CALHOUN NURSE TRUDGED THE PRIMITIVE ROADS - Charlotte Kunze, First Public Health Nurse 90+ Years Ago


Charlotte Kunze was Calhoun's first official public health
nurse in 1931, married later to Earle Harris, living below Big Bend on the road to Munday (Photos compliments of Juanita Haught Willard)

By Bob Weaver

Over 90 years ago public health services officially came to Calhoun, with the establishment of the Calhoun Health Department by the County Court and the hiring of a public health nurse.

Medical care had been provided by a number of physicians in scattered communities, a few who had actually graduated from a real school of medicine.

The poor roads hampered cars getting to backwoods residents, after the horse and buggy days.

Miss Charlotte Kunze arrived in the county in 1931 as the county's first public health nurse, coming from Roane County.

An article in the Calhoun Chronicle said "Her services will give Calhoun citizens the same kind of health protection as offered in nine other counties in the state."

Mrs. Kunze, shown here making a house call, traveled
the breadth of county calling on families and schools,
providing health education and basic medical care

"This includes examinations of all school children for the discovery and correction of physical defects, organization and assistance at child health conferences and baby clinics, instruction and advice to prospective mothers, as well as the promotion of a general program of health and education throughout the county.

Miss Kunze traveled from one end of the county to the other, visiting young and older families, teaching and issuing basic health care, including prenatal care for what was nearly always a home delivery of the infant.

According to an article re-published by the Calhoun Historical Society, during the fiscal year of 1934-35, the full expenses of operating the health service was $2,400, half paid by the county and the other half by the state.

By 1934, Miss Kunze was forced to resign her position because of her own health problems.

A mother with four children deep in the Calhoun woods

Elderly woman poses for camera, circa 1931

A list of other early nurses holding the position:

- Miss Ina Spangler 1934
- Miss Eleanor Conn of Kingwood 1935
- Miss Mary Shaffer 1935
- Miss Matilda Ann Wade 1936-1940
- Miss Elizabeth Lowery 1940
- Miss Margaret Arbuckle 1940-1947
- Miss Minnie Hamilton 1947-1972

Miss Hamilton, fought the scourge of polio, single-handedly eliminating the disease in the county through vaccine.

See Minnie Hamilton's Legacy, Down The Muddy Roads She Went