When the Wilsons fell sick, they were without any formal medical care. Especially in isolated Jackson Hole, the families had to rely on their own knowledge and any training one might get. Mary Wilson (Sylvester’s wife) and Matilda Wilson (Nick’s wife) were known in the South Park area for being health care providers. Mary had received training as a midwife and nurse by the Relief Society when she was living in Wilsonville, Utah. Matilda’s knowledge was from experience in caring for sick neighbors, and the two women ensured their families and neighbors received as much help as they could give. Both women were known to leave their homes at any time, day or night, to assist someone in need. By summer they traveled on horse or wagon and in winter by skis, snowshoes or sleigh. As far as they were concerned, no need was too small to warrant a check up.
Medicines were purchased in Idaho on the yearly trek over the Pass for supplies. Otherwise, herbal remedies and teas were used to treat the vast majority of ailments. It wouldn’t be until 1900 when the Deloney General Store opened that any kind of medicinal supply would be available in the valley. In 1894, a Dr. Woodburn visited the valley briefly and lived in the old John Carnes family cabin. But his stay was short and it wouldn’t be until 1907 when Dr. Palmer arrived. He built a two-story house on what would become the town square. He intended to live in the house and offer up the rooms downstairs to tuberculosis patients told to retire out west. Rather unfortunately for Dr. Palmer, individuals weakened by tuberculosis were not well enough to undertake the arduous journey over the mountain pass to access his care. Without many patients to treat, sold his building in 1908 to Maude Reed. It then became the Reed Hotel, and the building remains on the town square today, although rebuilt to resemble the original. In 1913, Dr. Charles Huff became the valley’s first permanent doctor, and his presence was welcome. In 1914, the first drugstore opened on the town square, operated by Jim Simpson. While the valley residents were generally in good health, the presence of a doctor, and a reliable source of medicine was a relief. Huff was instrumental in constructing the first hospital in 1916.
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