Office of G.O. McClellan, M.D. (1939-1989)
At this location, which is now an apartment complex, an estimated 10,000 babies were delivered during a time when rural medicine exclusively served southern West Virginia. The town's first mayor, Dr. G.O. McClellan, was the doctor of record for those estimated 10,000 births. Dr. McClellan practiced family medicine in the rural town of West Hamlin for 52 years. He began his practice at the age of 27. In 1939, Dr. McClellan purchased the land where he built his office that served Lincoln County residents for a half century.
Backstory and Context
It is known that Dr. McClellan often made home visits to patients who had no transportation, providing health care to people who would have otherwise gone without . Home visits were one of many ways that Dr. McClellan went above and beyond in his service to the people of rural Lincoln County, West Virginia. Though Dr. McClellan began a successful and much needed medical practice at West Hamlin in 1937, his service and philanthropy went beyond his chosen profession. G.O. McClellan served for 10 years as the first mayor of then newly incorporated town of West Hamlin, taking office on April 7th, 1947. It has often been reported among the community that Dr. McClellan would provide care even when patients couldn't afford the office visit fee or the medicine administered. Prior to regulatory restrictions, Dr. McClellan kept penicillin on premises and made it available to patients to take home in solution form (after getting the first dose via injection). McClellan's good reputation, service, and acts of generosity within the community led to several accolades during his life and posthumously.
McClellan was part of the first graduating class of Guyan Valley High School in 1929. The school gymnasium built in the 1970s was named in honor of Dr. McClellan. That building stands today though the school has since been converted to a middle school. The Guyan Valley Middle School, many businesses, and residents of Lincoln County have a physical address baring the McClellan name as the stretch of State Route 10 between Cabell and Logan Counties has been recognized as McClellan Highway by the West Virginia Department of Highways. In addition, the Town of West Hamlin is the proud home to a monument standing at the intersection of State Routes 10 and 3 which honors the life Dr. G.O. McClellan lived.
Many patients and employees spoke to Dr. McClellan with a familiarity, addressing him simply as "Doc". Current West Hamlin Town Recorder, Joanne Cardwell, worked for "Doc" McClellan in his office during the late 1970s. She served as a receptionist and mid-wife. Dr. McClellan's practice was a model of women's health care that bridged the gap between modern medicine and in office/home child delivery where midwives served to comfort and support new mothers. Ms. Cardwell remembers that Doc and his wife, Freddie, lived on the second story of the 4,340 square foot building while expecting mothers and new mothers would spend the night in the facilities downstairs. Mrs. McClellan often took the newborns to nurture, allowing new mothers' to rest. The doctor and his wife later owned a home less than a block from the medical office. They retained the office building for some years after Dr. McClellan retired from the medical practice in 1989. Dr. McClellan passed away in 1995. The office was purchased by another physician in May of 1997 but was reacquired by Dr. McClellan's widow in 2000. Mrs. Freddie McClellan seemingly purchased the building just to ensure that it was put to good use after the other medical practice left town. The property was presented to a non-profit group in 2001 and served as a youth center and missionary office until 2010. In 2010, the building was bought by a local couple who oversaw it's remodeling into the current commercial apartment complex.
Carson, Paul. "Honoring an institution." Charleston Gazette(Charleston), November 16, 1987.