Friday, January 27, 2012

Missouri State Sanatorium, Mt. Vernon

Did Your Ancestor Have Tuberculosis?
It’s not easy to imagine that our ancestor’s travelled a distance for health reasons. But tuberculosis was accompanied with the fear of rapid spreading. Isolation from the general public was necessary. To understand your ancestor’s removal from the household, you may need to understand the process of treating tuberculosis in the early 1900’s.

The Road to Better Health
According to the Missouri Rehabilitation Center website “a diagnosis of tuberculosis often meant impending death and the only known treatment for it was fresh air, sunshine, nutrition and bed rest. To keep the disease from spreading, patients were isolated from society.”

The website continues to explain the disappearance of our ancestors from the home. “Diagnosis of tuberculosis took six to eight weeks and because there were no medications to treat the disease, patients confined to the sanatorium spent months or years away from home. Reinfection was common and often necessitated a return to the hospital.

Drugs were developed in the 1950's that effectively controlled tuberculosis. Patients were able to go home sooner and were usually able to be treated in their local communities.”

With the control of tuberculosis, the Missouri State Sanatorium buildings were used for other services:

Sanborn Map, 1918
Here is a brief timeline of the institution’s name change:

Missouri State Sanatorium, 1907-1971

Missouri State Chest Hospital, 1971-1985

Missouri Rehabilitation Center, 1971-1985

University of Missouri Health Care, 1996-Present

Genealogical Data?
Genetic genealogy was not of importance before 2000 but researchers may find basic genealogical information such as: next of kin (emergency contact"), home address, occupation, age, etc. You may find additional information on his death certificate or in cemetery/funeral records.

By narrowing a date of hospital admission, you may be able to follow progress your ancestor's progress in the local (home)newspaper, especially if he lived in a small community.

Records and Searches
Early Missouri death certificates may note place of death as the Missouri State Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Mt. Vernon. Lawrence County. However this institution originally built for tuberculosis patients no longer exists, even though many of records still survive.  Today, associated with the University of Missouri School Medicine, the Sanatorium operates as the "Missouri State Rehabilitation Hospital" housing veterans and providing services.

The State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia, Mo has a collection that researchers will not want to miss. The Stark, Lloyd Crow Papers, 1931-1941 has five folders of Sanatorium related documents:  
f. 761-792 State Hospital Number One, Missouri Sanatorium. Folder 791 has a list of employees and their rating
f. 943-994 Employment applications for positions at the State Sanatorium, Mt. Vernon, together with letters of recommendation. Folder 943 contains a list of employees.

The Old Sanatorium Cemetery interred patients as early as 1924. Here is an index of some of the burials:

More photos
Visit the Missouri Digital Heritage website to see additional photos of the Sanitorium.


  1. My father's father was a patient here and died at this facility. Although I do not have a need for more information about my grandfather, are a patient's genealogical information available?

  2. Dan,
    Genetic genealogy was not of importance before 2000 but you may find basic genealogical information such as: next of kin (emergency contact"), home address, occupation, age, etc.You may find additional information on his death certificate or in cemetery/funeral records.
    We have also found that once we narrow a date that of hospital admission, we can follow progress of the patient in the local (home)newspaper if he lived in a small community. Good luck on your genealogical search.

  3. Thank you for this information. One of my kin was there for 15 years and then worked there as an employee. This gives me some leads to follow.

  4. Thanks you. I had 2 Aunt there Aunt Velma Hall, died in 1943, ran away from there and got married, & Aunt Lill (sisters) live for many years, passed away recently from old age. My father-n-law told me his mother was there and they used her for research because she never had TB.

  5. Was there a Preventetium in Missouri around 1935?

  6. I was a patient there in the late 50's and early 60's. I would love to find my records. I did stop by the TB Sanatorium now for veterans and found that there is a historical museum downtown off the square in MT Vernon. I did find with help a school record and a photo of me. I want to go back to see if I can find more. I would love to find my medical records etc. How do I do that? They did not have information on that.

    1. Linda, Did you check the resources mentioned in the article? Be sure to check the State Archives. We have found records also within the University of Missouri Health Care. This article may assist you:

  7. My Biological Grandmother Virgina J Storer (Lenz) went here in the 1940's. But can't find anything about her, No death or even where she is now. Struggling with this..

  8. Have you tried the museum downtown? I even found my class records with the help of the ladies there as well as a photo of me. The museum is of and from the sanatorium.

  9. My mother, Elizabeth G. Hastings, was a TB patient here in 1961 and early 1962. I would like to find out more information about her stay, as well as her medical records, if possible.
    Thanks for any help you can give me.
    Madeline Hastings Shires

  10. Is there a place to find the census records from 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 for the wards at the Missouri State TB Sanatorium in Mount Vernon, Missouri. I had found 2 relatives, sisters, listed in a census report, but now can't find the record again.

  11. My Grandfather John Arthur Clarkson was a TB patient there in 1965-1966. He died there 02 April 1966. I too would like to find more information on him. The name on his death certificate is incorrect they have him as Arthur F. Clarkson.