Dr. Emma Lee French

Born on April 21, 1836, Emma Louise became a nurse in Uckfield, East Sussex, England.  At age 21, she moved first to Chicago, then Iowa and headed for Salt Lake City, Utah with a group of Mormon pioneers.  She pushed a handcart for over 1,000 miles while caring for her fellow travelers.  In 1857 she became the 16th wife of John D. Lee who operated Lee’s Ferry just east of Winslow.  After his death in 1877, she continued to operate the ferry, run cattle and care for her children. 

In 1879, Emma remarried and moved to Snowflake with her new husband Franklin French.  Emma used her nurse training and Mormon-midwife instruction to care for people around her.  In 1880, a flash flood hit a bridge construction site.  The workers sent for Mrs. French as she was the closest thing to a doctor around.  Under her care, every man survived his injuries and illnesses.

Emma’s first hospital was the upper room of a Railroad Station House in Hardy, Az.  She traveled as far east as Gallup and west to Flagstaff to doctor the sick and injured.  The railroad would even send a special car to help transport her to their workers.  When a new hospital was built in Winslow, she began working there, helping anyone who needed her.

Dr. French died on November 16, 1897 of a sudden heart attack.  Out of respect, railroad officials stopped all trains passing through Winslow during her service.  She was inducted into the Arizona Woman's Hall of Fame in 2019. 

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