Dr. Picotte’s House

RG2026-26 SFN6098

NSHS RG2026-26. The house then...

Picotte House_2 small

...and now

The NSHS is pleased to announce that the Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte House, 100 Taft Street in Walthill, has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This two-story home was built by Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte (c. 1865 – 1916) in 1907 for herself and her two sons. The nomination recognizes Picotte’s contributions to the history of Walthill and the Omaha Nation from 1907 to 1911.

Picotte, a daughter of Omaha Chief “Iron Eye” (Joseph La Flesche) was the first Native American woman physician. NSHS National Register Coordinator Jessie Nunn writes about Picotte’s remarkable life in the current issue of Nebraska History News (click the link and go to p. 2).

The following is adapted from the state historical marker in Walthill, with some images from our collections:

NSHS RG2026-71

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte. NSHS RG2026-71

Dr. Picotte was the daughter of Mary Gale and Iron Eye, also known as Joseph La Flesche, the last traditionally recognized chief of the Omaha tribe. She was educated at the Elizabeth Institute for Young Women (Virginia) and The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she graduated first in her class in 1889.
RG2026-28 SFN102408
Inside Dr. Picotte’s house. NSHS RG2026-28

She returned to the Omaha Reservation to serve both the Native American and white communities as a physician, civic leader, Native American rights activist, and outspoken advocate of public health and sanitation. A dedicated physician despite a painful disease that diminished her own health, Dr. Picotte was known for keeping a lighted lamp in the window of her home to welcome patients in the night.

RG2026-25-1 SFN5180

This hospital was built in 1912 under the guidance of Dr. Picotte. NSHS RG2026-25-1

In 1913 she fulfilled her goal of establishing a hospital to serve the community of Walthill and surrounding area. The hospital, which now houses the Susan La Flesche Picotte Center, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 and named a National Historic Landmark in 1993. Click here and scroll down to see what the building looks like today, along with other National Register sites in Thurston County.

RG2026AM SFN23878 detail

NSHS RG2026AM. Detail of SFN23878.

Picotte recorded her activities in a diary, a detail of which is shown above. To learn more about Dr. Picotte, see the biographical article at NebraskaStudies.org, or this guide to our extensive archival collection of La Flesche family materials.

David Bristow, Associate Director for Research and Publications

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