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Yesterday my brother-in-law gave us a secretary/desk that is a family heirloom.  It’s been in storage for several years and is in need of attention.  This secretary belonged to Dr. Jane Dunaway, who had a strong medical career that began when she was the second woman to earn a medical degree from the University of Missouri in 1905.

For the next three years Jane practiced medicine in Noble, Oklahoma where her sister, Eva Garee lived. While she was in Noble she probably bought this secretary.  She may have stored medicine in it as is evidenced by the stains that look like they are from bottles.  On the back of both the top and bottom it has “Farmer’s Store Co Noble, Okla” written on it.  Farmer’s Store Company began in 1900 by “two of the most energetic young men of Noble…these gentlemen put in a stock of general merchandising, including hardware, furniture and undertaking goods.” (A history of the State of Oklahoma)  I do not know how long they were in business but they were listed in the 1911 Corporation Commission annual report, which was after Jane had already moved away.

Here are a couple of photos of the furniture that show it’s condition and the writing on the back.

Click to enlarge, then zoom

Inside the well used desk

Oklahoma became a state in November 1907 and prior to that it was known as Indian Territory.  Since the store location was listed as “Okla” it may be that the furniture was delivered sometime after November 1907 but before Jane moved to Puerto Rico in 1909.

Jane was my husband’s great, great aunt and Eva Garee’s sister.

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Today my husband began the process of refinishing the secretary and I think it’s looking much nicer.  I’ll be sure to update you when he’s completed it and maybe I will have learned more about the furniture.

Click to enlarge

Bibliography

  • Dunaway, Jane E.. Dunaway, Allder, Pyle family.  Bloomington, Ind.?: unknown, 1959.
  • Missouri Women in the Health Sciences
  • A history of the state of Oklahoma by Luther B. Hill, A. B., with the assistance of local authorities, 1909 by The Lewis publishing company in Chicago, New York , page 88-89
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