Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Pueblo, The State Asylum and Women Doctors

Pueblo, Colorado is one of the early towns along the front range of Colorado. It began as a business fort located near the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River. It was where Zebulon Pike built a stockade when he made his attempt to climb the peak that was named after him. Needless to say, he didn't make it. He even went so far as to say it could never be climbed. (Don't tell all those people who annually run the marathon from the base to the top and back again). Before 1900 Pueblo was one of the larger communities in the state.  

Image result for historic images of pueblo colorado
1890 map of Pueblo Colorado from World Maps online
It originally was separate towns which eventually became one. South Pueblo was the town that was created for the workers who manufactured steel for the rails of William Jackson Palmer‘s Denver & Rio Grande railroad. This in manufacturing plant became CF&I (Colorado Fuel & Iron) a major employer in the early days of the town and a great history read. 

Main Office- CF&I from Wikipedia
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 around the state.

The asylum also was an early institution to hire women doctors.  One such was Mary Alice Lake. Lake was born in 1865 and was a graduate of the  University of Colorado School of Medicine and received her  state license in 1896. She was an assistant physician at the State Asylum but also had a practiced in Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1896. 

Additional women also practiced medicine in the Pueblo area. Some who practiced before 1900 were:

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. 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. Dr. Tucker wrote the book "Mother, Baby, and Nursery: A Manual for Mothers" in 1896. She was also elected president of the Colorado Homeopathic Society in 1898.

And if course one cannot forget Rilla G. Hay. Dr. Hay was an 1873 graduate of the University of Iowa Medical College and received her Colorado license in 1885. She had a practice in Pueblo, She was an assistant physician at the Asylum, and later moved to Denver where she continued her education. She was also the first woman to be admitted to the Colorado Medical Society, which had been founded in 1871.

There are more stories of women doctors in Pueblo, and the rip roaring outlaws and lawmen, but that is for a latter time. 

Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
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  1. As usual, Doris, you leave a reader wanting to read more. Fascinating women, these early doctors, and the obstacles they surmounted in a man's field. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Elizabeth, it is my pleasure. I am passionate about these women and their stories. I've been writing and researching them for a number of years and it shows no signs of slowing down. (Grin) Doris

  2. I've been wanting too find some info on early state asylums in Texas and their inner workings (grime that it may be). I'll get around to it when I decide to do the story I have in mind. Thanks for the post Doris.

    1. You are welcome. The Colorado Asylum opened with eleven patients, nine men and two women. There is a book on its history I have in my collection. Interesting reading. Doris

  3. Replies
    1. You are welcome, Vicky. I love the history of my adopted state and love sharing what I find. Doris

  4. Doris,

    I'm looking forward to more articles from you regarding the state hospital and its female doctors. This is fascinating information.

    1. Thank you Kaye. I confess, research on history of my adopted state and women doctors especially is a passion. So glad you found the information interesting. Sometimes I wonder if others enjoy or just think I'm 'crazy'. Doris

  5. CF&I iron ore came from a few miles from where I live in Wyoming. The old Sunrise Mine often offers summer tours of the abandoned mining town - the hills around Sunrise are still red with Iron Ore. The area is also a valuable Paleo-Indian site. We often drive past the old CF&I site In Pueblo and marvel at all the history. Great post!

    1. Thank you Neil. I may have to hunt the old site up when I get up that way. I love hunting down the threads that created the lives of so many back then. I am truly glad you enjoyed the post. The CF&I is fascinating and they have a great museum attached to it. Doris

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