Wisconsin’s First Doctor: Mary Anne Menard

Aunt Mary Ann Wisconsin's First Doctor

Did you know that Wisconsin’s first doctor was a Black woman?

She settled in Prairie Du Chien after leaving Louisiana around the turn of the 19th century. Her name was Mary Anne Menard.

…or Mary Ann Lebuche? …or Mary Ann Lebuche Menard?

Apparently, historians aren’t actually sure how to spell her name. 

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She had two husbands before marrying Charlie Menard, but no one knows which names she kept or did away with.

She wrote it down once, but who can ever read a doctor’s handwriting, amiright? 

Aunt Mary Ann, as her patients called her, wasn’t just Wisconsin’s first doctor. She was Wisconsin’s only doctor until 1816 when the troops moved in and brought a surgeon with them. The next closest place to receive medical assistance was St. Louis or Mackinac.  (And you thought your health insurance plan was limiting) 

Even after their arrival, Aunt Mary Ann’s ‘device and yarb drink’ was a common request among the sick. 

Those under long term care would go to her when traditional methods failed; she would bring them home and heal them through the force of ‘good nursing.’

She was born sometime around 1774 but no one knows exactly when she passed. Aunt Mary Ann had 10 children between her three marriages.

Her knowledge of the healing arts were put to the test when her one-year-old granddaughter was scalped and left for dead. Aunt Mary Anne single-handedly treated her by covering her exposed brain with a silver plate until the skin healed. She made a full recovery and lived to be more than 80 years old. 

(pshhhh… and all my grandmother ever gave me was butterscotch candy and bruised cheeks!)

Stick around for more Wisconsin Black History!

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