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Monday, September 29, 2008

She moved to the poor farm: Fatal complications in the bad old days

It's the Jewish New Year, a time to look back, and look forward. It's important to see just how far we've come in making people healthier. Here's a story from 100 years ago:

A stately black gate and two handsome brick columns mark the entrance to what was once a humble potter's field in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the final resting place for 485 souls of the poor, unwanted or insane laid to rest between 1888 and 1956.

The sad case of Ida Weissenhorn, 29, who worked as a servant at the Henry Long Saloon, unfolded in newspaper accounts and records that local genealogist Janet Eiler found. Pregnant and unmarried, Ida moved to the poor farm. Her baby daughter was born and died the same day from a form of tuberculosis common in children. Ida died a couple weeks later of blood poisoning, a complication of childbirth.

Through improved public health measures and personal hygiene, of course, TB and such complications of childbirth are exceedingly rare nowadays.

Advice: Enjoy a year of good health, and be glad you were born in this century.

Read another story from long ago.

Thanks to Patricia Wolff for the source story in yesterday's Northwestern.com of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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