The Story of Our First Patients

It’s a story that’s hard to fathom.

ArmintroutA Piketon couple is traveling through Lancaster on their way to Athens when an oncoming train smashes into their vehicle. The wife, five months pregnant, is thrown from the vehicle, her body coming to rest on the train’s metal cowcatcher. The husband is bleeding profusely from injuries that include a fractured pelvic bone and broken ribs. In just a single moment, their lives have changed forever.

On Aug. 29, 1916, four days after the accident that almost kills Olney and Edith Armintrout of Piketon, the newlyweds become the very first patients at Lancaster Municipal Hospital – now known as Fairfield Medical Center.

Their incredible story is front-page news in the local paper, The Lancaster Daily Gazette. Under the headline, ‘1st Patients at Hospital: Mr. and Mrs. Armintrout of Piketon,’ is an article that describes how the Armintrouts are initially transported to the nearby Martens Hotel, where they stay for two days under the supervision of a local doctor and nurse.

However, when an X-ray shows that Olney has a fractured pelvic bone, the Armintrouts are moved to Lancaster Municipal Hospital, which is still in the hands of the building committee. The hospital will not have its official opening until more than a month later.

The Armintrouts remain at Lancaster Municipal Hospital for 23 days. In their medical records, they are identified as “Patient No. 1” and “Patient No. 2.”

Arline TrustyFollowing the accident and more than three weeks of treatment at the hospital, Edith and Olney go on to have five children and to run a large farm and gas station in Piketon. Their oldest child, Pauline, was the child Edith was carrying when she was involved in the accident. Arline Trusty, their only child who is still living, resides in Piketon and knows only a few details about the crash that nearly killed her parents.

“It wasn’t something they talked about very much when I was growing up,” Arline said.

However, she does remember how her mother, for reasons unknown, kept the blouse that she was wearing the day of the accident.

“When their car hit the train, my mother was thrown from the vehicle and she landed on the train’s cowcatcher,” Arline said. “Her blouse got wound up on a part of the train. I remember it didn’t even look like a blouse. It was covered in grease.”

Arline said people are often shocked when they hear Olney and Edith’s story, especially considering that Edith was pregnant at the time and she and her husband were not immediately transported to the hospital for medical care.

“They were amazing people, and their story is even more amazing,” she said.

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