History of the Abercrombie Guild

historical photo of the Abercrombie Guild members

Early in 1874 the Ladies’ Hospital Guild began with a membership of 20 women. Month after month this handful of devoted women met, planned, worked and prayed for a cause that daily grew dearer to their hearts. The Hospital (Christ Hospital) stood on the brim of Bergen Hill because of the boundless faith and tireless work of its founder, Reverend Richard Mason Abercrombie.

It was a struggle to maintain the hospital's existence in those bleak days. Through clouds of discouragement, debt and poverty, nothing could daunt the beautiful faith of Rev. Abercrombie and his band of hospital workers.

As he left home one morning knowing he had no money to feed his family or pay the mounting bills of the hospital, a young man stopped him and told him he was looking for a minister to marry him. In the afternoon Rev. Abercrombie performed the ceremony and the young man placed fifty dollars in the Reverend’s hand.

Rev. Abercrombie returned home and gave his wife ten dollars to feed his family and rushed joyfully to the hill and placed the remainder into the treasury at his beloved hospital.

The Ladies’ Guild continued on to secure money and supplies for current expenses and invested money for future needs.

They took special pride in the endowment of a bed for a Children’s Ward, unique for the community. Here, little children, many from crowded tenement houses were faithfully and tenderly cared for, nursed, fed, and clothed. At a meeting in 1874 the Guild decided the endowed bed would be called the “Daisy Bed,” and it was the beginning of more donations from around the county for more beds.

In 1877 the first copy of “The Daisy,” a little paper, was published and more offerings were received, many from children, and a unit was created with more beds dedicated to the children called “The Daisy Ward.”

In 1885 the Guild, which had grown to over 77 members, faced the question of incorporation. This was a necessity, in order to obtain a legal right to hold and to invest the contributed funds accumulating in its hands. In October the Guild became legally incorporated under the name, “The Abercrombie Guild,” in the remembrance of the beloved Reverend Richard Mason Abercrombie who rested from his labors December 7, 1884. The Guild’s mission was to be “the aid of the sick.”

Over the years, many of the women of the Guild would visit the “Daisy Ward” and mend torn garments worn by the smallest of patients. Other Guild members chose their line of service, whether it be the gift of time, money, food, clothing, sewing, collecting funds, reading, visiting, or whatsoever.

The Abercrombie Guild met regularly every month from September to June. Its goal was the securing and safe investment of funds that were to be bequeathed and donated.

These funds have allowed the Abercrombie Guild to purchase much needed, up-to-date medical equipment for the Pediatric, Maternity and Emergency Department at the hospital, (Emergency Crash Carts, Fetal Heart Monitors, Newborn Hearing Screening Machine, Infant Incubators, Pediatric and Newborn Security Systems, Safety Cribs and Beds, and Sleeper Chairs for parents who stayed overnight with their child, as well as electronic TV/DVD players for education and entertainment while hospitalized). They also provided cheerful pajamas and at the holidays, toys for the hospitalized children who thought they would be forgotten.

The Abercrombie Guild also has supported nursing education in Hudson County by providing funds for teaching equipment and providing many scholarships for deserving students to acquire their nursing degree. Most of the recipients went on to work in local health care facilities.

On the western slope of the northern end of Bergen Hill, in Hoboken Cemetery lies a burial plot provided by the Abercrombie Guild, defined by small marble posts and a large cross. In 1921 the name of the Abercrombie Guild appeared on it and over the years has provided a burial area for friendless patients and defrayed the funeral costs.

After the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma and the horror and loss of life, the Abercrombie Guild donated and had planted a young tree in front of a local day-care center and along with an engraved stone in memory of the 19 children lost that day.

In 2013, when the not-for-profit Christ Hospital dissolved, the Abercrombie Guild amended its bylaws and redirected its efforts to support the Jersey City Medical Center that was expanding to serve the health care needs of the ever-growing community. This would fulfill their mission for “Care of the Sick in Hudson County.” They also included other non-profit organizations within Hudson County.

The Abercrombie Guild has donated to Hudson Hospice in Jersey City for their supportive care of cancer patients at home at a time when insurance did not cover this.

In 2015, $25,000 was donated to the JCMC for support of the Women’s Health Center on Newark Avenue. The Guild believed every woman deserves access to quality healthcare in the community.

In 2021, a $1,000 donation was made to support the JCMC Madeline Fiadini LoRe Infusion Center to provide state-of-the-art cancer treatment locally.

In 2018, the Abercrombie Guild made a pledge of $100,000 for a Lactation Room in the new Maternity Wing at the JCMC.

In 2021, The Jersey City Medical Center began construction on the new Emergency Department area. The Abercrombie Guild was in discussion of dissolving their 148-year organization and how to best honor its long philanthropic history. Thoughts of their beginning and how their 20 original members took special pride in helping the youngest, most vulnerable of the community, aided them in deciding to use all of their investments to finance the Pediatric Emergency Department construction. This would be a most appropriate use of their assets. The original 20 members, as well as the many members over the years of service would certainly approve.

It is the honor and privilege of the remaining members of the Abercrombie Guild to make their final donation. This will not really be an end, but a beginning to provide “Care of the Sick” for the youngest, most vulnerable of the community in the state-of-the-art, “JCMC Abercrombie Guild Pediatric Emergency Department.” A lasting legacy.

View Abercrombie Guild photo gallery

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