Monthly Archives: July 2016

The “Forgotten Plague” in the Upper Peninsula

You have probably heard of tuberculosis, also known as “consumption” or “TB.” But, did you know that, at its peak, TB was responsible for two percent of all deaths in the United States? Tuberculosis has a long history. Scientists have recently discovered that seals  transferred the disease to the Americas six thousand years ago. The first records of consumption deaths began in the US in 1786. At that time in Massachusetts, 300 out of every 100,000 people died from tuberculosis.

By the mid-nineteenth century, many consumptives moved to locales where the climate was supposed to cure TB, such as Colorado or upstate New York. TB was assumed to be hereditary, although it was noticed that the poor, African Americans, and immigrants were more likely to contract it (due to crowded–and therefore often more unsanitary–living conditions). In the 1880s, German scientist Robert Koch discovered that a contagious bacterium which he named Mycobacterium tuberculosis caused TB. This new understanding made consumptives into lepers who had to be isolated from society, and so the sanatorium (also sometimes spelled sanitarium) movement was born.

Sanatoriums were health camps that isolated TB patients from the rest of society, supposedly until they recovered enough to move back home. However, in reality, they were often “waiting rooms for death.” Patients underwent a strict regimen of fresh air and exercise (if they were capable). Many patients were put into sanatoriums against their will and resented their lack of control over even their daily schedule.

By the early twentieth century, one in every 170 people was in a sanatorium. But, by the 1940s, new and increasingly effective anti-biotics caused a decline in both the number and the severity of TB cases.

The Upper Peninsula, like the rest of the country, established sanatoriums. The first sanatorium in the Upper Peninsula, Morgan Heights, began in 1911 in Ishpeming and closed around 1970. Over that almost-sixty-year period, it housed approximately five thousand patients. Morgan Heights was torn down in 2002, although the nurses’ dormitory continues to be a rental house.

Here are some images from Morgan Heights:

Gert Leivo, Aino Maki, Edna Maki

Gert Leivo, Aino Maki, and Edna Maki. Presumably, they were nurses at Morgan Heights, although we have no evidence of that.

Dr. and Mrs. Lojocuno left MHS 1927

Dr. and Mrs. Lojocuno, who left Morgan Heights in 1927.

Christmas Program 1935

A Christmas/New Year’s party for the patients in 1935.


A group of patients at Morgan Heights, year unknown.


We have no information for this photograph, but presumably the woman was a patient at Morgan Heights.

The archives also possesses the patient records for Morgan Heights. The boxes and even the folders were somewhat water-damaged several years ago. However, the papers themselves miraculously remained intact. They were re-boxed into thirty-four boxes earlier this week, which should aid greatly in their preservation.

Previously, our policy was to restrict these records to all except children of patients, as formerly required under Michigan and federal law. However, in doing the research for this blog post, I discovered that recent changes in state and federal law have changed access policies to patient records. Under 2013 changes to HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), patient records now become open for historical and genealogical research seventy-five years after the patient’s death. State laws still apply, but Michigan’s laws have changed to match HIPAA.

Consequently, we can now provide access to the Morgan Heights Sanatorium Patient Records as long as the patient has been dead for at least seventy-five years. We are thrilled to be able to open up these exciting records to researchers.

Stop by the archives Monday through Friday from 10 AM-4 PM to learn more about Morgan Heights and other topics!

For more about the history of TB, and to see our sources for this blog post, please check out the articles linked below.

History of Tuberculosis

The Great White Plague: The Culture of Death and the Tuberculosis Sanatorium by Richard Sucre

The Sanatorium Movement in America by Caroline Luce: part of an extraordinary website, The White Plague in the City of Angelsabout TB in Los Angeles

The Forgotten Plague: Information on the PBS documentary

TB Timeline

Did You Know?: Facts about TB’s effect on the United States

Is An Old Tuberculosis Sanatorium Haunted? by Miriam Moeller: a Marquette Mining     Journal article about Morgan Heights

Access to Patient Records

Breakthrough for Medical Genealogy by Judy Russell of the Legal Genealogist blog: article on the 2013 changes in HIPAA

Treasure in TB Patient Records by Jess of the Genie Roadtrip blog

Written by Annika Peterson


Collection Spotlight: Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd papers

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I got a chance to actually process a collection!

The collection I processed, MSS-356, is the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd papers. Good Shepherd was a parish in Saint Ignace, MI. It opened in 1882 and closed in 2011 due to low attendance.  The contents of the collection span almost the entire history of the parish: 1890-2011!

It mainly consists of ledgers documenting events at the parish: baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals. There are also registers of parishioners and guests beginning in 1890 and ending in 1967. There are financial records from the altar guild, records of donations, and a survey of the land held by the parish in 2008. Finally, there is a prayer book from 1929. A few of the ledgers are from Saint Andrew’s Church in Moran, MI and an Episcopal Mission in Chippewa County, MI.

The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Prospect Street in St. Ignace. The building is 127 years old, and was moved to its current location in 1889.

Image Source: Saint Ignace News

We have several other collections related to the Episcopal church for those interested in the history of the Episcopal church in the UP or in religious history more broadly (or in ancestors who attended Episcopal churches!). There is a small collection of parish registers from Saint Stephen’s in DeTour Village, MI. Our collection from Saint Paul’s in Marquette is much more vast. It includes the typical parish registers but also contains histories of the parish, records and photographs from various bishops, financial records, records from clubs within the parish, and annual reports and minutes.

The collection that would perhaps be of most interest, however, is our collection from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan. It includes newsletters and newspapers from the 1970s to the present, audio and video of synods and camps, records from the annual diocesan convention starting in 1893, bishops’ correspondence, a history of the diocese, several boxes of photographs, financial and property records, a few scattered registers from around the UP, and records from clubs, committees, and commissions within the diocese.

About a year ago, we received the personal papers of Thomas K. Ray, the last bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. His papers are due to be processed in the fall, so you can look forward to another addition to our vast number of Episcopal church sources!

Interested in seeing any of these collections? Stop by the archives anytime during our new summer hours, 10 AM-4 PM Monday through Friday.

Written by Annika Peterson

City of Ishpeming Records: Local Ordinances

While the 1888 charter for the city of Ishpeming gave shape to the city government, the ordinances were the rules of everyday life in Ishpeming. Some of them were shaped by factors present in that time and place. For example: “No person or persons shall transport upon or within any vehicle, sleigh, sled or in any other manner whatsoever, any nitro-glycerine in any quantity whatsoever through those parts of the city of Ishpeming contained within the following described limits, to wit: The original plat of said city, the plat of Robert Nelson’s addition to said city, the plat of the excelsior Iron company’s addition to said city and the plat of the Cleveland Iron Mining company’s addition to said city at any time whatsoever either during the day or night.” For most cities of that time, nitro-glycerine wasn’t even an issue, but Ishpeming was a mining town and the mines used nitro-glycerine for blasting.

There were ordinances relating to behavior, particularly bad behavior. “Any person who shall be drunk or in a state of intoxication, in any street or public house within the city, or in any private house, to the annoyance of any person shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined in a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars.” This ordinance was well used throughout the years, as drunk & disorderly arrests were always the most numerous in the monthly police reports. Another ordinance on behavior stated “Any person who shall be guilty of racing with immoderately riding or driving any horse, mare, gelding or mule within the limits of the city of Ishpeming shall, on conviction thereof, pay a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars.” Even in 1888, there was reckless driving!

Fire was an ever present danger and there are plenty of ordinances related to it. Fire wardens were tasked with inspecting houses and other structures to look for fire hazards and to remediate the same. Chimneys had their own section and the fire warden had the power to cause them to have to be rebuilt, if they were deemed unsafe. Section 4 stated: “No person shall convey any fire in or through any street, alley, lane or lot, within ten feet of any combustible material, except in some secure pan or vessel, under a penalty of five dollars for each offense.” In addition: “No owner or occupant of any livery or other stable within the city of Ishpeming nor any person in the employment of such owner or occupant, shall use therein any lighted candle or lamp except the same be in some safe and secure lantern under a penalty of ten dollars for each offense.”

Another ordinance set ‘fire limits’ and then proceeded to regulate buildings within the fire limits.  “No person shall erect or place any building or part of any building, within said fire limits, except as hereinafter provided, unless the same be constructed in accordance with the following provisions; The outside and party walls of all buildings erected shall be either made of brick, stone or other fire-proof material, or if not made of such fire-proof material, they shall be protected by an outside wall or covering of fire-proof material.”  Another section stated: “No wooden building within said fire limits which may hereafter be partially destroyed by fire or otherwise, shall be repaired unless the damages thereto are less than fifty percent of its value, and if less than fifty percent, no such building shall be repaired in any manner so as to make it larger or to occupy more space than before the injury thereto.” It should be noted that this particular ordinance was adopted in 1877, a mere three years after a disastrous fire in the downtown area of Ishpeming destroyed two city blocks.

“No horses, asses, mules, cattle, sheep, goats, swine or geese, shall be permitted to lie, run or be at large in any of the streets of the city of Ishpeming under penalty of not less than fifty cents nor more than ten dollars for each and every offense, to be recovered of the owner or owners.” Milk cows were permitted to run at large in the unplatted part of the city, although monthly pound master reports show that cows were still the most frequently impounded animal. For cows, horses, and sheep, the fine was fifty cents per animal, but for swine it was two dollars and geese cost ten cents per animal. In all cases, the cost of feed was extra and if the animal was left in impoundment for six days, then it could be sold at auction. Modern shelter practices were non-existent and dogs only had five days to languish in impoundment before they were killed.

There was an ordinance pertaining to licenses, describing who needed them and how much they cost. One section stated, “For a license to sell goods or property at auction or public venue there shall be taxes and collected the sum of fifty dollars for one week.” In 2015, that sum would be $1,330.30. Another section; “For a license to carry on the business of crying down the price of goods or property in sale, there shall be taxed and collected the sum of fifty dollars for one week.” Crying down the price is generally considered to be depreciating or under-valuing the price of a good or service.

Many of the sections on licenses dealt with itinerants and were a means to protect the tax-paying businesses of the city from being undercut. One section set forth that if people came to Ishpeming “with the intention of becoming bona fide residents thereof, for the purpose of trading in or selling any goods, wares or merchandise, shall, before commencing the business of trading or selling aforesaid, pay into the city treasury the sum of one hundred dollars as a pledge of their intentions.”

One ordinance prohibited bathing or swimming in Lakes Angeline and Bancroft and a second one kept the purity of the waters of Lake Angeline, as that may have been the city water source at that time.

Railroads had their own ordinance: “Every railway company operating a railway through the city of Ishpeming shall keep one watchman at the crossing of its road over Main Street and one watchman at its crossing over First Street in said city, constantly from eight o’clock in the forenoon until 7 o’clock in the evening of each day in the year.” The Pine Street crossing however, only needed watchmen “from the first day of May to the 15th day of November, or from the opening to the close of navigation in each year.” Trains and rail cars could not exceed a speed of six miles an hour going over the First, Main, Pine, Lake or Third Street crossings and could not block traffic at those crossings for more than five minutes. It is interesting to note that the train depot was between First and Second Streets, and that while neither First nor Third Streets could be blocked, there was no such provision for Second Street.

Finally, “No person or persons shall drive any horse or other animal on any street in the city of Ishpeming attached to a sleigh or sled without have to the harness of such horse or other animal a string of at least three good sleigh bells.” There was no such ordinance for the summer time, as presumably wagons made enough noise to alert pedestrians to their presence while sleighs did not.

For a better look at the 1888 City Charter and Ordinances, come to the archives. We also have a small book with amendments to the city charter dated from 1897.


Written by Karen Kasper