Curtis Lore: White Plague Times Two – 52 Ancestors #329

According to the Rushville, Indiana newspaper, Curt Lore, my great-grandfather, had been sick for at least a year before he died in November of 1909. According to his death certificate, he had been ill for three years.

Curt had escaped death so many times in the past.

But not this time. After previously surviving Typhoid combined with Tuberculosis, the White Plague, named for the signature pallor of those afflicted, Curt’s condition worsened, and the Grim Reaper spirited him away at 7:20 on Thanksgiving evening.

Oh, the horrible irony. Thanksgiving.

Maybe Curt was thankful to be out of his never-ending and increasing misery.

This painting, created in 1886, shows two people suffering from tuberculosis and their living conditions.

We don’t think much about TB today.

In the 1800s, TB, also known as consumption, killed about one-fourth of the population of Europe. Between 1880 and 1910 – it killed one-third of the people between 15 and 34, and half of those between 20 and 24. For some unknown reason, it seemed to be more lethal to younger people, but maybe younger people were more likely to be risk-takers and socialized more.

It’s believed that 70-90% of the urban population of Europe and the US were infected, and about 80% of those who developed active cases died. TB was surely something to fear and nothing to mess with.

Under the very best of circumstances – living in an English sanitarium that resembled a resort for the wealthy with lots of fresh air, food, and amenities – more than half of the people who contracted TB were dead within 5 years. And most people did not live in the best of conditions. They made do with whatever their family could provide to alleviate their symptoms and care for them. If they happened to be the breadwinner, the family as a whole suffered immensely.

Before treatments became available, one-third of infected people died within two years and another third within five. The hallmark of Tuberculosis is slow, miserable disease progression marked by fever, chills, weight loss, no appetite, night sweats, fatigue, headache, intensive coughing accompanied by bleeding in the lungs and difficulty breathing. In the end, the actual cause of death is often multiple organ failure.

Tuberculosis sanitariums opened in the US in the late 1800s with 115 offering more than 8000 beds by 1904. I’m actually surprised that Curt didn’t go to “recover” in one, although maybe the family couldn’t afford that approach. I didn’t know Curt in person, of course, but based on what I do know about him, he was an orphaned roughneck oil-field cowboy made good. I would think he would have resisted anything that even hinted of vulnerability or weakness, probably literally until his last breath.

It was believed that open-air shelters, regardless of the temperature, and rest in a horizontal position improved health, and that was likely the treatment Curt received at home.

He did actually improve time and time again, going back to work, until eventually his body was simply too overwhelmed and worn down.

Medical treatments, if you can call them that, were beginning about then and were akin to torture. Based on their descriptions, which I’ll spare you, I’d wager that the treatments themselves killed as many patients as the disease. Curt probably missed that by just a couple of years – which was a merciful blessing.

TB is contagious and caused by a bacterium. It’s transmitted in close living conditions and made worse by unsanitary practices such as spitting on the streets, a then-common practice, and sharing personal items such as drinking vessels.

Families, of course, were the most endangered, especially spouses who slept together. Coughing and sneezing spread the disease. People often became ill slowly and symptoms generally didn’t appear until months or years after exposure.

Only antibiotics could potentially have saved Curt, and they wouldn’t be available until the mid/late 1940s. Vaccines followed in the 1950s and 1960s, half a century too late.

Some people developed latent TB. They initially became infected, but their body fought it off and the disease became dormant, either forever or until their immune system became weakened because of some other reason or old age. Of course, back then, those people would have been thought to have been “cured” by whatever “tonic” they had been taking.

Snake Oil

Tonics, also known as patent medicines or more aptly as snake oil were everyplace, preying on the frightened, ill and unwary.

Know what’s in Dr. King’s New Discovery for Consumption? Morphine and chloroform. Didn’t cure you, but at least you stopped coughing and fell asleep.

Of course, these testimonials published as stories in the local papers made people subject to every snake oil salesman within sniffing distance.

Ingredients in Shiloh’s Consumption Care? Chloroform, heroin, and cynanide. Now there’s a curative solution.

Add in a Reverend and a druggist hyping the product, and why WOULDN’T you believe in these cures – one right after another.

What’s in Warner’s? You don’t need to know. Trust me. Just pay up and take it so Mr. Warner can become even wealthier.

These are just a few of many Consumption ads that ran in just one day’s newspaper in Aurora, Indiana in 1888. Small-town America was full of sitting ducks for patent medicine. People desperate to be cured would try anything.

Know what was in Piso’s Cure? Cannabis.

You might not be cured, but you were happy and got your appetite back.

I can’t help but wonder if the sicker people got, the more of these elixirs they took, possibly together. Maybe these toxic cocktails mercifully hastened the inevitable.

Treatments

Tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s when Curt was ill were often lined up in beds on porches, in all weather, to sleep.

Patients slept outside or in open-air tents. Tuberculosis, the leading cause of death in the 1880s, put Colorado on the map with its “huts” lining the mountainsides.

Some even slept along the walkway outside St. Thomas Hospital, along the River Thames in London, with the houses of parliament in the background.

If the disease itself didn’t do you in, or the morphine, heroin, cyanide and chloroform didn’t kill you, you would die of hypothermia.

Latent TB

I have to wonder if Curt actually had latent TB and his bout with Typhoid in early 1907 caused it to awaken. The timing was right and we know he was dreadfully ill and not expected to live.

During Curt’s final illness and after his death, Nora would have been terribly worried about her own health and that of her four daughters and son-in-law. Her sisters had come to visit as well.

Would other family members become ill? Would they unknowingly pass it on to others?

This sounds all too familiar today.

John Ferverda

John Ferverda, Nora and Curt’s son-in-law would develop Tuberculosis in the late 1950s. John had married Edith Lore in 1908, almost exactly a year before Curt died. John helped Nora care for Curt and remained close to his mother-in-law for the rest of her life.

All those years later when John was diagnosed, the family was told that his lungs were scarred – leading the doctors to believe he had actually had TB before at some time.

John was admitted to the Irene Byrum Tuberculosis Sanitarium in Fort Wayne for treatment. He lived there as an inpatient for a year or two – not only for his own health but to protect others.

I remember vising this HUGE facility as a small child. We walked across a seemingly endless parking lot into a cavernous reception area or hall, and my grandfather,  Pawpaw, was wheeled out in a wheelchair to see us. He was too weak to walk, and any movement at all made him cough and spit blood into a handkerchief.

I desperately wanted to climb on Pawpaw’s lap, but I wasn’t allowed to touch him or even see him up close. I was able to visit with him from a few feet away and I still remember the joy on his face as we played distant games like peek-a-boo and a modified version of hide-and-seek.

I couldn’t WAIT until Pawpaw came home – except I was never allowed to touch him again. Nor was I allowed at his funeral.

This is my only picture with my grandfather – obviously before he was diagnosed. He died about 4 years later. Tuberculosis stole so much.

Anyone who was exposed to TB when my grandfather was ill had to be x-rayed regularly and take tuberculosis tine tests. Those weren’t so much painful as they were frightening, waiting for results.

And heaven forbid that you coughed.

I still remember my grandfather coughing horribly and struggling to breathe. It sounded like he was gurgling and it was obvious he was in pain.

Mother and I had to get chest x-rays every six months for years after his passing.

Did my grandfather’s affliction begin in Rushville, all those years before, helping Nora care for Curt?

It’s certainly possible, but we’ll never know.

Let’s join the Lore family after Curt’s passing and see how they’re doing.

Late 1909

Nora was probably quite torn. I’m sure she had to be glad, on some level, that Curt’s terrible suffering was over. He died on November 25th, Thanksgiving evening, and she buried him a few days later on what was probably a cold grey fall day.

Nora had to figure out how to support three children. What was she to do?

She was probably completely exhausted after all of those months of caregiving, broke, and in shock.

Christmas would descend upon the family shortly. Did Nora decorate a Christmas tree in an attempt at normalcy for the girls?

In years past, Nora would have gone home to the Kirsch House in Aurora for the holidays, and I’m guessing she did that year too.

Nora’s sisters and parents were suffering too. The last couple of years had been absolutely brutal.

  • In addition to Nora’s years-long ordeal and Curt’s eventual death, Nora’s sister Carrie’s husband was institutionalized with syphilis. Worse yet, he had given it to Carrie. He would die in July of 1910.
  • Nora’s other sister, Lou’s husband had committed suicide on Halloween in 1908 at the Kirsch House.
  • A few months earlier, Nora’s grandfather had died.
  • Nora’s aunt’s daughter, Nettie Giegoldt, died in Aurora in September of 1908 at 26 years of age – of Phthisis Pulmonalis – yet another name for Tuberculosis. According to her death certificate, she succumbed after two years which means she would have become ill in late 1906.

Is there any possibility that there was a connection between Nettie and Curt who both developed symptoms at about the same time?

According to the newspaper, the family had gathered in Aurora for Christmas in 1906.

I don’t know if Nora went home to Aurora in 1909 to simply grieve among her already-suffering family, or if the sisters and family took strength from each other.

But any red-blooded widow with three dependent children whose mother was living would have gone home to mother – at least for a while.

Mother is always mother, and there is always comfort there. If for no other reason than you can cry, and she can take care of whatever needs to be taken care of, at least for a respite. You don’t have to be strong every minute of every day.

Christmas that year must have been brutal at the Kirsch House. I hope they had a lot of wine, that’s all I can say.

Nora was no longer “interesting” fodder for the newspaper’s socialite column, so we know much less about her life during this period. One thing is for sure, THAT life was over.

Nora probably didn’t stay in Aurora long after the holiday. As tempting as it would have been to simply remain in Aurora for an extended visit, or maybe forever, she had business to attend to in Rushville.

Nora needed to find a different place to live. She had to pack and move. She needed to find some kind of employment. At least two of her four children needed to attend school.

Daughter Curtis would have been 18 and I suspect, but don’t know, that she dropped out of school to help care for her father when he was so gravely ill.

I’m sure Nora’s parents made sure those girls had at least some semblance of Christmas in 1909, even if Nora couldn’t. After all, Eloise was only just 6 and Mildred 10. Santa would still have been visiting and leaving gifts for the girls. Hopefully, they were able to forget about everything else, at least for a little bit.

Good German food, eaten together at the family table would have been salve on everyone’s injured soul.

Nora and the girls probably came home on the train between Christmas and New Year to set about putting their life in some semblance of order. She probably set the girls to packing their things. Maybe she positioned moving as a great adventure!

I’d bet Nora welcomed a change of scenery and a new beginning.

What would that new, vastly different, normal look like?

Another Change

The Rushville newspapers continue to reveal threads in the tapestry of life of the Lore family.

  • January 3, 1910 – John Ferveda who was recently transferred to cashier at the local office has been given the agency at Silver Lake in the northern part of the state and will leave here in the next few weeks.

John received a promotion. That’s the good news and the bad news, both.

This move had to be extremely difficult for Nora and Edith both. To have her oldest child move away so soon after Curt’s death, although I’m sure it wasn’t’ entirely unexpected. If there’s one thing Nora learned, it was to roll with the punches.

It would be a terrible irony that John Ferverda would eventually die of tuberculosis too, half a century later. Bookends of their marriage.

  • January 10, 1910 – Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda went to Silver Lake, today where they will reside permanently. Mr. Ferveda will be the Big Four agent there.

A week later, Edith had departed too, waving goodbye to her mother at the depot. I don’t know, but I’d bet Edith and John had been living with Nora since their wedding.

Silver Lake

John and Edith settled into the small farming community of Silver Lake in northern Indiana, complete with the train depot, a small Methodist church, one school, and an all-purpose hardware/drug store.

The depot in Silver Lake, where John spent the next several years as station agent was located beside Edith and John’s home. I remember this building as a child, visiting my grandparents. Today the depot, along with the train tracks are gone.

Silver Lake was a “one-horse” crossroads town, a block or two in each direction. They lived about where the buggy is in the distance on Main street, on the left-hand side.

The view today from the exact same location.

Edith and John purchased a home beside the depot and never moved.

“Driving” down Main Street, I still recognize a few homes, including theirs which looks much different today.

After the fast-moving social life followed by the difficulties in Rushville, perhaps Silver Lake was a quiet respite for Edith, and for Nora when she visited too.

Rushville and Silver Lake were about 110 miles apart. I don’t believe either family had a car yet, so they would have taken the train to visit from time to time. If I remember correctly, Mom said that the station agent’s family rode for free.

New Beginnings

Back in Rushville, Nora was coping and making the necessary changes as Edith settled into Silver Lake.

  • March 9, 1910 – For sale one street sprinkling outfit, consisting of wagon, tank, gas engine, pump, etc., formerly owned by Curtis Lore. T. Arbuckle, agent

This is heart-wrenching – clearly Curt’s estate. Perhaps the only thing he had left. I wonder what happened to his horses. I’d guess they were sold during his illness to pay bills. Horses were probably easier to sell than a sprinkling outfit.

The Rush County records are listed at Family Search, but none are online yet, so I requested Curt’s estate records by writing an old-fashioned letter. I checked with the Rush County clerk’s office and they indicated that there was no will, probate or estate for Curt when he died, although the sale of the sprinkling outfit by an agent suggests otherwise.

  • April 15, 1910 – Mrs. John Ferveda of Silver Lake is the guest of her mother Mrs. Curt Lore and family in west First Street.

Nora had moved to First Street by April.

The 1910 census taken a few days later shows Nora living at 324 W. First Street and working as an “agent” in the “dress goods” industry. I wonder what that means, exactly. Nora reported that she had not been out of work. Daughter Curtis, 19, is shown as a dressmaker in a store.

I’m relieved to know that Nora is employed and that Curtis is helping out as well. I never knew exactly what happened to Nora during this time.

  • May 17 – 25, 1910 – Lost a child’s red hat Sunday afternoon. Finder please return to Mrs. C. B. Lore 324 W. First Street.

I bet the red hat belonged to Eloise. Was this a special hat or were they just that poor?

  • July 3, 1910 – Joseph Wymond, husband of Nora’s sister, Carrie, died. There are two official reports, one being a death certificate from the sanitarium in Lafayette and one being a coroner’s report in Dearborn County. The coroner’s report says he died of a gunshot wound, supposedly self-inflicted, and his death certificate says he died in Lafayette at the Wabash Valley Sanitorium after a residency of 8 months, of Bright’s Disease. Bright’s Disease was a kidney disorder common among syphilis patients. Bright’s Disease was Carrie’s eventual official cause of death too, in 1926.

Both of those things cannot be true.

Nora told of how Joseph’s family managed to swindle Carrie out of Joseph’s rather substantial estate. Joseph Smithfield Wymond’s father owned the Wymond Cooperage Company that spanned two full blocks in Aurora.

Heartache on top of heartbreak. Clearly, when Carried married him in 1902, he either didn’t have the disease, or he didn’t know it. I don’t know if Wymond had been cheating on top of giving his wife the disease that would eventually kill her, but the family thought so.

This entire situation was spoken of in hushed tones in the family, even decades later. Having “marital relations,” even with your husband, was considered “dirty” in Victorian times. Carrie’s situation, when it was discussed, held tones of outrage, pity and grief. Suffice it to say the Lore family and their descendants despised the man.

Carrie certainly needed the money from his estate after his death. It’s not like she could work, at least not in Aurora. Who would hire her for anything knowing of the disease she carried – not to mention her own deteriorating health.

And yes, EVERYONE in Aurora knew that always-cheerful Carrie had contracted that dread disease from her husband who was a well-known son-of-a-rich-man riverboat gambler and man-about-town. Mom referred to him as “a slick Dandy,” an epithet spit between clenched teeth. I didn’t know what that meant, exactly, for the longest time, but I could tell by her tone alone that it was bad, very, very bad.

Just a few months after Curt’s death, we find him mentioned in the Rushville paper again.

  • August 10, 1910 – List of Old Settlers who have died in the past 90 years – Curtis Lore, 50.
  • Goshen Democrat, August 10, 1910 –  Mrs. W. R. Coverston will entertain at bridge tonight for her guest, Mrs. C. B. Lore of Rushville.

Nora’s best friend’s husband who also worked for the railroad had been transferred too. I’d wager that Nora visited her daughter and her best friend on the same trip given that they were only living about 50 miles apart in northern Indiana.

The first anniversary of Curt’s death came and went. Of course, the newspaper doesn’t’ report when people visit the cemetery. But they did, apparently, print letters to Santa.

  • December 21, 1910 – Dear Santa, I want a set of furs, an English doll cart, an Indian suit, a sled, big doll, a raincape, new dress, set of dishes, a Christmas tree, a picture book. I am seven years old. Your friend, Eloise Lore

At least she didn’t ask for her Daddy back.

Eloise had just turned 7.

1911

  • March 7, 1911 – Mrs. John Ferveda of Silver Lake is the guest of Mrs. Curt Lore.

Edith came home to visit her mother often.

  • March 31, 1911 – Mrs. C. B. Lore was a visitor in Indianapolis today.

I’m really glad to see that Nora is getting out and about.

Why might she be visiting Indianapolis? Nora’s uncle, John Kirsch, lived in Indianapolis and didn’t pass away until 1927, so she might have visited him. After the 1910 census and by 1915, Nora’s sisters Carrie and Lula, both widows, were living in Indianapolis. Indy gave them a chance to live without the stigma of “what happened.”

Or, maybe Nora had friends there or simply needed to get away.

  • April 4, 1911 – Mrs. Curt Lore will entertain a small company of friends at her home on West Second street this evening, honoring Mrs. Will Coverston of Goshen who formerly resided here.

The West Second address may be a goof from years of habit.

Curt has been gone for 17 months and it looks like Nora is finally doing something with friends.

  • April 18, 1908 – Easter Sunday in Rushville – Reading – “Daisies in the Meadow” by Mildred Lore at the First Presbyterian Church.
  • May 5, 1911 – Mrs. C. B. Lore entertained the Five Hundred club this afternoon at her home in West First Street.
  • May 8, 1911 – C. D. Torr of Indianapolis was the guest of Miss Curtis Lore yesterday.
  • May 10, 1911 – Miss Curtis Lore visited in Indianapolis today.
  • May 15, 1911 – Mrs. C. B. Lore entertained the 500 Club at her home this afternoon on West First Street.

Nora seems to be trying to get back to normal, visiting and playing cards, and the younger girls are doing normal things for children in Rushville. Curtis is, of course, the daughter named for Curt.

  • June 3, 1911 – The following Children’s Day Program will be given at the First Presbyterian church tomorrow night by the members of the Sunday School. Recitation by Eloise Lore – “Naughty May”
  • June 8, 1911 – Mrs. John Ferveda of Silver Lake is the guest of her mother, Mrs. Curt Lore. (This newspaper NEVER spells Ferverda correctly.)
  • July 13, 1911 – Mrs. Nora Lore has gone to Silver Lake, Indiana for an extended visit wither daughter, Mrs. John Ferverda.
  • August 16, 1911 – Miss Curtis Lore played Lohengrin’s wedding march as the bridal party came down the stairs.

I can’t help but harken back to Nora’s own descent down the steps at the Kirsch House, into the parlor when she married Curt in 1888. I wonder if Curtis realizes she is providing the music for the reenactment of that scene between her parents.

  • August 23, 1911 – Mrs. Nora Lore of West First Street is entertaining with a house party this week. Her house guests are Mrs. Perry Wymond, Mrs. May Fisk, Miss Ida Kirsch of Aurora and Mrs. Will. R. Coverston of Goshen.

I suspect Perry is actually Carrie because the other women are Nora’s sisters and Mrs. Will Coverston is Nora’s best friend. I believe May is actually Nora’s sister, Margaret Louise, “Lou.” This “house party” looks just wonderful and I hope that Nora enjoyed this gathering as much as I suspect she did. This warms my heart. These three sisters have been widowed and the fourth, Ida, won’t marry until 1921.

I think a “house party” aka an adult slumber party is exactly what the doctor ordered for these ladies. It seems they might have visited at this particular time in order to attend the local fair.

These 1911 articles indicate that Nora’s widowed sisters are still living in Aurora, likely working for their parents at the Kirsch House.

  • August 23, 1911 – (regarding the fair) Notable among the local exhibitors in the handiwork department were…Miss Curtis Lore.

Curtis is now 20. Among other activities, she embroidered and crazy quilted. Curtis embroidered her name in the block of a crazy quilt that Nora kept until her death in 1949.

This crazy quilt eventually went to Curtis’s sister, Eloise, then to Mom when Eloise passed away, and now, it’s mine.

  • August 23, 1911 – Mrs. Nora Lore is entertaining Mrs. Perry Wymond, Mrs. May Fisk and Miss Ida Kirsch of Aurora and Mrs. Will Coverston of Goshen. (In 1930, Will Coverston was 64, wife Ethel and lived in Elkhart. Ethel would have been 35 in 1911.)
  • August 26, 1911 – Regarding the fair and money winners – Premium award in the following departments… Women’s Department – Miss Curtis Lore, 21 first, 28 second place awards.

Curtis obviously had an amazing number of entries that took prizes. It looks like the payment was $1 for first. It’s ironic that the newspaper article is about how the fair was the best ever, but it’s going broke because there are so many high premiums to be paid. That’s the equivalent of about $28 for each first-place entry, for a total of $588 in today’s money.

I’m quite impressed at all those awards. I surely wish they had told us what Curtis entered in which categories. I wonder if those 49 items she entered were related to her dressmaking? What better advertisement?

I’m cheering for Curtis!!! I’m glad she had such a successful year at the fair.

This photo from the summer of 1911 at Winona Lake provides another clue as to what the Lore women did that summer, including Nora’s sisters from Aurora.

I don’t know who the child at left is, but Curtis Lore is the young woman standing at left, holding her skirt. By the way, these are swimsuits of the day. Maybe swim dresses would be a better description.

“Aunt Cad” is Nora’s sister, Carrie Kirsch Wymond.

The woman sitting in the water is unknown, although I wonder if she is John Ferverda;s sister.

The woman with the straw hat behind Aunt Lula is unknown too.

Aunt Lula is Nora’s sister, Margaret Louise “Lou” Kirsch Fiske.

Edith is standing in a black swimdress.

Mildred is playing in the water, but Eloise isn’t pictured.

I’m guessing Nora took the picture and Edith (later) wrote the names on the photo.

Everyone is laughing and smiling and joyful. This looks like a lovely retreat, and I’d wager there was picnicking together on the shore as well while the kids splashed in the water nearby.

  • September 22, 1911 – Miss Curtis Lore who has been ill for several days was much better today.

Uh oh.

I just hold my breath now every time there’s a newspaper report that someone is sick – especially a young person – and in September. It’s not flu season.

  • October 5, 1911 – Miss Curtis Lore who has been ill for some time is greatly improved.

Whew! What a relief. I was afraid this was the beginning of that same emotional roller-coaster ride, starting all over again. But why had Curtis been ill for some time? Is there something else wrong?

  • October 7, 1911 – The following program was rendered at the Havens school on Friday afternoon in honor of the birthday anniversary of James Whitcomb Riley. Recitation of “The Raggedy Man” by Eloise Lore.

The Visit

  • November 22, 1911 – Mrs. George Aultman and Mrs. Nora Lore went to Rockville today for a 2 days stay.

Ella Aultman was Nora’s neighbor, just a few doors away. While on the surface, this looks like a “fun jaunt,” it was anything but. The State Tuberculosis Sanitorium was located at Rockville

Curtis had contracted tuberculosis from her father and had been admitted. Now we know what was going on.

Curtis, who had improved briefly in October was clearly worse in November. We don’t know when Curtis was admitted to Rockville, but was sometime between October 5th when she was improved and November 22nd when her mother went to visit.

Nora must have been heartsick. And terrified! First her great-niece Nettie died after being ill for two years, then Curt, and now Curtis is ill with the same scourge.

Courtesy Indiana Historical Society

Of course, I knew about this already, but it’s heartbreaking to see this begin all over again as I read the old newspapers. I can’t help but wonder how Nora kept the fear from entirely consuming her.

This scenario was all too common. The newspapers and death records a hundred years ago are full of articles about families where several people became ill and often died from diseases that we have cures for today.

I wonder what, if anything, Nora told young Eloise and Mildred about what was happening to Curtis.

  • November 29, 1911 – Thanksgiving Program at Havens Building – The Recitation – The Bill of Fare by Eloise Lore

This Thanksgiving must have been particularly difficult for Nora. It was the second anniversary of Curt’s death and Curtis was in a sanitarium.

No mention of what they did at Christmas in the newspaper this year. There’s also no Santa Claus letter from Eloise who had just turned 8, either.

Would Nora have gone to Aurora, or perhaps to visit Curtis, or both?

1912

  • January 11, 1912 – Benefit exchange on behalf of Miss Curtis Lore to be held Saturday, January 13 by the young women of the First Presbyterian Church. We will have good things to sell if you want to buy. If you do not want to buy, give your money anyway as a free-will offering.

These articles are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Not only is Curtis clearly gravely ill, but Nora is obviously struggling, perhaps even to put food on the table. The young people at church, Curtis’s friends, are stepping up and trying to help. Bless them.

Edith is married and living in Silver Lake. At least she’s safe there, but Curtis was her best friend.

Is Curtis still in the Sanitarium, or is she at home? Is she improving? I hope.

How Nora put one foot in front of the other every day, I have no idea.

The community very clearly gathered around this family.

  • January 22 & 26, 1912 – The Greensburg News ran this article.

The Rushville paper carried several similar articles.

Ironic that it’s in this article that we discover exactly when they moved from Greenburg to Rushville, which means that Curtis was actually born in Greensburg on March 8,  1891. In addition, the Aurora, Indiana newspaper on January 9, 1890, carried a notice that Miss Carrie Kirsch visited her sister, Mrs. Curt Lore in Greensburg the previous week. On January 23rd, Jacob Kirsch, Nora’s father had visited as well.

Attempting to find additional information, I tried a new resource and discovered Curtis Lore’s actual birth announcement in the Greensburg newspaper.

  • January 27, 1912 – The benefit for Miss. Curtis Lore last night at the Portola attracted large crowds at all the performances. The program was well received and was one of the best given here for some time. Tonight a change of pictures will be made with the exception of “The Awakening of John Bond.” By request this feature film dealing with a fight on tuberculosis will be shown again tonight. Charles VanCamp will repeat his feature song, “Buckwheat Cakes.”
  • January 30, 1912 – The second benefit for Miss. Curtis Lore will be given Friday night. The management announces that any of the tickets out for the show given last week will be accepted as this second benefit. It is planned to make the program as attractive as last Friday and special music and pictures will be included in the program. The Jackson school orchestra has consented to play and Charles VanCamp will put on another character song.
  • January 31, 1912 – Friday night the second of the benefit shows for Miss Curtis Lore will be given. The VanOsdol orchestra will render a program and other special music will be given, besides three reels of pictures.

You have to give these young people credit – they are doing their best. A fundraiser and two benefits. I’m impressed!

We still don’t know if Curtis is at home or at the Sanitarium.

  • February 1, 1912

  • February 2, 1912 – The second benefit to be given tonight at the Portola by the Emanon club for Miss Curtis Lore, promises to be attended by even larger crowds than last Friday.

Either these shows are great or people’s hearts are large – or maybe both!

  • February 5, 1912 – The benefit show by the Emanon club for Miss Curtis Lore netted $60. The young women are well pleased with the result.

At 10 cents each, 600 people contributed. In 1910, there were 355 households in Rushville, which means every household, on average, contributed 17 cents. And that’s just the second benefit. We don’t know how much the fundraiser raised, or the first benefit produced.

They tried, Lord knows, these young people tried. The funds from that second benefit, equivalent to about $1700 today, probably made a huge difference to Nora and made Carrie feel very cherished and loved.

  • February 7, 1912 – Curtis Lore, age 21 years daughter of Mrs. C. B. Lore of West First Street died late this afternoon after suffering with tuberculosis for several weeks. She took treatment at the State Sanitorium near Rockville for some time but did not improve. She is survived by her mother and 3 sisters.

Curtis’s decline and death was much more rapid than her father, Curt’s, had been.

  • February 8, 1912 – Last Sad Rites Will be Performed Tomorrow Afternoon – Funeral services of Miss Curtis Lore …First Presbyterian Church of which deceased was a member.

Curtis had died at home. At least she was with her mother.

But Nora. Oh Good God – poor Nora.

  • February 9, 1912 – The funeral services of Miss Curtis Lore were held this afternoon at the late residence in West First Street, conducted by the Rev. J. B. Meacham. Burial took place in East Hill cemetery.

Given that Curt’s funeral and Curtis’s both were held at home, that must have been the custom of the day. I’d wager the entire town came to pay their respects.

  • February 10, 1912 – Mrs. W. R. Coverston of Wabash attended the funeral of Miss Curtis Lore here yesterday.

Nora would have desperately needed her friend’s presence.

I’m sure Nora’s sisters and parents would have been present too, although, strangely, that’s not mentioned in the newspaper.

20 years, 10 months, and 29 short days.

Two years and not quite three months after Curt died. This means that Nora has been living for almost 5 years with a family member ill with TB, unless Curtis wasn’t ill the entire time.

This must have seemed like déjà vu – and I’m sure Nora was terrified for her other children.

Judging from Curtis’s death certificate and the date this doctor began treating her, Curtis probably came home from the sanitarium at Christmas time, after about 5 weeks of treatment, knowing she would not improve. Poor Nora. Poor Curtis. This family experienced so much grief and loss.

Until I saw her death certificate, I didn’t know that Curtis even had a middle name or initial. I bet the L stood for Louise, her aunt, who probably sponsored Curtis at her baptism, but I’m just guessing.

Curtis’s death certificate says she had been ill for 6 months and that would track back to August 1911, when she was winning all those awards at the fair and probably about the time she was at Winona Lake with family members too.

I’m so glad she won those ribbons and had that last wonderful summertime lake visit with her sisters and aunts. It would be her last.

Nora’s Great Regret

Eloise told Mom that Nora felt just awful and never forgave herself for the circumstances under which Curtis lived in her final weeks – and died.

When Curtis first became ill, she wanted to go out west with her boyfriend’s family, “for her health.” The western climate, “clean, cold mountain air,” was believed to be the best for TB patients. Nora did not allow Curtis to move. She wanted her child with her. Any mother would.

After Curtis died, Nora always wondered if she had allowed her to go, if she would have lived. Guilt is an evil, unrelenting lifelong companion.

But that’s not all.

Recall that it was believed that sleeping outside on a porch, in fresh air, no matter the temperature, would improve Tuberculosis symptoms and restore health. In fact, the colder, the better.

Curtis pretty much lived on the porch that winter and was understandably miserable. Nora brought her food, but she was too sick to eat. It was winter in Indiana. Horribly cold. Nora stayed with Curtis on the porch. Desperate to help her daughter, Nora would have done anything to save her, but Curtis died anyway.

Love was not enough.

Nora was fully aware of her child’s misery and never forgave herself, even though she was lovingly providing the standard accepted and medically recommended treatment. If she had not, and Curtis died, then Nora would have been considered negligent. There was no “winning” for either Nora or Curtis.

It was only many years later that Nora, along with everyone else, came to realize that living and sleeping in the cold did nothing curative for TB. So Curtis suffered for nothing. Nora came to wonder if the cold had hastened Curtis’s death and wondered if she might have lived had she NOT been exposed to the cold.

When Eloise told me about Curtis sleeping and living on the porch, in the winter, I was shocked. Eloise herself, still a child, had been traumatized by all of the surrounding events. I could tell that even telling me, decades later, bothered her immensely. Her eyes took on a very far-away, pained gaze as she talked.

Sleeping and living outside was the prescription of the day and Nora, at that time, believed it was Curtis’s only hope. I’m sure that Nora would have gladly traded her own life for Curtis’s if that were possible, but that’s not a choice we get to make.

It’s somehow ironic that it may have been that porch that saved the rest of the family from infection. Miraculously, neither Nora, Mildred, or Eloise contracted TB from either Curt or Curtis.

If Curtis had been sick fifty years later, she would have taken a long regimen of antibiotics and probably lived – or at least stood a fighting chance.

I’m not sure when this photo of Curtis was taken, but she doesn’t look quite adult here.  Fortunately, the family had this picture of better times where Curtis looks beautiful and happy.

And, of course, this adorable baby picture. There’s no doubt this is Curtis. Those ears!

Edith, my grandmother, told my mother that not only was Curtis named for her father, Curtis Benjamin Lore, but she absolutely adored him. That feeling was mutual. Ironic that he walked away from his first family, children included, but clung so tightly to his second.

East Hill Cemetery

For the second time in 27 months, Nora would pass beneath this archway at the entrance of East Hill Cemetery, accompanying the casket of a loved one.

The casket would have been loaded from their home onto a wagon pulled by a team of horses. The wheels would have creaked as the procession moved slowly through town, the horses’ hoofs echoing and carriages following.

I’m sure Nora had visited many times since Curt’s death. Perhaps she came to talk with Curt as she grew ever more concerned that Curtis would be joining him.

On a cold, bleak, winter day, Curtis was buried beside her father. Her suffering finally over.

Nora would be buried beside them both, 37 years later.

Three identical stones in a row.

The Next Chapter

Nora didn’t have much time to grieve. Grieving was a luxury she could no longer afford.

Nora had to pick herself up, dust herself off, again, as best she could, for the sake of her young daughters, and put together some semblance of a life.

A month later, Nora had a new job and opened the door to the next chapter of her life.

What lay on the other side of that door?

Something rather startling that absolutely no one expected.

Join me soon for “Nora’s Surprise.”

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13 thoughts on “Curtis Lore: White Plague Times Two – 52 Ancestors #329

  1. I had no idea that so many died from TB. My 2X great grandfather was also a victim. He passed away at 30 years old in 1880 leaving behind a young widow and 3 young sons. He actually returned to his hometown in the Harz Mountains after his diagnosis, as the elevation there was thought to be beneficial. This young German couple now has descendants in at least 7 countries on 3 continents. Your posts about your ancestors are inspiring… getting accurate dates for our ancestors is important but those details are just the beginning.

  2. I too did not realize how many people succumbed to this disease of many names. My maternal grandfather Coyne Kidder died of tuberculosis at the age of 32 in 1935 after an extended period of time in a sanitorium. Mom said she remembered waving to him from some distance away outside the building. She was six years old when he died. Your account gives me a better idea of his and his family’s ordeal. Thank you.

  3. One branch of my family had a nasty run in with typhoid. And for generations they suffered TB. One family followed the advice given to many in Europe and came to the better conditions of Australia to try to escape it. Many people did benefit, but the particular individual triggering the move did not.
    When I was very young some of the TB sanitariums were just beginning to close, as due to the success of vaccination, they were no longer needed. Others were converted to serve other health needs.
    I have also met older people whose lives had been changed by polio and some who had careers blighted by rheumatic fever. It’s made me so grateful that my generation has mostly escaped death and debility due to infection. Historically we are so fortunate.

    • My Mom had rheumatic fever when she was a child. She nearly didn’t survive and had a heart murmur for the rest of her life.

      • And yet, from what I remember you telling us, she seems to have been very active.
        The person I knew was set for an international piano playing career until the agent asked for a medical and the bad news arrived. When much older she was always active and ran rings around everybody else. Despite other setbacks in life she was always positive and has been a great example.

  4. I had a great aunt who died of “consumption” in her early twenties. She was training to be a nurse, and I can’t help but wonder if she caught it from a patient. It seems a likely scenario.

  5. My grandfather’s two brothers died of TB when grown with families, and it looks like their father did also. One of the brothers died in a sanitarium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He waited too long to go there, as he had only been there a couple of weeks. The other brother tried to work up until his death to feed his family. I have no idea how my grandfather and his children escaped it, except my grandfather did not work underground in the mines. My grandfather’s sister lived in Oklahoma, but I never found out if she also died of TB, but she did die rather young leaving two daughters. Miss Curtis Lore had ears like my father. Her baby photo looks so sweet. My father’s family lived only a few miles from the Oklahoma state line. The tribes suffered TB worse. I once researched this.

    As far as I know, no one died of TB on my mother’s side except maybe a couple of her cousins who died young. Mom said her mother stayed away from people with TB, and would not let her children visit them, or sit by them at church. I am not sure what happened at school? You did not mention how the families with TB may have been ostracized. It must have been incredibly painful for the families.

    Think about how many more relatives we may have had if there had been a cure for TB or a vaccine. We are very lucky.

  6. The story you tell is really impressive. I took the 24Genetics Ancestry test, which gives you very complete information about your ancestry (it includes more than 1500 regions), but I’ve been wanting to try FTDNA or MyHeritage to also know my family tree and my family history.

    Thank you very much for sharing your story!

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