Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium

This is the place to share your memories or knowledge of the former patients and employees…and especially the dedicated Dr. Mary Chapman Ghostley… of the Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium in northern Minnesota.

As a young child, I lived on the San Dairy, the farm that supplied the sanatorium with milk for the patients. My dad ran the farm, located right on the sanatorium grounds, with my mother’s help.

The doctor’s son, Jim Ghostley, remembered how clean my dad kept the barn. Dad knew the importance of providing safe, nutritious food for the patients. He had been the San janitor, a part of this community made up of  tuberculosis patients and employees. My parents met at the San when Dad was a janitor and Mom worked in the kitchen. Many couples met there and were married, including my Uncle Louis who did some haying for the San. He married a lady named Inga, a nurse who had formerly been a patient. Inga’s sister Tressa, now nearly 100, worked at both the Lake Julia and Nopeming sanatoriums as a nurse after she had TB, and one of Inga and Tressa’s sisters died while a patient at the San. My uncle Norman, who also occasionally worked for the San, met his wife there when she worked in the laundry. My uncle Reuben was the gardener.

Work on my two books about the amazing patients and employees of the Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium has taken me from my home in Washington State back to my first home of Minnesota where I’ve interviewed patients and employees and their family members. I hope to make another research trip this year to tie up some loose ends in my rough drafts.

This website is a place to share your stories. I know there are many wonderful stories about Dr. Mary and others. Please share your stories here, and please check back often to read what others have added. All I ask is that you state your connection to the San (example: daughter of nurse; grandson of Dr. Mary; former patient; nurse at another nearby San) and that you include your name. By posting on this site, you give me permission to use your postings in published material. If you do not wish to post your name or information online, please email.

You may email me at Photos are encouraged.

Please post often.

See my other website:

                                              Pat Nelson



Filed under Family History, Family Memories, Minnesota, TB sanatorium, Tuberculosis

14 responses to “Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium

  1. Pat – Have you finished your research and book? I’m writing about the Glen Lake TB Sanatorium in Oak Terrace (now Minnetonka) MN. I had one article published in Hennepin History magazine a few years ago and have another appearing in the Spring 2011 issue. It would be interesting to compare similarities and differences between the two sans.
    Mary Krugerud

    • storystorm

      Hi Mary,
      I am just getting back to my writing after two years away from it. I needed to help with our business during that time. It is really hard to get motivated again. I’d love to read copies of your articles.

  2. Pat- My grandmother worked at Lake Julia Sanatorium, as well as an uncle and aunt, who was a nurse. My mother also worked there part-time. My sister just related a story my grandmother told her, just a few years before she passed-away. This was a secret that my grandmother had never even told to my mother. Dr. Mary asked my grandmother to accompany her to a dinner party one evening. They drove for a couple of hours, arrived at a nice resort somewhere, and had this wonderful dinner with all of these really nice men. On the way home, Dr. Mary informed my grandmother that one of the nice gentlemen was Al Capone. Of course, my grandmother told my grandfather that she had gone out to dinner with Dr. Mary and then out on a “call.” Knowing my straight-laced, reserved, grandma, this was a wonderful tidbit to know.

    • storystorm

      Jon, can you tell me names of your relatives who worked at the San? If so, I can look them up in he employee register and tell you whatever I find there, such as dates of employment, job, wages, etc.

      • Sorry for my sloooow response, I’ve had way to many things going on. As per your request- My grandmother was Lillian/Lilly Workman. My uncle and aunt were Robert Workman and Jesse Workman (the nurse). My mother was Shirley Workman, but I she likely was not a regular employee. As a side note, my grandfather, Nathan Workman, was logger, owner/trainer of draft horses used in the logging, as well as a one-time constible in the area. Their long time home/farm was close to Puposky.

      • Hi again. I’m sure my parents knew the Workmans. They met while working at the San in the early 30’s. Dad was a janitor and Mom worked in the kitchen. When I was a child, in the late 1940’s, we lived on the San Dairy. I hope to do some serious writing on my book this winter. I have done so much research, but haven’t worked on it for a long time. I’ll keep your family’s name in mind in case I run into their names.

  3. I am a photographer working on a coffee table book about the history of abandoned places just like this. I am looking for more information on the Lake Julia Sanatorium. If anyone has any information they would like to share please let me know. I would like to feature this place in my book, so if anyone has any photos of what this place used to look like that they would be willing to share (photo credit would be given) please contact me. &

  4. wildflowerfarm2012

    Hi! I just read the most ridiculous post about the sanitarium and was so flustered by it I had to do a quick google search just to make sure I wasn’t off my rocker! I grew up a few miles south of the sanitarium and currently own the original farm that you speak of! I absolutely love the place! We are trying hard to keep what we can original and update and fix what needs fixing. We have brought animals back to the farm and began a new garden plot and have plans for an orchard too!
    I just love places with history and stories!
    If you ever are curious about what is going on there I blog about our happenings at!

  5. Pingback: The Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium | WildFlower Farm

  6. Today I read that the San is in one of the pit stops in MN terrifying places. This sparked a conversation on Facebook with my family members. My grandmother LuAnn Auchter worked at the San and lived in Puposky. I would love to hear any additional details you find. Thanks!

  7. Pat, My mother Carrie Miles and my Grandmother Cora Miles were both patients at Lake Julia in the late 1920’s. Mother never shared with us why they were there and my brothers and I are curious. Do you know of some place that we can find out if they were patients there and why?Mother moved to Southern Arizona in 1931 and did not share much about her life before coming to Arizona. Thank you for your help

    • Nancy, I don’t know if Pat Nelson is still maintaining this site. I am doing research on the sanatoriums in Minnesota and can possibly help you. The Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul ( has three collections of Lake Julia material. (1) a statistical report done by a student in 1976, (2) two boxes of financial records, and (3) an admittance book or patient register from 1916 to 1948. The book should contain your mother’s and grandmother’s names, some personal information, and their stage of disease when they entered. If you contact the Historical Society, tell them you want information from box 118.H.14.4F-2. The admittance book is probably in chronological order so be as accurate as you can about when your relatives might have been there. I don’t know if there will be a charge for that service, but there might be a charge to get a copy of the entries. Good luck! Mary

      • Hi Mary,
        I am still working on my book. How are you doing with yours? I emailed info on Cora Miles to Nancy. I could not locate an admittance record on Carrie. The doctor was from Walker, which caused me to wonder if Carrie might have been hospitalized there for a while rather than at Lake Julia. Thanks for your response to Nancy.

      • When I referred to “the doctor,” I meant Cora’s admitting doctor.

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