Dr. Hugo Stickney

Dr. Stickney.tif


Dr. Hugo Stickney

Biographical Text

Born in Vermont in 1855, Hugo Stickney lived there until he graduated from Dartmouth Medical College in 1883. According to his daughter Dorothy, the "promise of magic and enchantment"^' brought the young doctor west, and he came directly to the pioneer town of Dickinson to open his office and begin the practice of medicine. Every few years he returned to the East to visit and renew his skills, but always the allure of the West drew him back.

His wife-to-be, Miss Maggie Hayes, waited for two years in Vermont while Dr. Stickney made living arrangements in Dickinson. She boarded the train for Dakota Territory, and was met in Mandan by Dr. Stickney, who told her "We will be married here, Maggie. This is the only place where there is a priest. The train will wait for us." The train waited 20 minutes, the couple was married, and the Stickneys Journeyed on to Dickinson, where they lived until she died in 1921. The exquisite wedding dress she had spent two years making by hand was never worn. The wedding dress, as well as other Stickney memorabilia, was donated to the Joachim Museum in Dickinson.

Dr. Stickney took an active part in the growth of Dickinson. He became involved in stock-raising, banking, and real estate. He was instrumental in the movement to establish the college in Dickinson.

The Slope Teacher of August 17, 1927, in an article entitled "Benefactor of D.S.N. is Dead" said: "In 1914 he was the oldest Northern Pacific surgeon in years of service, he was at one time president of the North Dakota Medical Association; he was an early Stark County superintendent of schools from 1890 to 1894; he was active in the politics of the Republican party; for many years he was vice-president of the First National Bank of Dickinson; he was a big rancher; he was director of the Roosevelt Memorial Association, he acted as a very efficient medical aid to Governor Frazier during the World war [sic]; he took part in several affiliations of this city."

Another article in the school paper" remarked that Dr. Stickney served an area reaching east to Mandan, west to Glendive, MT, south to the Black Hills, and north to the Canadian border. He practiced in a ranchland composed of 50,000 square miles, but always spoke of it as "...God's country in the fullest sense of the word. He operated under crude conditions, as there was no hospital in the vicinity. He sterilized his instruments in a Dutch oven, and administered his own anesthetic. Sometimes when he was many miles from a prairie home he would wrap himself in a tarp and sleep out in the open.... Sometimes when he was caught in a blizzard he would seek shelter in a brush patch or out of the wind near a butte or a large boulder. If he was on his way home in his sleigh he would loose the reins and let his horses find their way home.” “He was a welcome friend of almost every family in the entire area many people remember him with thankfulness and his 44 years of service to this area are an unthinkable gift of love and dedication.”

Mrs. Stickney was deeply involved with work for the American Red Cross during WWI, and labored tirelessly during the Spanish Infulenza epidemic of 1917-18. She died in 1919. The Stickneys had two daughters, Marjorie Stickney Nachtwey, and Dorothy, Mrs. Howard Lindsay, of Broadway acting fame.

The first building at the new college was officially launched on June 27, 1921, with Dr. Stickney presenting the main address. The building was named after him and Mrs. Stickney as recognition of the services they had rendered to the community of Dickinson and the new college. In 1955, a portrait of Dr. Stickney was hung in the lounge of the dormitory which bears his name. The portrait of the cowboy doctor was a gift from his daughter, Miss Dorothy Stickney Lindsay, and portrays him as captain in the medical corps, a position which he held during WWI. Dr. Stickney died in 1927.



“Dr. Hugo Stickney ,” Dickinson State University Archive, accessed May 26, 2024, https://www.dsuarchive.com/items/show/33.