Elizabeth Newcomb
Courtesy of Phil Fitzpatrick

Born: c. 1860

Died: May 31, 1938

Married: James Edward Newcomb

Elizabeth Wilmot Newcomb founded Stony Wold Sanatorium in 1901 on 1800 acres of a hillside overlooking Lake Kushaqua, just north of Brighton in the Town of Franklin. Her idea was to create a charitable sanatorium for the treatment of underprivileged young women suffering from TB. She was encouraged by her husband, Dr. James Edward Newcomb and by Dr. E.L. Trudeau, and received support from many prominent people of New York City as well as from AT&T, DuPont, Gould, Biggs, Potter, Pond, Morgan, and Rockefeller. Elizabeth Newcomb herself succumbed to TB in 1938.

Schenectady Gazette, May 31, 1938

Sanitarium Founder Dies in North Country

SARANAC LAKE, May 30 (AP).— Mrs. Elizabeth Wilmot Newcomb, 78, who founded Stony Wald tuberculosis- sanitarium for girls in 1902 at Lake Kushaqua, N. Y., died today at her camp near the sanitarium.

Mrs. Newcomb, born in Ithaca, was the wife of the late Dr. James Edward Newcomb, who served as a member of the medical staff of Roosevelt hospital in New York city.

The sanitarium was founded by Mrs. Newcomb as a means of aiding young girls who, suffering from tuberculosis, were unable to secure adequate medical treatment. She was also founder of the Santa Clara rest home at Santa Clara, N. Y.

Funds for the maintenance of the Lake Kushaqua sanitarium were largely supplied through the holding of an annual charity ball in New York city.

Funeral services will be held at the Lake Kushaqua Chapel Thursday.

Chateaugay Record and Franklin County Democrat, June 10, 1938

In the shadow of the sanatorium she labored to build for needy young women, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilmot Newcomb, who died Sunday, was buried Thursday on the grounds of Stonywold. Representatives of three faiths united in final tribute to the benefactor of hundreds of young women who regained their health through her philanthropic efforts, Rev. A. J. Dumont, confessor of Catholic patients, and Rabbi Solemen Schcoenkopf of Plattsburgh, counselor to Jewish patients, assisted Rev. Sidney Ruck, rector of St. Eustice's Episcopal church of Lake Placid, at the service. Mrs. Newcomb was the widow of the late Dr. James Edward Newcomb who, during his active years, was attached to the medical staff of the Roosevelt hospital, New York city. She was born in Ithaca but moved with her parents to New York when a child. In 1902 Mrs. Newcomb, assisted by members of the Sunday School Class in one of the New York city churches, founded Stonywold sanitarium at Lake Kushaqua. The institution grew and has been a means of arresting active lung trouble for thousands of young girls.

The Guild News, February 26, 1943

Her Faith and Courage Made a Dream Come True

By Eddie Vogt

Sometime ago it was found necessary to discontinue the Guild classes at Stony Wold Sanatorium due to the gasoline rationing, much to the regret of the patients and the teachers who made the trip out once a week. However, since then, everyone connected with it has been trying to figure a way out, and finally their efforts were rewarded when the rationing board gave them the 'go ahead.'

On February 19th, we were fortunate enough to be included in the first detachment to go out there, together with three of the teachers -- Mr. Gonzalez, Mrs. Levy, and Mrs. Slack -- and the Guild visitor, Miss Burrow. So impressed were we with the story behind the institution, that we decided to bring it to you.

If ever a place was built on faith and courage -- the faith and courage of one woman -- Stony Wold is that place. To give its complete history, one must go back to before the turn of the century. In those days, Elizabeth Wilmot Newcomb, wife of Dr. James E. Newcomb of the Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, like most ladies of her time, was interested in social work.

Her pet charity was the Working Girls' Vacation Society, which was responsible for sending poor and undernourished working girls of New York to the country for a week or two in the summer. However it wasn't long before she realized that many of these girls needed more than just a few weeks' rest, and that it would soon be necessary to separate those who were in need of medical attention and care. 

It was then that Mrs. Newcomb remembered the place in the Adirondacks where she and Dr. Newcomb had spent many summers fishing; remembered its clear, crisp air and the restfulness of its surroundings. She took over a house at Santa Clara and established a sort of rest and cure cottage, with a doctor and nurse in attendance, but at once she knew that this place was never going to be able to accommodate all the girls she wanted to send up there. 

She sought the advice of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, and he encouraged her. He showed her an advertisement that he had just seen that morning in the Malone paper, offering for sale 1200 acres on beautiful Lake Kushaqua. She went to Malone, made a down payment, and signed the papers for the purchase of the property, which was then owned by the Leonard brothers of that city, and had been used as a summer hotel.

Then she left immediately for New York to start the campaign to raise the necessary funds. A rummage sale took care of the first payment of five hundred dollars, but she still needed thousands and thousands. By sheer enthusiasm and personality, she interested her friends in her cause. They organized Women's Auxiliaries, which helped immensely, also the Chi Kappa Club, which is still a patron.

When Mrs. Newcomb had raised $15,000 she at once signed contracts for $90,000, so confident was she that her project could not fail. Nor did it. She canvassed friends and philanthropists, and seldom was she refused. Her largest donation was one of $25,000 from Mr. William D. Rockefeller.

To tell the entire story of how she gave every minute of her time, of how she practically commuted between here and New York City, and of how she oversaw every step of the clearing of the property and the erection of the buildings, even going so far as to break up a strike among the workmen, would take much more space than, unfortunately, is at our disposal. However in 1902 the cornerstone was laid, and in 1903, Stony Wold Sanatorium was opened. At that time there were accommodations for sixty women and children. In 1929 a wing was added, which now makes possible the care of 145 patients.

The main building is still one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in this country. the picturesque little chapel represented on our front page was built in 1912.

In 1908, Mrs. Newcomb received a certificate and medal of honor from President Theodore Roosevelt for her work. Both of these are on the wall of the lounge at Stony Wold, and on the opposite side of the room there is a large oil painting of her, looking down as if she were still directing the destinies of the place and people she loved so well. 

However, she need have no fears, for Dr. Wayne Henning, medical director, and his assistant, Dr. Thomas B. Merner, Mr. O. J. Sandaas, the business manager, Mrs. Lowell Decker, the hostess, Miss Gertrude Cribben, R.N., directoress of nurses, and many others who knew and loved her, carry on.

Elizabeth Wilmot Newcomb is gone, but her memory will live as long as there is a Stony Wold -- a monument to a woman whose indomitable spirit and faith made a dream come true.