Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
The following story, letter and photos were sent to me in February 2011
by Donna Marie (Smith) Hughes. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Letter to "Grandmother" from Mrs. Jessie Rumberger
While a Patient at the Pennsylvania State Cresson Sanatorium
January 29, 1921
In January 1921, a young woman confined
to a tuberculosis sanatorium wrote a letter to her grandmother. In 2010, I found that letter in a collection of her grandparents’
old papers. I had never heard of Jessie Rumberger. Neither my mother nor aunt,
who have extensive genealogy and family history records, could recall who she was, although her father and siblings were well
I learned that she was my 1st cousin,
two times removed. The grandmother who Jessie wrote to is my great, great grandmother. After reading her letter, I guessed
that she was in a sanatorium. A quick Google search located a tuberculosis sanatorium in Cresson, Pa. A former patient at
the sanatorium has a web site dedicated to the Cresson Sanatorium, (2) which contains background information for Jessie’s
letter. Census and cemetery records, online research, and photographs in family history albums reveal more about her and her
Jessie Mary Stine was born in Matternville (Patton Township, Centre
County), Pennsylvania. Her parents, Walter John and Myrtle Laura (Dick) Stine were a young couple. Her mother, called Laura,
was just 17 and her father, Walter, was 22, when they were married. Jessie, the first of eight
children, was born on December 22, 1896. Jessie’s father had a small
farm near Matternville and also worked at the Scotia iron ore works. Her mother kept house.
Jessie married William
Budd Rumberger on March 30, 1915, when she was 18 years old. At that time, Budd was 28 years old. Budd’s parents were William Elmer and Regina Louise (Behrers) Rumberger. Budd was born on October
19, 1886, in Benner Township, one of nine children. William Elmer was a farmer who rented land to farm. He moved his family
several times, although he always stayed in Centre County. In 1880, the family lived and farmed in Patton Township. By 1900,
they had moved to Ferguson Township; and in 1910, they were renting a farm in Benner Township. Both of Budd’s parents
died in 1915, the year he was married.
great grandparents were Jacob Krey and Elizabeth (Funk) Rumbarger, early settlers of Gatesburg (Centre County), Pennsylvania.
As a young man, Budd
worked as a hired farm hand in Patton Township. By the time he married Jessie, he was a self-employed farmer working on land
he had rented in Patton Township.
Jessie and Budd’s
first child, Violet L., was born in 1917. The second child, Walter Elmer, was born on April 6, 1918. In 1921, Jessie contracted tuberculosis. According to her letter, she entered the Cresson Sanatorium
in November 1920.
(1) My mother is Ina Charlotte Faye (Lutz) Smith. My
aunt is Phyllis Barbara (Lutz) Barr. The grandmother who Jessie’s letter is addressed to is their great grandmother,
Mary M. (McDivitt) Stine.
(2) Charles Felton, Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered,
http://www.feltondesignanddata.com/cressontbsanatoriumremembered . At this site, you can find a history of the Cresson Sanatorium, personal stories of survivors, history of the treatment
of TB, and information about a reunion being planned for patients and people associated with the sanatorium.
Jessie's letter is copied below. The original letter
is displayed on the right with the transcription on the left.
January 29, 1921
I will now ans. your letter
I received some time ago.
it is raining up here this Sun.
morning and is warm I don’t
like this kind of weather it
always makes us old TBer’s
feal [feel] bad we feal [fee]
as tho we
can’t get our breathe I
quite know what I will do
when warm weather comes.
I have been worried about
Bob haven’t heard from him
now for about three weeks
Mother said in her last letter
that the last time she heard
from him he was going to
start on a 24 mile hike and
carry a 59 lb pack and a 8 lb
gun and she hasn’t heard
from him since. Mebby [Maybe] he was
played out or got sick.
I am still fealing [feeling] pretty good
had some pluiricy [pleurisy] last night
and still have a little this
morning I hope it thinks it
worth while to let up for it
isn’t very pleasant it feals [feels]
as tho something was trying
to chew my lung out.
had a letter from mother
and Daddy the other day she
talked In her letter as tho the
children were home sick to see me
My how I would like to see them
But don’t like to have them to come
here you know how children are
and they will handel [handle]
and stick their hands In their
mouth’s, oh well
my four months
will be up on the 21 of Feb,
then mebby [maybe] the Dr. will
me go to see them for a day
I haven’t quite desided
[decided] weather [whether]
to stay 6 months or not If I
I guess the time will fly for
next month Is a short one.
I would be glad when the time
was up if I knew my lungs had
improved but I am afraid they
haven’t I know I am fatter
but [that] doesn’t count
Is due, next month and then
I am going to ask about it they
only examin [examine] every four
months so I haven’t been
examined since I came here
well I guess I will have to
close now it is cure hour
till 11:30 o’clock and
windows are down so I
will have to lay down
how are Spicers I haven’t
heard from them for a long
time. I must try to ans.
Mrs. Clark’s letter to
day to [too]
Well I will close for news is
as scarce as ever but
answer soon and try to
excuse this writing.
I will close with love to all.
My address is
Mrs. Jessie Rumberger
c/o PSCS5 Pa.
In her letter, Jessie was hoping to be well enough to go home at the end of
April (1921), after a six month stay. She did go home sometime in 1921. The photograph of her was cropped from a larger photograph
that included her younger sister, Violet Stine, and her much younger brother, Lester Gray Stine. The photograph is undated,
but from the estimated age of her brother, the photograph was taken in 1921.
Jessie became pregnant again and gave birth to another son, Donald Stine Rumberger,
on April 20, 1922.
She became ill again and was admitted to the Nason Hospital in
Roaring Spring (Blair County), Pa. When founded in 1896, the hospital was called the Nason Sanatorium. In 1900, it changed
its name to The Nason Hospital Association. The charter was issued "for the purpose of conducting a sanatorium and hospital
and the training of nurses." 6
Jessie Mary Stine Rumberger died on July 15, 1922 from a "complication of diseases." Her obituary is shown
According to her obituary in the Altoona
Mirror, Jessie Mary (Stine) Mattern died in 1922.(7) Her gravestone
says 1921. The Grays Cemetery listing reflects the date on the gravestone and says 1921.(8) The gravestone appears to
have been cut later when her husband William Budd Rumberger died in 1953.
There is also an
inscription on the stone for her son Walter Elmer Rumberger who was killed in action in Europe during World War II: "Pvt.,
Co. C, 56th Inf. Batt., 12th Am.
Sometime during Jessie’s illness, Budd gave up farming in Patton Township,
Centre County. Following Jessie’s death, he moved the family to Tioga County, Pennsylvania. According to the 1930 census,
they lived in Lawrence, Pennsylvania. Violet was 14, Walter, 12, and Donald, 8. Budd was working in a tannery.
In 1942, when Budd registered for the Fourth Registration of the U.S. World War II
Draft Registration, known as the "old man’s registration," he lived in Nelson (Tioga County) and worked for the Elkland
Leather Company in Elkland (Tioga County), Pennsylvania. In the 1920s and 1930s, Elkland Leather Company was one of the largest
sole-leather tanneries in the world. In the late 1930, the company employed 1000 of the towns 3000 inhabitants 9
All three of Jessie’s children graduated from Lawrenceville High School. Violet in 1934, Walter in 1937, and Donald
in 1941. During High School, Donald was active in the Future Farmers of America.
(7) "Mrs. Jessie Mary Rumberger," Altoona
Mirror, Evening Edition, July 15, 1922.
(8) The Cemeteries of Halfmoon and Patton Townships, Centre County, Pennsylvania,
Centre County Genealogical Society, State College, PA, 2003, p. 27.
County Tanneries, http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1043