Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Oregon Female Physician

This being Women in History Month I'd like to introduce you to one of the women in Oregon history who has been an influence on my historical stories.

Bethenia Owens-Adair- 1840-1926

In 1859 Bethienia divorced her husband LeGrande Hill—She was nineteen and had a three-year-old child. She married Hill at the age of fourteen. The stigma of the divorce followed her through her whole life.

She was a strong woman who refused to be a victim. She left the abusive marriage and raised her son as well as earned two medical degrees. One of the first women to practice medicine in Oregon she was also friends with Abigail Scott Duniway and became a subscription agent and regular contributor to Duniway's woman's right newspaper in Portland, OR.

This woman's story is what inspired my heroine in my June release, Doctor in Petticoats. She wasn't married before or divorced but she is strong of character and fights against society to be the best doctor she can be.

Here is the blurb
Clay Halsey not only loses his sight in an accident but his self-confidence as well. His brothers enroll him in a blind school. Feeling worthless and unwanted, it takes the courage of a young man and the trust of a woman to help him see he has future.

Doctor Rachel Tarkiel has settled for a life healing others and ignored her emotional wounds. When Clay shows her friendship and affection, she wonders if there is a chance she can have a life like others, or are her scars too deep to heal?

“I’m going to look in your other eye now.” She, again, placed a hand on his face and opened the eyelids, stilling her fluttering heart as she pressed close. His clean-shaven face had a couple small nicks on the edges of his angular cheeks. The spice of his shave soap lingered on his skin.
She resisted the urge to run her cheek against his. The heat of his face under her palm and his breath moving wisps of wayward hair caused her to close her eyes and pretend for a few seconds he could be her husband. A man who loved her and wouldn’t be threatened by her occupation or sickened by her hideous scar.
His breathing quickened. A hand settled on her waist, slid around to her back, and drew her forward. Her hand, holding the lens, dropped to his shoulder, and she opened her eyes. This behavior on both their parts was unconscionable, but her constricted throat wouldn’t allow her to utter the rebuke.
Clay sensed the moment the doctor slid from professional to aroused woman. The hand on his cheek caressed rather than held, her breathing quickened, and her scent invaded his senses like a warm summer rain.

Paty Jager


Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Paty, thanks for sharing with us this courageous woman! What they had go to through to reach their dreams or their own safety! As usual, I feel like a big spoiled baby.

Paty Jager said...

LOL, Tanya! These were our predecessors who showed us how to be strong.

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Paty,
Wow, I can't imagine getting married at fourteen! Her husband must have been a beast for a girl so young to have found the courage to get a divorce in that time period.
Great excerpt!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Kathy,

It was not uncommon in that time period for men to marry girls. Females were short and the Oregon Land Donation Law gave a single man 320 acres but a married couple received 640 acres. Men married anything female to get more land. Some would leave their "child brides" with their families until the girls were old enough to do chores and mate, while others, especially those bought from poor families, were taken in as the wife as soon as the marriage was preformed.