Dr. Jesse Bennett was the first American physician to perform a successful Caesarean section, which he performed on his own wife at the birth of their only child on January 14, 1794. He earned his B.A. Degree at Philadelphia College before apprenticing with Dr. Benjamin Rush and attending Medical School. In April 1791, he received the title Doctor of Medicine. At the same time, he received his M. A. degree.
Dr. Bennett married Miss Elizabeth Hogg on 08 Apr 1793 in Augusta County, Virginia and settled in Rockingham County, Virginia. When Elizabeth became pregnant, Bennett engaged a Dr. Humphrey of Staunton, Virginia, to deliver Elizabeth's child. Things didn't go as planned and it looked as if surgery would be necessary. But Dr. Humphrey would not commit to the dangerous procedure. Dr. Bennett, listening to his wife's pleadings, took it upon himself to perform the C-Section. The doctor cut his wife's abdomen and brought his infant daughter into the world. He then removed both of Elizabeth's ovaries, saying he'd "not be subjected to such an ordeal again." Dr. Bennett declared his wife healed on March 1, 1794, writing a cryptic case history on the title page of one of his medical books. Elizabeth Bennett lived for thirty-six more years, passing away on April 20, 1830. They had one daughter:
In 1797, Dr. Bennett with his wife and baby, Maria, and his wife's sister Mrs. Hawkins, her husband and son, with several slaves, horses, and cattle, and their household equipment, emigrated to their new home, locating on his father-in-law's land in the western part of Augusta County, on the Ohio River in what is now Mason County, West Virginia, about five miles north of Point Pleasant, where he established a large practice.
It's been said that Aaron Burr tried to enlist Dr. Bennett's help with the Burr conspiracy for which Burr was charged with treason. Dr. Bennett refused and went on to serve the United States as an Army Surgeon in the War of 1812.
Dr. Bennett became active in civic affairs in the newly formed Mason County (now Mason County, West Virginia). He was appointed Major of Captain Anthony VanSickle's Mason County Riflemen and represented Mason County in the Virginia Assembly.
After the death of Elizabeth, Dr. Bennett married Harriet Fowler, daughter of Thomas R. and Ann (Johnson) Fuller, on 17 Feb 1833. The Rev. David Smithers officiated. There were no children of this marriage.
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