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23 June 2009

Mary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories

Written by Rosemary Wells

Mary Breckinridge was the daughter of a well-to-do family with strong political ties to the US government. Her father was the U.S. ambassador to Czar Nicholas II of Russia, her grandfather was a US Vice President. There were also other family members in the US Congress and state governments. While a daughter of a well-to-do family in early 1900’s usually had hobbies like needlework or skills like tending to animals, they rarely had careers that took them in the deep woods of the Appalachian Mountains. What took Mary there was a series of unfortunate losses in her life. After the loss of her son and her divorce from her second husband, Mary made the decision to study nursing. When WWI began, Mary traveled to Europe to work as a nurse. After the war ended Mary remembered the families that lived in the hard to reach areas of the Appalachian Mountains without a nearby nurse or doctor. She returned to the United States to help these families. Over time Mary built clinics and brought in nurses and doctors from all over the world. In time Mary established the Frontier Nursing Service, an organization that is still helping people in the hard to reach areas.

This book is a collection of three stories about the families Mary helped. They are snapshots of Mary’s entire career. These true stories are heartfelt and are powerful lessons of how one person can change the lives of an entire community.