You've heard of early pioneer women who were doctors and midwives. And you recognize the names of Zina Young and Patty Sessions. Well, how about Louisa Obray? No? Let me tell you about her.
When looking back on her life, Louisa Obray had a great deal of which to be proud. In 1890, at the age of 35, she attended the Columbia Hospital for training as a nurse. She had already trained in Utah as a midwife under Dr. Ellis Reynolds Shipp. During Louisa's career she delivered an estimated 800 babies. She charged just $3.00 for her services which included bathing both mother and child and nine days of post-natal care.
Her biography tells a story of how she handled herself under pressure.
“She came home one day to find Joseph Obray waiting to tell her not to unhitch the horse as his wife was in labor with her first child. She had already been in attendance on other mothers for twenty-four hours. Just then her daughter, Boston, ran out of the house begging her not to leave as she was about to give birth to her first child. Louisa looked at her daughter and said, “be at ease—you will be all right.”
She was described as "dignified and queenly in her bearing." And many of the people in Paradise sought out her wise counsel "for help with their personal problems."
Along the way she raised three children without a husband. And served in several church callings. She accomplished this much in her life because of what she decided she could do, not based on what others told her to do. When her husband died she could have allowed her ward family in Paradise, Utah take care of her. She could have let the Church in Salt Lake City take care of her. After all her husband died while on a mission. And since he was killed by a mob in a very well publicized incident, donations were made to cover the expenses of the widows and children of the missionaries who died at Cane Creek, she could have lived off of their generosity. But she didn't. Instead she thrived. And for that I admire her.
On December 27, 1927 Louisa Obray Gibbs passed away at the age of 72.
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