Nita Martha Holder

Nita Martha Holder was born on 15 June 1883 in Lindale (Floyd) GA, the fifth of six daughters and eleventh of twelve children born to her parents, Green Berry Holder and Ansibelle Penelope Swords. She was an opinionated child and, as she grew up, did not relish the idea of being a wife and mother to a brood of children.

Just before the turn of the century, she and her family moved to Rome, GA, the county seat of Floyd County. It was here in about 1902, she met Wyatt Holmes Foster and fell in love. She told his early on in the relationship that she did not want children, but he was certain that she would change her mind after they were married. She was adamant, however, and she wanted to make certain that she did not have children. She consulted the family physician, Dr. Henry H. Battey, who told her there was an untested procedure called an ovarectomy that had been tried in Europe and which prevented a woman from becoming pregnant. She decided she must have this procedure done, and she subsequently persuaded Dr. Battey, through a series of overacted episodes that she was experiencing severe menstrual problems.

Dr. Battey convinced Nita's mother that surgery was necessary and, late in 1902, she became the first woman in the U.S. to have a hysterectomy. The surgery was performed in Rome, GA, by Dr. Battey in his dispensary in his home using cloroform as the anesthetic.

On learning of the surgery, and not knowing the real story, her fiance was even more eager to marry Nita, and they were wed in Rome on 20 December 1904. She died on 3 April 1971 in Rome, GA.

If you have information or questions, please e-mail George Morgan.email icon


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