Physician Jesse Bennet was born in Pennsylvania on July 10, 1769. He studied medicine in Philadelphia under Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In the early 1790s, Bennet settled in Rockingham County, Virginia. In 1794, he successfully performed a Caesarean section on his wife—the first operation of its kind in U.S. history. The emergency procedure, although primitive by today’s standards, saved the lives of both his wife and infant daughter.
Three years later, Bennet and his family moved to present Mason County on the Ohio River, about five miles north of Point Pleasant. There, he established one of the earliest medical practices in Western Virginia and was influential in forming Mason County in 1804. That same year, Bennet was appointed major of the Mason County militia. He went on to serve in the Virginia General Assembly and as an Army surgeon in the War of 1812.
Jesse Bennet died in Mason County in 1842 shortly after his 71st birthday. It was only after his death that the world learned of the pioneering Caesarean section he’d performed nearly 50 years earlier.