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Sunday, July 5, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

The remedies listed below were taken from a book written in 1847 on the treatment of injuries and illnesses.

If you were suffering from asthma you might be treated with skunk cabbage root, taken as a syrup or dried, and smoked through a pipe. Earaches might be treated with the heart of a roasted onion placed in the ear. Toothaches, how about a pill composed of camphor and opium placed in the tooth, or if really bad, pulled by whoever was available.
If you were bitten by a rattlesnake you might drink a half a glass of olive oil, and apply some to the site of the bite.

Childbirth had either a female neighbor or if lucky a mid-wife present. Of course, if neither of those was available it became an individual or at most a family affair. The common practice of laying in, that is remaining in the birth bed, no clean sheets, etc. was not always practical for the woman in the West. Usually, there was too much to do to just lay around, so these hearty women were up an about more quickly than their Eastern counterparts.

Returning to the power of Manitou’s ‘healing waters’ during another pandemic
One of the Mineral Springs located in the town of Manitou Springs
In the 1800s there were three types of doctors. Most practiced homeopathic medicine which started in the 1790s, a few practiced allopathic medicines which started or were given the name in the early 1800's and a few were osteopaths, which came into being around 1874. In the Pikes Peak Region, most early doctors practiced homeopathy. This included three of the four women who were practicing in the area prior to 1880. They were Julie E Loomis, Esther B Holmes, and Clara (Clararbel) Rowe. The fourth, Harriett Leonard was an allopath.

By the 1870's Colorado was known not only for the gold and silver they were pulling out of the mountains, but also an area for invalids to come to recover. Before then the area was a place of businesses, ranching, and some farming, some in remote areas. The early days didn't have the medical doctors that began arriving in the 1870s. Instead, most folks did their own doctoring or called a mid-wife, using some of the above remedies.

It the mid-1800's hygiene and sanitation made their way into the medical field. Prior to and even during the War Between the States, many doctors still did not clean their instruments or hands between surgeries or seeing patients. Once it became standard practice the mortality rate fell, but it wasn't until the 1920's that antibiotics came into use.

Dr Samuel Edwin Solly
Dr. Samuel E. Solly
from Find a Grave website
Dr.Samuel Edwin Solly moved from England to Manitou Springs shortly after the town was founded in the hope that the air would help cures the tuberculous he and his wife had contracted. His wife did not survive her illness, but Solly did.  After regaining his health he sang the praises of the area far and wide. The region quickly became a mecca for health seekers. Into the mix of these migratory people came a number of doctors. The area around the base of Pikes Peak, the easternmost 14,000-foot peak in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Range, grew from a population of 3,000 in 1873 to around 10,000 by 1879. Of the twenty-plus doctors who were in the area in 1879 three were the women listed above, Julia E Loomis, Esther B Holmes, and Harriett Leonard. Clara Rowe appears to have arrived in late 1879 just prior to the 1880 census.

By 1881 Colorado began licensing physicians, just a year after the death of Julia E Loomis.
Julia E Loomis was born in New Woodstock, New York. After her marriage to John C Loomis she and JC as he was known moved around a great deal. While in Iowa, her daughter died at twenty-one, about a year after her marriage. It was after her daughter's death that Julia went to medical school. Julia was around fifty-four years old when she attended the Cleveland Homeopathic College for Women in Cleveland, Ohio and obtained her M.D on February 24, 1870. By 1878 she was in Colorado Springs and working to set up a clinic for the treatment of consumption (TB). She passed away in 1880 from pneumonia. Her 'death certificate' was signed by doctor E.B. Holmes. 
Esther B. Holmes was born in Rhode Island and married in her mid-teens. Records indicate she also attended the Cleveland Homeopathic Medical College for Women. Dr. Holmes was one of the early doctors to receive her Colorado license, #387 in 1882. She continued to practice in Colorado Springs until her death in 1910 at the age of sixty-five and according to the family she was known as the 'baby' doctor. 

Soda Springs in Manitou Springs - 1870. Believe it or not, the big ...
Soda Springs in Manitou Springs prior to development 
The third doctor in the area was Harriet Leonard. In 1879 she was the proprietor of the Mineral Bath House in Manitou Springs. There she advertised Hot and Cold, Russian Vapor and The Electric Baths. She was a graduate of Keokuk College for Physicians and Surgeons in Keokuk, Iowa. The school came to Keokuk in late 1850 as a state-sponsored school and was a medical center until 1908 when it merged with Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The school was also one of the early co-ed medical schools in the nation. 

Clara Rowe, the wife of F.G. Rowe, a man involved in insurance and loans, was also a graduate of the same Cleveland school as Holmes and Loomis. Clara Rowe also was licensed in the state of Colorado, receiving her license in 1881. After her husband's death around 1890, she moved to California and died there.

Both female and male doctors continued to arrive in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and Colorado City, as the area was one of opportunity for those who wanted to take the cure themselves while also caring and curing the sick.

For those who might like to know more, I have an article on Women Doctors in the Summer issue of 'Saddlebag Dispatches' Summer

Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet


  1. What a hardy species humans are when the going gets tough, rough, and unhealthy. Necessity and the invention axiom applies to these early doctors who were, for a large part, "making it up as they went".

    Thanks for another great article about women doctors.

    1. These women were amazing, and yes, even with the education, it was a challenge to treat illnesses and pre-conceived ideas. Thank you for your kind words and support. Doris

  2. Fascinating article, Doris. These women were tough!Some of those 'cures'... scary

    1. Lindsay, when I started reading the cures, I wondered how anyone survived back then.They really are scary. I also agree with you that these women were determined and because of that determination, succeeded. I find them inspiring role models. Doris

  3. So much research went into this wonderful post, and it really shows. It just packed with details, every one of them worthy of a book based around them. Such remarkable women.

    1. They really were remarkable, at least in my estimation. I've been reseaching off an on for about nine years or so. It is my hope to get a book out about these women, but everytime I start, I find more information. Still, I an share in articles and posts. Doris

  4. This was such an interesting article, Doris, especially considering the pandemic we're dealing with right now and the desperate need for a cure.
    I remember patients with tuberculosis who were treated at Black Mountain in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains by sitting them out on the balconies of the institution in the freezing cold winter hoping to kill the stubborn bacillus. It didn't work. Also there was a gold treatment that probably caused more harm to the renal system than tuberculosis itself.
    Great research on these cures!

    1. Thank you, Sarah. Life and medicine back then was much like today, trial and error. We simply have more options available along with a bit more knowlege. What some forget, it was these doctors and scientists who built the base on which we live. Doris

  5. Dear Doris,
    I was wondering if you have any photos of someone or I remember seeing a photo of my great great grandmother in fromt of one of the ozonators. I hope to have a photo of the advertisement as well of the advertisement as an electrical physician. Antibiotics have been around only 110 years (sans sulpha drugs in the civil war), but are very seriously losing their efficacy as microbes engineer immunity, and the AMA and AVMA are all over the judicious use of these. In canine rehabilitation, just as PT for humans, electrical units are commonly used just as in the photos from the 1870's. Herbal therapies, light therapies, and ozonation are all coming out as therapies in more enlightened locations, like Mayo. Dr. Harriet's son (great grandfather) plumbed much of Merimont and the air force barracks due to her needing continuous piping with the baths and therapies, in addition to running the livery with the equids that transported the America the Beautiful singer, as I am sure you know. My dad, Dr. Wm. H.Leonard, continues that line of healers as my sister, a PT, and myself. I know that I have seen those photos, possibly at the exhibit. Scientific studies continue to refine therapies that have fallen out of favor, but are learning much more. I have medical veterinary books from that era using mercuric therapies that will probably never come back, but herbal therapies may be found to be superior to all of these interleukin/ Jak Kinase inhibitors that alter the immune response seriously to the level of increasing cancer cells getting past the immune defense. Anyway, I divert... I would really appreciate your help. Gratefully,
    Margie Leonard Garrett, DVM
    Certified Vet. Acupuncturist (Chi), MS cand.
    Certified Chiropractic IVCA
    Certified Osteoarthritis Manager w/ CCRP
    Certified in Tui-Na Massage Practitioner
    ARK Veterinary Services, Inc.
    (812) 424-8968
    Fax (812) 424-1880

  6. I tried to edit the comment, but it disappeared. Should have made a word document, instead of losing the word wrap. But I would appreciate some help for a presentation that I am putting together.