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Health Issues in Nebraska


About "Medical Records" from Gary Martens.

Epidemics - list of U.S. Epidemics from 1657 to 1918

The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 by Molly Billings.

Medical Fields - some links to biographical material


"Around the turn of the Century"

Tuberculosis ("consumption" or "white plague") seems to have struck almost every family. The patient was often advised to seek a place with lots of sun, breathe fresh dry air, eat well and rest. The family could seldom afford to move to such a climate, but made the financial sacrifices necessary to send the patient "out west" to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado or some other state perceived as "healthy".

Those who died in those other states are often lost to family records. We can't tell you how to find them, and have NOT found any record compilation that deals with this specific subject.

From Southwestern Wonderland website: "Health, the Land of Sunshine" - view the pamplets of some of the sanitoriums. This site includes items from Arizona and New Mexico, mostly published before 1920.

NOTE: One researcher commented that the only surviving letter from the patient mentions sitting on a bench in the sunshine - which she believes was at or near a "room & board" place, not a sanitorium (which the family had found too expensive).

Other tidbits regarding TB patients - from a mail list in Oct 1999

     My mother-in-law, whose home was Ohio, was in a sanatorium in California for a while then went to Wheat Ridge -- a Lutheran facility in the Denver area. That was in the 1920's. She recovered and lived into her 98th year. --MH

     I would think the Lutheran facility in Denver you are talking about is now Lutheran Hospital in Wheatridge, Colorado. I am from Denver, so this piqued my curiousity. ... Also, there was a state facility just north of Wheatridge in Arvada (same county) called the Ridge Home, but it was for "mental defectives". My grandfather was Steward (business manager) at Ridge Home from 1920 to 1949.
     To get to the point, do you know if "Wheat Ridge" facility is now Lutheran Hosp? Also if Ridge Home did in fact house TB patients, I would like to know that. This Winter I hope to do a history of the Ridge Home ... --DMS

     In Brush (Colorado) there is a place called Eben Ezer Something or other. It used to be a TB sanatorium. It was started by a Danish Lutheran minister and was primarily for Danes. One of my Great grandmothers died there in the 1920's. She was ... removed back to Nebraska, but I still can't find out when she died.
     There is a cemetery associated with this place which is now an alzheimers home. -- RC

     Sometime after 1914, my father was diagnosed with TB and was told he had two choices by his doctor: to go "out west" or "up on the hill" (Mt. Vernon Cem. in Peru). He was a stubborn man and said he would do neither. His cure was to put a tent in the back yard (fresh air), where he slept, and insist on a diet mostly of raw milk and raw eggs from his own cows and hens. He never admitted to putting any "nog" with this drink, but we children wondered if he did. This was during the winter. He survived in good shape but always failed his TB chest x-rays because he had calcified spots in his lungs which alarmed his doctors until he told them his story. -- EM

     In the early 1900s my grandfather was diagnosed with consumption and was sent West for his health. They went from NE to Colorado Springs - were there 2 years and he recovered - returned to Homestead in Cherry Co., NE. -- DB

     A few years ago while reading the back of a menu in a Loveland, Colorado barbeque cafe, I noticed that a man who founded the town of Hygiene, CO had my family surname.
     So I researched his story in the libraries of the county, and found that he was indeed a first cousin of my great-grandfather. This was a man named Flory, he had moved to the area and founded a TB sanitoriam at the place where the small town is now.
     I believe that nothing is left of his building, although the Brethren Church he also helped to start there is now a historical landmark. There are pictures of the sanitoriam and it was considered a very good one apparently. He had piped in water, the usual balconies for the cold air treatment of the times, etc. I imagine some of the local burials may be of those who did not regain their health. -- MS

     The Lincoln State Hospital, now called Lincoln Regional Center was the place where NE mental patients were housed who had TB years back. -- BH

     ... In tracing a family from the early days of Kimball, I found reference of her death supposedly in Cripple Creek, Colorado. This fact was published in the local Kimball paper stating her mother went to her funeral. She supposedly died of cancer. People wondered why she would be in Pueblo with cancer if she lived in Cripple Creek.
     After locating her obituary, she had been sent to a sanitarium in Pueblo. There are no records there, nor are there any records of her burial in the cemetery that the obituary mentions.
     In talking to various individuals trying to find more information, I got the feeling that it was rather a taboo subject. -- MB

     At one time, western Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado were considered good places to go for this type of thing. There was a TB sanitarium at Kearney, and I think at Grand Island. I'm sure there were others around the state. It would make a good project to come up with a list, and maybe someone could investigate about how records were kept of the patients, and where they were buried if they died there. The one in Kearney was on the west side of town, near Highway 30, and I think later became a home for 'wayward' juveniles. Some of the TB sanitariums were also used for polio patients at the height of the polio epidemic. -- CS


Fred Dethlefsen (Saline & Wayne CC) agreed to collect data related to this subject in the state of Arizona. He sends the following -

18 Oct 1999 -
   There was a sanitorium in Phoenix area that had small cottages for patients with TB or asthma, many were from the Midwest. Nearby was Greenwood Cemetery.
     Greenwood Cemetery
     2300 W Van Buren St
     Phoenix, Az 85009
     Telephone: 602-254-8491
I called. They informed me that this is the oldest cemetery in Phoenix and that yes they had many graves and yes if they have a name they would check. No, I cannot get the files to produce a disk for them and to use. -- Fred


19 Oct 1999 -
Fred contacted the following about possible collection of patient death certificates.
Response - We cannot look through the microfilm and pull out all deaths from TB. We would need specific names to be able to look them up. We are limited to thirty minutes of research per request.

History & Archives Division
Arizona Department of Library, Archives & Public Records
State Capitol
1700 W. Washington, Suite 342
Phoenix, AZ 85007
phone: 602-542-4159 (AZ only, 1-800-255-5841)


20 Oct 1999
First message:
Cemetery in Tempe, is close to where the TB sanitarium use to be and both were familiar with the TB sanitarium.
Both of following were receptive to researchers.

Bell Buttes cemetery
2505 W Broadway
Tempe Az 85205

Then this one has several unmarked graves and many dating back to 1908.
This was previously known as Twin Buttes cemetery.

You can contact either way;
Richard Bauer (email:
Tempe Historical Society
Double Buttes cemetery
809 E Southern
Tempe, Az 85282
ph 480.350.5100

Second message
Fred says - try searching at Genealogical Resources for Yavapai County website:

Prescott - names of cemeteries listed and there were TB sanitariums.
Jerome - where there was a military hospital and also a sanitarium.
     The town was a ghost in the early 1980's and now is being built up.
There is also the address for Tucson Historical for seeking data.
All sorts of info is here for the searcher of these towns.


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