"During March we celebrate Women’s History Month, honoring the enormous contributions Cherokee women have made throughout our history." said Principal Chief Bill John Baker

"From Isabel Cobb, the first female physician in Indian Territory, to Mary Golda Ross, a NASA aerospace engineer who helped America win the space race, Cherokee women have been at the forefront of defining our success. In 1851, we opened the first institute of higher education for women west of the Mississippi River. The Cherokee National Female Seminary's curriculum was academically challenging, reflecting our tribe’s vision of strong, educated women." announced Bill John Baker

Isabel Cobb, the first woman physician in Indian Territory, was the oldest of seven children of Joseph Benson and Evaline Clingan Cobb.

Born near Morgantown, Tennessee, on October 25, 1858, Cobb attended school in Cleveland, Tennessee, until 1870. Her family then moved to the Cooweescoowee District in the Cherokee Nation, settling about five miles southeast of present Wagoner, Oklahoma. She attended Cherokee Female Seminary in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and graduated in 1879.

Continuing her education at Glendale Female College in Glendale, Ohio, she graduated in 1881 and returned to teach at the seminary from 1882 until it burned in 1887. She then entered Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1888 and received the M.D. degree in 1892.

Following a six-month internship in New York at Staten Island Nursery and Child's Hospital, Cobb returned home in 1893 to practice medicine in rural Wagoner County. Working from a farmhouse on the family homestead, she practiced only within the neighboring areas, rarely seeing more than two hundred patients per year.

Known as "Dr. Belle," she primarily cared for women and children. She often performed surgery in the patient's home and did not always collect money for her services. In 1930 she broke her hip and subsequently retired from active practice.

A Presbyterian and a Republican, Cobb belonged to a number of Wagoner County literary societies. She never married but adopted a six-year-old Italian orphan in 1895. She died in Wagoner on August 11, 1947.
By Principal Chief Bill John Baker Cherokee Nation


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