Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


This essay is the result of a study of the medical staff and hospital facilities of Fort Dodge, Kansas, 1865-1882, and the role each played in supporting the military operation of the fort. Additionally, it is also a summary of the medical staff, growth of the hospital complex, and health care provided to the veteran residents and their dependents of the Kansas State Soldiers’ Home during the period 1890-1972. Primary sources used in this study included microfilm records available from the National Archives; particular attention was given to the post returns, medical records, and official correspondence. The biennial reports prepared by the Kansas State Soldiers’ Home and some recognized secondary sources were also used. The medical facilities at Fort Dodge were under construction long before the first anniversary of the garrison and were an important factor in allowing the medical staff to provide health care support to the officers and soldiers of the post. These services were also available to people, both permanent and transient, in the surrounding region. The hospital staff consisted of at least one surgeon, hospital stewards, matron, and cook. They, under the direction of the surgeon, assisted in providing all the medical, surgical, and nursing care for the numerous illnesses both on and off the post. The staff also continued sanitary inspections of the garrison and completed many non-professional duties. They worked in the hospital garden, served on boards of survey, and courts-martial boards, and accompanied troops into the field on military expeditions. In spite of these many assignments the hospital staff managed to fulfill their primary responsibility of giving professional medical, surgical and nursing service to the sick and injured people in need. The medical staff of Fort Dodge were active participants in securing the western frontier. The Kansas State Soldiers’ Home had its modest beginnings in 1890, after the disestablishment of Fort Dodge and its reservation. The Home was originally designed to provide care and security to needy veterans of America’s armed forces. Soon after the opening of the Home the requirement for good health care became apparent to the Home managers. Health support to the residents soon became one of the most important services provided to the veterans and their eligible dependents. With the aging of the veterans came physical conditions peculiar to the elderly and supportive care progressed quite rapidly. The employment of a physician and an adequate staff of professionals to assist him was a priority in the operation of the Home. The construction of hospitals was accomplished periodically and the level of supportive care increased and improved with time. From modest beginnings in 1865 as a sod hut at an isolated military post on the Santa Fe Trail, the health facilities of Fort Dodge have developed into a modern complex offering the finest care possible. Medical, surgical, and nursing care has been provided to the sick and injured of Fort Dodge and the Kansas State Soldiers’ Home from 1865-1972.


Leo E. Oliva

Date of Award

Summer 1974

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1974 Joseph L. Byrne


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