Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pioneer Physicians

In the pioneer days, it would be unusual to find a husband and wife team who both provided medical services in the same community. Port Byron was once home to such a couple, being Drs. James M Jenkins and his wife Dr. Nettie E Jenkins.

She may be the first female physician at Port Byron. I certainly will be keeping my eyes open to see if I can find anyone prior to her. Nettie’s maiden name was Tripp and she came from a family of physicians, as her brother was Dr. John D Tripp.

Nettie graduated from Syracuse University in 1877 and soon after her graduation, married Dr. James Morris Jenkins. Her husband graduated from Syracuse University in 1875. The Jenkins would stay at Port Byron for three years before moving to Auburn.

Each had impressive careers. Dr. James served as President of the Cayuga County Medical Society and was a member of the Auburn Academy of Medicine, as well as the State Medical Association. He holds one additional record, as newspapers reported that he purchased the first of the earliest automobiles to be delivered within the city of Auburn in 1901. He didn’t keep the auto for more than a few months. The vehicle is described as having one seat, wire wheels and was powered by steam that was generated from kerosene burners. The same article reports that Dr. G. W. Whitney was a close second but the first to drive his automobile for any length of time.

Dr. Nettie Jenkins was also a member of the Auburn Academy of Medicine, the Cayuga County Medical Society, as well as the Society of Medicine of Central New York. She worked side by side with her husband, treating the injured during Auburn's 1905 Columbian Rope Fire.

The Jenkins are buried at Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, NY.


Norma said...

it makes me excited to read about the amazing history i knew nothing about, that is coming out of a small home town i left years ago. we have alot of history we can feel proud of.

Kim Nolan said...

You may be additionally interested to know that James and Netti's granddaughter Kirby Jenkins (my grandmother) married Robert J. Dixon and lived on Main Street in Port Byron until they passed away in the 1970's.
I had heard stories of my great-great grandmother being a doctor but was always curious where she got her education. Thank you for providing me with that information.
Another story that has been passed through the generations is that Nettie and James were the physicians representing Cayuga County at the first electric chair execution at Auburn Prison. Not completely sure of the validity of this but the dates seem to fit.

Robin Rivet said...

Yes, Ethel Kirby Jenkins my great-great grandmother - was Nettie's granddaughter, and her husband Louis Eaton Jenkins was also a doctor. They are all buried at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY - along with Anne Jenkins my grandmother, and her maternal family the long archived Kirbys, as well as Nettie's husband Dr. James Jenkins.
http://www.forthillcemetery.net/NewRoster/openframe.html Robin Rivet (San Diego, CA)