Lack of Private Funds Ended Murfreesboro Hospital Plans

March 5, Greg Tucker,, The Rutherford County Historical Society

With funding from the philanthropic Commonwealth Fund, the first hospital in Rutherford County opened in 1927, but the Rutherford Hospital facility was not the first planned for Murfreesboro. A private venture in 1911, Murfreesboro Hospital Company, may have been abandoned for lack of private funds.

A recently discovered stock certificate issued by “Murfreesboro Hospital Co.” to Christy-Huggins & Co. for one share of capital stock, dated September 28, 1911, bears the signatures of two prominent local physicians—W. C. Bilbro and Mat B. Murfree.

William C. Bilbro, MD (1863-1933) was a native of the Milton community and studied medicine in Nashville (Vanderbilt), Venice and London, receiving his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1884. He began his Murfreesboro practice in 1887 and served for many years as the city health officer. Also a skilled businessman, he was a founder and president of the Murfreesboro Bank & Trust Company and served on the local school board. As a Baptist deacon, he oversaw construction of the First Baptist Church building on East Main in Murfreesboro in 1920. The hospital company stock certificate identifies Bilbro as “President.”

Mathias B. Murfree, MD (1881-1943) was the great grandson of Revolutionary hero and Murfreesboro name-sake Col. Hardy Murfree, and a third generation physician. He is identified as corporate secretary for the Murfreesboro Hospital Company.

This original stock certificate appears to be the only existing record of the Murfreesboro Hospital Co. Perhaps the sale of shares in the company failed to raise necessary funding. The effort apparently was abandoned before 1815 when the company president moved his practice to Nashville.

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