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As It Was: German Immigrants Establish County Hospital Society

German immigrants of Trinity County, Calif., formed the German Hospital Society on Feb. 1, 1856.

At its first meeting, the Society chose four officers, President Henry Hocker, Vice President Jacob Hessig, Treasurer Frederick Walters, and Secretary A.M. Kruttschnitt.  The secretary wrote the minutes in German.

By the second meeting a month later, the Society had 108 members and appointed a finance and sick committee consisting of Charles Hasp, Louis Reikart, George Thede, L. Markewitz and Max Lang.

The society’s most important mission was to establish a local hospital open to its members.  Agents served mining communities, locating ill members who needed more care, transferring a few cases to the German Hospital in San Francisco.  One such patient’s bill reached $2,000, the equivalent of $59,084 in today’s inflated currency.

The society reached its peak in 1858 with 159 members, but as many Germans left Trinity County or returned to the old country, membership declined and the society shut down 40 years later. 

The remaining $34.37 in the group’s treasury was donated to the “Old Settlers’ Society.”

Source: "The German Hospital Society." Trinity, 1975, pp. 40-41.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.