New mural in Cedar City honors frontier doctor, suffragist Paulina Lyman

Iron County Republican Women gather at the unveiling of a new mural honoring frontier doctor Paulina Lyman in downtown Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 21, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Republican Women, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — A new historic mural featuring frontier doctor Paulina Phelps Lyman was recently unveiled in downtown Cedar City.

According to a news release from Iron County Republican Women, the mural, which is located behind Century 21 Prestige Realty at 121 N. Main Street, was unveiled during the group’s most recent monthly luncheon gathering.

Lyman was Parowan’s first doctor and midwife, in addition to being known as an active suffragist. She was married to Latter-day Saint apostle Amasa Mason Lyman and had been sent by then-church president and territorial governor Brigham Young to Southern Utah to care for the pioneers there. 

After practicing medicine for 40 years, Lyman wanted to improve the care she was providing, so at the age of 60, she traveled to Salt Lake City to train as a midwife, then returned to Parowan, where she trained two other women. She delivered hundreds of babies over the course of her life.

During the mural’s unveiling, Maria Twitchell, executive director of the Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau, encouraged women to write down their stories for future generations.

Depiction of frontier doctor Paulina Lyman on a new mural in downtown Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 21, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Republican Women, St. George News / Cedar City News

Twitchell noted that Lyman’s history and contributions were uncovered as side notes in her husband’s journal, which she said was somewhat of a tragedy. Twitchell said that in the past “women were not typically part of the story” and that women’s stories need to move forward.

“They need to be uncovered generations from now, and they need to be part of the fabric of what has happened in our community.”

In the mural, Lyman is depicted carrying her black doctor’s bag, which represents a significant anecdote of her life.

“In Parowan, no one ever told the stork story. It was Aunt Lymie bringing the baby in a black bag,” Twitchell said. 

The mural contains a number of other symbols relevant to Lyman’s life and to the Iron County area. Because Lyman lived in Parowan, many of the symbols are drawn as petroglyphs in a nod to the Parowan Gap. Certain symbols are related to Lyman’s early work as a seamstress and to the babies she delivered as a doctor and midwife. At the bottom part of the wall is a banner stating “Votes for Women,” which illustrates Lyman’s contributions to women’s suffrage.

The mural was painted by artist Brooke Smart, who was contracted for the work by Better Days 2020, a nonprofit statewide initiative celebrating 150 years of women voting in Utah, as well as the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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