Kane County History: Visit Amelia Anderson At St. Charles’ North Side Cemetery
- This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was submitted by Amanda Wolf, curator and marketing coordinator of the St. Charles History Museum. All photos are credited to the St. Charles History Museum.
Join the St. Charles History Museum on Saturday, Oct. 6, at North Cemetery for a historic walk showcasing notable St. Charles residents who lie and wait for a visit.
One such resident is Amelia Anderson, the daughter of Swedish immigrants.
Anderson traveled to America when she as just 6 years old, coming from the small coastal farming community of Bro and setting foot in St. Charles in 1882, where her family settled about a half a block from Sixth Avenue.
As a young adult, Anderson left St. Charles for Chicago’s Augustana College, where she completed a nursing certificate. Anderson returned to St. Charles in 1901, proceeding to work as a midwife and nurse to mothers recuperating from childbirth.
In 1921, she accepted the position as school and welfare nurse for St. Charles, a vocation she held for the next 20 years. During the difficult economic times, she became a beacon of comfort and hope for both children and their parents.
As one newspaper reported, “She saw that the poor children were clothed and hauled them out to school … then to the school dentist, if she thought they needed the attention. Unruly boys [who] refused to go to the doctor with their mothers didn’t refuse the school nurse.”
For the more serious cases local doctors were unable to remedy, Anderson accompanied patients to Chicago’s research hospital, then the closest to St. Charles. She aided young and old, both infants and arthritic grandmothers.
Anything but squeamish, Anderson even accompanied a man to the hospital for a leg amputation. She worked closely with “a very fine welfare committee” consisting of St. Charles’ doctors and the school superintendent, to fund the journeys, most often taken by train.
In 1956, St. Charles dedicated Anderson Elementary School in her name, honoring her dedication and devotion to the children of St. Charles.
Looking back on her service, she gained satisfaction in seeing the same children she dragged to the dentist leading prosperous lives and filling respected positions in the community.
“Their parents, although poor, were of good character,” she said.
Her last days were spent in peace with family. In her words, with a touch of humor, she told friends and family, “All I do is eat and sleep.”
After a much-deserved rest, Anderson died in 1963.
Upcoming St. Charles History Museum Events!
Oct. 6 —Grave Reminders Cemetery Walk
Oct. 11 — Mystery History Downtown Food Crawl
Read The Kane County History Series!
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