Virginia Meriwether Davies (1862-1949)
Lucy Virginia Meriwether Davies, known affectionately as “Dockie,” was a country doctor and farmer in Congers. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1862. One of her earliest memories was riding with her mother in a horse and buggy to smuggle morphine to wounded Confederate soldiers. Her job was to distract Union troops so they would not discover that her mother was carrying the drug.
In 1883, Dr. Davies attended the Woman’s Medical College in New York City, a pioneer school founded by Elizabeth Blackwell, America’s first female physician. Dr. Davies became one of the best obstetricians in Rockland, delivering more than 6,000 babies in the fifty years she lived in the county. She worked twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and never took a vacation.
There was a great demand for doctors in Rockland in the 1890s because of the many accidents in the ice industry at Rockland Lake and in the quarries. Dr. Davies was often the first on the scene after an explosion at the quarry. Medicine, however, was not accepted as an appropriate career for women in those days. Once Dr. Davies was even spit on while walking down the street. The hostility did not affect her dedication to medicine. She never refused a house call, and she would not hesitate to use her kitchen table for emergency operations.
She married Arthur Bowen Davies, a well-known Rockland County artist, in 1892. They shared an interest in nature, art, and opera and settled on a farm in Congers so they could combine their enjoyment of nature with the professions they both loved.
Dr. Davies blended medicine and farming naturally. She was often asked to administer medical help while she was delivering produce form the farm, and she brought fresh-baked pies with her on house calls. She actually earned more money selling produce than she did practicing medicine. She was motivated by the satisfaction of helping people.