Streetcar Kills Pioneering Doctor

     On a snowy February afternoon in St. Louis during 1905, a St. Louis streetcar struck pioneering female physician Dr. Augusta Smith.  Dr. Smith had spoken with a neighbor and crossed Etzel Avenue to catch the Page Avenue Streetcar.

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Dr. Augusta Smith from the February 4, 1905 edition of the St. Louis Republic

     Workmen had excavated a hole in the street and Dr. Smith was standing on a pile of dirt and snow as the streetcar approached.  Dr. Smith signaled the motorman, who was bringing the car to a stop.  Dr. Smith either slipped and fell into the car or was standing to close to the tracks.  The streetcar struck Dr. Smith and propelled her into the excavation.

     After getting the streetcar stopped, he and several neighbors carried Dr. Smith back to her home in the 5500 block of Etzel Avenue.  Dr. Smith lived with one of her sons, Dr. M. Ney Smith.  All three of Dr. Smith’s sons were also physicians.

     Two local doctors, Doctor Brainerd and Doctor Patton, were summoned to attend Dr. Smith, who had a compound fracture of the skull and a broken shoulder.  Dr. Smith died without regaining consciousness a few hours later on February 3, 1905.

     Besides being one of the few practicing women doctors at the time, the 73-year-old Dr. Smith was an active member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  Dr. Smith was born in Fulton, New York to Hulbert S. Strong and his wife.  Mr. Strong was an early advocate of temperance.  His daughter also picked up the cause at an early age.

     After a funeral, Dr. Smith was buried next to her husband Lucien in Springfield.  The February 4, 1905 edition of the St. Louis Republic did not specify which state Dr. Smith was buried.

     Dr. Smith’s former home is still standing in St. Louis’ West End neighborhood.  Built in 1893, the 2240 square foot home appears to be in good condition.

     Prior to the automobile revolution, streetcars provided the main means of transportation for the citizens of St. Louis.  Streetcar accidents would prove to be extremely deadly, however.  A streetcar accident was normally fatal.

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Former Dr. Augusta Smith Home – Courtesy of Google Earth

     Did you know St. Louis was home to one of the pioneering women doctors in the United States? You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post on my Facebook pageTwitter profile and Google+ page.

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