My father always said his girls were just as smart as his boy, and
my husband said I was as capable as any man … All these ideas
made me believe in myself and made me think I could do
something worthwhile in the world.
—Mary Canaga Rowland, 1932
Two well-dressed men with pistols holstered to their sides crossed the dusty thoroughfare of Herndon, Kansas. Through the wavering heat and stabbing glare of sunlight, Doctor Mary Canaga Rowland watched the pair check to make sure their six-shooters were loaded. “This office is about to get busy,” she said to herself as she watched the men square off against a couple of ranch hands standing in front of the telegraph office.
Mary couldn't hear what the men were saying, but she could tell they were arguing. The quarrel quickly turned violent. One of the ranch hands reared back to throw a punch, but was stopped dead in his tracks by a bullet. The second ranch hand was just as quickly gunned down. The gunmen fled, firing their pistols in the air as they rode off. One of the injured men was carted off to the hotel and the other was delivered to Doctor Rowland.
The doctor's patient was covered in blood and writhing in pain. Mary tore the faded blue shirt away from the wound so she