The Mystery of Minnie

Post written and copyright by Doris McCraw

Doris McCraw






In the search for the life and times of early Women Doctors in Colorado, many brick walls pop up in research. It is frustrating, and at the same time, a call to get creative. Minnie C. Coulter is one such early doctor. There are glimpses of her across the pages of history, but glimpses only.

Some records hint that she may have been born in Germany, others fail to confirm that. What we do know is she died on August 25, 1902 in Colorado Springs, Colorado and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. There is no headstone on her plot site.

The area records say Minnie C. Coulter is buried.
The area where records indicate Minnie C. Coulter is buried. Photo (c) Doris McCraw

Prior to her arrival in Colorado Springs, city directories have her in Atchinson, Kansas from 1880 through 1885 with a George S. Coulter. This association appears to be husband and wife. The 1885 Atchinson city directory indicates she is from Wichita, Kansas and George from Buffalo, New York. This throws another curve as to where she was actually born.

In the 1894-95 Leadville, Colorado city directory Minnie appears by herself. George is not listed.

Leadville, Colorado, mining district, subject of an early mining-geology study, 1879.


Some records say she did not graduate medical school, but was licensed based on her years of practice. Thus far that has not been documented, but the Leadville directory indicates she was practicing medicine, which is after 1881 when Colorado required doctors to be licensed.

In 1898, according to the city directory, Minnie is residing in Colorado Springs and still practicing medicine.

The mystery that is Minnie is an exercise in research and some leaps of faith. Time and effort, along with some outside the box thinking, may allow me to add her story. This will be added to the other amazing women who blazed the medical trail in the early days. There really are more women doctors prior to 1900 in Colorado than many people realize. My job, which I have chosen to accept, is to bring these stories to light, to make sure people like Minnie are not forgotten. I know I am enjoying the journey, mysteries and all. So I say to you happy writing and Happy Thanksgiving.

Until next time, here’s to history and the stories it tells.

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Doris Gardner-McCraw/Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

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26 thoughts on “The Mystery of Minnie

  1. What an intriguing post, Doris! I love a good mystery and you certainly have one on your hands. With your perseverance and time, I’m sure you’ll find out more information to share with us and the world. I admire your tenacity. You are like a dog with a bone as you run with what you’ve been given and stay focused until you find the information you need. Good on you!


    1. Thank you Linda. Some folks call me compulsive about this topic, but hey, if I don’t stay with it, it won’t get done. This one is a mystery. There are a couple of others, but this is my current one. *Smile* Doris


    1. Erin, I often wonder if others are as passionate about these ladies as myself, but I just have to share. The journey to tell their stories and the stories themselves just beg to be told. I am glad you are enjoying what I find. Doris


    1. Thank you Gayle. I am writing a book on the early women physicians, non-fiction, but the stories will lend themselves to fiction. You are right, so many stories….Doris


  2. Well, I see now why Minnie was such a mystery–was she a medical graduate?–was she married?–where was she from originally?–on and on. Finding all the answers ought to take a heap of work. Apparently, when news people wrote articles back in the day, they didn’t have accountability or bother fact finding. I’m afraid that might still be the case.
    Good blog, Doris.
    I wish you every success with Home for His Heart and Home Fries.


    1. Thank you Sarah. That is one of the interesting thing about digging into the history of these women. Not only were they not ‘talked’ about in the papers, even the census takers didn’t always get it right. Still, I gotta give it the old college try. *Sigh, Smile* Doris


  3. Fascinating research project for you, Doris. No actual birth documentation, so you lack a year for her birth. She may be from Germany. You do know (and have a grave without a marker) that she died in 1902. And was practicing medicine in 1898 in Colorado Springs, four years before her death. Makes me wonder if a disease of some sort took her life. Really strange that a doctor wouldn’t have a gravestone. Could she have had one at one time, and it was destroyed? No Census information on her, especially 1900? In Ohio and North Carolina, I’ve seen detailed histories of a town written by a town historian back in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Can be fascinated reading as the historians like giving one page or more of biographical information on their distinguished citizens.


    1. This lady has eluded me and I know there is more information about her. Like you say, it may be in some obscure publication from way back. I’m not giving up, it just may take a bit longer and if I’m lucky some help from folks I haven’t met yet. All of these women have stories, I just want to tell them.

      The one thing about Minnie seems to be that she moved a bit. Just hunting her down through those moves. Thanks for everything Mike. Doris


  4. Maybe it takes a bit of compulsion in one’s personality to be able to do research, to hit a wall and figure out how to go another way instead of giving up in frustration. Thanks for making the effort to bring these women’s lives to the public’s attention. They deserve to be remembered.


    1. Kathy, I think it is the passion for these women that keeps me going past the blocks. But if I am truthful, I just love research and finding information that no one has, or has been lost to time.

      Thank you for the encouragement, it means a lot. Doris


  5. Interesting post. I can’t imagine where you go from here, but I wish you luck.
    Just curious, was Minnie a common name in those days? I had an Aunt Minnie who was born in Germany. She’s the only one (besides Minnie Mouse) that I’ve heard of.


    1. Kate, I’m not sure, but Minnie seems to be fairly common back then.

      I have a few tricks that I sometimes use when I hit these walls. Some pay off and some don’t, but the joy of the chase is something I do enjoy. We’ll see what happens. Thanks for stopping by. These women are so important to me. Who knew. *Smile* Doris


  6. Another intriguing story. I find it interesting that there were so many women doctors back then, as I thought they just came into being in my lifetime, as I have seen the number grow substantially since I became a nurse so many years ago. Interested to hear more from you and these early, brave women.


    1. Neva, thank you.

      I have been surprised at how many there are also. The pattern I see is women doctors were pretty common until the 1930’s and then in the 1950’s women were related to the home…at least that is what seems to be the case. But…as with all theories, they don’t always hold up.

      Boy, that was a long explanation. I will say, these women are in my blood, and as long as I can, I will be working to tell their stories. Doris


  7. I might hazard a gues and saythat information about her will pop up at the most unlikely time. As you say the sleuthing can go on and if there is somehting recorded the dots will eventually be joine up. Great post and it’s a watch this space moment for that particular female doctor.


    1. You have that 100% correct. My guess is I will find the information when I least expect it. Still, I do love the ‘chase’. Thank you for the encouragement. I will share when I find it, on that you can depend. Doris


  8. Interesting, Doris! You must do such detailed research, moving from one historical record to another to dig up all the information you find on each of these women. Fascinating, but I’d imagine slow-moving, work. Like archaeology with words. 🙂


    1. You know, I’d never thought of it as archaeology with words. I like that.

      To be honest Stephanie, I get so involved in the hunt, I lose track of time. It is the details that fascinate me. To put them in the time frame of what was going on, not only in their lives, but the lives of those around them, is such a joy for me. Thank you for stopping and giving me another perspective on what I’m doing. Doris


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