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Newly named NSU student housing pays tribute to first woman physician in Indian Territory

(Tahlequah, Okla.)-- Current Northeastern State University students made their mark on the university’s history in September, when they voted to name the new student housing building after Isabel “Belle” Cobb. Cobb, an alumna of the Cherokee National Seminary, is the second woman to have a building named after her on the Tahlequah campus.

Students had the opportunity to choose among four names: Francis Baker, John Hackler Gideon Morgan and Cobb. This shortlist was researched and compiled with the assistance of NSU Archives and conversations with individuals who had extensive knowledge about the history of the National Female Seminary and Northeastern.

A total of 266 votes were cast, with Cobb receiving 43 percent of the student vote. Morgan received 26 percent, Hacker 16 percent and Baker 14 percent.

Cobb was born in 1858 near Morgantown, Tennessee and her family moved to land near what would later become Wagoner, Oklahoma in the spring of 1870.

In 1879, she graduated from the Cherokee National Female Seminary, located in Park Hill, Oklahoma.

After continuing her education in Ohio, she returned to the Female Seminary as a teacher in 1882 and witnessed the accidental burning of the building on Easter Sunday, 1887.

After the Seminary was destroyed, Cobb enrolled at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She interned at a children’s hospital in Staten Island, New York, then moved back to her parent’s farm near Wagoner in 1893 to begin her medical practice. 

She often performed surgeries at her patients’ homes because there were no hospitals in the vicinity. Her medical practice continued until she died in 1947.

“Dr. Belle” is recognized as the first woman physician in Indian Territory. 

The Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) Board of Regents formally approved the selected name in November.

The Isabel Cobb building is set to be completed and open to students by fall 2016.

Published: 11/11/2015 8:59:44 AM

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