Oregon Pioneer Biographies




As a representative of the medical profession in the State of Oregon, this lady holds a highly creditable position as representing the possibilities of womankind in the higher callings of life, and success in overcoming difficulties, her career is even more noteworthy, and a brief outline sketch of her life, giving some of the salient features, becomes, therefore, a valuable contribution to this work, devoted to the history of Oregon, and the achievements of her people.

Dr. Charlton was born in Wisconsin, December 7, 1851, her parents being Valentine and Maria (Heeney) Brown. Her father was a native of Vermont, and of English and Welsh ancestry; her mother, who was of Irish descent, was born in New York State. Dr. Charlton is the fourth in order of age of their nine children. She was but a mere child when the family removed to Oregon, in 1858, and was reared in Portland, where her father settled, and where he purchased several blocks of land, on a portion of which he resided until his death, in 1870. The subject of this sketch received her education in Portland, largely at St. Mary's Academy. In 1870 she was married to Mr. James Charlton, but two years later was left a widow. With a little daughter to support and rear, and without means, her future seemed indeed unpromising at that time. Her courage, however, was equal to the occasion, and she determined then to enter the medical profession. To obtain the funds necessary to a consummation of her plan, she taught school, and thus tided over the time until her admission to practice. In the meantime, she read medicine with Dr. C. H. Raffety, of Portland, and at the earliest opportunity began attendance at the medical department of Willamette University. There were then but nine women students, and indeed it was only the second year that the sex had been admitted to the college, while many discriminating restrictions were placed upon them, and the course of study to which they were admitted was much circumscribed, essential features being eliminated. Against much opposition, Mrs. Charlton led the contest for the rights of women, which proved successful, and by which she won the lasting esteem of the faculty and management, among whom are yet numbered some of her warmest friends; he genuine earnestness in the search of knowledge in the line of her chose profession had much to do with this feeling, as well as with her success.

Mrs. Charlton was graduated in 1879, and for the following six years was a practitioner of the old school (Allopathy), with an office in East Portland. During this time, however, she became acquainted with some of the methods and results of homeopathy, and so firmly and favorably was she impressed with the merits of this school of practice that she determined to adopt it for her future work. In accordance with this resolution she went to Chicago, and there attended the Hahnemann Medical College until her graduation, in 1866, after which she was appointed first assistant physician in the hospital, under Dr. Ludlam, one of the ablest and best-known medical practitioners and authors of the day. Returning to Portland Dr. Charlton resumed practice here, and her success has won for her the highest recognition in the profession. It may here be stated that in her practice she has shown herself the true-hearted physician, who regards the profession as the noblest walk of life, its mission to alleviate the sufferings of mankind; and while her success from a material point of view has been great, from a professional, as well as humane, point of view, it has been even more marked, and her work for the poor has been unusual in its amount and effectiveness. As a historical item it may be said in this connection that Dr. Charlton was the first teacher in the Holladay addition to Portland, the school being then conducted in a little log cabin. The school that now occupies the site is the North Central, one of the largest and finest in Portland.

She is an active member of the Homeopathic Medical Society of Oregon, as well as the Multnomah County Society, and has prepared valuable papers treating upon topics of interest to the profession.

Personally, Dr. Charlton is distinguished by her loyalty to her profession and to her friends, and by the quiet determination which has won for her an honorable place in a field in which she was one of the pioneers of her sex.

She was reared an Episcopalian, and has always remained a consistent member of that church.


Dr. Charlton

Califernia Brown Charlton

Source: "An Illustrated History of the State of Oregon," Rev. H. K. Hines, D. D., The Lewis Publishing Co., 1893.

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