McCook physician went on to become California's 'Woman of the Year in Medicine,' 1956 LA Times

Thursday, July 28, 2016

In a previous column, I mentioned that early McCook had a female doctor. Unfortunately, I let that factoid slip from my mind until I was browsing through the wedding announcements from the McCook Republican, June 1916. There it was the marriage of Elizabeth Mason and Harrison L. Hohl, held in Omaha at the Lowe Avenue Presbyterian church.

Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Mason of Beaver City. Her father was a railroad man, Burlington Railway Co., for 35 years. She had grown up in Beaver City and graduated from the high school there.

Harrison was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Hohl of Albion, Nebraska. This was to be a "mixed marriage" in railroad terms since Leonard was also a long time railroad man, having worked for the Union Pacific Railway Co. for 29 years in the telegraph department.

Miss Mason had gone from Beaver City directly to the State University (Lincoln), earning the honor of being chosen for membership in the honor society, The Black Masque Fraternity. After graduating from Lincoln, she moved to Omaha, enrolling in the University of Omaha medical course. Graduating from medical school in 1915, she was honored as a member of Nu Sigma Phi, at that time a world-wide medical fraternity. (Nu Sigma Phi is now listed as inactive at that school.)

The couple met while Dr. Mason was a physician at the Methodist Episcopal Hospital in Omaha and Harrison was employed by Byrne-Hammer Dry Goods Co. of Omaha. By the time the wedding bells pealed, Harrison had taken a position with Wheeler-Mutter Dry Goods of St. Joseph, Kansas. He was a traveling salesman with a territory of western Kansas and Nebraska plus north east Colorado. His office was stationed in McCook.

With the signing of the marriage certificate, McCook gained the services of a remarkable woman as she moved her household to the home of her husband. The Beaver City Tribune put it thus: "She is a woman, a fact freely and fully attested by the favor she attained in her university career as well as in society church and school activities at home. In her marriage, she does not expect to abandon her chosen profession-in which she excels-but will continue her practice at McCook." (Beaver City Tribune, 06/09/1916, reprinted in the McCook Republican.)

Excel she did. McCook benefited from her capable hands from 1916 until 1924. During her tenure, St. Catherine's of Sienna hospital was built and she was listed as a physician working there.

But, the family moved on, settling in Los Angeles, and that was where her capable mind shone. There she was known as Dr. Elizabeth Mason Hohl. Founder of the Cancer Prevention Society of California (for which she served as secretary-treasurer and chief of the clinic staff), instrumental in the forming of the Physicians Benevolent Society of California and having served as president of the American Women's Association, Dr. Mason Hohl was named "Woman of the Year in Medicine" by the Los Angeles Times in 1956.

In 1961, she was again honored, this time by her alma mater the University of Nebraska Lincoln. She was presented with the Distinguished Service Award for alumni of UNL.

California's gain was no doubt McCook's loss but how wonderful that this fascinating woman gave us eight years of her talents during a time when the practice of medicine was changing so drastically.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: