A Silent Killer Came to Our House

Without warning, that which came into the Appalachian Mountains referred to as the Silent Killer or the White Plague, would leave our family without a father and even worse, a provider. Such was the case in that year 1943 when our Dad Clarence Carroll, would be diagnosed with the dreaded Tuberculosis (TB) disease that would take away the family breadwinner for nine years. Daddy was at age thirty-one at the time and was employed by the Catawba Sanatorium as assistant store manager since the late 1930s’. The irony is not lost on the fact, that Daddy would still be going to the Sanatorium, not as an employed store-keeper but as a patient “on the cure” to reside there, indefinitely.

Clarence Carroll, Elizabeth Carroll Nancy Carroll Camper, Jeanie Carroll Thompson, Barbara Carroll Shelor, Clarence (Ted) Carroll

Our mother, Elizabeth Garman Carroll was twenty-eight when Daddy departed and had four children to care for; Jeanie, Teddy, Barbara and Nancy all age nine and younger. Jeanie was the baby at eighteen months. I cannot remember the specifics of that day when he left although I knew something was wrong in the Carroll household. Sister Barbara, age five at the time well remembers the day he left us. She said “Mama was ironing Daddy’s pajamas on an ironing board by the side of the bed. Jeanie, just a baby at the time was lying on the bed. As she continued ironing, Mama was crying, and we did not know what was wrong”. Looking back, it was obvious she was packing Daddy’s clothes for his stay at the Sanatorium, which would be measured in years.

Our situation, by any reckoning, was not a good one. First and foremost, Daddy’s battle with TB was one of a very long process, and there were no guarantees of his survival and return to his family. Secondly, we as a family, with a mother in her late twenties who had four children to feed, clothe and raise. We had just moved into a newly built house on one acre of land beside the Catawba School. We had a roof over our head, but that came with a monthly mortgage. We had no vehicle, nor anyone licensed to drive one. It was a dire situation even by Appalachia standards. The Catawba Sanatorium built in 1909 was the first built TB sanatorium in Virginia. This facility was specifically for TB patients and was within walking distance of our home.

Daddy’s only hope-The Catawba Sanatorium


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11 thoughts on “A Silent Killer Came to Our House

  1. I so enjoy reading this in hopes of hearing you mention some name I may recall. I too am a Carroll from what they used to call Morgansville right near Catawba.

    1. Thank you for your comment and glad you enjoyed reading the article. I cannot place where Morgansville was located near Catawba. Always glad to hear from Carroll 🙂

  2. So much enjoyed this story. My mom, Dorothy Wood, worked at Catawba Hospital for many years, along with my aunt, Grace Davis. I remember Clarence Carroll as superintendent at my church, Catawba Valley Baptist and going to his home for homemade ice cream. Good memories !

    1. Thank you, Kay, for the kind comments and precious memories. It means a lot that you knew my dad and visited our home. I love writing these stories and hearing from folks like you who are connected in some manner. Continue reading and I will continue writing. Plan is to release one book each year until God finishes with me. Thanks again, Kay.

  3. I really enjoy your articles. I am amazed at the strength and courage the families of Catawba and especially the Garman linage used living in the mountains of Catawba. I have a better understanding of where I get these traits. You see I am a granddaughter of Oscar Garman who never got a chance to know this heritage because of a death of a mother and brought up in a different generation. I’m proud to be a Garman and proud to pass the heritage to my six kids and 11 grandkids even all the way over here in Texas

    Hope Garman Sarver

    1. Hi Hope. Good to hear from you again as you are a faithful follower of Echoes. Your comments are very accurate and telling of what our heritage is all about. It thrills me to know you are passing this on down the line. I am going to do an article on Oscar in the future. Thanks again for your kind note-Ted

  4. Wonderful article . I have my grandmother’s diary . She too was a tb patient around 1917 .She wrote of Dr Nichols . My mother was 18 months old when her mother went to Catawba Sanatorium. My infant mother went to live with an aunt . I have letters my aunt Eva wrote to my grandmother’s describing my mother’s first tooth and steps . Grandmother was in and out of Catawba for many years . She did come home but passed away at 67 when I was 7 .Grandmother recovered but the disease weakened her . She lived next door to us so she was part of my life , and I got to hear her stories . In 1972 15 years after her passing I had the good fortune to be hired as a teacher at Catawba Elementary right next to your home , It was a wonderful 8 years and I got to know your sweet mother well . So nice to meet you at the reunion this fall ! Kathy Freis Gross

  5. Hello Ted. Your mother and mine are related. My grandfather was Tuck Garmen and my mother was Phyllis Garmen. I remember your mother as Aunt Elizabeth as we went to the church across from your home. Love the stories you share. They bring back so many good memories .

    1. Thanks, Brenda, for commenting on the writings I am doing. I like to hear the feedback when folks can read and relate to some really wonderful times and forever memories. I love writing and have dedicated my life going forward to continue to write and preserve these special times in books for folks to enjoy now and generations to come. I very much appreciate your kind words. I would love to meet you sometime. Maybe that will happen.—-Ted

  6. Thank you so much for taking time to write about our family. I am a grand daughter of Your Aunt Gertrude the oldest of the 17 children. My mother was Avis Damewood Garman & loved your mom, Elizabeth.
    I have many fond memories playing with Barbara. Avis & Louin Garman had 8 children & we all went to the brick school house. Your book brought back many wonderful memories. I live in Leesburg, Va.
    Frieda Jane Garman Rager

    1. Frieda, it is really great hearing from you! As I do these writings, I continue to be blessed with kin and friends from Catawba popping up having read Volume 1 of Echoes From Catawba. You were a bit older than me but I remember you and your siblings. Talked to Ted last year when he stopped at the Catawba Farmers Market. The next book Volume 2 of Echoes will be a biography of Aunt Earl Taylor and the primitive life she lived. It will be released in November of this year. In the process of moving back to Salem to be near Catawba for my future writings. I will cover all of the children of the family that Aunt Gertrude was born into including Aunt Gert. Each volume will have stories similar to the format of Volume 1 that you have read. If you have FB follow us Ted and Tina Carroll and our page Echoes From Catawba, plus the blogsite—-if you so desire. Thank you again for your comments, which are much appreciated. Wishing you well.—- Ted Carroll

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