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Memoirs of Mason's First Woman Dentist Featured in San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, June 8, 2011 • Posted June 8, 2011

Los Angeles, Calif. (June 3, 2011) – On April 17 and April 18 The San Francisco Chronicle printed excerpts from an unpublished eye witness account of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the event.The account of the earthquake is taken from the book, “Leonie: A Woman Ahead of Her Time”, published May 2, 2011. Copies are available at www.leoniethebook.com.The author is Dr. Leonie von Meusebach-Zesch, born on November 27th 1882, in Llano, Texas. She was the daughter of a Mason County native, Leo Zesch, and a granddaughter of Mason County pioneers Robert and Lina Zesch. On her mother’s side she was the granddaughter of a German nobleman, John O. Meusebach, who became a Texas State Senator and founded the city of Fredericksburg, Texas. She considered herself to be a proud daughter of The Lone Star State and recounts her memories of living in the Texas Hill Country of the 1880’s and establishing her dentistry practice in Mason in 1908.In her newly-published book, “Leonie: A Woman Ahead of Her Time” the author offers a vivid firsthand account of her life and travels in the American West of the early 20th Century. Her credentials as a dental surgeon allowed her to ignore the conventions of the times and she was inspired to travel extensively, preferring the excitement of the wild in Alaska and Arizona to the tame life in a city.Leonie von Zesch aspired to be a writer and she wrote about her experiences with the Hopi Indians of Walpi; the Mormon families of Arizona; her travels to the interior of Alaska by dog sled to provide dental treatments to gold miners and Inuit children; her adventures on her Grand Tour of Europe; life in Oakland, CA. during the Great Depression and her final professional appointments in The Mother Lode Country and Tehachapi, CA.She died in Oakland in 1944 without having found a publisher for her book.About the bookLeonie’s personal effects and papers were left to her niece, Jane Troutman nee Gillis, who was 18 and out of state at college in 1944. The short stories and manuscripts containing the various versions of Leonie’s memoirs were stored in bankers’ boxes for 35 years. They came to light after the death of Ms. Troutman’s mother and the sale of her home. However, it wasn’t until 2002 that Ms. Troutman read all of the writings and understood the richness of her aunt’s remarkable life. She started piecing together the various versions of her aunt’s autobiography which was a herculean task as many pages were unnumbered and out of order. “Leonie: A Woman Ahead of Her Time” was released on May 2, 2011.

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