Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

A look at early medicine and women doctors in Colorado, specifically Pueblo, Colorado.

Pueblo is one of the early towns in Colorado. It had its beginnings as a business fort called Fort Pueblo. The town as we know it was originally composed of separate areas.  One area was South Pueblo the town that grew due to the manufacturing of steel for the rails of William Jackson Palmer‘s Denver & Rio Grande railroad. The company became CF&I (Colorado Fuel & Iron) a major employer in the early days of the town and a great history read. 

Pueblo also became the home of the Colorado State Insane Asylum, later known as the Colorado State Hospital. On October 23, 1879 it opened its doors to eleven patients, nine men, and two women, from the counties around the state.

The town, due to the growth and opportunities, was a draw for women doctors. Mary Alice Lake, born in 1865 attended the University of Colorado School of Medicine and received her state license in 1896. She was an assistant physician  State Asylum but had a practice in Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1896. 

Lizzie E. Jones born in Iowa in 1854 and graduated from the State University of Iowa in 1881. She was also one of the early female doctors to receive a license on January 3, 1882, # 343, and had a  practiced in Pueblo although there is no record so far of her at the state asylum. In June of 1882, she married Reuben F. Eldridge.

Mary F. Barry was born in 1859 in Illinois and attended Northwestern University Women’s Medical College where she graduated in 1887. She received her license to practice medicine in Colorado in 1895 and had her practice in Pueblo.  During her career, she was the secretary of the Pueblo County Medical Society.

There is also a Genevieve M. Tucker who was born in Wisconsin in 1859 who received her Colorado license in 1893 and is listed as also practicing in Pueblo. 

CF&I Hospital
 run by Dr. Richard Corwain
Photo from Wikipedia
The one woman whose story is somewhat funny, yet telling in its own way. Jean Clow, born Jean Bailey, who was a graduate of Goss Medical School in Denver in 1898 applied for a job at Corwin Hospital in Pueblo. The officials at the hospital assumed, due to her name, that she was male. When they found out otherwise, they still hired her as an intern on the assumption she could do the job as well as a male. On a side note, it is said that Jean told of carrying a gun in the early days of her career for safety. 

There are many others who began their careers in Pueblo. Some stayed, others moved on to areas that better suited their talents. 

My first novel "Josie's Dream" and the heroine were born of my research and love of these early pioneering women. Below is a short excerpt: 

 “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.
Yes, as you say doctorin’, I am a Doctor.”
Well, I’ll be — a lady doctor,” he said. “You sure you’re not just…”

Josie's Dream (Grandma's Wedding Quilts Book 9) by [Angela Raines, Grandma's Wedding Quilts, Sweet Americana]

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of Western Writers of America,
Colorado Author League,
Women Writing the West

Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here 

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