Biographical Sketch of Dr. Annie Ryerse Schoppach
May 3, 1858 – November 9, 1949
Annie Adelia Annette Ryerse was born May 3, 1858 in Port Ryerse, Ontario, Canada. In 1878 Annie married James Cutting in Port Ryerse. She had a daughter, Ada, in 1880 and a son, Herwald, in 1882. “Sometime in 1883 or 1884, Annie’s marriage to James Cutting ended and she left for the United States, taking Herwald with her but leaving Ada behind with her father.”1 By 1896 she was living in Gladstone, Michigan teaching school.
On August 20, 1896 Annie married James Shoppach, a native of Little Rock, in Gladstone, Delta, Michigan. Annie, Herwald and James Shoppach moved to Little Rock in 1896, and by the next year she was admitted to the Medical Department of the University of Arkansas. She graduated in 1901, becoming the first woman to graduate from the Medical Department of the University of Arkansas. (There are several stories of how Annie was harassed by her fellow students. But she was determined, and despite being snubbed and not well accepted, she overcame all difficulties.) 2 She must have had a great deal of tenacity to dare to enter a profession where female practitioners were almost unheard of at the time! According to a report by Dr. David Elliot, Annie engaged in post graduate studies until 1903. After her training Annie was ready to enter private practice. She initially opened her office at 4041/2 Main Street in Little Rock. She purchased a house at 1401 S. State Street, which was her home, office, and maternity hospital for the rest of her life. Her time was largely spent with maternity cases. Her marriage did not succeed, and by 1908 she and James Shoppach were living apart. There is no record of her having divorced either husband, and she is not mentioned in either the obituary of James Cutting or of James Shoppach.
Annie Schoppach served the women of Little Rock well, rich and poor alike. She is said to have used income from her white patients to finance the care of black patients who had little money. Her add in the Arkansas Democrat, February 3, 1906 reads: “PRIVATE SANITARIUM-maternity cases a specialty; also nervous diseases and diseases of women and children. Visits made throughout the city.”3
Annie’s son, Herwald Cutting, also entered the University of Arkansas Medical Department, matriculating in 1908, at his mother’s urging. He graduated in 1912 as president of his class. He opened an office on Victory St., but he, like his mother, soon centered his activities around the house at 1401 S. State Street. His practice also dealt primarily with maternity cases.
Annie continued her medical practice until the age of eighty-five having practiced medicine for over 40 years. She died on November 9, 1949, and her body was cremated. Herwald Cutting died on March 10, 1953. He, his wife Francis Babcock Cutting, and his mother’s ashes are interred in Oakland Cemetery in Little Rock.
1 Richard B. Clark, M.D.; Sharon Keel & Amanda E. Saar, M.L.S., Pulaski County Historical Review, (Winter 2005), pp. 106-111
2 Richard B. Clark, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Encyclopedia of Arkansas
3Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock, Arkansas), February 3, 1906, p. 6
John T. Mitchell, BBA
March 19, 2022