compiled by Columbian staff in 1989

Louisa Wright was a feminist trailblazer in an era when women were supposed to stay in the kitchen while men made the important decisions.

Wright was Clark County's first woman doctor. In fact, she was only the second physician in the county of either sex to have earned a degree from a medical school.

She was born in 1862 in Fern Prairie, a few miles north of Camas, to Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Van Vleet, whose donation land took in what is now the Fern Prairie Cemetery. Her parents had crossed the plains by wagon train and built a beautiful home on a farm they called The Oaks.

After gaining an elemental education, Wright taught in Grass Valley and other area schools for $25 a month. From this modest salary, she saved enough for tuition at Oregon Medical School and then the University of Michigan, where she earned her medical degree in 1885 at age 23.

Wright practiced first in Missoula, Mont., then came home to Camas where she set up her practice in 1887, four years after the community was founded. Over the years, she advanced the status of women by her skilled and selfless application of the medical art.

She died in 1913 of injuried sustained when she was kicked by a horse. Dr. Louise Wright is buried in Fern Prairie Cemetery, within sight of the old homestead.

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