From the Cokato Historical Society's newsletter In the Midst Of, July, 2020, Vol. 40 No. 2.
Dr. Theodore Greenfield administers the polio vaccination to Cokato first and second graders. Also pictured from left to right are Paul Constenius, Sandra Boltz, Karen Boltz, and Keith Barberg.
From the 1920s-1950s, Cokato residents lived in fear of polio, a contagious disease that
particularly targeted Cokato’s youth. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system, with symptoms ranging from asymptomatic, to paralysis, to death. Although most cases of polio were mild with little or temporary symptoms, the severe cases involved permanent paralysis, which was enough to cause panic when an outbreak occurred in the community. Adding to the anxiety, scientists at the time did not know how it spread and there was no known cure. In Minnesota, many severe polio cases were treated at the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis.
Cokato Historical Society's newsletter In the Midst Of, July, 2020, Vol. 40 No. 2.
Spanish Influenza, so named because Spain was the first to publicize the crisis, came from unknown origins. In a war torn world brought on by World War I, soldiers carried the disease from one camp to another. By the spring of 1918, the Spanish flu reached the United States with the first case appearing in Kansas. In September of 1918, the virus reached Minnesota and spread at analarming rate. What was so terrifying about the malady is that victims could be healthy one moment then near death after only a few hours. Symptoms included cough, chills, fever, congestion, body aches, exhaustion and bleeding. On top of all of this, the flu was often followed by a bout of pneumonia, that proved deadly to many. By the time the influenza epidemic waned in Minnesota during the spring of 1919, over 10,000 people were dead. Even small rural communities like Cokato did not escape the reaper. 1
Article by Mike Worcester from the Cokato Historical Society's newsletter In the Midst Of, April, 20o5, Vol. 25 No. 2.
Editors note: This article is in no way intended to be a complete history of the Cokato Hospital. It is only intended to provide a general overview of this venerable institution's story.
For almost fifty years, a hospital served the people of Cokato and the surrounding townships and communities. Located at the corner of Third Street and Swanson Avenue, just east of downtown, the Cokato Hospital played a vital role by providing much needed medical services. An imposing two-story structure, the hospital was originally built sometime during the late 1880s as a private residence for the A. W. L. Almquist family. The Peter Stevenson family later resided there. The demolition of this structure, beginning in December 2003, gave countless people the opportunity to recall their memories of this place.