Breaking barriers and saving lives during Hibbing’s most trying times

During my book research I stumbled across the story of Hattie Mosley. I wasn’t the first to note this fascinating woman’s life. She was elected to the Hibbing Historical Society’s Hall of Service and Achievement a decade ago. But few in her Iron Range hometown know anything about her.

Hattie Mosley in plain work clothes laughs at a friend in this rare candid snapshot. (PHOTO: Hibbing Historical Society)

In 1918, Hibbing battled a flu epidemic, World War I, and the physical move of the village to access iron ore for the war effort. During this time a Black woman named Hattie Mosley nursed the town back to health. In fact, she was stationed on the front lines with the sickest patients.

Indeed, Mosley spent most of her life nursing patients in Hibbing. She served in an official capacity at the Rood Hospital and unofficially as a private duty nurse and volunteer caregiver for the poor.

The census records the racial composition of today’s Iron Range as overwhelmingly white with a smattering of Ojibwa people. Some Blacks and Hispanics live here, but must contend with the assumption that they come from somewhere else.

Hattie’s story turns that on its head. She arrived in 1905, before most Eastern European immigrants had even set foot on the Range. She quickly became an indispensable part of the community. This, even though she faced the same prejudices experienced by African-Americans elsewhere in America. She proclaimed to love Hibbing and worked here until her death in 1937.

Anyway, last month I met Cathy Wurzer in the Maple Hill cemetery to talk about Hattie at her gravesite. Her story appeared on Almanac last Friday and will be shared as part of a documentary on Twin Cities Public Television in coming weeks.

She’ll make an appearance in my upcoming book as well.

Here’s the story:


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