Dr. Ephraim McDowell

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Dr. Ephraim McDowell's Geni Profile

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Ephraim McDowell

Also Known As: ""the father of abdominal surgery""
Birthplace: Rockbridge, Virginia
Death: Died in Danville, Boyle, Kentucky, United States
Cause of death: Appendicitis
Place of Burial: Danville, Boyle, Kentucky, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Col. Samuel McDowell and Mary McDowell
Husband of Sara Hart McDowell
Brother of Sarah Wallace; Magdalena Reid; Maj. John McDowell; James McDowell; William McDowell and 6 others

Managed by: Maureen Diana Stephan
Last Updated:

About Dr. Ephraim McDowell

Ephraim McDowell (November 11, 1771 – June 25, 1830) was an American physician. He was the first to successfully remove an ovarian tumor.


  • Ephraim McDowell was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the ninth child of Samuel and Mary McDowell. His father was a veteran of the French and Indian War and a colonel during the American Revolution.
  • In 1795, he returned from Scotland, settled in Danville, Kentucky and began his practice as a surgeon. In 1802, he married Sarah Shelby, daughter of Isaac Shelby, war hero and twice governor of Kentucky. They had two sons and four daughters.


  • In 1879, a monument in his honor was erected by the Medical Society of Kentucky in Danville.
  • In 1929, Isaac Wolfe Bernheim donated a bronze statue of McDowell by Charles Henry Niehaus to the state of Kentucky for placement in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.
  • In 1959, a United States stamp was issued in his honor.
  • Dr. McDowell's house, office, and apothecary in Danville are preserved as a museum and are designated a National Historic Landmark.
  • Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville is named in his honor.


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Dr. Ephraim McDowell's Timeline

November 11, 1771
Rockbridge, Virginia
June 25, 1830
Age 58
Danville, Boyle, Kentucky, United States
June 1830
Age 58
Danville, Boyle, Kentucky, United States