Medical Tragedies

The prairie land exacted its toll in terms of human suffering.

Medical facilities were lacking, or skimpy in the early days.  There were no nearby hospitals to give aid to victims of accident or those in need of surgery.  Women died in childbirth, children died of a number of maladies that can now be treated or prevented.  There were no antibiotics or blood transfusions or diagnostic tests.

Diseases swept through the neighborhoods - smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, measles, and scarlet fever.  Pneumonia and appendicitis were incurable.  Tuberculosis was fairly common.  Gravestones in every churchyard tell of people who died too soon.

Most families were touched with tragedy at some time.  The Ole Larsons, who settled north of Mose, lost one son from diphtheria and another died of a burst appendix, two of the dreaded killer diseases.

The last epidemic, which cost hundreds of lives in Griggs County, was the flu epidemic of 1918.  Whole families became ill and sometimes several members died.

The first recorded death in the county was that of a settler who became lost in a storm and died afterwards of the effects of exposure.  Death and injury from severe weather still occur.

Many people suffer all their lives from after effects of exposure.

Walter Hemmingson, 69 years old, was caught outdoors in the March 15, 1941 blizzard, without his heavy winter footwear.  His feet were badly frozen and gave him trouble to the end of his life.  He died after having both legs amputated when he was 85.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 171

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