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Leper Colony

The Verona Leper Colony, March 2018.


Note from Jesse on 3/20/21:  In the years since this presentation, I have continued to research the Verona Leper Colony, and additional facts have been uncovered since this 2018 presentation.  The most notable update so far is the name of an additional Leprosy patient who was both in the Leper Colony on PB and is buried in the Poor House cemetery by Gus's Diner!  At the time of this presentation I had no proof that Leprosy patients were buried there, and I didn't have such definitive evidence of one of the Leper Colony's patients' names.

On Nov 28, 1894, Norwegian Thomas Lewison was admitted (as patient 1433) to the Poor House in Verona due to Leprosy.  At the time, the superintendent there did not think the Poor House was a fitting place for him, and the superintendent convinced an uncle of Lewison to take him in about a week later.  But Lewison came back to the Poor House again on May 3, 1896.  This time, he was situated by himself in a house on the county's southern 80 acres, which today is the Prairie Moraine Dog Park.  He died on November 1, 1902 and was buried in the Poor House cemetery by Gus's Diner in burial plot B-94.  His headstone is not among the 81 that have been recovered in recent years and replaced at that site.

Other corrections to the info presented in this video:
  • Jesse Meyers was no longer the superintendent of the Dane County Poor House in Verona in 1896, his tenure as superintendent appears to have ended around 1893 (although he continued as secretary of the board of the asylum for several years after).  The Poor House annual report filed on Sept 30, 1896 lists three superintendents, with last names appearing to be Bird, Iwammen, and Breader (I can not be certain of those spellings).  The overseer is listed as L.P. Edwin, and I believe it may have been they who filled out the 1896 report.
  • Surprisingly, I believe there were two "Hans O. Gjerdee"s in Bristol in the 1890s!  In 2021, I came across death notices and court documents related to one of those Hans who died in 1894 and owned the parcel of land I showed in this video.  But two years later in 1896, the Titus report clearly identifies a Hans O Gjerdee living with Leprosy in Bristol (with Thomas Larsen living with him as a boarder).  It is this second Larsen I talk about in this video.  I do not believe he owned the land parcel I show.  There are puzzle pieces missing here, but the most likely explanation was there was more than one person with this name.

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