Phoebe A. King

Women practicing medicine in Cincinnati were common. Phoebe A. King, at least I suspect, was one of them as an obstetrician.

When I first ran across an ad a few years ago for “Mrs. King, M. D.,” I was baffled that there was a woman medical doctor in the 1861. But, as my research progressed, it turns out that Cincinnati was the hub of women in the medical field, many of whom will be featured here in the coming years, like Elizabeth Blackwell and Lucy Hobbs Taylor. The national and state medical boards often wavered on their commitment to women physicians, periodically allowing them to be certified or degreed and sometimes retracting certifications when they no longer felt like allowed women to be medical doctors.

Back in New York, Phoebe King had married a man nearly 20 years her elder: John King, a physician whose entirely family were also physicians. John, Phoebe, his brothers, and his nephews left New York and spread out to find opportunity in the West. John and Phoebe, moved to Cincinnati with his younger brother Robert sometime between 1846 and 1849. Here, John set up a medical practice at his residence on 7th.

In 1857, John, an eclectic physician at 113 Smith, also became Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children at the Eclectic Medical College in College Hall, located on the east side of Walnut between 4th and 5th. Soon John and Phoebe moved to 85 W. 8th, but they were not there long when they moved to 90 Wade, across from John’s brother Thomas.

Phoebe A King, Female Physician, Cincinnati 1861

I had confusion here because Thomas E. and Paulina King and teenaged John and James Beecher were shown to have lived across the street at 89 Wade. Was it Paulina I was looking at instead? The only year Thomas lived at 89 Wade in 1861. This complicated things for lil ole S. E. But it wasn’t likely that the Mrs. King, M.D. who lived and operated out of 89 Wade would be confused for the other side of the street in both the directory and the newspaper (repeatedly). So I finally decided that the woman physician was indeed Phoebe King, especially since her husband was a professor of OB/GYN.

There is no doubt that Phoebe and John had created a partnership and studied together. It’s likely she learned from her. Obstetrics were so new at this time that perhaps she may have even been his subject. Soon John, 57, and Phoebe, 39, moved out to the west side in Miami Township, probably Cleves, where most doctors moved to get away from Cholera and other illnesses. Rural practices were just as needed, and folks traveled from all the neighboring towns like Addyston and North Bend. I have no idea what came of her after 1870. She gets lost as a Queen among the crowds of Kings.

Phoebe King represents the issues we face in telling women’s history. I’ve been trying to tell her story for over a year and still haven’t been able to adequately do so. There is often little documentation of them, and we are left to scrounge and scrape and formulate theories. So here she is, hidden among my lost hair. If you are a descendant or know of the King women’s contributions to medical history, please contact us.

Phoebe A. King Tour

  • First practice (1849-1856): 142 W. 7th, between Race (109) and Elm (147). McHahn’s building at corner.

  • Second practice (1857-1859): 113 (west side) Smith (Webb is 105 and E 4th is 123). Now under Fort Washington

  • College Hall, Eclectic Medical College: east side of Walnut between 4th and 5th, where the Mercantile is.

  • Residence (1859-1861): 85 W. 8th (LPK)
    King-tour

  • Residence/Practice (1861): 89 Wade (Between Wade and Hulse, west of John and east of Clayes, a set of new shotgun houses, across form Laurel Playground)

Sources

  • Newspapers.com
  • Williams Directory
  • FamilySearch
  • Tried for countless other sources!

This page was composed and researched by S. E. Andres.

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