Post copyright 2015 by Doris McCraw








I confess to having a love/hate relationship with resources. They are a blessing or a curse to your writing. As I make this journey of being a writer, the use of resources is a must. Writing fiction as Angela Raines, the use of old newspapers, books, and diaries, add that note of authenticity to the stories of the Old West that I write.Writing nonfiction, especially the story of the early women doctors in Colorado, using resources can be a great headache.

For fiction, “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail”, by Sister Blandina Segale, 1850-1941, is a gem for events that occurred during the time of the western expansion as Sister Bandina makes her way alone from the mother house in Cincinnati, Ohio to Trinidad, Colorado and then onto  Santa Fe, New Mexico. Published in 1932, this wonderful book is composed of letters written by Sister Blandina to her sisters ‘The Sisters of Charity’ back east. A Google search of Images of Sister Blandina is quite fascinating.

Another great gem is “Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps” by Sandra Dallas; Photographs by Kendal Atchison. Published in the 1980’s, it is a wealth of tidbits about the time in Colorado, from 1859-1920, when Colorado was the place to be to find gold and silver.

The remains of an old cabin at Dyersville, Colorado. Founded and named for ‘Father Dyer’ a traveling itinerant Methodist preacher.

To write the book on early Colorado women doctors before 1900 is another completely different challenge when it comes to resources. Books like “Medicine in the Old West: a History, 1850-1900” by Jeremy Agnew, published in 2010, offer glimpses of how medicine was used and viewed during the time, but talks little of women physicians except to say they had a difficult time. (Although he does speak of a woman physician in Pueblo, Colorado briefly.) Even the primary source I have on Colorado Women Doctors, “Women Physicians of Colorado”, by Mary De Mund, published in 1976 has errors due to the lack of resources when it was written. Some women doctors, who died before licensing in the state began, are harder to locate. Newspapers have been a good resource as has, but even those can be a minefield. If a woman married, or didn’t advertise, many times they just don’t want to be found. Male and female names that are similar or have changed use with the sex over the years, further complicates the search. Beverly is now a female name, but in the 1800’s it was strictly a male name. Emley B. Queal, while listed in the women physicians of Colorado is actually a male who graduated from Harvard, but was a physician.

Here in Colorado Springs, I have access to cemetery records and the headstones of those buried here. That makes finding these women easier. For those in the rest of the state, well let’s just say there will be many a day spent traveling and ‘camping’ out at local libraries and newspaper offices.  In the meantime, I will leave you with a couple of ‘findings’ on these women you may find interesting.

Dr. Agnes Winzell is listed as graduating from the Nashville College of Eclectic Therapeutics in Indiana in 1897 and receiving her Colorado license, #2966, in 1899. However she shows up in the 1892 Seattle, Washington city directory as Mrs. Agnes Winzell, physician, 27 Douthitt Bldg.

Dr. Edith Root was the first woman to receive a Colorado license. In 1881, the first year Colorado started licensing physicians, Dr. Root applied and received her license #89. She was forty years old at that time. However she is listed in the 1878 Denver city directory as a physician, at 359 Larimer.

So you see, while research is quite fun, in fact I love it, it takes more than one source and many an hour reading unlikely books, newspapers and of course countless hours on the computer. No wonder I have this love/hate relationship with Cursed Recources. So until next time, see you in the research section.


home for his heart angela rainesHOME FOR HIS HEART
also available as an ebook on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.


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

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30 thoughts on “CURSED RESOURCES

  1. Interesting facts and maybe some suppositions? I didn’t know the word “eclectic” was such an old word, I thought it was “modern.” And perhaps the women were actually practicing as physicians before they were legally licensed as such, and were recognized and listed as such because of that, before licensing went through. I imagine legalities were a different bag of worms back then. It is interesting to hear of the research and how and what you find while doing it. Enjoyed!


    1. Neva, it is fun and because of the various resources it can be like a big puzzle. The women moved about, and you could put up a sign in a number of places and say you were a doctor. Each state and region had different guidelines. Still what a frustrating and fun journey. Doris


  2. Interesting post, as usual, Doris. Isn’t it fascinating and rewarding when you come up with tidbits of information that lead you to real facts, and frustrating when they lead to a dead end road? I love researching, and sometimes on the way to find out one thing I stumble on something entirely different that adds to my writing. You are writing about specific people, so the research is a little different, I’m sure, but I’m also sure you dig until you find what you need. Thanks for including a little more about women doctors in early Colorado – I enjoy your posts and look forward to reading them!


    1. Thank you Linda. You have it correct, sometimes the most unusual resource leads to a gold mine. Other times, the one you think will be useful is a dud. Still, some of the information is so fascinating. Thanks for the wonderful comments and best on your writing also. Doris


      1. Agnes Winzell was my great great grandmother and was a certified quack (that’s what her grandson called her). She was born in Virginia in 1848, married the first time in Virginia City (at 16) and lived mainly in Nevada, California and Utah. She was kicked out of Ellensburg OR by the legitimate doctors for practicing medicine without a license! She had three daughters who all ended up in California. She was an “electromagnetic physician” and used a battery box with electrodes to treat her patients. My grandfather had the device which he would use to entertain his sons-in-law. Would love to talk more to you about this.


    1. Abbie, Sister Blandina’s story is one of courage and faith, and well worth the read. You never know when something that grabs you will show up. Frustrating and rewarding at the same time. Thanks for well wishes, I’m probably going to need them. Doris


    1. Erin, it is fun digging up the obscure fact and weaving it into the story. That is one of the reasons I enjoy it. For non fiction, well, as you saw, it is a different animal all together.

      Thank you so much for your kind words and support. Doris


      1. Doris, Agnes Winzell was my great great grandmother. She was 100% quack, but a woman of talent. The “eclectic” physician post should be “electronic” physician. She must have taken a class on how to operate the battery operated gizmo. My grandfather inherited it and would entertain us by giving us mild shocks. She was born in 1847 in what is now West Virgina (nee Martha Agnes Bruce) and migrated to Kansas with her family. She married at age 16 in Virginia City and lived in various mining towns (Virginia City, Bodie, Howland Flat). They had three daughters. She divorced, ran a women’s milliner/fashion store in Reno, Nevada. She married a Winzell but he must have died as he disappears from the story. Her original husband, JM Burkett of Maine, stayed around the areas and kept contact with the girls. At some point she used her speaking skills (which must have been native as she had no real education) and savvy when she purchased the battery gizmo. She travelled all over the west (Oklahama, Oregon, Washington, California, Utah) holding seminars and treating her “patients” for back pain, tobacco addiction etc. She was kicked out of Ellensburg, Oregon by the legitimate medical etablishment for not having a medical lienses. She condemned patent medicines and surgery, including the removal of the appendix as it “shortened life” (so would an untreated appendicitis attack). She claimed that her appliance could cure tuberculosis and cancer. She died in Salt Lake City in 1925 (at 77) of gallstones. She was very independent and appeared to be strong and a tad overbearing. She married a much younger man later in life. She made herself 10 years younger by lying on the marriage license, but it still put her about 10 years older than her husband. I find no evidence of them actually living together and he also disappeared from the story.


    1. Stephanie, Sister Blandina’s story will take you places you never imagined would happen in the old west.

      The women doctors started when I found an obituary in the paper for Julia Loomis. No one had heard of her, so I felt I needed to bring her and all the other women back to life, so to speak. Doris


  3. Doris, we’re definitely sisters in spirit when it comes to research. I think a visit to the archives is as much fun as Disneyland. 🙂 I always keep an eye out for your blogs because you find all this interesting stuff! Love your examples of the inconsistencies that we run into–but hey, it’s all part of the puzzle!


    1. Jacquie, I agree. Archives are Disneyland for me also. Research is my lifeblood, and I think you would probably agree. I set aside Sunday afternoons between Oct. and May to indulge myself. (And I do). I inherited my love of puzzles from my mother, but mine went a bit further than hers. I so love finding a thread and pulling until I have the whole unraveled, then I try to put it back together so others can understand it.

      Thank you so much for stopping by. Doris


  4. Love that you are talking about the difficult job of finding the resources needed to write fiction and nonfiction for Colorado-based novels, short stories and history books. It’s a bit like investigative journalism. Got to research the background details as well as use multiple sources. It takes time and lots of digging. When writing nonfiction on the Civil War, the generals from both the North and South couldn’t wait to write about their actions — and the details they offer are not always 100 percent accurate. They were out to protect their reputations, not give an unbiased account of a battle.


    1. Thank you Mike. I am encouraged by responses such as yours. It is a difficult task, and one that requires patience. But I wouldn’t want it any other way, for I do love the process. It is finding the balance between what everyone said, and the facts.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and your encouragement is worth a great deal. Doris


  5. Doris, I’m so sorry I didn’t make it over here yesterday! We’re definitely sisters when it comes to research, dear friend. I both love it and hate it for the same reason: I can get lost in archives and primary sources while hours pass as though they were minutes.

    Why is it so many researchers either discard or never investigate the essential roles women played? That’s just criminal. My heartiest thanks to you for all the work you do to correct that situation.

    BIG HUGS, lady!!!!


  6. Welcome Jacquie, glad to have you stopping by. I do a lot of research too and the Sister’s story sounds fascinating. I understand your frustration, sometimes I know something is a fact, but can’t find it anywhere. I usually eventually find it, but it sometimes takes a lot of time. Interesting blog. I’ve learned a lot about the early women doctors from all your blogs. Cher’ley


    1. Cher’ley, if folks are learning about this pioneering women, I’m happy and feel like I’m on the right track.

      You are right, Sister Blandina’s story is such a great read. I do recomend it. Doris


  7. I’m a research junkie so my biggest problem is stopping to write. That and staying on topic. (Stay on target. Stay on target.) One thing keeps leading to another.

    My children have a love/hate relationship with my research. They love that it when they want to know something, I’ll get right in there and show them how to check different sources. They aren’t to crazy about it when I start a sentence, “Well, actually…” But they are very polite. They don’t interrupt for at least five minutes.


  8. I have mostly a love relationship with researching but the hate part come in when I get frustrated if my resources have been exhausted (but maybe that’s just me who gets exhausted 😉 ) It’s nice to know that you get a refreshing change period when writing the novels – the research on a different scale and from what seem like ‘more fun’ sources. Good luck with the next women doctors!


    1. Nancy, I mostly love the research, I just get frustrated with resources who just repeat what someone else has done, and it is not correct. (Sigh!). Still you are correct, the research for the novels, oh that is so much fun. Best to you on your ‘research’ also. Doris


  9. I majored in history (and English) in college and did a fair amount of research – of course quite different from now – and enjoyed it. The sources that just repeated previous info were really annoying. I think that’s even more prevalent today with the internet. And we always have to question the veracity of the sources. And keep in mind the histories and stories are filtered through the times of the author. In your research on the women docs do you encounter any obviously biased accounts? Did any of the docs write their own stories?


    1. Kate,
      So far I haven’t found any who wrote their own story. The bias I get is the research from about 1950-1980, prior to that it wasn’t really that bad. Of course that makes me question those resources. Other than women not being written up in newspapers, there doesn’t seem to be that much prejudice about the women, at least here in Colorado in other publications after 1881. More to be found, but it has been interesting. Doris


  10. Once again, Doris, you intrigue and educate us! Like Abbie, the book about the sister sounds fascinating and something I’d like to read! I have begun the journey of my ancestry and one night spent nearly eight hours researching — I suspect a blog post next month will result from the experience. History is “our story” in so many ways — I love your passion and the insights you give us. Continued joys and discoveries as you travel your research and writing paths!


    1. Gayle, thank you so much for the wonderful words of encouragement and compliment. I do have a passion for finding the stories of these women.
      If you get the chance, Sister Blandina’s story is a good one. Let me know what you think. Doris


  11. Agnes Winzell was a glorious quack. She was my great great grandmother. She bought a battery operated gizmo. She was an “electronic physician.” She said it could cure appendicitis, TB and cancer. She gave lectures and solicited “patients” throughout the west. She had no real medical training.


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