The Shelbyville News
She learned to drive a car from her mother, who
was taught by Indy's first champion, Ray Harroun.
Saturday, February 25, 1995
90-YEAR-OLD DOCTOR A PIONEER
by Jim McKinney, Executive editor
Strong-willed and ahead of her time, Dr. Margaret
L. Newhouse had quit high school as a young girl. But she returned to graduate and go on to become one
of only six women in a class of 100 to graduate from the Indiana School of Medicine in 1932.
That 6 percent female ratio was a record for an IU
class at that time. There were only two women in the class ahead of hers.
On Sunday, Newhouse will be 90 years young, and very
possibly the oldest licensed female physician in Indiana. Her friends and relatives will gather for an open
house in her honor from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Gwynneville United Methodist Church, where Newhouse has taught
Sunday School for 25 years.
But besides having to discard more calendars than most
ever see, Newhouse remains active and still sees patients at her comfortable home south of Gwynneville.
Admittedly, her eyesight isn't what it used to be although
she still works newspaper crossword puzzles, with the help of a magnifying glass.
But failing vision did force her to discontinue giving
influence immunizations about a year ago. "I had given several dozen flu shots for several years up
until then. But it got to where I couldn't see well enough," Newhouse said. She did not renew
her narcotics license voluntarily a few years ago. "It got too expensive, and I wasn't writing that
many prescriptions," she said.
Patients have been loyal, and most are friends and
neighbors Newhouse has known for years. "I haven't had many patient this winter ... I tell them to stay
home. They don't have any business driving when the roads are as bad as they were several times this winter,"
A Greenfield woman had been dedicated to Newhouse's
practice and wouldn't see anyone else. She was still driving to Newhouse's office past the age of 95.
Newhouse explained that her patient and friend had
been involved in an auto accident and bought a new car. Newhouse said there were "a lot of things she
wasn't familiar with, and I showed her where things were and how they worked."
"Things" like switching on headlights and
turn signals. The friend died about four years ago, at the age of 98.
Newhouse set up practice in Morristown in the fall
of 1933. "There weren't many women doctors then, and I could tell the people were sort of testing me.
They came in for small things at first, then most would come back," said Newhouse.
Office calls in those early years cost $1 and Newhouse
said physicians also included most of the medication in the price.
Delivering a baby cost $25 and most deliveries were
made at home. "And, of course, many occurred late at night and in hard to get to places," Newhouse
She delivered a baby at a Gypsy camp set up near Freeport
southwest of Morristown. Newhouse said the birth went well and she left that night, planning to return the next
morning to fill out the birth certificate. When she came back to the camp site early the next day, the Gypsies
had broken camp and left the area.
Newhouse coped with prejudice early in her career.
"I was in a man's profession and women had to prove themselves," said Newhouse. She said it was
most noticeable while she still was in school.
She went to a small hospital in St. Joseph, Mo., to
complete her internship when central Indiana hospitals wouldn't take a chance on a woman. "I was paid
$50 a month and that was plenty of money to go around," the physician said.
Newhouse is convinced her strong will was inherited
from her mother, Emma Maisoll. "She told me I could go on and be whatever I wanted, and I believed
her," Newhouse said, recalling that her mother was one of the first women to drive a car in Indianapolis,
or in Indiana.
"She learned from Ray Harroun," said Newhouse.
Harroun, winner of the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, sold Premier Touring Cars for an Indianapolis Premier dealer.
Driving lessons by Harroun came with the car in 1913 since the automobile still was viewed as a new-fangled
contraption that would never replace the horse.
The young doctor would plant her roots in Morristown
where she met, dated and later married an area farmer and businessman, Richard Newhouse.
Richard Newhouse served 14 years in the General
Assembly as a state representative and later a state senator. He was a senator when he died suddenly on Dec.
Dr. Newhouse had discontinued her medical practice
in the early 1940s when her children, James R. Newhouse and Mary Ann (Newhouse) Overman
were born. James Newhouse lives in the Morristown area, and his sister resides in Union City, Tenn., where
she had taught mathematics and genetics at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Newhouse has four grandchildren and
Her physician's license was reinstated after her husband's
death. Dr. Newhouse later opened the physical therapy section at Major Hospital. She retired from the hospital
in 1970, then spent about 17 years with Planned Parenthood in Shelbyville before leaving in 1988.