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BONUS: Searching For The Nuns Who Ghosted Fort Scott

Where It Hurts

Host Sarah Jane Tribble sets out on a mission to understand the Sisters of Mercy, the nuns who founded Fort Scott’s Mercy Hospital. They were once prominent leaders of the community, but by the beginning of her reporting the nuns are gone. Sarah Jane’s first glimpse into their lives takes her to an old convent.

Episode Transcript

Editor’s Note: If you are able, we encourage you to listen to the audio of Where It Hurts, which includes emotion and emphasis not found in the transcript. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Hey there, this is Sarah Jane Tribble, reporter and host of Season one of the Where It Hurts podcast. I spent months hunting for the Sisters of Mercy. They were the nuns who founded the hospital in Fort Scott, Kansas. You can hear what happened to the nuns in Chapter four. But here's an audio bonus of the moment when I got a first glimpse into their lives.

So this is where the Burke Street hospital was. I'm standing in the shade of the one big tree that's on the front of Burke Street.

Jim is honking at me.

I just met Jim, Jim Golden. He told me this grassy field is where one of the town's earlier hospitals stood. It was a grand four-story affair that the Sisters of Mercy built in the 1950s when the town was still booming. Jim's from Fort Scott and he told me all about it. We said goodbye, but now he's pulling up in his old truck to tell me something else.

JIM GOLDEN: You might be able to get some information from that building over there.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: OK.

JIM GOLDEN: That was the Sisters of Mercy Convent.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Wait a convent? There were enough nuns for a convent.

I head over and meet Jennifer Quick. It's near closing time and she's the last one in the building. When I tell her what I'm looking for, she invites me to her office. The air conditioner is blasting.

JENNIFER QUICK: Yeah, so.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Look at that.

I remember when I was a kid, we would drive by and see the nuns, you know, in their garb and everything out there. And then there's like they had a dormitory up on the third floor.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Oh, I want to see that. We keep talking. And Jennifer lowers her voice.

Do you think the nuns are listening to us?

JENNIFER QUICK: I'm sure they are. I'm not scared.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: I ask her to show me upstairs.

JENNIFER QUICK: It's really cool, but I can't go up there myself because it's almost too scary.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: We head up together.

JENNIFER QUICK: Let me see if we can peek in there.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: It's like the it's like I'm I feel like I'm hunting for ghost of nuns at this point.

JENNIFER QUICK: That's what a lot of people think.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: And I'm not sure how useful it is.

JENNIFER QUICK: Yeah, no, I know.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: We're on the third floor and the sun is setting outside. There are shadows on the walls.

This looks like it could have been like bedrooms.

JENNIFER QUICK: Oh, yeah definitely.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: That connected with each other. Oh wow.

JENNIFER QUICK: Yeah.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: Were there doors here?

JENNIFER QUICK: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: There are places for twin size beds. And there are sinks in each room. I can almost picture a nun sitting on a solitary bed reading the Bible.

Well, it's like going back in time almost.

JENNIFER QUICK: Yeah. Exactly. It is really, really interesting.

SARAH JANE TRIBBLE: For me, it's a find. I'm hunting for these nuns and this got me one step closer.

The Where It Hurts podcast is produced in partnership with KHN and St. Louis Public Radio. Check back for other bonus episodes and story updates.

Sarah Jane Tribble

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