Post copyright by Doris McCraw/Angela Raines


The weather has been a bit crazy for some folks this year, either we’re colder/hotter or dryer/wetter than usual. Of course we can always fall back on the topic of the weather, but today is something special. Why special, because every day is special if you make it. I’ve had some very special days lately so I thought I take you on the journey that made them that way.

Finding the stories of women in the early days of the West can be a challenge. The papers thought they were protecting women by not mentioning their names. Oh boy can that be a researchers nightmare. But, sometimes we get lucky. That’s exactly what happened when I found two very different women doctors and well, read on.

Most references state that Alida Avery, M.D., was the first female doctor in Colorado. However, I did a search to see if there was anyone else around at that time. What turned up was a doctor by the name of Eliza Gillette. I found her listed in the Colorado business directory around 1876, but the newspaper ad was from a 1873 issue, which puts her in Colorado prior to Avery’s arrival in 1974. I next found her listed in the California doctor licensing directory as being in Montana then Washington. So far, I’ve not found much else, but I keep digging.

The women listed in the 1976 book, “Colorado Women Physicians”, has a brief write up on a Julia Adams. It says she was born in NY, graduated from the Homeopathic Medical College in Cleveland, Ohio and that she graduated in 1871. It also stated she received her Colorado license in 1881 and practiced in Chaffee County. Now Colorado did not start the licensing process until 1881, so I wanted to find out if she were here prior to that date. Here is where the journey became fun.

First I checked the Colorado Physicians Licensing Application book. She is listed as J.A.D. Adams, 1881, License # 124. She applied from Chaffee County, was fifty when she applied and was from New York. So far so good, but I wanted more, so I Googled Chaffee County and her name. There I found she did indeed practice, but at Cottonwood Hot Springs. Now I was getting somewhere. Next, oh my, I went into Google Books, typed her name and Chaffee County. There I found her history. She and her husband Rev. Joseph Adams had actually bought the hot springs. Then in another book I found the following:

Mrs. Adams is the daughter of Benjamin Wood, born in Oneida County New York July 29, 1830. She was educated at Oberlin College, Ohio. In 1853 she married William P Dunning at Gaines , Orleans County, New York. She and her husband studied medicine together, and she assisted him very much with his practice. In 1866 the doctor died. After his death, she attended lectures one winter, in New York City, after which she had charge of Dr. Cook’s office for five months in Buffalo New York. After this she took full course in Cleveland homeopathic college, Cleveland Ohio, graduating in 1871, and in 1872, became a member of the American Institute of homeopathy. Immediately after graduating, she located in Corry, Pennsylvania, where she had a very successful practice, till April 1878 . she was married in Corry to Rev. Joseph Adams in 1875; he having come to Colorado for his health, she was induced to give up her practice their, which she did, and came here in 1878, and in connection with her husband, and son-in-law, G. K. Hartenstein, built, and has since conducted, the Cottonwood Hot Springs hotel. She has full charge, everything being under her immediate supervision.

I could continue on with all the wonderful information that I found about Julia, the hot springs and the building of the hotel. Needless to say the post would be way to long. I will finish by saying that Cottonwood Hot Springs had its own post office and guess who was postmaster? Yes Julia Adams.

I hope you have enjoyed the journey, I know I have and there is still so much to ferret out on these women. My thought is someone has to do it, and I think they are telling me to keep digging. So until next time, here’s to the journey!

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Originally from the mid-west, Doris now calls the Rocky Mountains her home. Doris is a writer, historian, actor,and teacher. An avid reader Doris loves to spend time in history archives looking for the small, unknown pieces of history. Many times these pieces end up in her stories or poems.  Like her author page to stay on top of her work.  http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL also make sure to check out her haiku and photographs at http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com.

“One Christmas Knight” Medieval Anthology

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18 thoughts on “A LITTLE JOURNEY

    1. Thank you so much. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, this has become a major passion. I’m really looking forward to March 16. It will give me a chance to impress on others that there was a great many women who did a lot we don’t know about.


  1. I know I posted a comment a little bit ago, but it’s not here. Crazy. I love your research on the women and men of the old west in CO. I enjoy the little journeys and the way you research. I think sharing how we research is important to other writers. Thanks Cher’ley


    1. Cher’ley, I love sharing the stories of these women. With the help of some wonderful people at our local library, I’ve been able to find things most wouldn’t even think to look for. The more I learn, the more I realize how wonderful these research tools are. Thank you for the encouragement and support. Doris


    1. Thank you Travis. I thought I had enough to put a book out on these women a couple of years ago…silly me. Here I am still digging and loving every minute of it. Doris


  2. Glad to see you found Julia Adams. Looks like she was quite a woman. Anyone educated at Ohio’s Oberlin College was destined for greatness. It was really ‘cutting edge’ in 19th century, a leader in the abolitionist movement during the pre-civil war period.


    1. Mike,
      Thank you for the added information on Obelin. Anything you share is so worth it. This journey is one I am glad I’m on, and I thank all those who help along the way. Doris


  3. So glad to read yet another post about your relentless research and the gems you find while digging through mountains of information. These women would be so proud of you, were they alive, that because of you their memories live on. Great post Doris!


    1. Linda, your comment makes me blush, in a good way. Thank you. Somehow these women got a hold of me and now won’t stop until I get their stories out there. Best to you and so glad you enjoy their stories as much as I do. Doris


  4. Fabulous research, Doris. That woman achieved a lot! I agree with Linda that all of these women would love to know that their efforts are being heralded today. I’m not that good with Googling but it is amazing how diverted I get almost every day (i.e. my writing days) when I go from link to link and patch up one name with another. the internet can be amazingly good for the researcher compared to 20 years ago when it was slow mail and print copies only.


    1. VEry true Nancy, research has changed with the internet. The biggest problem now, verifying all the information. Still, thank you for the kind words. I hope these women are looking down and at least smiling. Doris


  5. These are all so interesting Doris. I wish you could visit an organization I joined this year called the Westerner’s Posse. It meets every third Wednesday evening of the month in Casper. They delve into all kinds of past stories and last time a young man re-enacted doing an amputation during the civil war. We learned about medicines on the trails. Perhaps there is a chapter near you as it is national I believe. Or if you are ever in Casper….


    1. Neva, I’m the sheriff of the local Pikes Peak chapter. It’s a great organization. I may think about heading that way and if I do, I’ll let you know and give you a program. I have decided these ladies are determined that I tell their stories. LOL Doris


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