Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Jesse Bennet


Physician Jesse Bennet (July 10, 1769-July 13, 1842) performed the first cesarean section in America in 1794 and later figured prominently in Mason County history. Bennet was born in Frankford, Pennsylvania, and studied medicine in Philadelphia under Dr. Benjamin Rush, a prominent early American physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Bennet was granted his medical degree in April 1791.

Bennet decided to go west to practice medicine, settling in Rockingham County, Virginia. In the spring of 1793, he married Elizabeth Hogg. It was on his wife that Bennet successfully performed a cesarean section in 1794, without proper equipment and with no antiseptics. He also removed his wife’s ovaries. Both mother and baby girl survived.

In 1797, Bennet, with his wife and daughter, moved to present Mason County, on the Ohio River about five miles north of Point Pleasant. They settled on land granted to father-in-law Peter Hogg for service in the French and Indian War. Bennet established a large practice and lived there the remainder of his life. He was influential in the formation of Mason County in 1804. Bennet was appointed major of the Mason County militia in 1804, and he represented Mason County in the Virginia General Assembly. He served as Army surgeon in the War of 1812.


  1. Poling, Dorothy. Jesse Bennet. West Virginia History, (January 1951).