Looking Back: Florence Nightingale of Camp Dick Robinson

Published 6:37 am Saturday, February 10, 2018


Contributing writer

A Garrard County woman, known throughout the United States as “Florence Nightingale of Camp Dick Robinson,” for nursing wounded and sick soldiers from battles in the Civil War, was not rewarded for her service until 55 years after the war.

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Elizabeth “Eliza” Hoskins Farris, also known as “Angel of the Hospital”, grew up on a farm near Camp Dick Robinson that housed Union soldiers. She got her name from a Federal soldier, Horace Maynard, whom she nursed through a sickness and by her kindly administrations and careful nursing, enabled to again be in his command and renew the struggle for his country’s cause.

Loyalty to the Union was a strong incentive which prompted her to volunteer as a nurse and counselor in caring for the sick at her house at no charge.

She later filed a claim for the services with Congress.

Senator William O. Bradley of Lancaster, sought to have Congress to recognize and reward Elizabeth by an appropriation of $1,000, but the request was declined.

“Mrs. Farris is one of the best and most kind-hearted of women,” Bradley said as he presented the money to her a month before she died.

“She also is a woman of rare intelligence of sweetness and mother of one of the best families in Kentucky.

“Her father William Hoskins, of Garrard County, although he had a number of slaves, was a strong Union man and offered to given them up if necessary to save the Union.”

While Congress declined to the request, and 12 of Bradley’s colleagues from across the United States volunteered to subscribe to a fund for her benefit, promptly taking advantage of the situation and raised $1,050 for Elizabeth. The money and a letter sent to her explained the gift.

Elizabeth was noted for her hospitality and her father’s table, at which she presided and had for its guests many of the distinguished military men of the day – General Sherman, Thomas and Nelson, and Andrew Johnson, who was so pleased with the hospitality extended him at the Hoskins’ home that he returned and spent an entire summer as their guest.

Bradley, a long-time friend of Elizabeth, related in detail the acts of kindness shown by her to the distressed soldiers, and expressed keen disappointment, that now in her old age and feeble condition, and when her circumstances had become reduced, that Congress had declined her request for appropriation of $1,000.

Bradley was the 32nd governor of Kentucky and the first Republican governor in Kentucky, and was a state legislator.

After the war, Elizabeth and James Farris, were married, and lived on a farm north of Lancaster. The did not have children.

Born April 12, 1822, near Bryantsville in Garrard County, she was a daughter of William Hoskins and Elizabeth Bright. She died April 11, 1912, in Lancaster the day after an early birthday celebration.

She was survived by great nieces, Mrs. Robert Elkin and Mrs. Joseph E. Robinson, both of Lancaster; a great-nephew Major William Hoskins Collier of Louisville, and nieces Mrs. Robert Harding and Mrs. Richard Dobyus of Danville.