A Woman Doctor Came To Town
by Raymond Cook
©2019 (All Rights Reserved)
Page Length: 282
Word Count: 91,000
About This eBook
Jane Seymour was a highly acclaimed actress for her role as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman in the 1860s in Colorado Springs, Colorado. But she wasn’t the only woman to take on a town whose men didn’t believe a woman should be their doctor. A Woman Doctor Came To Town by Raymond Cook © 2019 is a 282-page western frontier story about Jacob Pearce and his grown daughter Julia in 1890. Jacob and his daughter move from Mesa, Arizona to Apache Junction. He’s the town’s only doctor. His daughter is a mid-wife.
In 1893, many people in the town came down with smallpox, including Julia and her father. He saw she was getting better and his dying wish was for her to move to Denver, Colorado and attend a medical school for women. Colorado was very short of qualified doctors. Townsfolks accepted women as a midwife but rarely so as a doctor. Men felt it was a man’s job to treat and help heal people, not women.
If a woman doctor worked beside a male doctor, slowly people would see she was as qualified as a man, but it’d take time, lots of time. Julia graduated at the top of her class in the fall of 1894. Each of the eighteen women doctors got to pick from a list the town they wanted to be a doctor in. Julia picked Georgetown, a silver mining town. But when she hangs her doctor sign above her door, the men are adamant she’s not qualified to be their doctor.
Though she has a few allies, it’s an uphill battle to earn the respect of the men who’d rather suffer from their ailment or injury rather than go to her for help. Confronting a cold-hearted man who murdered his wife is just one of the dangers Julia will face. Now it becomes a battle of wills between Julia who wants to succeed as the towns doctor and those who want her to leave their town. As each month passes, can Julia win over townsfolks or will she have to move her practice to another town?
Two weeks passed and life in Apache Junction was about to change and for the bad, not good. It wasn’t Apache Indians, a rattlesnake in the middle of the street or a rabid dog that sent men, women and children running. That morning, four men rode into town. Two men tied their horses to a hitching rail on one side of the bank. The other two men did the same thing on the other side of the bank. They were in town to rob the bank and they were willing to kill anyone who posed a threat.
Men, women and children were out in the street, as were men walking pack horses or riding on horses or in a buckboard. Apache Junction’s only bank had never been robbed before. The sheriff and two deputies were on duty and the two men hired to chase down snakes were armed. In fact, most of the men out and about were armed. The four men didn’t know whether they could rob the bank and ride away or have to shoot their way out of town.
But desperate men do desperate things. Bank robbery was a hanging offense so killing anyone in their way wasn’t a problem. Julia was at her desk reading a medical book. Though she wasn’t a doctor, school wise, she knew a lot about doctoring and planned on going to medical school one day. She just didn’t know when or where. The day was hot that August afternoon and would stay that way for weeks to come.
Her cat was sleeping on a blanket at the edge of her desk. When the men walked into the bank, they pulled their bandannas over their noses and drew their guns. Quickly one man yelled for the two bank tellers to put up their hands. The bank president was in his office and his door was open. He heard someone order his tellers to put up their hands.
By the time one of the men stood in the doorway, the bank president already had a gun in his hand and shot him twice in the chest. The man right behind him shot and killed him before he could stand up. The gang panicked, not expecting to be shooting anyone before they cleaned out the teller’s cash drawers. Julia and everyone else near the bank heard three gunshots.
Julia knew if she heard gunshots, someone would probably be wounded and she stood up, grabbed her medical bag and ran to the door. By the time she stood beside a water trough, she saw three men rush out the front door of the bank. At that moment, gunfire the likes that Julia had never heard before erupted. The three bank robbers were shooting at anyone wearing or reaching for their gun.
Meanwhile, men the robbers hadn’t even seen shooting at them were shot. Whenever men are shooting at each other, there’s always a risk of innocent people being shot in the cross-fire. Julia quickly fell to the ground behind the water trough to save her life. Screams filled the air as stray bullets claimed the lives of the innocent and horses. With so many men shooting at each other, the gunfire was intense.
Julia’s heart was pounding as she heard bullets hitting the walls of nearby businesses. When she saw a woman in her twenties wearing a faded white dress nearby trying to make it to the nearest shop to hide inside, she saw her get shot in the stomach and fall to the ground. Without thinking of her own safety, Julia got to her feet, pulled the woman over to the water trough and lay down beside her.
Over the sound of gunfire, as the woman held her right hand over her abdomen and cried, Julia knew she couldn’t do anything for the woman. The sounds of a wounded horse on the other side of the water trough kicking its legs as it lay on its side distracted Julia. But only for a moment. As she looked down into the woman’s eyes, suddenly she gripped Julia’s left arm.
She begged in a desperate voice, “I don’t want to die alone, please don’t leave me.” Suddenly, the gunfire stopped, followed by several more shots. All Julia could hear now were the sounds of people wounded or dying. To stay with the woman whose life was quickly slipping away, meant another person might die, unless Julia could reach them in time.
But to lay the woman down and run to help someone else, well, Julia couldn’t do that and live with her conscience. Without hearing gunfire, Julia got up on her knees, lifted up the woman’s shoulders and pulled her closer to her. In a tearful voice, she asked, “What’s your name and do you have a husband?” The woman nodded and tears flowed down her cheeks.
“My names Becky Travis. My husband’s name is George. I came to town alone. Please tell him I love him, please tell him,” she cried out. As Julia’s tears fell on the woman, she nodded and promised to tell him if she could find him. Suddenly the grip Becky had on Julia’s arm weakened and then fell to the ground. Slowly Julia laid the woman down and reached over to her medical bag.
Sounds of wounded men and women were all around her. As she stood up, she didn’t know who to try to help first. So, she ran toward the person on the ground nearest her. As she reached their side and knelt down, she set her medical bag down and looked down to see where they’d been shot. By now, many people who’d run to the nearest store to escape the shoot-out were walking slowly out into the street.
The person she’d knelt down beside was a woman in her fifties with a gunshot to her right shoulder. She knew she’d live. She opened her medical bag, took out a bandage and said anxiously, “Hold this tight against the wound. I have to help other people. You won’t die.” Quickly she stood up and looked at all of the bystanders looking at her. “I need two men to help get this woman into the doctor’s office and lay her down on a bed.
Make sure she keeps that bandage pressed against her wound to stop the bleeding,” Julia shouted. Then she ran toward the nearest person she saw on the ground. It was a man in his twenties, too young to die but he was dead. She stood up again and ran to a woman she heard moaning and trying to stand up. She’d suffered a gunshot to her right thigh.
Quickly Julia knelt down, saw the wound and quickly looked to see if she was shot anywhere else. She took out another bandage and held the woman’s right hand. She moved her hand to where the wound was and pressed down hard. As the woman cried out in pain, Julia looked down and said, “You keep pressing down hard on that wound if you want to live.”
Then Julia called out to two men to take her into the office, help her lie down and keep the bandage pressed against her leg wound. The next man she checked on was dead. He’d been shot in the chest and his pistol was still in his hand. One of the bank robbers wasn’t dead, though everyone thought he was. He was wounded too bad to make it to his horse. He knew a quick death beat dying with a rope around his neck.
As several men began walking toward the bank, he raised his right hand. He shot two men before another man shot him. The gunshots were so close to Julia, they nearly gave her a heart attack. People started running for their lives again. Both of those men were killed. When Julia was beside another wounded man, he was a big man, far too large for her to even try to help him stand up. He’d been shot in the lower right leg.
As she looked around, she didn’t see anyone in the street to help him to the doctor’s office. With tears in her eyes, she shouted, “This man needs two men’s help. I can’t help him get back to my office. He’s bleeding and needs someone’s help. Please don’t let him die.” Slowly men and women began to come outside. Two men rushed to where she was, bent over, took hold of his arms and helped him to his feet.
As they helped him limp toward the open front door, Julia shouted, “On a shelf near both desks is a bookshelf filled with different size bandages. Take two that are big and hold it against his wound. As soon as I’m done trying to help everyone I find alive, I’ll take out his bullet.” The next two men she turned over had a badge on their vests. They were deputies.
Both men were dead. The sounds of a child crying made her look to her right. She saw the child’s parents knelt down beside her. The mother was crying. When Julia reached them and pushed her way between the couple, she saw the child about ten was gut shot. The front of her dress was soaked in blood. As she looked up at her mother she cried out, “Ma, I don’t want to die.”
As the child’s parents looked at Julia, wanting her to save their daughter’s life, they watched Julia shake her head no. “There’s nothing I can do for your daughter, I’m sorry,” Julia said in a said voice. At that moment, the mother picked up her daughters’ shoulders and pulled her close to her as she wept. When the child’s right arm fell to the ground, all three people knew she’d passed away.
Julia got to her feet and made her way to a man who had a large blood spot on the back of his white shirt. She saw him moving his arms and feet slowly but he couldn’t stand up. Quickly she yelled at men out in the street, “Please carry this man into my office and lay him down on his stomach. Bandages are on a bookshelf near two desks. Hold a bandage against his wound until I can take his bullet out.”
The next two men she hurried to were dead. All that was left to check on were the three men laying on the ground outside the bank’s front door. All three were dead. Just as she was about to run back to the office to tend to the wounded, she remembered she’d heard gunshots. The banks front door was open and she looked inside. On the lobby floor she saw a man’s body lying near a doorway.
When she turned the man’s body over, she saw he was dead. His pistol was a few inches from his right hand. She looked in the office and saw another man’s body on the floor. She turned him over and saw he was dead too. As quick as she could, she ran back to the doctor’s office. When she ran inside, she saw people gathered around four beds.
With her pa being out of town, Julia was all the four people had to keep them from dying. Without her pa there to help her, she had to make an important decision. Who would she operate on first? She checked on the four injured people to make sure the bandages were stopping them from bleeding. Friends, neighbors or strangers were trying to comfort them. Julia chose to help the woman shot in the right upper thigh first.
4-Star Book Review on June 3, 2019 by Asher Syed
A Woman Doctor Came to Town by Raymond Cook is a historical Western frontier story that follows Julia Pearce, a midwife who moves with her father Jacob to Apache Junction in 1890. As the father and daughter team settle into the town without a doctor, they are warmly welcomed by the parish and, in particular, Julia is welcomed by the women and children of the town. While Jacob is the primary physician, he depends on Julia to assist where he is unable, and over time under the tutelage of her father, she becomes accepted as a useful practitioner in her own right—particularly when a mass shooting occurs in Apache Junction. When a smallpox epidemic decimates what is left of the Apache Junction population, Julia is left to her own resources to begin again. Unfortunately, her father is no longer with her to make the transition comfortable in a new city in Colorado.
Raymond Cook introduces an intelligent and resilient female protagonist in A Woman Doctor Came to Town. Julia is a character that is easy to root for and her placement in a Western frontier tale adds a fresh twist to a classic genre. The story is written with a simple, straightforward narrative that is comfortable to follow. It is evident that an exhaustive amount of research went into the book, as the scant but ever-growing medical knowledge and availability of supplies (in comparison to today’s standard) are well represented in the novel. I love how the time period is accurately depicted, and even though Julia is a modern woman for her time, Cook is sensitive to the era he writes about and respects both the limitations faced by a woman and the desire within Julia to push beyond those boundaries.
-Amazon Reader’s Comment Section-
There’s nothing more satisfying than reading a well-written western frontier Dr. Quinn type story with a happy ending. This eBook was uploaded on Amazon on May 23, 2019. If you enjoyed reading this eBook, would you consider writing an Amazon review? Reviews are important to readers who are considering reading an author’s newest book.
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