AND WOMEN THYSICIANS
If I had had cholera, hydrophobia, smallpox, or any malignant
disease, I could not have been more avoided than I was.
—Doctor Harriet Hunt, first woman to practice
medicine successfully in the United States, 1835
The difficult trek across the plains and deserts of the frontier, to Rocky Mountain destinations and beyond, was viewed by the first women physicians as just another obstacle to overcome on the way to achieving their goal. They wanted to practice medicine and believed they would have a chance to do that in the mining camps and cow towns in the West. Initial attempts to practice their profession sent shock waves through the deeply patriarchal society.
Doctor Elise Pfeiffer Stone was subjected to a barrage of ridicule and criticism after an article about her practice ran in the March 5, 1888, edition of a Nevada City, California newspaper:
LADY PHYSICIAN—MRS. E. STONE, WHO IS, WE LEARN,
A THOROUGHLY EDUCATED AND ACCOMPLISHED
PHYSICIAN, HAS ESTABLISHED HERSELF IN SELBY FLAT,
AND OFFERS HER SERVICES TO THE LADIES OF NEVADA
AND VICINITY. SHE IS A GRADUATE OF A GERMAN
UNIVERSITY AND HAS ENJOYED CONSIDERABLE
PRACTICE, SPEAKS SEVERAL LANGUAGES &C.