By the late 1800s, Henderson was a rich and thriving river city whose citizens were afforded many luxuries in life – including the services of some of the best doctors in the state of Kentucky.
One of them, Dr. Pinckney Thompson, realized the need for sanitation in medical care and conceived the idea for the formation of a state Board of Health. He served as the board’s first president.
Others, like Dr. Archibald Dixon and Amon Rathbone (A.R.) Jenkins were well-respected pioneers in the field of surgery, often writing about their experiences in the “Annals of American Surgery.”
And one unsatisfied Henderson teacher by the name of Elizabeth Blackwell would persevere through sexism and rejection to become the first trained female doctor in the United States.
You can learn more about these doctors and Henderson’s early medical history in a Medical Professions Exhibit on display in the Depot Community Room throughout the month of April. The Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society’s exhibit features Civil War surgical tools, old medical books and the 100-year old apothecary case of Henderson doctor Levin Royster.
On April 24, a Kentucky Humanities Council Chautauqa speaker will bring to life Dr. Ephram McDowell, a Danville doctor who performed the nation’s first successful abdominal surgery, in the Community Room. One of Henderson’s first physicians mentored Dr. McDowell at the start of his career. The performance will take place Saturday, April 24 at 1 p.m.
Community Room hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The Historical Society is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Both are located inside the Depot at First and Water Streets. For more information, call The Depot at (270) 830-9707.