Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered

Miss Jennie Graham

I received the following story from Donna Vickodil in November 2011. Her email address is: _______________________________________________________________

Hi Mr. Felton

Here is my Aunt Jennie's story.

Although I never knew her, since I was born many years after her death, it was a story I grew up with.  My mother would tell me bits and pieces and one day we sat down and I started to ask questions. My mother was Anna Vesta Graham and she was ten when Jennie got sick.  She remembers being told that someone gave Jennie a fur coat and the doctors said she contracted the virus from that coat. (whether that is true or not I don't know) but she had a sister Stella who also wore the coat and also contracted TB.  Stella was older than Jennie and died after her but Stella had a son Billy who contracted the disease from his mother and had to have a lung removed.  Back then that must have been a very dangerous.  I am not sure if he is still living.  After his mother died they lost contact with that part of the family.  Their last name was Kelley.

My mother remembers emptying Jennie's spit cup (they were very close) it is a miracle my mother never got the disease but she always tested positive as a carrier and I remember as children we were always tested in school but none of us ever tested positive.  In a last ditch effort to save her my Grandparents sent Jennie to Cresson but the disease had consumed too much of her lungs and she only stayed about a month and then came home to die.  I can only imagine what any of you went through it must have been devastating.  I know I lost a daughter when she was 21 to a virus (not TB) but I know the heartbreak a person feels so I can relate. To those of you who have gone through all that and survived (like yourself) I can only say the Lord is wonderful.

Before she died my mother gave me my Aunt Jennie's watch, which had stopped on 9:00 (the time Jennie died).  I made many attempts to have it repaired and it would run until it got to 9:00 and stop so after the third attempt I stopped trying and I just keep it in a safe place as a memory of someone I wish I would have known.
Donna Vickodil
"A Bunch Of Friends" (Aug. 20 1929) 

I had a bunch of friends once
I thought them friends you see.
And since I've found them all out
There's not much left for me. 

It must be nice to have friends
You'll know the kind I mean,
Not these that talk behind your back
Or laugh when they're unseen. 

A bunch of friends I called my gang
I loved them all and now
I've a sickness that is no disgrace
And they don't come around somehow. 

I guess they're all afraid of me
But they'll all get their due.
They may be sick themselves someday
Then guess what I will do? 

I'll go to see them everyone,
As tho' things never happened,
And say, "I hope you'll soon be well"
But I guess it's time you're nappen. 

So I'll be on my way, my dear,
But I'll expect a letter,
To tell me how you get along
And if you're feeling better. 

But I'm glad I had that sickness
For I know now what to do
I'll just forget the old friends
And hunt a bunch of new. 

But I guess they think that this time
Will never, never be.
Because they say it's dangerous
When a person has T.B. 

-Miss Jennie Graham,
Boston Extension Road.
August 20, 1929

2.  The location and date of this photo of Jennie Graham is not known.

4.  Jennie's watch.
1.  Jennie's peom as it appeared when published in the newspaper on August 20, 1929.

3.  (Upper Photo)  Donna Vickodil and her Aunt Goldie (Jennie's baby sister and the last one of the Graham's left.)

(Lower Photo)  The grave marker of Jennie and her parents, Robert and Belle Graham.

5.  An entry made in Jennie's Bible following her death reads as follows:

Jennie was taken to the hospital on the 16th day of Jan 1930 and was fetched home on the 14th day of Feb 1930 died on the 23rd of Feb and was buried on the 26th 1930 from Boston Church.  Sang "Good night here and good morning up there", "Gates ajar" and "Inside the eastern gate".  Was born in Elizabeth, Pa on 17th day of Dec year 1910.