West Virginia State Nurses' Association


Founders of the West Virginia State Nurses' Association
Mrs. Harriett Camp Lounsbery, Miss Emma Auhring & Mrs. Margaret J. Steele

Harriett Camp Lounsbery

     Mrs. Harriett Camp Lounsbery, born in Indiana in 1851, attended the seminary at Saratoga Springs, New York, where her father was an Episcopal minister. She graduated from the Brooklyn Homeopathic Hospital and served as its Superintendent for seven years, for which she was paid $10 a month, plus her maintenance. In 1890 she moved to West Virginia with her husband, Dr. George Lounsbery, when he was named industrial physician at Coalburg.
     During the Spanish-American War, Mrs. Lounsbery volunteered her services as a nurse in the U. S. Army and was assigned as Chief Nurse at Camp Chickamauga, Georgia. She was in charge of a tent hospital containing one thousand beds and had 160 nurses on her staff. Mrs. Lounsbery was a member of the Jas. C. Russell Spanish-American War Veterans.
     During the first decade of the Twentieth Century, Mrs. Lounsbery worked to establish the State Nurses' Association. She met in her Charleston home with Miss Auhring and Mrs. Steele and they formed the West Virginia Graduate Nurses' Association, with Mrs. Lounsbery serving as president.
     Mrs. Lounsbery was a school nurse in Charleston during the period of World War I and served as recruitment chairman for the state during that time.
     Following graduate work at Columbia and Western Reserve, she published several nursing text books. She and her husband moved to Huntington in 1923, where he died in 1938. She was the editor of the State Nurses' Association magazine, Weather VAne. Mrs. Lounsbery died March 24, 1946.

Emma Auhring

     Emma Auhring, born about 1865 in Indiana, was a graduate of Christ Hospital School of Nursing in Cincinnati in 1901. She served as superintendent of Charleston General Hospital, 1902-1903. In October 1903, she met with Mrs. Lounsbery and Mrs. Steele and participated in organizing the State Nurses' Association. Miss Auhring held the office of vice-president but her membership was short-lived. She moved to Boston in 1904 and later to Louisville and Versailles, Ky. In the 1930 Census of Woodford County, Kentucky, Miss Emma "Ahring," 65, was the Superintendant at the Woodford Memorial Hospital in Versailles City. She retired in 1935. According to the Kentucky death index, she died December 4, 1940 in Jefferson County at the age of 76 (Volume 058; Cert 28882; Death vol 40).


Submitted by Susan Buffin.

Woodford [Ky] Sun, July 16, 1936


After Over 20 Years as Superintendent
Will be Succeeded By Mrs. Elsie Greathouse Talbott.

     Miss Emma Auhring, who recently offered her resignation as superintendent of the Woodford Memorial hospital to the hospital board, will relinquish her position August 1.
     She will be succeeded as superintendent by Mrs. Elsie Greathouse Talbott, of Lexington, formerly of Woodford county.
     Miss Ahring retires after having been superintendentof the local hospital more than 20 years (since Feb 1, 1916), and after a continuous nursing service of 42 years.
     She went into training for her profession in 1894. She came to Versailles from Christ hospital, Cincinnati. Miss Ahring expects to make her home at Louisville.
     Miss Ahring has the profound respect - we had almost said reverence of all who know what she has done for the Woodford hospital in 20 years. The noble labors of noble women in this town and county have made it, but Miss Ahring has been to it like the keystone in an arch. She has toiled for it, clung to it, given hrself to it, as if it were everything to her. It is exceedingly difficult to think of it without her. We owe her a debt which we can never pay.....

Woodford [Ky] Aug 6, 1936


With Goodbye Party By the Hospitl Board
Is Recipient of Gifts.

     Many friends of Miss Emma Ahring, who retired Friday as supertendent of the Woodford Memorial hospital after filling that position for 20 years, attended a "goodbye party" in her honor Thursday afternoon, from 2 to 4, at the Woman's Club rooms.
     The entertainment was given by the hospital board..... presented with a case of flat silver.... received a number of individual gifts ....Miss Ahring left Saturday for Louisville, where she will go to housekeeping in an apartment.


Provided by the Woodford County Historical Society.

     Miss Emma Ahring, 76, for 20 years superintendent of Woodford Memorial Hospital, died December 5th [1940] of a heart attack at her home in Louisville. She served as a Spanish-American War nurse, and at a hospital in Cincinnati before coming to Versailles as superintendent on February 1, 1916. She resigned from the local hospital in July of 1936. Burial was in Rest Haven Cemetery, Louisville.

Note: Another obit gives her place of birth as Santa Claus, Indiana.

Margaret J. Steele

     Mrs. Margaret J. Steele graduated in 1901 from the Thomas Hospital School of Nursing, Charleston, W. Va., later known as Charleston General Hospital. Of the three nurses who founded the State Nurses' Association, she was the secretary-treasurer. She was one of West Virginia's earliest nurse specialists in massage and mechano-therapy.

Mrs. Susan B. Cook

     Mrs. Susan B. Cook was the second president of the State Nurses' Association, following Mrs. Lounsbery's resignation in 1915. She was also one of the incorporators of the SNA in 1933. - See Biography


  • "A Half Century of Nursing in West Virginia, 1907-1957," by Donovan H. Bond, 1957.
  • "A History of Nursing in West Virginia," W. Va. State Nurses' Association, circa 1940.