Dr. George Hubert Merritt, who came to Uvalde 93 years ago in October of 1926 and set up shop above Seale’s Drug Store, would be proud of Uvalde’s new two-story hospital scheduled to open in 2021.
Merritt opened the first hospital in Uvalde in his home at 219 Martin St. It was just seven beds but grew to 10 beds in 1937 when a new $11,000 hospital at 214 Martin St. was opened across from his home. Today, an assisted living facility stands on that site.
Merritt wasted no time in setting up his practice. Carol Carlisle Shaw, formerly of Uvalde, shares the story that her grandmother, Ruby Taylor Carlisle, a practical nurse at the time, traveled with Merritt to Rocksprings in April of 1927 to assist the F5 tornado victims. The April 14, 1927, issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun reported that the first rescue crew to arrive was from Kerrville, but “Dr. Geo. H. Merritt of Uvalde was one of the first physicians to reach the scene and help with first aid.” Shaw says that her grandmother and Merritt traveled on the Uvalde and Northern Railroad to Campwood which had the nearest railroad to Rocksprings.
Merritt married Clara Newell, the daughter of Thomas Delano Newell and Ethel Philips, in 1927. Though they divorced prior to the 1950s, it was Mrs. Merritt, who purportedly played the stock market, who financed the Merritt Hospital. A March of 1929 article in the San Antonio Light newspaper describes Merritt’s new hospital as “small but is said to be equipped as well as any hospital in the larger cities.”
Besides being Uvalde’s county health officer prior to 1938, Merritt was appointed as a draft appeal agent in October 1940. In 1948, he was vice president of the nine-county medical unit headed by Dr. Dean Dimmitt of Uvalde. In 1953, Merritt traveled to Austin to discuss with Dr. George Cox, state health officer, a plan to have a tuberculosis nurse visit Uvalde more often than in the past.
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