The Consumption Journey

The Consumption Journey

Plaza Hotel in 1931, when it opened to the public
Plaza Hotel in 1931, when it opened to the public

Jesse McCray was a druggist in Dallas who lived at the Hotel Plaza at the end of his life. It was located on Commerce and Jefferson Streets (Now South Record Street) Caddy Corner to the Old Red Courthouse. The area has been

radically altered since then and the Dallas County Court now stands at this location facing the John F. Kennedy Memorial and John Neely Bryan’s cabin in Founder’s Square. Record Street was closed to create the Dallas County Court Building. The only remaining landmarks are Union Station and Old Red along with the familiar layout of Dealey Plaza the site of President Kennedy’s assassination.


William Aaron Miller owned a Pool Hall. The exact name and location of which is unknown. Both he and Jesse were born at the dawn of the 20th Century. They likely never met or even crossed paths, until after their deaths, but their lives both took similar turns that proved to be fatal and they would meet in their afterlife.

Jesse started life on July 1, 1900 born to Robert & Mattie (Scott) McCray. After an initial failure at Marriage he seemed to be back on track with his new life and wife. Yet, by the end he wasn’t residing with his wife. He died at Woodlawn Hospital. But his death certificate claims his usual residence as the Plaza Hotel [Should be Hotel Plaza]. The reasons for this aren’t clear and bring up a number of questions that the documents simply cannot answer.

William came into this world a mere 458 days after Jesse. William seems to have left no clear paper trail of his existence. His death certificate is one of the only documents available to tell us about his life. It lists 2407 Cole Drive as his address, but the address does not seem to exist. He is apparently married to Hazel Miller, who completed the information on the Death Certificate. But Hazel was unable to produce the names of his parents at the time of death, so we have little info to corroborate the information.

Their different paths end here with the number one Infectious disease of all time.


tb_mycobacterium_tuberculosisTuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that generally affects the lungs. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. The historical term “consumption” came about due to the weight loss. Hollywood has taught us well that the mere image of someone coughing up blood is a sure sign that they will be dead in the next few minutes of screen time. In reality, it took anywhere from 1-5 years to run its course.

On 1 Dec 1934, Jesse contracted Pulmonary Tuberculosis. He was subsequently hospitalized at Woodlawn Hospital where on 13 July he underwent surgery to remove his Appendix. He apparently was already too weak to sustain himself and 2 weeks after this surgery he passed from this earth on 27 July 1935. Being a druggist, he was likely used to dispensing drug to render aid to the ill. But there were no drugs available to stem this terrible disease that had proceeded unchecked for millennia. Jesse’s attending Physician at the time of his death was a man by the name of Dr. Roy Goggans.

In 1938, William also contracted Pulmonary Tuberculosis. Four years later he gave his final breath under the same watchful eye of Dr. Goggans. He was taken to the same ward and hospital and perhaps slept in the same bed once occupied by Jesse.

Dr. Goggans served as Woodlawn’s director for many years and was a tireless advocate for the cause, regularly engaging the public with discussions about the needs of the hospital and patients. In addition to treating TB patients, Woodlawn’s mission was to care for all Infectious Diseases, while Parkland treated everything else but infectious diseases. At the time of Jesse & William’s convalescence the facility was located on Maple street approximately 3 miles from the Dallas City Limit of the day (exact address is unknown to me).


Roy Goggans
Dr. Roy Goggans

Dr. Goggans served as Woodlawn’s director for many years and was a tireless advocate for the cause, regularly engaging the public with discussions about the needs of the hospital and patients. In addition to treating TB patients, Woodlawn’s mission was to care for all Infectious Diseases, while Parkland treated everything else but infectious diseases. At the time of Jesse & William’s convalescence the facility was located on Maple street approximately 3 miles from the Dallas City Limit of the day (exact address unknown to me).

Woodlawn Hospital
Woodlawn Hospital Circa 1930s

Parkland Hospital relocated to a new facility in 1954 at 5201 Harry Hines Boulevard and turned over the “Old” Parkland building located at Maple & Oak Lawn to Woodlawn. Known to most Dallas residents as the “Old” Parkland, the main building was constructed in 1913 would now become Woodlawn Tubercular Hospital for the next 30 years, finally closing in 1974. It would

Parkland Hospital Postcard
Postcard of “Old” Parkland Hospital that later became Woodlawn Tubercular Hospital in 1954

then become a prison before lying vacant for decades with masses of broken windows and Asbestos. The building was finally rescued by Crow Holdings, who remade it into their new Headquarters. They did a spectacular job of restoring the building and have made the once vacant intersection into a thriving area of commerce.

Woodlawn quickly outgrew this space as well and was a step-child to the main hospital of Parkland and was chronically underfunded, understaffed and in disrepair. One news article claims that they were turning patients away because they lacked enough sheets to change the beds once a week. Part of the issue seems to have related to the way the hospital was funded being split by the City and the County. Often one side would have money but the other didn’t and this derailed more than its fair share of plans.

Of all the attempts that were made to improve the conditions, nothing seems to have kept for very long. News articles abound about the miserable conditions throughout its lifetime.


A brief history of Tuberculosis:


Robert Koch - ScientistAlthough Tuberculosis (TB) 1901 Article where Dr. Koch dismisses Bovine Tuberculosis fears_1existed for centuries, The bacillus causing tuberculosis, M. tuberculosis, was only identified and described on 24 March 1882 by Robert Koch. He received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1905 for this discovery. However, Koch overlooked the threat that Bovine Tuberculosis played and spent many a year discrediting those that thought otherwise. The article to the left is one such example where he attempts to discredit the program to destroy cattle with Bovine Tuberculosis.

Medical Science still had a number of new discoveries to make before they could contain this awful disease and several of them related to something right inside your refrigerator that came to your front door, often on a daily basis.

pouring milk in a glass isolated


Milk is an excellent medium for microbial growth, and when it is stored at ambient temperature bacteria and other pathogens soon proliferate. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says improperly handled raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other food-borne disease source, making it one of the world’s most dangerous food products. Koch’s belief that Bovine Tuberculosis was unrelated to the human strain kept scientists off track in coming to a clear understands . He had not realized that humans were contracting TB from infected cows.

In 1892, chemist Earnest Lederle experimentally inoculated milk from tuberculosis-diseased cows into Guinea pigs, which caused them to develop the disease. In 1910, Lederle, then in the role of Commissioner of Health, introduced mandatory pasteurization of milk in New York city.

Another piece of the puzzle was solved through Pasteurization, which is a process that treats liquids with mild heat (<100 °C) to eliminate pathogens and extend shelf-life. The process is intended to reduce spoilage organisms and eliminate vegetative bacteria but not bacterial spores. This process was Portrait of Louis Pasteurnamed after the French scientist Louis Pasteur, whose research in the 1880s demonstrated that thermal processing would inactivate unwanted microorganisms in wine. Spoilage enzymes are also inactivated during pasteurization. It was many years later before this process became common in Milk. Koch insisted that Pasteurization was a waste of time.

Diseases prevented by pasteurization can include Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Diphtheria, Scarlet Fever, and Q-Fever; it also kills the harmful bacteria Salmonella, Listeria, Yersinia, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli O157:H7 (aka E. coli), among others.

Prior to industrialization, dairy cows were kept in urban areas to limit the time between milk production and consumption hence the risk of disease transmission via raw milk was reduced. As urban densities increased, and supply chains lengthened to the distance from country to city, raw milk (often days old) became recognized as a source of disease. But because tuberculosis has a long incubation period in humans, it was difficult to link unpasteurized milk consumption as the cause to the effect of disease.

Tuberculosis Poster 01Tuberculosis caused widespread public concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as the disease became common among the urban poor. At its peak the disease accounted for 1 in 4 deaths and even after TB was determined to be contagious, in the 1880s, it was put on a notifiable disease list in Britain; campaigns were started to stop people from spitting in public places, and the infected poor were “encouraged” to enter sanatoria that resembled prisons (the sanatoria for the middle and upper classes offered excellent care and constant medical attention). Whatever the benefits of the “fresh air” and labor in the sanatoria, even under the best conditions, 50% of those who entered died within five years (c. 1916).

Tuberculosis Poster 02Improvements in sanitation, vaccination, and other public health measures began reducing mortality rates, but not in time for Jesse and William. Then In 1946, the development of the antibiotic streptomycin made effective treatment and cure of TB a reality. Prior to the introduction of this medication, the only treatment was surgical intervention, including the “pneumothorax technique”, which involved collapsing an infected lung to “rest” it and allow tuberculous lesions to heal.

These measures drastically cut into the number of new cases and eventually the disease was brought under control. The cure came too late for William & Jesse, but it did finally come. Their stories are representative of scores of graves across the Dallas Pauper’s Cemetery.

TB in  Modern Times

It is easy in today’s modern world to think that TB has been eradicated from this earth, but presently, one-third of the world’s population is thought to be infected with TB. New infections occur in about 1% of the population each year. In 2016, there were more than 10 million cases of active TB which resulted in 1.3 million deaths. This makes it the number one cause of death from an infectious disease. More than 95% of deaths occurred in developing countries, and more than 50% in India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. About 80% of people in many Asian and African countries test positive while 5–10% of people in the United States population test positive by the tuberculin test. Tuberculosis has been present in humans since ancient times.

Developed countries adopted milk pasteurization to prevent such disease and loss of life, and as a result milk is now widely considered one of the safest foods. Various states in the US began enacting mandatory dairy pasteurization laws with the first in 1947, and in 1973 the U.S. Federal Government required pasteurization of milk used in any interstate commerce.

However, hopes of a complete elimination of TB ended in the 1980s with the rise of drug-resistant strains and the AIDS epidemic.


A wide variety of Dallas Morning News Articles:

1919 New Woodlawn Tubercular Hospital to be built by City and County1931 Plaza Hotel1901 Article where Dr. Koch dismisses Bovine Tuberculosis fears1917-12-171917-12-151917-12-051931 Plaza Hotel-Picture1925 Description of Hospitals available in Dallas, which includes address of Woodlawn1913 Woodlawn Inspection1917 New Ward opened to the Negroes1913 Woodlawn to Open1920 Woodlawn Almost Completed1928 Plight of Woodlawn Hospital1956 Roy GoggansPlaza Hotel location (Commerce &amp; Jefferson caddy corner to courthouse)1959 Progress on TB Fight, hospital remodeled1957 Improvements announced at Woodlawn1941 Woodlawn and Hutchins condition1948 Need to separate Woodlawn from Parkland1947 Streptmycin Fund1942 TB Threat1948 Parkland admits TB child1948 TB Hospital to open1943 Woodlawn1941 Woodlawn1918 Negroes appeal for separate hospital1947 Woodlawn Picnic1947-Aug 18 TB and Woodlawn1947-Dec Woodlawn1942 Article on need for replacement needed for Woodlawn Hospital-Article1932 Article showing heavy decrease in Bovine TB-Article1932 Ad for Pastuerized Ice Cream


Old Red Courthouse: By Leaflet – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

JFK Memorial: By Carol M. Highsmith – Library of CongressCatalog: download: url:, Public Domain,

John Neely Bryan’s Cabin: By Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Union Station: By kla4067 –, CC BY 2.0,

Dealey Plaza: By Brodie319 – w:en:Image:Dealey_Plaza_2003.jpg, Public Domain,

Leave a Reply

Blog at