Colorado's Healthcare Heritage

Updates to Volume One — 1871

1871 — Colorado Territorial Medical Society

The Colorado Territorial Medical Society was re-established on September 19, 1871, when officers of the Denver Medical Association led by Dr. Henry King Steele invited physicians from around the Territory to a meeting in the district courtroom in Denver, during which they established a successor to the Colorado Territorial Medical Society that had been established in 1868.

Although travel in Colorado was difficult and time and space still maintained their primitive relations, physicians from Central City, Georgetown, Black Hawk, Laporte and Idaho Springs responded to the invitations. There were twenty-four, including the Denver men, in attendance . . . . There were men among them of accurate and extensive learning. With such, an exchange of opinion would prove profitable. (Elder [1927], pg. 1054)

In 1901, William Phipps Munn, MD, president of the Colorado State Medical Society, included this in his presidential address:
This is the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of this organization. Colorado was in 1871 but a territory, and at that time but recently connected to civilization by the construction of the Union Pacific and Kansas Pacific Railroads. The meeting of the Territorial Society was called by Dr. W.H. Williams, Corresponding Secretary of the Denver Medical Association, in accordance with a resolution adopted by that organization.

The members met in Denver, a town which by the United States census of the preceding year had a population of about 4,700, and which had remained practically without growth during a period of ten full years. On the 19th of September, 1871, sixteen members of the profession were in attendance upon the convention and organized this society, electing Dr. R.G. Buckingham President. (Denver Medical Times, August 1090, pp. 53-54)

The Colorado Territorial Medical Society's purposes were typical of the time-they wanted to promote medicine as a scientific profession by setting appropriate standards for procedures and conduct, and they wanted to establish collaborative relationships among qualified physicians. Physicians also wanted to marginalize those who they thought were unqualified, including homeopaths, eclectics, herbal healers, and others.


In 1871, Horace O. Dodge, MD — a 27-year-old native of Downers Grove, Illinois, who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and who had received his MD in 1868 from the Chicago Medical College — moved to Boulder County and then in 1872 to the city of Boulder, where he practiced for many years.

Dr. Dodge served as alderman, fire chief, county commissioner, and Boulder City health officer. He was the first president of the Boulder County Medical Society (1874), Dr. Horace O. Dodge was vice president of the Colorado Territorial Medical Society for 1875-1876, and succeeded to the presidency following the death of William H. Thacker, MD.

Beginning in 1885, Horace O. Dodge, MD, taught at the University of Colorado department of medicine.

Note that Horace O. Dodge, MD, practiced in Boulder, and Horace C. Dodge, MD — a homeopathic physician — practiced in Steamboat Springs.

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