Medical Aid in 1905

By Cecelia McKeig

If we think that medical assistance is problematic today, that hasn’t changed. In August 1905, Joe Martell was shuttled back and forth between Cass County and Beltrami County. The Bemidji Pioneer reported this case in 1905.


Joe Martell, recently injured in Cass Lake and sent to this city, has been sent to Walker which the authorities learn is his home. (Aug 8, 1905)


Sent Back to Cass County. Joe Martell, who has been a county patient at St. Anthony's hospital for several days past following an injury which he received at Cass Lake, was this morning taken to Walker by Deputy Sheriff Palmer by order of County Health Officer Blakeslee, who investigated and found that the man had no residence in Beltrami County and therefore could not claim treatment at the expense of the county. (Aug 10, 1905)


Joe Martell Has Home Neither in Beltrami Nor Cass Counties. To be bundled back and forth from one county to another seeking medical aid seems to be the fate of Joe Martell, who was a patient at St. Anthony's hospital several days ago but who was ordered taken to Walker, Cass County, because the authorities there could find no evidence of the man's ever having a residence in this county. Martell it is claimed by the Beltrami County authorities, was injured at Cass Lake at the J. Neils Lumber company's sawmill. It is further said that, to avoid the payment of Martell's hospital bill by Cass County, the man was shipped to Bemidji. The authorities here took charge of the man but upon learning that he was not a resident of the county and believing that he had been injured at Cass Lake, they shipped him to Walker, Martell was brought back to Bemidji Saturday night by Deputy Sheriff Trowbridge the Cass County authorities claiming that he was not a resident there. Martell is in this city now, but what disposition will be made of him is unknown. (Bemidji Pioneer, Aug 14, 1905)


For the second time, Joe Martell, the man with an injured arm who was a county patient at St. Anthony's hospital in Bemidji several days ago was sent to Cass County, where the man will seek medical treatment. This is the third trip Martell has taken from one county to another, the authorities in each county claiming that he had no residence and was therefore not entitled to medical treatment. He was sent to Walker a few days ago but was returned to Bemidji last Saturday night. Since that time, he has been in this city, but this afternoon he was placed on the east-bound Great Northern train by order of County Attorney McDonald bound for Cass Lake. (Bemidji Pioneer Aug 16. 1905)

St. Anthony’s Hospital

There is no further information that I can find. Where did he go? Was he permanently injured? Did he go to Canada or eventually reside in Nymore?


This may be Joe Martell, a French-Canadian, who lived on Gould Avenue in Nymore with his niece Annie Byers and her husband in 1920. If so, by 1920, he owned several lots in Henderson’s Addition, and he left very precise directions as to his wishes and intention to be buried at Holy Cross cemetery, Bemidji.


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