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Ohio Historian Presents Story of Mt. Vernon's First Female Doctor

24 Mar 2017 5:48 PM | Anonymous

The following review of Tuesday night’s guest author for the Friends of the Library was written by board member and community volunteer Florence Allen

Visiting author discusses book on Dr. Jane Payne

Ohioan author and historian, Dr. Lorle Porter, spoke to over 50 Marysville residents and students, on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:00 PM at Veterans Memorial Auditorium.  She presented her newest book, “Jane Payne, M.D., “Unexpected Healer”. 

Dr. Porter, Professor Emerita, Muskingum University, lives in Mt. Vernon.  The only sources she could find about the life of Dr. Jane Payne were in the Mt. Vernon newspapers in the obituary section.  A friend found information about Dr. Payne’s father’s life.  She decided the medium for writing her book would be historical fiction.  She imagined a biography about the family and created s story about Dr. Payne’s life.

Jane Payne was born in Bristol, England.  After the Napoleon wars ended, England had a financial depression.  Due to the political climate, Jane’s father, an Episcopalian, was invited to sail to America with his family.  He settled into what was then called the Western Fields of Ohio in 1831.  Jane contracted measles in the new world, which left her blind in the left eye and with very little vision in her right eye.  As a young girl she fell out of an apple tree and broke her spine.  She would have pain for the rest of her life.

Jane was sent to a health spa in New York City where she “read through” the medical library seeking a relief for her pain.   In 1860, she attended a medical college in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which was for women and taught by Quaker men.

In the mid 1800’s, males dominated the medical field and women were not accepted as doctors, therefore it was very hard for a woman to become a doctor apprentice.

Dr. Russell and Dr. Thompson invited Jane into their practice in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.  Dr. Payne established her practice in Mt. Vernon’s “Chill District” and “Bloody 5th Ward”, which is near the Buckeye Candy building near the river.  

Dr. Payne’s life is a story of great courage in the face of hardship and disability.  She practiced for 22 years until her death in 1882.  Her obituary ends with “a good woman gone”.  On her tombstone in Mt. Vernon, she is identified as the daughter of Reverend Henry Payne.

After a question and answer session, attendees were able to purchase autographed copies of the book and visit with the author. 

The Friends of the Library will sponsor the next book talk by Melissa Landers, a former teacher turned sci-fi geek.  Her book series “Alienated” has a for-star rating on Goodreads.  The event will take place on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm at Veterans Memorial Auditorium.  Tickets are available at the door for a nominal fee.  Students may attend for free.  For more information, visit or contact Bethany Anderson at or 642-1876.

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