By David Schleper
Dr. Lizette Schmitz Entrup was a physician with a general practice, but she gave much attention to obstetric work. She “brought more babies into the world in this section of the state than any other physician in her time or since.”
Dr. Entrup was a keen student and was well grounded in her profession, although she never graduated from a medical school. She grew up in Westphalia, which is a region in Germany between the Rhine and Weser Rivers. As a girl she developed the ability to be a great soprano singer. A wealthy physician employed her as an instructor in singing for his only son. While there, Lizette studied with the German physician for a number of years, and supplemented her knowledge by reading medical books.
In the early 1850s, Lizette decided to seek her fortune in America. She first settled in St. Louis, where she became acquainted with Anthony Entrup, a young man who was also a German immigrant. They were married in St. Louis, and came to Shakopee shortly after, around 1855.
Dr. Lizette Schmitz Entrup began her practice in Shakopee, and Anthony Entrup was a contractor. He built a number of structures in and around Shakopee, including St. Mark’s and St. Mary’s, and the Argus Block. He was killed in 1876 from a fall from a roof.
Lizette then found her practice her sole means of livelihood, and from that year until a short time before her death in 1895, she practiced steadily and managed to maintain a comfortable home for her six children and get them well started in life.
When Dr. Entrup began practicing in Shakopee, the settlement was still just getting started. There was no railroad, and the only way of travel was the Minnesota River and the crude trails made by white settlers, following the Indian trails of the Dakotas. The pioneer doctor drove over these trails behind a yoke of plodding oxen, summer and winter, by day or night, and always greeted her patients with a cheery smile.
“No trip was too long or arduous for mother,” said Mrs. A.M. Strunk, one of her six children. “She never thought of herself, she was interested only in her patients. Many a night, she fought her way through a winter storm behind her ox-team to reach the bedside of a patient. Sometimes she suffered severely. I remember that on one occasion she came home early one winter morning. We children met her at the door. ‘Oh, mother,’ we shouted in chorus, ‘Your face is frozen!’ Sure enough, both cheeks and her nose and chin were white and numb. Mother simply went outside, rubbed snow on her face, and thought no more about it.”
There were few physicians in the Minnesota Valley at that time, so Dr. Entrup’s practice embraced a large territory. Lizette frequently was called to Glencoe, Jordan, Belle Plaine, and New Prague. Her fame travelled far and wide, and at the height of her career she was one of the most widely known physicians in the state.
And that is the story of a woman doctor, who worked and lived in Shakopee.
(Some information from Recollections of a Pioneer Citizen: Mrs. A.M. Strunk Relates Interesting Data Regarding Pioneer Days. Shakopee Tribune, 1925. In Recollections of Early Pioneers 1925 compiled by Betty A. Dols, 2000, Shakopee Heritage Society.)