On June 9, 2018 I had the honor of presenting for the fourth time at the Pikes Peak Library Districts History Symposium: Remarkable Rascals, Despicable Dudes and Hidden Heroes. As they say on the website for this years symposium: "The Pikes Peak Library District's Regional History Series chronicles the unique and often undocumented history of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West."
Even when I don't present, I usually offer to help. It gives me a chance to hear what others find interesting and want to share, and it increases my knowledge of the area I now call home. What is also exciting is they offer past symposium presentations via videos and 'pastcast' podcasts. PastCasts, You Tube Chanel
One of the presentations I found most interesting from a conscientious objector from the WWII era: Watch Here
I bring this symposium information as a way to bring the importance of sharing history. Many of us write historical stories, but even those who write contemporary are still sharing history.
So what would I share? Although this years presentation was on a man who was sentenced to the state prison for manslaughter, my passion is women doctors in Colorado prior to 1900.
Here are some of those amazing women, with a brief description of who they were and where they lived in Colorado.
Alida Avery: Arrived in Colorado in 1874 after leaving her position as instructor and doctor at Vassar College. For more about this amazing women, Alida Avery, PRP blog
Julia E Loomis: First woman doctor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, arriving between 1876-1878. She attending medical college when she was in her 50s. A truly amazing story. Julia E Loomis
Harriet Leonard: Along with Julia E. Loomis, she was the first woman doctor in Manitou Springs, Colorado. She also arrived sometime between 1876-1878. While Dr. Loomis was a homeopath, Dr. Leonard was an allopath. She also was the proprietor of one of the spas in Manitou Springs. Harriet Leonard
Of course everyone asks about Doc Susie. Dr. Anderson's story has been covered in the Virginia Cornell book: "Doc Susie". She is someone worth remembering, but she was late to arrive and practice in Colorado, receiving her license in 1897.
I'll leave you with the story of another physician who has ties to early Colorado history. Dr. Josephine Dunlop was the daughter of Charles Nachtrieb, the founder of Nathrop, Colorado. Charles was involved in the 'Lake County War" and his story is fascinating. For more on this Doctor: Josephine Dunlop
I realize I've added a number of links, but the history is so varied and rich, this post would be much too long otherwise.
Yes, I use history in my writing. My passion for women doctors allowed me to have a heroine as a doctor in the book "Josie's Dream". I still love that character to this day. Below is an excerpt from that story.
I am home, Josie thought, as she stepped out onto the road. To the west, looking like clouds on the horizon, the high mountain peaks gave her a sense of permanence, security. The plains around the town reminded her of the rolling hills of eastern Iowa, except these were dry and dusty, instead of green and moist. She felt lighter in the clear air, the sky a shade of blue that defied description.
Breathing deeply of the independence she felt, Josie reached down to pick up her cases. Looking around, Josie took in the small town. It was just as she had dreamt, the main street with its business buildings standing like sentinels to keep the town safe, help it grow. Houses, some with fences, some without, ringed the outer reaches of the area.
Since corresponding with Dr. Harriett Leonard, a past student of her medical school and dear friend, despite the difference in age, Josie had been dreaming of coming to Colorado. Dr. Leonard had offered to let her work at the Spa in Manitou Springs where Harriett was the proprietor, but Josie wanted to create a practice in a smaller town, where people really needed her.
Now here she was in Kiowa Wells, on the eastern plains of Colorado just a few miles from the railhead at Kit Carson. Her biggest obstacle now was finding a place to set up her medical practice.
Despite his reservations, her father gave her a medical bag, equipped with the basics. “Something to remind you of this commitment, your Hippocratic oath,” were his parting words.
Her parents, though still in Iowa, were in her heart. Still, she knew it had been time to leave. While others of her friends were getting married, she had gone to medical school, her path clear to her.
“Can I help you?” The voice behind her asked, a hand reaching around to grab her bags.
Turning to face the speaker, Josie took in the disheveled appearance, the look of cunning in the eyes.
“I can manage, thank you,” Josie replied, taking a firmer hold on her belongings.
“Now, there is no need to be rude. I was just tryin’ to be helpful,” the man said as he tugged at her bag.
Stiffening, Josie sternly repeated, “I can manage.”
With a hard yank, the man managed to pull her doctor bag loose and without a thought, Josie swung her large bag at the man, striking him on the legs as he turned to run off. Instead, he found himself flat on the ground.
Calmly, Josie bent, retrieved her property, and knowing he was just stunned, started down the street. She had only gone a few steps when she heard a bellow behind her.
“Let me get to the point quickly,” she said as she turned to her tormentor, who stopped so quickly he almost fell. “I have nothing of value you could use. So, unless you are in need of medical care, I suggest you stop while you are ahead.” Now, standing close, she could smell the liquor on him. Her eye took in his inability to stand upright without swaying. But to be fair, his fall might have had something do to with that.
“Doctorin’?” he questioned, “you’re lying.”
The two of them were drawing a crowd. Not the best way to start, Josie thought, but not a bad one either.
Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Colorado and Women's History
Member of National League of American Pen Women,
Women Writing the West,
Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here
Photo and Poem: Click Here
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here