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Sunday, September 6, 2015


Post copyright 2015 by Doris McCraw

As most of you know, I also research early women doctors in Colorado prior to 1900. Now the myth of the lone women, fighting prejudice is in our collective consciousness. But was that true. In some cases yes, but I would also contend that there were just as many who had loving and supportive husbands and family. In the case of Julia E. Loomis I think it went even further. Below are the basic facts.

Julia E. Loomis was probably the first medical college woman doctor in Colorado Springs. One early source says she arrived here as early as 1876. While that may or may not be the case, she definitely was here in 1878. Her ad in the August 1878 Gazette read, “Mrs. J. E. Loomis, M.D. Special attention give to diseases of women and children. Residence corner of Tejon and Kiowa Street.”

Julia was born on January 16, 1816 to Samuel and Polly Frizell of New Woodstock, New York the youngest of ten daughters. (There were fourteen children born to this union) On January 7, 1836 Julia married J.C.(John) Loomis. They remained in New York state, during the early years of their marriage. Both of their children were born there. A son, John Lewis Loomis b.1838 and a daughter, Julia Gertrude Loomis, b.1844.

In 1856 Julia, John and family moved west to Washington Township, Buchanan County, Iowa. The town of Independence, founded in 1847, was the county seat. Their daughter, Gertrude, married Charles W. Taylor on May 22, 1861 in Buchanan County at the age of 18. Three years later on April 1, 1864 at the age of 21, Gertrude died. She is buried in Independence Iowa.

Although their son John Lewis Loomis did not live with the family, he also took up residence in Independence, Iowa at around the same time. He and his wife Alice M. Loomis had a son, Linn born on December 26, 1868 but died January 7, 1869. Linn is buried in Oakwood cemetery, Independence, Iowa. John was the editor of the 'Bulletin' in 1865 but sold it the following year. He also served as postmaster until 1880 when he, Alice and their family moved to Colorado. They had two other children, Melvin b. around 1870 and Gertrude b. around 1872.

Julia attended the Cleveland Woman’s Homeopathic College where she graduated with her M.D., in February of 1870 at the age of fifty-four. From there she and John moved to McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee. During 1872-73 she spent some time in Atlanta, Georgia and return during the early part of 1876. An ad in the 'Atlanta Constitution' during that time read in part “Mrs.Loomis not only attends to general practice, but gives special attention to CHRONIC DISEASES of every description, in which, as well as Obstetrics she has had marked success”.
Pikes Peak as seen from Fountain Co. 1870
USGS photo
After Julia and her husband John arrived in Colorado Springs, she set up her medical practice. This was at a time when many 'doctors' were coming to the area. Dr. S. Edwin Solly from England and know for his work on climatology and health had arrived 1874. He had written a number of pamphlets describing the area and its merits as a healing agent. There were also a number of 'quacks' who arrived, many who called themselves doctors, but did not have the qualifications or certificate to prove their worth. Julia continued her chosen profession until her death on March 12,1880 of pneumonia. She was sixty-four years old.
Headstone for Julia E. Loomis
Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, CO.
Now why do I think it was more? As you can tell the family moved a great deal. Julia and her husband John were together through thick and thin. If he hadn't supported her, do you think Julia would have managed medical school in her fifties? The obituary in the paper was probably written by her husband John. It is flowery and full of tributes to her. But to me the most telling is her headstone. John had the letters MD placed after her name. She is the only woman doctor prior to 1900 in the cemetery that has that designation. The headstone itself is far larger than most. Also look up what MIZPAH means. You will see it on the photo below. So yes, I believe they had a great love for each other, it is supposition, but I believe it to be true. There is no correspondence found to indicate one way or the other.

Notice the MD after the name

Doris McCraw also writes under the pen name Angela Raines. Check out her books with Praire Rose Publications. Doris also writes haiku which is posted on the blog:

Home for His Heart:

Cowboy Celebraton:


  1. Fascinating story! So important to remember what these early women achieved....

    1. Thank you Gail. Julia was the first woman doctor I came across, and she is the one who started my journey to tell the story of these women. She has a huge place in my heart. Doris

  2. Doris,

    For quite some time now, I've had a kernel of a story idea rolling around in my head that centers around a female doctor, and it is set in the 1890s of Colorado. I look forward to your 'lady doctor' posts you share with us here. I particularly enjoyed this one. So, thank you for that.

    1. Kaye, you are so welcome. If there is anything you would like to know about these ladies, don't hesitate to ask. It might be a bit before I say something that answers your question.

      I have to admit, like a said to Gail, Julia has a huge place in my heart, but there are so many others.


  3. A wonderful story. Thanks for sharing, Doris.

    1. You are welcome Kristy. I don't know for sure that their marriage was a deep love match, but I believe it was. (Smile) Doris

  4. It's good to know there have been enduring loves/marriages because in today's society, partners in a marriage seem disposable. People go into it thinking, if it doesn't work, I'll get a divorce or., for some, they don't commit to marriage at all. Love can only take a couple so far. It takes persistence, patience, and compromise. Wonderful blog, Doris.

    1. Thank you Sarah. I may have misinterpreted the signs, but I don't think so. Their story is just so fascinating. It does take work to make relationships work, whether marriage, friendship or work. Too many either don't try or give up when things get rough. Doris

  5. So, she practiced with her M.D. for only ten years. What a shame she couldn't have gone to school earlier in her life. But isn't is wonderful so many of us can pursue "another career or another venture", no matter our age. I do admire her. I agree with you that the headstone alone says that her husband thought highly of her. I will look up Hezpah.
    Do you know my author friend Linda Swift? Along with her wide variety of writings, she writes poetry and some of it is Haiku. She has a book on Amazon titled A Potpourri of Poems. I bought the big version of the print, and I read and re-read.
    Thanks for telling us about this wonderful woman.

  6. Celia, I am glad you love Julia also. There is something about her story that keeps calling me back. Perhaps it is that she followed her passion despite her age. We can all learn from that one.

    I've not heard of Linda, but will look her and her book up. Thank you for letting me know about her. Doris

  7. Doris, Great blog and so full of fantastic info. Thank you. I too wish Julia had been able to practice much earlier in her life and for longer. I'm wondering if after raising her family and losing her daughter then grandson that might have influenced her to practice medicine or if she had always had the desire. Years ago I wrote a long historical with a female MD and the Mounted Police and it sits on my shelf. Must get it out and revise and tighten. We have so much to be proud of when it comes to the great, talented and determined women in our past. Thanks again.

  8. Beverly, Although I didn't mention it, because I couldn't verify, she may have practiced medicine but didn't use the MD prior to college.

    I also think you should pull the story out. I know I would love to read it. You are correct, we have much to admire in the lives of these early women. I thank you for taking the time to read Julia's story, and for your kind words. Doris

  9. Thank you so much for this! Julia was my 4th great aunt. I had no idea about this part of my family history. I was researching my 4th great grandparents when I came across the photo of Julia's cemetery marker on the Find A Grave website. Wow!

  10. Thank you so much for this! Julia was my 4th great aunt. I had no idea about this part of my family history. I was researching my 4th great grandparents when I came across the photo of Julia's cemetery marker on the Find A Grave website. Wow!