Sunday, June 16, 2024

Author Jim Ridings to speak May 18 about Ottawa Tent Colony

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Author Jim Ridings will speak about the Ottawa Tent Colony at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the La Salle County Genealogy Guild, 115 W. Glover St., Ottawa.

At the turn of the 20th century, a new approach to treating tuberculosis was taking hold. It was a belief that fresh air, rest and a nutritional diet was the best way to treat TB patients.

Antibiotics had not been developed at that time, and TB was a virtual death sentence. One billion people have died of TB in the last 200 years, with countless more deaths going back to ancient Egypt. By 1900, one in seven people who ever lived died of tuberculosis.

Dr. J.W. Pettit of Ottawa implemented this radical approach in 1904 when he set up a tent colony on the south bank of the Illinois River. Patients were kept in canvas tents or open wooden huts outdoors, in freezing winters and blazing hot summers. It might seem odd today but it worked for those in the early stages of the disease.

Everyone is welcome to attend the program.

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