|Josepha Williams Douglas (1860-1938), also commonly
known as Josepha Williams, was a physician and co-operator of the
Marquette-Williams Sanitarium in Denver, Colorado. She was one of the
first female doctors in the state. She, as well as her mother Mary
Neosho Williams, purchased a number of tracts of land in the Evergreen,
Colorado area, at least some of which were ultimately donated for the
Evergreen Conference District. Douglas was the daughter of Civil War
General Thomas Williams and wife of Canon Charles Winfred Douglas, a
plainsong musical expert and Episcopalian priest.
Williams (d. 1914), widow of Civil War General Thomas Williams, and
later instrumental in the development of the Evergreen Conference
District, after having established "Camp Neosho" and what would become
the Hiwan Homestead Museum.
Douglas was born Mary Josepha
Williams in Virginia, the daughter of Civil War General Thomas Williams
and Mary Neosho Bailey Williams. Her parents were a wealthy family from
Detroit, Michigan. Her brothers were John R. Williams and Gershom Mott
Williams, the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Marquette who
later published General Williams' personal papers.
Douglas was a
member of the Daughters of the American Revolution; she was the
great-granddaughter of Captain Gershom Mott who was a commander at New
Windsor and Fort Constitution during the Revolutionary War.
Douglas, under the name Josepha Williams, graduated in 1889 from the
Gross Medical College, which was rolled into the University of Colorado
Denver School of Medicine in 1911.
After obtaining her M.D.,
Douglas practiced medicine in Denver beginning in 1889. She was among
the state's first female physicians.
Douglas and Dr. Madeline
Marquette founded the Marquette-Williams Sanitarium, a medical and
surgical center, at 1542 Pearl Street in Denver in 1891. In 1892 they
established a nursing school in conjunction with the sanitarium. Douglas
was superintendent of the sanitarium.
Douglas purchased several
hundred acres of land in Evergreen in 1893 near the cabin of her
maternal uncle, Dr. Thomas Bailey. She had a one-room cabin with a
"massive" stone fireplace built for her by John Spence from a partially
finished barn. After the cabin was constructed, Douglas and her mother
commissioned Spence to build a large addition that included a two-story
tower with a servant's kitchen, library, second story bedroom, and
After Mary Williams death in 1914, it was
further expanded upon by Douglas and her husband. It ultimately grew
through Spence's efforts to a 17-room lodge with vaulted ceilings, two
octagonal towers and a private chapel used by Canon Charles Winfield
The summer retreat called Camp Neosho also had a number
of tents were installed with wood-burning stoves, platform floors made
of wood, and double canvas walls by Mary Williams. Visitors included
Williams' siblings and their families. The lodge is now the Hiwan
Williams began holding Episcopal church
services in tents in 1893. She purchased Stewart Hotel, which was
transformed into St. Mark's in the Wilderness church, later Mission of
the Transfiguration. Douglas also purchased land around the
Evergreen area and received the former Stewart Hotel through her
mother's will. Land and buildings were donated for the creation of the
Evergreen Conference District.
The Mission of the Holy Redeemer
was established in 1893 in a vacated church building at Lawrence and
10th Street, with the authorization of Bishop John F. Spalding of
Cathedral of St. John in the Wilderness. The new congregation included
African-American Episcopalians and White Anglo-Catholics. Douglas, her
mother and church clergy and leaders met with African-American leaders
from Kansas City, Kansas and people who moved to Denver from Memphis,
Tennessee. In January 1894, its first church services were conducted.
Douglas sailed for Europe in January 1896 for a four month vacation
in Genoa, Italy with Dr. Marquette Baker.
Dr. Douglas married
Canon Charles Winfred Douglas at the Cathedral of St. John in the
Wilderness on July 22, 1896. In 1894, Canon Charles Winfred Douglas had
moved to Evergreen from New York to recuperate from pneumonia and
tuberculosis and subsequently was under the care of Dr.
The couple moved to Evergreen after they had married. Canon Douglas began attending Evergreen's summer retreats
and music camps in 1897. He led musical events, which increased the
popularity of the centre. Douglas was priest of the retreat's church,
the Mission of the Transfiguration, for more than 40 years.
son, Frederic (Eric) Huntington Douglas was born in Evergreen in 1897.
He was later a Native Arts curator at the Denver Art Museum.
family moved to New York in 1902 while Canon Douglas pursued in musical
and religious career, having the previous year studied plainsong and
Gregorian chants in England, France, Germany, and Scotland. He became
ill again in 1903 and stayed in a number of eastern convalescent centers
before traveling to New Mexico for a six month stay. In 1918, he edited
the New Hymnal of the Episcopal church and in 1940 helped create The
Hymnal of 1940.
Dr. Douglas died on March 9, 1938 in Evergreen
after a long illness. Canon Douglas married Anne Woodward in 1940, with
whom he worked with on The Hymnal of 1940, and died on January 28, 1944.
Sources for this article include:
• Melanie Shellenbarger (November 1, 2012). High Country Summers: The
Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880–1940. University of Arizona Press.
• Thomas J. Noel (28 February 2007). Guide to Colorado Historic
Places: Sites Supported by the Colorado Historical Society's State
Historical Fund. Big Earth Publishing.
• Tom Sherlock (15 April
2013). Colorado's Healthcare Heritage: A Chronology of the Nineteenth
and Twentieth Centuries Volume One — 1800-1899. iUniverse.
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