John L. Elsner
John Leopold Elsner, the first Jewish physician in Colorado, was born in Vienna, Austria on May 8, 1844, the son of Anna Ritter (d. 1850) and Leopold Elsner, a physician; he was raised by his father and stepmother Hanschen Sultzbacher. He emigrated to Colorado in 1865, leading a wagon train, and in 1867 he married Lena Zalinger, daughter of Denver socialites Joseph E. and Brunetta Block Zalinger; they had a daughter, Rosalind ("Rose") and an adopted son, Edward (who eventually became an actor, playwright, and Broadway director; he directed Mae West in the scandalous play called Sex in 1926).
In 1870 John was appointed the first County Physician in Denver, and he organized the Denver Medical Society in 1871. In 1872 he commissioned the construction of a lavish and architecturally significant Italianate-style home for himself on Arapahoe Street; it still stands today and is known as "the John Elsner House."
At some time Elsner began collecting minerals but little is known about his collection or its ultimate disposition. He also contributed to the establishment of the National Jewish Hospital (the first tuberculosis sanitarium in Denver) in 1899. Elsner and his wife Lena, whom the Rocky Mountain News later called the "Queen of Denver Society in bygone days," were leaders in the young community. He held salons in his living room, which were attended by visiting celebrities such as Lillian Russell and Oscar Wilde. But life was also tough in the early days of Denver, and Elsner later recalled that, "there was opportunity for many gunshot wounds to be treated." He died in Denver on April 1, 1922.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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dated 1881 in pencil on the front side.
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Dated 1885 in pencil on the front.