J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, Huntingdon, Pa.

Wish You Were Here reflects the value of postcards as tools for learning about the past, with images drawn from Manuscript Group 213, Postcard Collection, Pennsylvania State Archives.

“Son arrived this eve 730.” I. John Schipper, born in 1878 in Pekin, Illinois, wrote to a Mrs. F.L. Velde, also of Pekin, on July 5 in the early 1920s – the year is unreadable in the postmark. “Edith is doing fine,” he continued. “In this hospital Room marked X. Tell all my friends please.”

Schipper, a resident of Six Mile Run, Huntingdon County, at the time, was manager of mines for the Schipper Brothers Coal Company and his recipient was the wife of prominent Illinois attorney Franklin L. Velde. The company, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, was organized in 1902 and worked nearly a dozen mines “in the Broad Top region of Pennsylvania.” The trade name of the company’s product was Juniata Smokeless Coal.

The proud parents I. John Schipper (1878-1964) and Edith Boardman Schipper (1872-1958), later moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, with two sons and a daughter.

The J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, located in the county seat of Huntingdon, was given to the community by Kate Fisher Blair in memory of her husband John Chalmers “J.C.” Blair, inventor and manufacturer, beginning in 1878, of padded paper tablets. Located on “Hospital Hill,” the massive building was designed by Edwin Tilton, New York City, architect of the Carnegie Library and the Stone Church of the Brethren on the campus of Juniata College in Juniata, Juniata County.

Kate Fisher Blair announced her intention to build a hospital on January 1, 1909, giving Huntingdon cachet for its gift; communities with hospitals attracted new residents and businesses. The hospital opened its doors in 1911. As early as 1946 hospital trustees realized the building had become inadequate and so it was demolished to make way for a larger, technologically advanced institution. The community feted the hospital on its centennial in 2011. The advanced, state-of-the-art medical facility has 100 beds and serves Huntingdon and the surrounding area.