The County Receiving Hospital was a small emergency hospital on Franklin Street in the late 1800s and early 1900s, on the same block as the historic Hall of Records. The hospital first opened in August 1880 in a temporary location in the basement of the Hall of Records. 6 Despite the opening of Highland Hospital in 1927, the receiving hospital was still open as late as 1928.

A report on the hospital gave the following numbers for 1904: 8

  • 3,382 patients treated; 29 died (most of them a few months later)
  • 18 attempted suicides by poison; only one died
  • 134 patients received at the "insane ward"; 91 were committed to the state hospital

Not bad for a hospital with a capacity of 22 patients.


The chief surgeon for a number of years was Dr. O. D. Hamlin, father of attorney and later judge O. D. Hamlin, Jr.

Person Position Years Notes
William T. Hurll steward 1880- 6
Dr. H. T. Leger county physician -1891 4
Dr. Murrey. L. Johnson physician in charge 1891-1893 4,13
Rasmus H. Larsen steward 1889-1893 3,13
Annie L. Larsen matron 1892-1893 13
William J. Keating warden of insane ward 1897-1899 10,12
Dr. R. T. Stratton doctor 1899-1902 2,10
Hattie McDonald matron 1899 10
Dr. O. D. Hamlin chief surgeon 1902-1912 1,2,5,9
Harry A. Borchert steward 1907-1908 7
Martha Davis nurse 1907 16
Dr. M. L. Emerson doctor ? 16
Annie Folger nurse ? 16

Love is in the air...

The front page of the June 8th, 1899 Oakland Tribune included the headline: "Wm. Keating Is Accused By Barnett". 10 William J. Keating was the warden of the "insane ward", and Isaac Barnett was a produce dealer who lived nearby. The charge? Keeping company with Barnett's 19-year-old daughter, Selma Barnett, and taking her to "questionable places." Barnett went to the hospital to get an explanation, and a fight ensued. Barnett said, "You have ruined my daughter." 14

The county board of supervisors investigated; Dr. Stratton testified in Keating's favor, and matron McDonald told of what she saw ("the most disgraceful affair." 14) When questioned by the board, Keating strongly asserted his innocence. The investigation continued, and witnesses were called. The sheriff noted that he had been unable to serve the subpoena for Miss Kittie Welch. 11

As the investigation went on,15 Keating eventually resigned his position. But William and Selma had the final say: they eloped to San Rafael and were married. 12 They went on to have ten children, and countless grandchildren and other descendants. Sadly, Selma died in 1915.

...or are those germs?

"Love Germs Located In Oakland Hospital":

"Think of it! Cupid's germs have been located in the Alameda County Receiving Hospital, a place that seems immune from all germs with the exception of those directly pertaining to emergency cases of painful injuries. The quiet, innocent looking institution run by the county down on Franklin street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, is the home of the germ that sets the heart throbbing and creates business for the house on the same block, where the marriage licenses are procured." 16

Deputy sheriff John J. "Jack" Sherry's beat included the area of the hospital, and he would occasionally drop in to check on things. Auburn-haired nurse Martha Davis was often called to the bedside of patients, and the pair soon became friends. Over the years, it developed into more than friendship, and on June 12, 1907, they married. Hospital steward Harry Borchert was the best man, and Minnie Sutherland was the bridesmaid. Census data suggests the Sherrys didn't have any children, but remained together the rest of their lives. Jack died in 1938.

This was not the first case of the "germ" at the hospital. Dr. M. L. Emerson and nurse Alice Folger met while working at the hospital, and were later married. 16

1903 Sanborn excerpt

Links and References

  1. Alameda County Receiving Hospital Is Model of Its Kind in California and Unsurpassed in United States Oakland Tribune May 26, 1907
  2. Surgeons of the Receiving Hospital Oakland Tribune December 30, 1902
  3. A Receiving Hospital Steward Appointed Oakland Tribune July 28, 1889
  4. Board of Supervisors Oakland Tribune January 12, 1891
  5. Dr. O. D. Hamlin Back From East Oakland Tribune June 29, 1909
  6. The Receiving Hospital Oakland Tribune August 20, 1880
  7. Supervisors Will Remove Borchert Oakland Tribune August 15, 1908
  8. County Officers' Reports Oakland Tribune January 3, 1905
  9. Dr. Hamlin Heads Medical Society San Francisco Call April 19, 1912
  10. Wm. Keating Is Accused By Barnett Oakland Tribune June 8, 1899
  11. Investigation of Charges Against W. J. Keating Oakland Tribune July 8, 1899
  12. Keating Elopes With The Girl He Loved Oakland Tribune October 30, 1899
  13. Husted's Oakland 1892-1893
  14. An Angry Father Threatens Keating San Francisco Call June 8, 1899
  15. Keeper of Insane Keating's Trial Proves A Farce San Francisco Call July 2, 1899
  16. Love Germs Located In Oakland Hospital Oakland Tribune June 13, 1907