To Sedalia with Love
By Joe Gschwendtner; photo courtesy of Fern Adams
The town of Sedalia has been a backdrop to many remarkable life journeys. It speaks highly of Douglas County’s allure that a disproportionate number of talented people would put their roots in the area. One of the more fascinating sagas is that of Dr. Minnie Celia Francesca Tucker and husband Charles Gurley Love.
Married in Washington D.C., Minnie and Charles were both gifted intellectually. Charles was an attorney with the federal government. Together, they became a family of five, the children all male. Before their last son arrived, Minnie attended Howard University, a historically Black university. At her graduation in 1887, she was the only female among the 20 receiving a medical degree. Immediately after, she joined the Washington Homeopathic Medical Society, taking a part-time position at their clinic.
Charles’ health began to falter. Over five years of frequent relocation, including San Francisco and London, the family arrived in Denver in 1892, the right place for one impaired by tuberculosis. While it was an ideal location for Charles’ health, it additionally turned out to be a fertile incubator for Minnie and her many talents.
Having secured advanced training in gynecology and obstetrics, Minnie served on the staff of National Jewish Hospital and was seminal in the founding of the Children’s Hospital Foundation. She attained greater prominence with her position papers written for the Colorado State Medical Society, becoming a well-known expert on tuberculosis.
In 1900, our “Queen City” of the plains with smelters galore, pumped out some rather nasty polluted air. This triggered the family’s move to the country and the Loves homesteaded 160 acres in Sedalia’s Jarre Canyon. Their cabin, built on Madge Gulch, wasn’t meant to be only a family getaway. In fact, in his last years, it became a permanent home to Charles. On weekends, Minnie would ride back and forth by horse cart to be with her husband. While the arrangement clearly prolonged Charles’ life, he succumbed to the disease in 1907.
Despite Minnie’s loss, she went on to build a tubercular sanitarium in Sedalia to help those afflicted. In a rare moment in her remarkably successful life, the attempt was a failure.
Throwing herself yet deeper into the fabric of Denver, Minnie’s achievements mounted up – chief physician of the Florence Crittenden Home, medical examiner for Security Life and Trust Company, and secretary of the Colorado Medical Society.
During World War I, Minnie spoke regularly on behalf of the Red Cross and promoted Liberty Bonds to finance the war effort.
Her interest in women’s issues being what it was, no one was surprised when she campaigned and was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. A progressive for the times, her passion was centered on the welfare of women and children.
When Minnie eventually retired, she would spend full summers in the Sedalia cabin writing short stories and playing solitaire. Her son Charles Waldo Love gained his own fame as a naturalist. His paintings and reproductions of Douglas County landscapes still grace the Denver Museum of Nature & Science today.
Editors Note: The month following publication of this article, additional information was provided regarding Dr. Love’s more controversial affiliations. See “Love mea culpa” in the March issue of The Castle Pines Connection.