Profiles from the Archives: Dr. Hodge A. Newell

Author: 
Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist

Hodge Albert Newell was born on August 22, 1883, in Franklin County, North Carolina, to Rev. George W. and Sarah Coppedge Newell. By 1900, the Newell family was living in Louisburg, North Carolina. Hodge Newell attended college as an undergraduate studying medicine at Wake Forest College in Wake Forest, North Carolina; he was a member of the Medical Class at Wake Forest in 1903. Newell graduated with a medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1906. He began practicing medicine in Louisburg, North Carolina, after graduating with his medical degree. On June 2, 1909, Hodge Newell married Janet E. Hayes, but she died the following year. In 1915, he married his first wife’s sister—Mary Hayes.

 

Hodge Newell was commissioned by North Carolina governor William W. Kitchin on April 21, 1910, as a First Lieutenant in the North Carolina Army National Guard’s Medical Corps. He was inducted into federal military service in 1916, when the United States sent various National Guard units to New Mexico and Texas as part of what was known as the Mexican Border Crisis (or the Mexican Border War). Newell served along the Mexican border in the U.S. Army Medical Corps with the rank of Captain. After returning from the Mexican border in 1917, Newell was promoted to Major, and appointed by the governor of North Carolina as Chief Surgeon of the State of North Carolina.

 

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Dr. Hodge Newell was serving in the 3rd Infantry, North Carolina National Guard, which was based in Henderson, North Carolina. On August 5, 1917, Newell was drafted into federal military service in the U.S. Army’s Medical Corps, and sent for training to Camp Sevier in South Carolina. Newell was assigned as a Major to the 105th Sanitary Train, 30th Division, U.S. Army. He served overseas in Europe from May 8, 1918, through April 2, 1919, and was honorably discharged from active service on April 12, 1919. Newell was involved in the Aisne-Marne and Champagne campaigns. On January 13, 1919, Major Newell was transferred to being the commanding officer of the 105th Sanitary Train in France.

 

Upon returning to the United States from the war, Hodge Newell moved to the city of Henderson in Vance County, North Carolina, in 1919, where he practiced medicine as an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist. Newell was the initiating force in the construction and later expansion of the Maria Parham Hospital in Henderson, and would serve for 25 years as medical director and manager of the hospital, until he was called into service in World War II. Newell served for 25 years as chairman of the Henderson (N.C.) School Board. He was a charter member of the Henderson Rotary Club, and held numerous offices in the American Legion. On June 25, 1925, Newell was promoted to the rank of Colonel in the North Carolina Army National Guard’s Medical Corps. At that time, he was assigned the command of the 105th Medical Regiment, 30th Division, U.S. Army Reserves, at their headquarters in Henderson, North Carolina.

 

During World War II, Hodge Newell was called into active service as commander of the 105th Medical Regiment, 30th Division, while they were stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. In the early days of the war, the U.S. War Department had not planned for sufficient installations and sanitary facilities at Fort Jackson. Reportedly, it was largely due to the pressure on soldiers by Col. Hodge Newell and his staff regarding the observation of proper military sanitation practices, that health conditions at the camp remained at a good level despite the poor facilities. Later, Newell was assigned to be the post surgeon at Fort McPherson in Georgia. He retired from the U.S. Army at the end of World War II in 1945 with the rank of Colonel.

 

Dr. Hodge Newell was a member of the North Carolina Medical Society for over 50 years. He was a member of the Southern Medical Society, and the American Medical Society. He also served as the surgeon for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. Dr. Hodge A. Newell died on November 2, 1956, in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Louisburg, North Carolina.

 

To learn more about Dr. Hodge Newell’s WWI service, check out the Hodge A. Newell Collection (WWI 65) held in the WWI Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C.

 

This blog post is part of the State Archives of North Carolina’s World War I Social Media Project, an effort to bring original WWI archival materials to the public through the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ (NCDNCR) various social media platforms, in order to increase access to the items during the WWI centennial celebration by the state of North Carolina.

 

Between February 2017 and June 2019, the State Archives of North Carolina will be posting blog articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts, featuring WWI archival materials which are posted on the exact 100th anniversary of their creation during the war. Blog posts will feature interpretations of the content of WWI documents, photographs, diary entries, posters, and other records, including scans of the original archival materials, held by the State Archives of North Carolina, and will be featured in the NCDNCR’s WWI centennial blog.

 

References

 

Historical information used to create this biography comes from the following sources:

 

“Henderson Doctor Dies,” obituary for Hodge A. Newell, Raleigh News & Observer, November 3, 1956

 

North Carolina Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Application for Membership for Colonel Hodge Albert Newell, March 4, 1930

 

Henry Dozier Russell, The Purge of the Thirtieth Division, edited by Lawrence M. Kaplan, Naval Institute Press, 2014, pp. 19

 

Biographical Note, finding aid for Hodge Newell Collection (CD 01.91), The Country Doctor Museum, at The William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA, https://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/CD01-91

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