Sanatorium is in Tom Green County sixteen miles northwest of San Angelo on U.S. Highway 87. It was never an incorporated town, instead, it was a relatively self-sufficient tuberculosis sanatorium. The postmark "Sanatorium, Texas" began with the opening of a post office on the campus in 1919 and disappeared on October 7, 1965, when the post office closed. During the first decade of the twentieth century more than 4,000 deaths a year in Texas were attributed to pulmonary tuberculosis. In 1909 the Texas Senate passed a bill creating a TB colony, but it was defeated in the House. In 1911 both houses passed a bill creating two colonies—one for advanced and one for early cases—dedicated to the treatment and education of people infected with TB. Although plans for the former were abandoned, 330 acres were purchased near Carlsbad for the location of the Anti-Tuberculosis Colony No. 1. The first institution of its kind in Texas, the colony provided the isolation to calm the fears of the public, as well as rest and clean air, the only known cure for TB sufferers. Admission was restricted to patients between the ages of six and sixty for a period not to exceed six months. The fifty-seven-bed facility opened with a barbecue and celebration on July 4, 1912. Bascom Lynn, who commuted from San Angelo, was the first superintendent. In 1913 the facility was renamed the State Tuberculosis Sanatorium, and on January 1, 1914, Governor Oscar B. Colquitt appointed Joseph B. McKnight resident superintendent. Under McKnight's leadership the sanatorium expanded for the next thirty-five years. Attracting employees was difficult because of the fear of TB, low wages, and geographic isolation, therefore, the Sanatorium School for Nurses in Texas was organized in 1915 to train the needed staff. The two-year training focused on TB treatment, and nearly all the students were recovering TB patients. The first class of four graduated in 1917 with a R.T.N. degree (registered tuberculosis nurse). In 1920 administration of the sanatorium passed from the Anti-Tuberculosis Commission to the Board of Control.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
John C. Henderson | © Texas State Historical Association
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