"Leper Colony" (Leprosy House)

Hello!  This page is undergoing a major revision, targeting to be done Summer of 2024.  In the years since our first presentation in 2018 on the leprosy house in Verona, we've discovered many more records that have shed light on what happened here back in the 1890s in regards to housing persons with leprosy.  Some of the information we had in 2018 has been disproven by more reliable sources, so I've cleared out this page until I can post the corrected version.

In short, it is clear that the Dane County Poorhouse in Verona was required to house two persons with Leprosy in 1896.  A cabin was built on the 80 acres that is now the Prairie Moraine dog park on highway PB.  By the time it was finished, on of those two people had died.  The remaining person, named Thomas, lived there until his passing in 1902 and is buried in the cemetery near Gus's diner.  During his time at the leprosy house, he was in a deteriorated physical state.  Food and supplies were brought to him from the Poor House.  A nearby farmer is remembered as visiting and playing cards with him.  For a period of time another Poor House resident named William Bradley was Thomas' attendant.

An aspect of this story that we will highlight is the connection between the history attitudes and fears of leprosy, and how that connects to what happened here in Verona.  Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are still affected by leprosy, which today is treatable and curable for those with access to the proper resources.  Here in Verona we only have evidence of this one house being used for a period of 6 years, but the urban legend (which has its roots in sensational press coverage from the 1890s) of the Verona "Leper Colony" does tell us something about how society viewed Hansen's Disease (as Leprosy is known today) back then.  It's an important story that we look forward to telling this summer.