Partner Caroline B. Winslow, buried together

Queer Places:
Homeopathic Free Dispensary, 709 G St NW, Washington, DC 20001, Stati Uniti
Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison St NW, Washington, DC 20011, Stati Uniti

Dr Susan Ann Edson 1823-1897.jpgSusan Ann Edson (January 4, 1823—November 13, 1897) was one of the first women to attend medical school, served as a Civil War Army Nurse, and was a friend and personal physician to President James A. Garfield and his wife Lucretia.[1][3][4]

Susan Ann Edson was born January 4, 1823 in Fleming, New York.[5] She was the daughter of Sarah Philena Edson (born 1818) and Sterne John Wheaton Underhill.[1] After Susan's parents divorced, Susan's mother Sarah retained custody of the children.[1] Unusual for the time, Sarah retained her name and sued to have her childrens' last names changed to Edson.[1] Sarah published a women's rights newspaper.[1]

Susan Ann Edson attended Cleveland Homeopathic College, receiving her degree on March 1, 1854.[1][2] She was one of the first women to attend medical school.[1] Accounts suggest she may have been the seventh woman in the United States to receive a medical degree.[6]

After graduation, Dr. Edson opened a practice in either Cleveland[1] or in her hometown in New York.[2] When the Civil War began Edson joined the nursing corps, together with her sisters.[1] She served in Washington DC and also at Fort Monroe,[2] a small Union outpost surrounded by Confederate territory.

Dr. Edson also served during the war at the Union Hotel Hospital in Winchester, Virginia.[1] Edson improved sanitation and reduced the mortality rate significantly at the hospital.[1]

Immediately after the war, Dr. Edson returned to her home in upstate New York and maintained a practice there.[2] On May 23, 1872, she returned to Washingington, DC, where she remained the rest of her life.[2] In Washington, she ran a large practice, and it was said that she made so many house visits that she "wore out more horses and carriages than any other doctor in town."[2] Edson specialized in treating illnesses of women.[6]

Edson never married.[6] She was lifelong friends with Caroline B. Winslow.[6] They attended medical school together, served together during the Civil War, and both moved to Washington after the war.[6] Winslow and Edson together worked for women's suffrage.[6]

Among Dr. Edson's patients in Washington was Neddy Garfield, son of young Congressman James A. Garfield, who had fallen seriously ill.[6] James and Lucretia Garfield grew close to Dr. Edson during this time, and shared their grief with her after Neddy's death.[6]

Their professional relationship continued after Garfield's election as president in 1880. Lucretia was frail and required frequent medical attention.[6] Edson became a familiar presence in the White House, as she cared for the First Lady during a bout of malaria in May 1881.[1][6]

Just months later, in July 1881, President Garfield was shot by assassin Charles J. Guiteau. A team of physicians was called to help the president, led by Doctor Willard Bliss.[4] Lucretia insisted that Dr. Edson should assist in Garfield's care.[4] Bliss allowed Edson to participate in a nursing capacity only, not as a consulting physician.[4] Edson was said to have been at Garfield's side more than any other attending physician.[3][2]

Congress voted to pay Edson $3,000 for her services to Garfield during his illness.[2] The amount was half the amount paid to a male homeopath physician for the same service.[6]

Susan Edson died on November 13, 1897,[3][7] "caused by an affection of the heart."[2] Obituaries published at the time of her death called her the "one of the best-known physicians in the United States."[3][7][2] She was buried at Rock Creek Cemetery on November 14.[8]

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  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Ann_Edson