American Medical Biographies/Jackson, John Davies

Jackson, John Davies (1834–1875)

John D. Jackson, the biographer of Ephraim McDowell (q. v.) was born in Danville, Kentucky, December 12, 1834, and died in his native town, December 8, 1875, not completing the forty-first year of his life.

He was the eldest child of John and Margaret Jackson, both natives of Kentucky, and received his education at Centre College in Danville, receiving the A. B. degree there in 1854. After taking one course of medical study at the University of Louisville he went to Philadelphia, where he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1857 with a thesis on "Vis Conservatrix et Medicatrix Naturae." Dr. Jackson practised in Danville until the breaking out of the Civil War when he entered the Confederate Army with the rank of surgeon, and served throughout the war, going home to resume practice in 1865.

During the succeeding ten years of his life he was a student of medicine, collected an ample private library, made frequent journeys to the medical centers of the country and one trip to Europe (1872) in order to keep abreast of the times. He published an article on "Trichiniasis" in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences in 1869, and he helped found the Boyle County Medical Society, besides practising surgery. In 1873 he translated Farabeuf's "Manual on the Ligation of Arteries," published by Lippincott, Philadelphia, and his "Biographical Sketch of Dr. Ephraim McDowell" in the Richmond and Louisville Medical Journal, 1873, a well written article of some six thousand words. It was in this year he got a systemic infection from an autopsy wound, and during his convalescence developed pulmonary tuberculosis, succumbing after a long illness, December 8, 1875. During the last two years of his life he devoted much labor and time in vindicating the claims of McDowell to priority in the operation of ovariotomy and in establishing a suitable memorial.

At the time of his death Dr. Jackson was first vice-president of the American Medical Association and before this body he advocated the removal of Dr. McDowell's remains from the neglected family burying-ground at "Traveler's Rest," the former country home of Governor Shelby, to Danville, a project that had its fruition in 1879 when Dr. S. D. Gross dedicated the McDowell monument at the home of the pioneer ovariotomist.

"In personal appearance Dr. Jackson was above the medium height, very erect and rather slender. He had fine bluish-grey eyes, a firm expression about the mouth and a forehead indicative of intellect. In his habits he was systematic, and in all his engagements he was promptness itself."

Dr. Jackson was unmarried, he had few social duties, and his entire life was devoted to his profession.

L. S. McMurtry, M.D., in Ky. Med. Jour., 1917, vol. xv, 24–25.
Biog. sketch by J. M. Toner, M.D., and L. S. McMurtry, M.D., Louisville, 1876. Bibliography