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Sunday, April 2, 2017


Post (c) Doris McCraw

Continuing the story of Early Women Doctors, this post will take a look at two women who practiced in the mountains of Colorado in the early days.

In the 1879 Leadville City Directory, Dr.Mary Helen Barker Bates is the only woman listed among 34 physicians. Prior to her moving to the mountain town, she lived and practiced in Utah. Family stories have called her 'the doctor to Brigham Young'. She left Utah and moved to Leadville with her husband George C. Bates, an attorney. The two remained there until his health caused the couple to move to Denver, Colorado around 1881.George Bates died in 1886 after a long and distinguished legal career, including an appointment by President Grant in 1871 as the district attorney of Utah.

After her husband's death, Dr. Bates remained in and practiced in Denver. While living there Dr. Mary Helen Barker Bates made history as the first woman in Colorado to be appointed to the staff of the Women's and Children's Hospital in 1885. Dr. Bates went on to serve as a member of the Denver Board of Education, as Vice-President of the Colorado Medical Society, and as Colorado's Delegate to the 1904 Pan-American Medical Congress.

In 1878, Dr. Julia A. Adams originally from Oneida, New York moved to Colorado take up residence in Chaffee County at the Cottonwood Hot Springs. Dr. Adams had received her MD from the Homeopathic Medical College in Cleveland, Ohio. She was forty-eight when she graduated. 

Dr. Adams and her second husband the Reverend J.A. Adams purchased the Cottonwood Hot Springs about six miles from what is now Buena Vista, Colorado .Shortly after this purchase, half interest went to George K. Hartenstein, a Buena Vista attorney and the husband to Dr. Adam's daughter. They invested around $50,000 to build a hotel/resort on the property. All materials were hauled to the site over the mountain from Colorado Springs as no train ran through that area. The Rev. and Dr. Adams, after leaving the region and moving to California they became involved with Mary Baker Eddy and the Christian Science movement. Some records say it was Rev. Adams who coined the phrase ‘Christian Science.

The springs were originally used by the Indians for their healing properties. The two story 'resort' served as medical offices and lodging. The primary focus of Dr. Adams was on respiratory, digestive and rheumatic issues. 

For those who would like to know more about the history of these women and the areas they practiced, below are options for additional reading.

James Alexander Semple, Representative Women of Colorado: a pictorial collection of the women of Colorado who have attained prominence in the social, political, professional, pioneer and club life of the State (Denver: Alexander Art Pub. Company, 1914)

History of the Arkansas Valley, Colorado. O.L. Baskin & Company, 1881

Doris McCraw who writes under the pen name Angela Raines is an Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in Colorado and Women's History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 

Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Every step you take should be a prayer.
And if every step you take is a prayer then you will always be walking in a sacred manner. 
Oglala Lakota Holyman.


  1. I don't know why, but it seems so strange that a doctor would marry a reverend and then set up a healing spa. I wonder, what is the difference between Christian Science and regular science?
    I know the women in the Women's and Children's Hospital were very happy to have a female doctor on staff.
    A good blog, Doris.

    1. Sarah, the Adam's family story is so full of twists and turns. There is a number of things that just take these 180 turns. When I figure it all out, there may be a story there. (I think a lot of it may have been due to money...but.) Here's the link that sorta explains Christian Science:

      Dr. Mary Helen Barker Bates was a woman who did a lot for her time. One of many heroines I have in the field of early women doctors.

      Thanks for commenting, for it helps me as I continue to tell the story of these women. Doris

  2. Great post as always, Doris. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You are welcome. Guess it's no secret I am so enthralled with these women and their stories. Thank you for stopping, reading and commenting. Doris

  3. Doris,

    As always, I love your articles about the women doctors of Colorado. I am curious now to know if there are second or third generation female doctors--daughters or granddaughters--who followed in Doctor Grandma's footsteps.

    1. I know of one. Josephine Dunlop's daughter was also a doctor, in Texas I believe. I'd have to check my research, but that seems correct. It is a good question.

      Thanks for stopping by and the question. I'll be more award as I dig deeper. Doris

  4. Very interesting Doris. I'm writing about a woman in the same time period in Oregon. She too married a pastor and was involved in natural healing but then went to medical school. He supported her by opening a pharmacy below her office! And she too made history being elected unanimously as the first woman vice president of the Oregon Medical Society. Her name was Jennie Parrish. Because her second husband was so prominent in Oregon history, the Historical society just lists her as "housewife" which she was and a good one, but she was also a physician. Great blog and I love the pictures too.

    1. Jane,

      Thank you. I had heard of Jennie Parrish and am so glad you are bringing her story to life. That is the one thing about research, you have to look behind the obvious. Best to you on your upcoming story. Doris

  5. Well golly, I'm way late to this one, but couldn't pass it up. Don't even know if you'll see this. But once again, I must say a thank you for posting about women doctors making their way, way back when. So impressive to think of the long haul and how much harder they had to work at making it in the medical field. My hat is off to all of those remarkable women. And I more than thankful to all of them for paving the way for all of us in the medical fields today. Another terrific post, Doris. I so enjoy them. Wishing you the best. Think spring--soon.

    1. Thank you Bev. I think these women will be with me and I'll be researching their lives for the rest of mine. I agree, they were amazing.

      I hope your Spring is around the corner. It was beautiful today. Doris

  6. Perhaps these female physicians had to use "natural healing" because there weren't many options for treatment. One of the protagonists in my family saga becomes a midwife and delves into herbal remedies. Her story takes place in 1830 when, if a woman survived many childbirths and lived to see menopause, they were often put in asylums and treated as if they were insane when all they needed was a little TLC and hormone replacement therapy.

    1. Medicine was changing as women joined the ranks of medical doctors. Homeopathy was gaining ground as people rebelled against 'heroic' medicine. (Think leeches, purging, bleeding,etc.) Still no antibiotics, and the idea of germs was just being studied.

      A great old autobiography is that of Harriot Kezie Hunt, who practiced medicine in Boston in the 1830's. She studied with another doctor and learned a lot on her own. She began so that she could help her ill sister. The one thing I found fascinating...a lot of the women lived to old age for that time.)

      Thanks for sharing your story and commenting, Judy. Doris