Dr. Sofie Herzog
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Dr. Sofie Herzog was one of the most colorful of the new class of professional women to emerge in Texas. Born in Austria in 1846, Sofie Dalia married physician August Herzog when she was 14 years old. Together they had 15 children, including three sets of twins; however, eight of the children died in infancy. In 1886 the family moved to New York City, where Sofie began to study medicine. She returned to Austria to complete her training, then opened a successful practice in Hoboken, New Jersey. When her husband died in 1895, Herzog decided to move to Brazoria, Texas, to be near her married daughter.
Sofie Herzog was a shock to the small South Texas town. A woman physician was unheard of, and Herzog wore her hair short, rode horseback astride instead of side-saddle, and shaded her face with a man's hat. However, her skill and dedication won over the town, and she became known as Dr. Sofie. She extracted so many bullets from gunfighters that she had a necklace made from 24 bullets and wore it constantly as a good-luck charm. In addition to her medical practice, Dr. Sofie operated her own pharmacy, built and operated a hotel, and made herself wealthy by investing in real estate. She was famous for her collection of medical specimens and animal skins, especially the rattlesnakes that she had skinned, dried, and mounted herself.
When the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway began laying track in South Texas, Dr. Sofie was often called to tend to injured or ill men and was known to be willing to render aid any time of the day or night. The railroad officials hired her as chief surgeon, only to have their bosses back East demand that she resign. Dr. Sofie refused, saying they could fire her if she failed in her duties. She never did, though she did eventually give up her horse in favor of the first Ford in the area. Dr. Sofie continued to work for the railroad until shortly before her death at age 79.
Dr. Sofie Herzog, W.D. Hornaday Collection, Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. #1975/70-5431.
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