Fourth-grade project leads to statue honoring doctor

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006

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Tom Fedor⁄The Gazette
Ballenger Creek Elementary School fifth-grader Sam Williamson, 10, wrote an award-winning essay in fourth-grade teacher Frances Yolch’s class last year.

After winning an essay contest sponsored by the Frederick Historical Society, Samuel Williamson, 10, has taken a small classroom assignment to the next level.

The subject of his assignment, which he completed in Frances Yolch’s fourth-grade class, will be immortalized as a statue on the grounds of Frederick Memorial Hospital.

‘‘I am not surprised that Sam wrote a good essay or that he was one of the winners,” Yolch said.

Given the chance to choose from a list of 50 historical figures in Frederick County, Sam chose to write an essay on Dr. Ulysses Grant Bourne.

‘‘I was just looking through the names to find the coolest one,” said Sam, now a fifth-grader at Ballenger Creek Elementary School.

The task was difficult for the youngster, with information on Bourne being extremely slim on the Internet. Sam was forced to use alternate sources. He found more information at the Frederick Historical Society after searching through a number of documents and contacting one of Bourne’s daughters.

Sam later found that Bourne, known for his contributions to the medical profession, provided medical care to all people in a time when African-Americans had not yet gained civil rights.

In his essay, Sam states Bourne led a ‘‘...quiet fight for civil rights, doing whatever he could to give African-Americans more opportunities.”

Born in 1873, Bourne became the first black doctor to receive medical privileges at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

His daughter, Isabella Blanche Bourne-Tyree, went on to become the first woman of any color to receive a medical degree in the area.

Because of the area’s segregation laws at the time restricting medical care for African Americans at other hospitals, Dr. Bourne and his friend, Dr. Brooks, opened the first black hospital in Frederick in 1919 on West All Saints Street.

Bourne was also president of the Frederick area NAACP for 20 years, and active with many other organizations.

Inspired by Bourne’s great contributions to Frederick County’s history, Sam is now working to have a statue built in remembrance of Bourne.

On Sept. 14, Sam met with the NAACP, hoping to receive help with his idea.

And on Oct. 3, Sam received approval from Thomas Kleinhazl, president of Frederick Memorial Hospital, for a statue to be placed on hospital premises. Kleinhazl agreed that a statue of Dr. Bourne could be placed at the hospital, at a location to be determined.

Now, Sam is seeking the community’s help for construction costs.

Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible donation can send it to ‘‘The FMH Dr. Ulysses G. Bourne Fund,” in care of Frederick Memorial Hospital, P.O. Box 1093, Frederick, MD 21702. A receipt of donation will be mailed back to all donors.

Bourne’s daughter also started the Dr. Ulysses G. Bourne Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, in memory of her father. The fund is held by the Community Foundation of Frederick County. Applicants must be in the 12th grade, currently attending a Frederick County public school. Applicants must also plan to enroll in a four-year educational institution after graduation with the intentions of pursuing a career in healthcare.

Preference is given to any applicant wishing to become a medical doctor, like Dr. Bourne.

Further information about the Dr. Ulysses G. Bourne Memorial Scholarship Fund can be found online at