“The Illustrated History of the Ottawa Tent Colony” tells the story of tuberculosis treatment in the early 1900s. There was no cure for tuberculosis when the Ottawa Tent Colony opened in 1904 along the south shore of the Illinois River. Dr. James W. Pettit of Ottawa started his colony with the revolutionary idea of treating TB with fresh air and a nutritious diet. Patients were kept outdoors in tents, in weather that could be 20 degrees below zero or a 100 degree heat wave. They also were fed a nutritious yet incredibly fattening diet. It seems odd, but it worked for patients in the early stage of the disease.
Tuberculosis attacks the lungs and wastes away the body. The fresh air and food worked to reverse those effects. The book tells the story of the early days of the facility and how it grew into the LaSalle County Tuberculosis Sanitarium. Stories of TB treatment elsewhere is chronicled, as well as another TB tent colony at Buffalo Rock -- and how Buffalo Rock almost was sold to a sand company to be leveled.
Tuberculosis has been the number one killer in human history. Tuberculosis pandemics from the 1600s to the 1800s wiped out half the population of Europe several times. In just the last 200 years, The Centers For Disease Control and the World Health Organization have estimated that TB killed one billion people worldwide. The CDC and WHO said that by the dawn of the nineteenth century, TB had killed one in seven of all the people who ever lived. Even today, TB kills 1.6 million people worldwide every year.
“Western Kankakee County” covers the history of the towns in the western half of Kankakee County – Herscher, Bonfield, Buckingham, Cabery, Essex, Goodrich, Irwin, Lehigh, Limestone, Reddick, Union Hill, and even the now-gone coal mining town of Clarke City.
This book is absolutely essential for the story of these towns. There is a lot of new material here, but much of it comes from the author’s two books, “County West” and “County West Companion.” Those totaled almost 1,000 pages, in large, hardcover coffee table-style books. The new book is a smaller size and follows the guidelines of Arcadia, the publisher – each chapter opens with a page of text, followed by photographs and captions.
The book is 160 pages and contains the essential information of the history of each town, and the essential photographs. The photographs are especially sharp and clear. The book should be used as a textbook for local history in the Herscher school district.