This aerial photograph shows the grounds of the Jasper County Tuberculosis Hospital in 1956. The hospital was located 1 1/2 miles northwest of Webb City on Carl Junction Road. It’s the current site of Webb City Health and Reahbilitation Center, and the road is now called Stadium Drive. (Contributed by Jeanne Newby)
of the Webb City Public Library
The TB Hospital power couple: he treated the patients, she ran the hospital
Dr. Jesse and Dagny Douglass (with permission of the Find A Grave contributor).
In our files we recently came across photographs and memories that were shared with us about Dr. Jesse Douglass Sr. and his wife, Dagny Douglass. Dr. Douglass was the superintendent of the Jasper County Tuberculosis Hospital, and Dagny worked as the hospital matron/administrator.
Tuberculosis, also known as consumption, was rampant in this region when the Jasper County Tuberculosis Hospital was opened in August 1918 to treat those stricken by the disease.
Tuberculosis is an infectious lung disease that is spread through the air. Many of the mine workers and their families were affected by this disease and a large number deaths during this time period were attributed to tuberculosis.
Jesse Ellsworth Douglass was born on Nov. 13, 1888, in River Falls, Wisc., to Elmer and Laura Douglass. He became a physician, specializing in lung treatment and surgery, and worked at Ah-Gwah-Ching (“out-of-doors” in the Ojibwe language) Sanatorium in Minnesota. Dagny Grenager was born on March 25, 1890, in Minneapolis, Minn. to Abraham and Gunhild Grenager. Dagny attended college and was trained as a nurse at the Minneapolis General Hospital. She married Jesse on July 24, 1916. In 1920, Jesse and Dagny were living at Ah-Gwah-Ching Sanatorium where Jesse was working as a doctor.
Dr. Jesse Douglass on the steps of the TB hospital. (Contributed by Virginia Hopkins and H. Costley)
Their two sons, Jesse Ellsworth Douglass Jr. and David Daniel Douglass, were born there in 1918 and 1920, respectively.
About 1928, the family moved to Webb City, where Dr. Douglass became the superintendent and Dagny became the administrator of the Jasper County Tuberculosis Hospital. The couple ran the hospital for many years before leaving in the mid 1950s. On the 1940 census, Dr. Douglass reported his work week as 60 hours and Dagny’s at 52 hours worked. During this time the couple raised their two sons, who also became medical doctors.
H. Costley sent memories of the couple stating that Dr. Douglass was the top person at the hospital and that Dagny was in charge of everything, including Dr. Douglass, the nurses, office, grounds and purchasing. Dagny was said to have done an excellent job running the hospital even after she was in a terrible car accident which confined her to a wheelchair.
Dagny became ill and died on Dec. 24, 1959, at Kansas City. Dr. Douglass returned to Minnesota where he died on Sept. 8, 1966.
The couple are buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Walker, Minn. Their son, Dr. Jesse Ellsworth Douglass Jr., continued working on the treatment of tuberculosis.
The Jasper County Tuberculosis Hospital closed around 1956 after treating approximately 4,300 individuals. The building was later renovated and became Elmhurst Nursing Home.