Buffalo Park Sanatorium

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Buffalo Park Sanatorium
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Pawnee, OK
Alternate Names



History[edit]

After saving one of Pawnee Bill's workers at one of his entertainment shows, Pawnee Bill and Dr. WM Moore of New Jersey gained a strong friendship. Between 1908 and 1909 Pawnee Bill's wife was taken to be treated at Dr Moores' sanatorium in New Jersey several times to be treated by him for an adenectomy and a carriage accident, as well as other illnesses. 1909 Dr Moore sold his sanatorium in New Jersey and brought his sister Margaret with him as he moved to Pawnee Oklahoma to open a new sanatorium. His sister would serve as his nurse. He, however, left his wife Hettie and daughter at home in New Jersey - they would never follow him perminately to Oklahoma.

The original hospital opened in 1909 in white canvas tents in the middle of one of Pawnee Bill's buffalo pastures. Being the only medical facility around, in this era the hospital performed routine surgeries, birthed babies, and treated all types of illness on the frontier.

Yet the plans for the eventual sanatorium were grand and drawn by architect Fred Oll and included 2 large towers with wings extending off each. While the actual plans for the building never materialized, it was still quite modern when finished. The sanatorium had a water filtration system, the newest medical instruments, an operation room enclosed by glass, heat and air, an onsite laboratory, a kitchen, and was beautifully furnished with luxury furniture and fixtures. The sanatorium was completely funded by Dr Moore. The Buffalo Park sanatorium quickly had a waitlist for patients, with people coming from every county in Oklahoma to be treated by Dr Moore.

On February 12, 1914 at 10:45am stood in front of the mirror in his bedroom inside the Buffalo Park Sanatorium, placed a revolver to his temple and pulled the trigger. His nurse heard the gunshot and ran into his quarters to find him dead. He left no suicide note, and friends felt there was no warning as Dr Moore's hospital was successful and he had seemed cheerful in the days before. His sister notified his wife in New Jersey via telegraph. His suicide made headlines in newspapers across the state of Oklahoma and is still spoken of today in the town of Pawnee. Margaret Moore spent the rest of her life in Pawnee. Beacuse of the unexpected nature of his death, rumors at the time eluded to the death of Dr Moore as being a murder instead of a suicide but no evidence can be found to credit these rumors with any validity. (His nurse found him almost immediately, having herself heard the single gunshot.) There was an official panel of inquest held and multiple doctors attested to the medical evidence lending to a suicide, and not a murder.

The property where the Buffalo Park Sanatorium was built on was leased to Dr Moore and so after his death the property reverted to the family of Pawnee Bill. In 1915 Pawnee Bill deeded the property to the building, joining the two toghether and then the same day sold both to the Arkansas State Bank for $4,000. Pawnee Bill happened to be a major stock holder in the Arkansas State Bank.

A short time later another doctor bought the Buffalo Park Sanatorium and began running it again with much success. How long the sanatorium was open and running under this new doctor is unknown, but we do know that the building became a private residence in later years. The building still stands in Pawnee and has been beautifully restored to near original state, and some in town say that it is haunted.