Saturday, January 19, 2013

"My mind was filled with horror."


In the summer of 1895 Sallie Hogg’s bronchitis would not go away, and she finally consulted Dr. Adolph Herff, a specialist in San Antonio. There the unwelcome diagnosis came: Sallie had something far worse than bronchitis: she had tuberculosis. In those days, the disease was often a death sentence. Years later, Ima Hogg recalled that difficult time:  “It was a great blow to Father,” she said. “I was with Mother all the time when she was ill, and my mind was filled with horror.”
Ima and Sallie set out immediately for Pueblo, Colorado to visit Dr. William Davis and his family, accepting the invitation his mother, “Aunt Fannie” had issued earlier. There, everyone hoped, Dr. Davis and the dry Colorado air would surely cure what ailed Sallie.
         Soon after she reached Pueblo, Sallie wrote to her eldest son, trying to assuage his worries about her: “William has started me on a tonic that he says will soon bring me out of the woods. . . . I believe I am going to get fat and well up here.”
         But the weeks passed, and she did not get well. Tuberculosis was a mysterious, serious illness little understood until well into the 20th century. Sallie's long history of ailments, with a dramatic weight loss in the last year of her life, was probably tuberculosis, though oddly enough, no one in her family contracted the disease. There were no X-rays in Sallie's day to help with diagnosis.  A German physicist discovered electromagnetic radiation in 1895, and X-rays were in use by World War I. Effective treatment of tuberculosis with antibiotics did not occur until the 1940s.
         Ima celebrated her 13th birthday on July 10, but at her mother’s bedside it was not a happy one.  In late August a telegram brought Jim Hogg and Will, Mike, and Tom to Pueblo. Sarah Ann Stinson Hogg died on September 20, 1895. She was 41 years old.
         There must have been farewells, last words, between Sallie and her husband and children, but they were not recorded.  Perhaps because her last days were such a sad time to recall, no one wrote much about them, then or afterward.        
A telegram carried the news of Sallie’s death to Austin, and a train took her body, accompanied by her husband, children, and “Aunt Fannie” back to that city for burial. Early Tuesday morning, September 24, the train was met by a “committee of citizens.” The funeral service for Sallie Stinson Hogg was held at the Governor’s Mansion at 10 a.m., and the state offices remained closed until two o’clock that afternoon. Sallie was buried in Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery

         Sallie’s death left Jim Hogg a widower at 44, with 4 children: Will was 20, Ima, 13, Mike, 10, and Tom, 8.

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