Memorial Hospital, named in honor of Dr. Ransom’s wife (a nurse), who had died in 1937.

east ransom-groveAt the Intermodal Transportation Center a bas-relief mural by artist Paula Blincoe Collins depicts Ransom and his final hospital.

In 1940 Dr. Ransom was joined at the hospital by his son Riley Jr. and his daughter-in-law Essie, who became head of the nursing staff. Dr. Ransom Jr. eventually assumed supervision of the hospital until it closed in 1949. (Photo from Dallas Public Library.)

By the time Dr. Ransom died on January 4, 1951, he had performed fifty thousand surgeries, family records showed. He is buried in New Trinity Cemetery in Haltom City.

Dr. Ransom’s house, built in 1921, still stands on East Terrell Street.

Dr. Ransom’s hospital building was demolished shortly after the hospital closed. Today the lot is home to Zephyr Design Concepts.


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4 Responses to Dr. R. A. Ransom and His Hospital

  1. Alison Hudson says:

    Hello. My grandmother was adopted by Dr. Ransom and also worked in his hospital as a nurse. (Oleatha Glover-Flournoy). I would love to meet anyone affiliated with Mr. Ransom.
    Alison Hudson

  2. Elvia J Ransom McBride says:

    I was born in that Hospital and ran the halls & lobby as a little girl. Dr Ransom adopted me there in 1939. I will always have many happy memories.

  3. Bryan Richhart says:

    I remember the red roofed masonic lodge, torn down do to the re-working of 121.

    • hometown says:

      Bryan, I have no memory of it at that location. Finding out more about it has kept me busy the last few days.

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