Anthrax and the Death of her Husband
Taken from the Diary writings of Anna Cook
This happen in the early 1930's
Because of the short pasture the cattle grazed into the ground almost. The disease anthrax broke out. The birds carried it too. Our cattle, three cows and a bull, died of it. It was a germ disease. August and Paul skinned the first animals not knowing they had died of anthrax. August had a pimple on his wrist where the germs got in, and he got that terrible disease. He went to the Dr. who lanced what looked like a terrible boil. That put it right in the blood system. Dr. Nielson worked very hard to help him. He gave up a lot of his patients and came out often. He phoned for serum to combat it. It was flown in from long distances as it was so scarce. It was an almost unheard of disease. Dr. Taylor would drive at night and pick it up in Sioux City or Minneapolis. He was so helpful. Dr. Nielson would bring it out and put it into a vein. His arm was swelled up like the leg of an animal with blackleg with purple blotches all over it. He had a pillow under it. We had a trained nurse who slept on a cot in the parlor next to his bedroom.
Paul also caught it but only in his lymph glands. He had a bed in the parlor where the nurse could treat both or them. Paul never lost his appetite, but August ate 0.
It didn't take long; the disease went fast. I don't remember just how long, and one night it had gone up to his throat. It could be over in the morning. but the vaccine stopped it. He lived.
Paul also got better. He had to take vaccine like they gave to the cattle; so he got cow pox. The serum came in long, thin tubes. The soles of his feet were hard and calloused so the pox could not get through. That was the worst of his trouble. Otherwise they came out all over his body. He had to stay in bed, but he got over it well. It never had any bad effects.
That time seems like a bad dream now. We were so frightened. The only neighbors who came to help were Berners. Fred came over every morning with a load of water in a tank and put it in a tank for cows. Other neighbors didn't come near for they were afraid of carrying the disease home. One neighbor, Ignatz Grothe, wore high overshoes and left them by the fence.
Marge was teaching our school for her first year. The school district hired a substitute teacher which was ridiculous. The Dr. said she could not have carried the disease to the pupils. She lost her salary for six weeks at least.
It must have been in August for I know I baked apple pies every day and fried spring chickens. We had potatoes, and all I did was cook and sterilize. We had to sterilize every dish. The girls did the milking. separating, and all the chores. My brother August called every morning; then he brought out medicine and any items I needed and charged them. All of us prayed a lot and so did others. The Sunday School Superintendent and all prayed one Sunday. It was a time I'll never forget. God was good and both got well.
Where that carbuncle had been it left a deep depression in his wrist. One could see the nerves and blood vessels. We had to pour peroxide in it every morning and dress it. It healed slowly; but it did eventually and he could use his arm again. All that serum riddled his kidneys. He only lived eight more years. He did his farming again.
Another result of Marge's teaching was that Martin had to go to town school that year. He was in the fourth grade. The older two drove a car to school and back, so he went along. The Dr. thought it better not to go to his sister's school.
When August got well again times were better and the crops were too. For ten years there was no drought. After August recovered we had some happy years. In that period Marge married Lyle and left.
Paul entered college at Wayne. Those were depression years and he worked his way through with very little help from home. He hitch-hiked back and forth on weekends. I cooked food to send back with him and also did his laundry. He and two other boys rented a basement apartment and did their own cooking. He did odd jobs when he could. He made it and that was the biggest help for his future. He went to Murdo, South Dakota one year to help out my father on a ranch.
Ruby left next. She graduated in 1940. The last year of high school she worked for her board and room at Pastor's Schroeder's home. The depression was so bad. We could not give her any frills just the bare necessities to graduate. Then she got a school and was on her own. She taught school four years. She and Rick were married on June 2, 1940. They bought a farm and lived about 13 miles south west of Bloomfield.
In 1940 August had very high blood pressure and went to Dr. Kotz for a check-up. He was not very true to his profession. At that time he drank heavily and I blame that on his not telling August he had high blood pressure. He treated him for asthma which he never had. He put him to bed. But we were worried so called in Dr. Carrig. He was very angry when he examined him. He told us it was not asthma and to go to Sioux City hospital immediately. He took him and me the next morning. August almost had a stroke on the way down. He was lying in the back seat.
The first thing they did when he was in his hospital bed was take out a pint of blood. That prevented a stroke. The Dr. just threw up his hands when he had taken the blood pressure. We had a very good Dr. and the nurses were wonderful. We had nurses 24 hours a day. He got over all that, but his kidneys were riddled from the effects of all that serum. The Dr. said he had never seen such kidneys, like a sieve. He suffered a lot. I stayed there those last three weeks. I slept on a cot in his room and ate at a small cafe across from the hospital. His heart was so strong. He lived a day and night after the Dr. said he could die.
My brother and wife lived 25 miles away and they came so often and every day the last week. Paul came by once on the way to Wayne. Marge, Lyle, and Dianne came one day. August was so fond of that baby. It was his best day at the hospital. Too bad he couldn't lived longer to enjoy the 14 grandchildren I have now beside the great grandchildren. He would have adored them all.
Martin and Lois took care of chores at home. Ada Cook sent Fern over for a week to help Lois with cooking etc. The Anderson boys were very helpful for Mart. Our water works froze, and they helped him dig out and thaw the pipes. It was cold weather.
August and Beth stayed up with me the whole night before he died. He wanted me to stand beside his bed; I held his hand for 24 hours. My feet and legs were just swelled up terribly, but I never thought about them until later. They stayed with me until it was all over. He died peacefully; just took three deep breaths and was gone.
August was in the hospital for three weeks before he died. It was such a shame he had those riddled kidneys; he had such a strong, big body. He was only 51 years old. He died March 3,1941 and the funeral was March 6.
I rode home in the ambulance in front with the driver to our home. In those days the body lay-in-state at home for three days. Neighbors sat up nights. Berners were most helpful. Roy Wegner and Grothe came too. Usually the women made coffee and served lunch at midnight.
The day of the funeral my folks were there -also most of August's brothers and two sisters. The roads were very muddy and a neighbor used his tractor to pull cars up a steep hill the mud was so deep. The roads were not even graveled in those days. It was nice overhead. It was a very big funeral and a sad day for all of us. Rev. Rhode was our minister. The choir sang Nearer My God to Thee and one other. Elizabeth Reins was our organist. At that time there was no coffee after, and we just came home.
My parents came down from Murdo, South Dakota which was a comfort. Many relatives and friends came too. We had a late lunch at home; there was so much food brought in. Cousin, Irene Soost, stayed night and slept with me. It was a help. My folks left the next day as they were worried about their stock on their 1700 acre ranch. John Peters was there while they were gone.
It was hardest for Martin and Lois who were 17 and 12 years old. Mart was still in school until May and Paul was at Wayne. Lois finished the eighth grade in country school.
August would not let Martin do field work so he just did chores. He did help with hay and shocked some oats. So when August passed away Martin was not prepared to farm and he had much to learn. We rented the farm again, but Paul left to work for college money so that summer we three were alone. Rick asked Carl Busch to come and help us out. I had 11 red brood sows to care for besides cattle and plowing. We ware feeding eight steers of our own at that time. Carl was good help and did work well.
One more trouble arose when Paul came home with the mumps. He had them hard at his age; then Carl caught it and was in bed too. Martin also got it a little later.
We had 400 baby chickens at the same time and it snowed. Lois helped, but she was also in eighth grade in school. Then Lois got the mumps, but she wasn't very sick. She had the radio in front of her bed. Luckily all got well. Don't know how I was able to cope, but know I had help, answer to prayers.
After Mart was thru High School we let Carl go. Dr. thought we should. Those fat steers paid our funeral expenses. They were not so high either at that time. We had no insurance whatever. Now we were really on our own.
Keeping so busy and working in my garden were the best thing for me. I didn't have time to feel sorry for myself. When night came I was just dead to the world.
We farmed alone for three years. Two of them we hailed out We also had a tornado go through. It took out fences, and the chicken house. It scattered wood and chickens clear across the oat field which was also damaged. We only had a few hens left who roosted in the trees. Some had no feathers on, but we did have eggs to eat. My brooder house was twisted around a huge tree trunk which saved it with the chicks in it We didn't loose them so we had hens and meat for the next year.
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