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Mercy and Madness

Dr. Mary Archard Latham’s Tragic Fall from Female Physician to Felon

Author, Beverly Lionberger Hodgins

Available in Hardcover and Kindle Edition

About Mercy and Madness

Spokane, Washington’s, first female physician, Mary Archard Latham moved to the community with her three sons—leaving her husband behind in Ohio—in 1888. She sought a better climate for her health and worked tirelessly for the health of all of Spokane’s citizens, but particularly women and children and especially the poor. She helped found the Spokane Humane Society and the Spokane Public Library, and she was beloved and respected in the community.

Then, in 1903, one of her sons died and she seemingly became unhinged. She would be seen wandering the streets, wailing and inconsolable, and her behavior became extremely erratic. In 1905, she was accused, arrested, and convicted of arson, then sentenced to four years of hard labor in the state penitentiary. She escaped into the forests of Idaho, where she hid from a massive manhunt for a week before being captured and sent to prison in Walla Walla. She eventually returned to Spokane a broken yet determined woman and died in 1917. Despite the tragic and violent events that characterized her later years, today Dr. Mary A. Latham is honored in Spokane for the good she did in the first part of her life. Mercy and Madness captures the captivating, outrageous, and sometimes-sorrowful life of Dr. Mary Archard Latham in her own words.

Spokane__Lumber_Mills early 1900s

It's an important chronicle of women's history demonstrating how success and independence become a double-edged sword for women daring to defy convention.

– Mary Cronk Farrell, author of Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific

Hodgins includes large numbers of Latham's writings, especially letters to local newspapers that allow readers to hear the doctor's own voice over many years and make their own conclusions about her.

– Candace Wellman, author of Interwoven Lives, Indigenous Mothers of Salish Coast Communities

Engagingly written and impeccably researched, Mercy and Madness brings to life a little-known slice of Washington State history. A must for readers of historical non­fiction, as well as those who love discovering a fascinating story about an utterly fascinating woman, far ahead of her time.

– Randall Platt, Three-time winner of the WILLA Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction

Mercy and Madness, a fine achievement, belongs on every library and classroom bookshelf as well as in the hands of readers who admire courageous women who do the unexpected.

– Ann Weisgarber, author of The Glovemaker

Police reports about arson? Mortality records? The bibliography alone is twenty-two pages long. Hodgins has left no syringe empty in the remarkable documentation of one woman's strife and successes in the late 1800s to early 1900s in the volatile American West. Bravo!

– Jane Kirkpatrick, New York Times bestselling-author, The Healing of Natalie Curtis

About the Author

Beverly Lionberger Hodgins

Beverly Lionberger Hodgins

As a member of the fourth generation of an Oregon pioneer family, Beverly Lionberger Hodgins has a distinct interest in all things historical regarding the settling and development of the Pacific and Inland Northwest. She lives in Spokane, Washington and is a distant relative of Dr. Mary Archard Latham.

Beverly Lionberger Hodgins is the author of award-winning poems, short stories—including the 2016 LAURA Short Fiction Award winner, “A Girl Named Egg”—and screenplays. Her screenplay, Wayward Warrior—based on her husband’s Vietnam War service years—was a semi-finalist in a FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards competition. She recently self-published a poetry chapbook, The Practice of Making Tea ~ Poems of Loss.


An active member of Women Writing the West (WWW), she served from 2018 through 2020 as editor of the WWW Catalog of Authors’ Books. She is also a member of Western Writers of America and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

As the great-granddaughter of Oregon pioneers, she treasures stories from the past and was delighted to discover ancestral roots throughout the Pacific and Inland Northwest.

She lives with her husband, Tom, a retired U.S. Navy Deep Sea Diver and their Rhodesian Ridgeback Labrador “daughter,” Lily, in Spokane, Washington.

More from Beverly Lionberger Hodgins

The Practice of Making Tea ~ Poems of Loss

About This Collection

Trigger warning: please be advised that these poems address the death of a child.

These poems serve as a journal of sorts describing the saddest years of my life. I’ve learned to practice gratitude—and the making of tea—and I savor sweet memories of the time and life I shared with my daughter, Dawn.

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Send the check to: Beverly Hodgins, P.O. Box 8558, Spokane, WA 99203
One copy, plus shipping is: $15.94
More About This Collection

My daughter, Dawn, died when she was seventeen.

For years I was saddened—sometimes angry—that lives of others simply went on though Dawn’s life was over and mine had crashed; the impact of her loss leaving a crater from which I would not fully emerge for many years—forever changed.

While I wouldn’t wish the same experience of loss—the only way to truly understand—on anyone, the urge remained to describe this life-altering, devastating ordeal. It was a story I wanted to tell, and it came forth after time in the form of poetry.

Finally, these poems serve as a journal of sorts describing the saddest years of my life. I’ve learned to practice gratitude—and the making of tea—and I savor sweet memories of the time and life I shared with my daughter, Dawn.

“From the first page, The Practice of Making Tea is raw, open, and emotional. Each poem entangles us further into the heart-wrenching story that they become. Insistent they be read page after page, with tear filled eyes, to its end.”

“We travel through life with our head in the sand. The expectation that tomorrow will be the same as any other, draws us to complacency, a comfort zone.”

“Through her poems, Beverly Lionberger Hodgins leaves us knowing tomorrow will never be the same as any other.” —Ann Edall-Robson, Author of The Quiet Spirits

The Practice of Making Tea

August 19, 2022

Book Signing Event!

Auntie’s Bookstore will be hosting an in-person event where you can meet the author, Beverly Lionberger Hodgins, and get a signed copy of Mercy and Madness: Dr. Mary Archard Latham’s Tragic Fall from Female Physician to Felon.
Refreshments will be served.

August 19th at 7:00pm
Auntie’s Bookstore
402 W Main Avenue, Spokane, WA  99201

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