DR. JAMES LYNN MAHAFFEY was born in Hillsdale, Pennsylvania in 1879. After graduating from Hillsdale High School in 1897 He attended the Teachers College of Indiana, graduating in 1898, then went to the Medico-Chirurgical College, graduating in 1902. He was a general practitioner. Dr. Mahaffey was appointed to the staff of Cooper Hospital and served as Chairman of Medicine from 1909 through 1929.
Dr. Mahaffey and Dr. Elmer Shall organized the Bellevue Hospital in Camden, at North 5th Street and Linden Street, in the mansion that had been the home of Senator William Joyce Sewell. The hospital opened up on March 21, 1921. Dr. Mahaffey was a member of the State Board of Health from 1926 through 1931, and was Director of the State Board of health from 1931 through 1946.
The North Camden Trust Company began business on May 4, 1926 in the banking house on Penn Street at North 6th and the Bridge Plaza. Dr. J. Lynn Mahaffey was the first President. He was also a member of the Camden Chamber of Commerce and was on that group's Board of Directors in 1928.
Dr. Mahaffey's professional affiliations included membership in the Camden County Medical Society, where he served a term as President; the State and Provincial Medical Officers of North America; the New Jersey Crippled Children's Committee; and he served on the executive committee of the State Tuberculosis Association of New Jersey.
Dr. J. Lynn Mahaffey was married to Alice Fogg. The marriage produced three children, J. Lynn Mahaffey Jr., Albert Mahaffey, and Alice F. Mahaffey. The Mahaffeys made their home at 408 Cooper Street in the late 1910s and early 1920s before moving to Haddonfield. New Jersey.
Last a resident of Haddonfield, New Jersey, Dr. J. Lynn Mahaffey passed away on November 1, 1948.
A few times in the past two months I have received several phone calls from readers asking if a hospital ever existed in North Camden next to the Ben Franklin Bridge and if so, what was its name.
The answer of course is, yes! The name of the facility was Bellevue Private Hospital and was located at 500 Linden Street in the shadow of the then Delaware River Bridge. One caller stated that he knew he was born there, but could not recall its name. We also told him to check his birth certificate for the name. He called back and said that, indeed, it was on the certificate.
As native of North Camden, I also remember the hospital. I recall my mother taking me there when I was very little to visit a friend of hers. I was told I had to wait in the lobby while she called on her sick friend. At that time children were not allowed to visit patients and it was customary for them to sit patiently in a waiting room or lobby. An interesting point also is that the building in which the hospital was housed was the former home of a Civil War hero and political figure.
The hospital got its start on March 1, 1921 when Drs. J. Lynn Mahaffey and E.R. Schall saw the need for the private medical facility in North Camden. However, a newspaper clipping disclosed that the papers of incorporation for the hospital were filed on April 13, 1937. The story stated that the private hospital would open on or about May 15, 1937.
But that same story also pointed out that for several years prior to the incorporation Mahaffey had conducted a private hospital of his own at that Linden Street address. After incorporation the building was renovated to accommodate at least 30 beds and the installation of up-to-date modern equipment.
Mahaffey, who died in 1948, had practiced medicine in Camden for 40 years, since 1904, and was state director of health from 1931 until 1943. His partner, Schall, came to Camden in 1919 and was associated with Camden County Tuberculosis Association clinic and the Camden Home for Children. He died in 1954. Both men are interred in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden. None of the clippings revealed when the hospital closed its doors.
Before it was a hospital it was the home of William Joyce Sewell, who was born on December 6, 1835 in Ireland. According to clips he immigrated to the United States in 1851 and moved to Camden in 1860. Sewell was a Civil War veteran and former state and US senator. When the Civil War started, He raised a company of volunteers, and was commissioned a Captain and commander of Company C, 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. During the war years he rose through the ranks from captain to colonel.
He fought at the Second Battle of Bull Run and led a unit in the May 1863 battle of Chancellorsville where he performed his most distinguished service of the war. Although wounded himself, he held his position, fending off several attacks before his troops, out of ammunition, had to retreat. His bravery in rallying his men would win him the Medal of Honor 33 years later and was the only New Jersey officer to be awarded such an honor while in command of a New Jersey regiment during the Civil War. Sewell recovered sufficiently from his wounds to be in command of the 5th New Jersey during the Gettysburg Campaign.
After the war Sewell returned to Camden, where he lived for the rest of his life. He built the large home at 500 Linden Street, which later housed the private hospital several years after he passed away.
Sewell became a powerful railroad executive and a power broker within New Jersey state politics. He was vice-president of the West Jersey Railroad, and held interest in the Camden and Amboy Railroad Company and the Camden and Atlantic Railroad Companies. He was a director of the Camden & Philadelphia Steamship Ferry Company, the Camden Safe Deposit & Trust Company, and the West Jersey Mutual Insurance Company.
In 1889, a syndicate composed Sewell, Edward Ambler Armstrong, and real estate promoters Edward C. Knight and Edward N. Cohn, purchased the Camden Horse Railroad Company and converted the entire line to electricity.
Sewell developed neighborhoods in Camden, Cape May, and Gloucester counties. The Sewell section of Washington Township is named for him. He also became an important political figure in Camden. He served in the New Jersey State Senate from 1872 to 1880, being its president from 1876 to 1880.
In 1881 Sewell was elected as a Senator from New Jersey in the United States Senate, serving from 1881 to 1887, and he was re-elected to the Senate in 1895. He served as a Brigadier General in the New Jersey National Guard and when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, President William McKinley appointed him as Major General of Volunteers, but he declined the commission, which would have forced him, resign his Senate seat.
Sewell died on December 27, 1901 and is buried in the Spring Grove section of Harleigh Cemetery.
Thomas A. Bergbauer is a retired journalist.
Camden Courier-Post - February 2, 1938
MEDICAL GROUP STUDIES CASES OF OTHER YEARS
Among case reports presented for discussion at a meeting of the Camden County Medical Society last night was one of a thigh fracture handled by a physician in 1866. It was presented by Dr. Paul M. Mecray.
Others presenting case reports were Dr. H. I. Goldstein, Dr. G. F. West, Dr. O. R. Kline, Dr. J. N. Barroway, Dr. T. B. Lee and Dr. P. H. Thompson.
More than 70 members of the society attended the meeting, which was held in the Camden City Dispensary, 725 Federal street.
Dr. J. Lynn Mahaffey, president of the society, conducted the meeting.
Camden Courier-Post * February 18, 1938
State Conference Will Be Held at State House in Trenton
Trenton, Feb, 17.- Public health activities and problems in New Jersey will feature the twenty-eighth annual conference of state and local health' officials tomorrow at the State House.
Sessions of the conference, which has' been declared by Dr. J. Lynn Mahaffey, state health director, to afford a clearinghouse for interchange of ideas for advancement of public health, will be held, in the Assembly Chamber. It will include morning, afternoon and night sessions. At least one delegate from each local board of health is expected to attend.
Health questions submitted in advance wil1 be answered during the morning session. Dr. Mahaffey will preside at the afternoon session and the list of speakers will include Walter W. Schofield, chief of the Bureau of Foods and Drugs, State Department of Health, who will discuss "Bakery Sanitation”; Dr. Julius Levy, consultant of the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, speaking on "Child and Maternal Health," and William H. MacDonald, chief of the Bureau of Local Health Administration, whose topic will be "A Decision Facing Small Municipalities and Most Townships."
Other speakers during this session are Health Officer Andrew J. Krog of Plainfield, "Pasteurization Ordinances," and Edwin Goemann, secretary, Board of Health, Cliffside Park,. "Follow-up of Tuberculosis Cases." "Training of Public Health Personnel'" will be discussed jointly by Richard D. Fellers, health officer of Nutley, and Edward Cumiskoy, acting health officer of North Bergen township. Dr. I.W. Knight, district health officer of Pitman, will speak on the topic "What are Reasonable Efforts' to Promote Diphtheria Immunization before asking for Free Toxoid. Motion pictures entitled "Venereal Disease, Prevention and' Control" will conclude the afternoon session.
The night meeting will open with the pneumonia film, "A New Day." Dr. R. E. Dyer chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, U.S. Public Health Service, will discuss "Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a New Health Problem in New Jersey."
"The Need of Coordinated Efforts in Combating Cancer," will be the topic of Dr. W. G. Herrman, president of the Medical Society of New Jersey..
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