Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

View on the route up Pikes Peak which was submitted by
Julia Archibald Holmes in 1858
Photo property of the author
On March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams wrote a letter to her husband in which she said, "I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."

Those were strong words and in 1920 the nineteenth amendment to the constitution was passed. This year we celebrate the centennial of that event. Although the suffrage movement started on the Eastern coast, it was the women of the Westward movement who exercised those rights prior to 1920.

In Colorado, even before becoming a state, the papers were discussing the suffrage movement. The Central City newspaper in the 1860s was publishing articles on the subject. The Colorado State Medical Society as early as 1876 introduced the idea of women being admitted to that organization. On a side note, the American Medical Society admitted a female doctor from Illinois in 1874.

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Dr. Alida Avery
image from Wikipedia
Although women doctors were not admitted to the Colorado Medical Society in 1876, they started their own society. Alida Avery, MD, left Vassar College, where she was a professor and physician, moved to Colorado in 1874, and was heavily involved in the early suffrage movement.

Dr. Mary Helen Barker Bates, who had moved to Colorado from Utah in 1878 with her attorney husband, was instrumental as part of the group of women who reorganized the movement to work for the passage of suffrage in Colorado. The result, in 1893, Colorado added the right of women to vote to the state's constitution.

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Colorado Suffrage Movement 1893
image from Wikipedia 
Women in Western states enjoyed more rights and freedoms than their sisters in the East. Wyoming and Utah allowed women to vote before Colorado. Additionally, California began licensing physicians as early as 1876 and women were licensed just the same as men.

Most of my research is on those early Colorado women doctors, but there were women ranch owners, business owners, outlaws and teachers whose lives made an impact on the state. So the next time you watch an early Western and see a strong female character, don't think it was an anomaly, it was probably truer than you realize. When you read between the lines of some of the news reports from the time, you will find, we need to remember the Ladies.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet


  1. Doris,

    Abigail Adams' letter to her husband with the 'remember the ladies' admonition is the first thing I learned about her, and I've loved her ever since.

    Also, she was absolutely with her other statement that you included here: "If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

    Prophetic words, indeed.

    1. Thank you Kaye. I've always loved Abigail and this is one of my favorite of her admonishions. It truly was prophetic. Doris

  2. Great article. Really enjoyed it, and the information triggered a few ideas. Thanks.

    1. I'm glad it triggered those ideas, and I look forward to what comes of them.
      Thank you for the kind words. These women and their stories are important to me. I want to make sure they are not forgotten. Doris

  3. Every woman who crossed the great plains demonstrated grit and determination. Tip of hat to the first comers, and their descendants.

    1. Thank you. It takes courage to dare the unknown and and person who followes those dreams are to be admired. Doris