Susan Anderson is probably the most famous woman if not person in Grand
County history. A lot has been written about her and her life, so a quick
bio will be presented here. If you would like to know more about "Doc Susie"
use your favorite search engine to find her on the web (there are several
places), or visit your local library and read the many books written about
Susan Anderson was a small woman with a quick wit, a sharp mind and very
passionate about being a doctor. She had a very sympathetic manner when
dealing with patients, even putting their concerns before her own. She was
willing to travel anywhere at any time if her patients needed her. She was
also very friendly and loved to socialize and rarely missed a dance or
social event and was seldom unhappy. Most likely her friendly happy demeanor
and her willingness to help others first endeared her to the residents of
Grand County. Because of this she soon became know as only "Doc Susie" to
the people living in Grand County. During her life the residents would, and
often times did, do anything for their "Doc Susie".
Susan Anderson graduated from medical school in 1897 and set up shop in
Cripple Creek where her father was. It was a wild and lawless place at the
time and her father insisted it was no place for a lady. After three years
he finally persuaded her to leave and find somewhere else to practice. She
looked at Steamboat Springs but decided there was little opportunity without
a railroad. She also look at Denver but decided quickly that was not the
place for her. She ended up in Greeley where there was plenty of work due to
a diphtheria epidemic so she accepted a position as a nurse. She had to take
care of many patients, mostly children, and worked up to twenty-two hours a
day. These long hours continued long after the epidemic and the strain
slowly deteriorated her health. She developed a deep, hacking cough that
sometimes brought up blood. She suspected tuberculosis and decided it was
time to leave.
So in December of 1907 at the age of 37 she found herself in Grand County.
She went there to die but fate had other ideas for her. The people knew she
was a doctor and before long she started getting customers. As a matter of
fact her very first customer was a horse that needed a bad gash stitched up.
True to her form she made a joke about it saying "I never did get his name."
She was able to get an old barn in Fraser and that was where she lived and
had her practice. It was soon crammed full of everything imaginable, because
"you never know when someone might need something." Her health improved and
she knew she found her place in life.
She would mostly walk to were she needed to go but often had to use a horse
or wagon depending on where her patient was. She could also flag down a
train and get a ride in the engine cab because there wasn't a driver who
wouldn't stop for her. They all took it as a great honor to be giving her
any assistance they could. The only kind of travel she would not use or go
near was an airplane, she never trusted them. The people of Grand County
were not that wealthy and often times could not pay for their medical
treatment. That never bothered her, she was not into a comfortable way of
life and was just happy to help, besides maybe she could get a favor at a
She dressed just like everyone else in Grand County at the time and did most
of the work that needed doing by herself. She even became quite adept with
an axe, both for chopping her own firewood and smashing stills. After
witnessing the deterioration of some of her patients from alcohol abuse she
became a staunch prohibitionist. In 1924 she was even deputized to aid in
some "moonshine visits" where it is rumored she always brought along her
favorite axe. For 50 years she never wavered from her beliefs, her patients
or her open friendliness and all in Grand County knew they had lost
something special when she died at the age of 90.