American State Bank & Trust Company would like to recognize the 100th Anniversary of the former Mercy Medical Center, now CHI St. Alexius Health Williston, in our community. A hospital is an integral part of any community and Mercy/CHI has a very important history in our area.
W.S. Davidson Sr., former ASB&T Chairman of the Board had the pleasure of naming Mercy Hospital according an Anniversary Publication of Mercy Hospital. There are many stories to be told about how the Davidson Family supported the ministry of the Sisters of Mercy, not only in spirit, but in very practical ways. Mr. Davidson always made sure the hospital would thrive, both physically and financially, in difficult times.
“The people of Williston were very friendly to us. W.S. Davidson, Sr., Chairman of the Board of American State Bank, gave us financial assistance and he had the pleasure of naming Mercy Hospital.” (From notes of Sr. M. Alyosius).
There is very little in the archives regarding the enormous debt owed to the Davidson Family. From the first day, the Davidson family supported the ministry of the Sisters of Mercy not only in spirit but in very practical ways. There were the stories of Sister Eugene mentioning in passing, of course, to Mr. Davidson, “Things are going well at the hospital, but we haven’t had meat for a week or so”.
It was certainly of no coincidence that the following day several slaughtered steers would show up at the hospital’s door. Or take, for example, the story of equally difficult times during the depression when the hospital had difficulty meeting its payroll and paying its bills. At the checks approaching $80,000 which were honored by the bank but which the bank literally sat on until the hospital could make good through its cash balances.
Being an unassuming man who was absolutely committed to the Sister’s ministry, Mr. Davidson took little or no credit for his support of the Mercy Hospital and the Sisters and, indeed, suffered the wrath of unhappy bank examiners. However, we are told in his own way Mr. Davidson gave the bank examiner his own form of an education when his banking practices in support of the Sisters were questioned.
ASB&T always had strong ties to the hospital. Dr. E.J. Hagan Sr, the father of the ASB&T Director Emeritus Dr. E.J. Hagan Jr., began practicing medicine in Williston in 1905. In an Anniversary Publication of Mercy Hospital, it states “Mercy Hospital stands today as a monument to his interest in the city and concern for those in need of medical attention.”
Dr. Edward Jordan Hagan Sr. was a medical man of distinction who was not averse in his day to travelling many miles into the country to make a sick call.
In a lifetime which required extreme self-sacrifice as a doctor of medicine in a growing prairie town of Williston, North Dakota.
Dr. Hagan tilted the scales of human health in many a patient’s favor by disregarding the danger of tedious and time-consuming modes of travel to reach an isolated bedside.
Dr. Hagan was born in 1871 in Zurich, Ontario, and began his medical career in Williston in 1905. Dr. Hagan was an honor graduate of Trinity Medical School at the University of Toronto and attended schools of medicine in New York, Chicago and London.
In 1920, at the urging of Dr. Hagan, the Sisters of Mercy established the Mercy Hospital of Williston. Though the untiring effort of Dr. Hagan along with Father E.P. O’Neill, the Sisters of Mercy extended their ministry from Devils Lake, North Dakota, to found the Mercy Hospital of Williston.
In 1913, Dr. Hagan married Ms. Joan Garvey in Peterborough, Ontario. Their four children are Dr. Edward Hagan Jr., also a former member of the active staff of the Mercy Hospital of Williston and currently involved in a number of activities within Mercy Medical Center*; Mrs. Peter Nygaard (Kathleen), Mrs. W.G. Beddow (Eveleen), and Genevieve Hagan.
Dr. Hagan died in 1928 but Mercy Hospital stands today as a monument to his interest in the city and concern for those in need of medical attention.
*Dr Edward Hagan Jr passed away in 2008.