Tuesday, June 11, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

Anna D Chamberlain

When I find an interesting subject I have to dig in and find out all I can. I love history, especially the history of the region I live in. When I find women in the history of the Pikes Peak Region I really get excited.

In researching I found an early woman dentist in Colorado Springs. Yes, a woman dentist practicing prior to 1900. While studying the city directories, there she was, I even looked twice to make sure I wasn't seeing a typo.

Her name is Anna D. Chamberlain. I initially found her in the 1896 Colorado Springs city directory listed with her husband Frank C. Chamberlain, also a dentist. Their office was #12 in the bank building with a residence at 1451 N. Nevada Ave.

Anna was born in 1866 to John Shaw and Helen B Shaw in Harlan, Page County, Iowa. Her father came from Ireland and her mother was born in Ohio. Anna married Frank in 1887 and they had three children by 1900. In 1914 she died at the age of forty-eight.

Photo property of the author
According to her obituary she and her husband were associated with dentistry starting around 1888. Some sources indicate they practiced in Colorado Springs, Colorado City and Manitou Springs. One story says she loved her husband so much, wanted to be with him, so she studied to be a dentist too. ( It's a story I can't verify, but if you like romance, it is a good story) 

Anna was not only one of the first women to study dentistry, she was in the first graduating dentistry class from the University in Denver. Her husband, in addition to being a dentist, was also an M.D.  He received his Colorado license in 1892. However, no record of his pursuing medicine in Colorado Springs, other than that of dentist. When you realize how many physicians there were practicing in Colorado Springs, he was wiser to focus on dentistry.

His brother Fred, who was a dentist in Cripple Creek in the 1890's,  also ended up in Colorado Springs. On a side note, Fred also married a woman named Anna, but it was Anna B., very similar to D. As some of you know, census records are not always easy to read, so following the threads can be challenging.  Some of those census takers didn't know how to write, at least in my opinion.

Photo property of Author
In addition to a dental practice and raising three children, she was also active in the church, the WTCU (Women's Christian Temperance Union), and in the late 1890's was the president of the local Colorado Springs WCTU organization. 
Anna and her husband along with Wm. H. Dewey and Oscar J. Fullerton, created the Fullerton Consumption Cure Company with an initial investment of $30,000, near the beginning of the 1900s. So far records have not been found as to what became of their venture.

After Anna's death in 1914,  her husband moved to California and remarried. After his death in 1928 his second wife returned his body to Colorado Springs where he is buried near Anna in Evergreen Cemetery.

In my novel, "Josie's Dream", I have a women who dreamed of becoming a doctor. After graduating medical school, she finds herself on the plains of Colorado establishing herself and following her dream.

Josie's Dream (Grandma's Wedding Quilts Book 9) by [Raines, Angela, Quilts, Grandma's Wedding, Americana, Sweet]
Amazon Link

Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines Books: Here 
Angela Raines at FaceBook: Click Here


Kathy A said...

How ironic that each brother married a woman named Anna. I really enjoyed reading this article.My goodness, the courage Anna D. had to attend dental school in those times.

Renaissance Women said...


I agree. There were so many women who decided to follow their dreams in those days. I just hope my telling their story keeps their spirit alive. Doris