MOUNT VERNON — The fifth historic marker in the city, this one honoring the courage and dedication of Dr. Jane Payne, a pioneering female doctor in Mount Vernon, was dedicated Friday afternoon at Buchwald Plaza.
About 40 people assembled for the dedication, which featured remarks by Mayor Richard Mavis, Mount Vernon Nazarene University Director of Development Justin Nowicki, Knox Community Hospital CEO Bruce White and David Simmons of the Ohio History Connection. The main feature, however, was a dramatic description of Mount Vernon in the mid-19th century by Dr. Lorle Porter, professor emerita of history at Muskingum University, and a portrayal of Dr. Payne by Karen McDonald Smith.
Porter, who is responsible for uncovering most of what is known about Dr. Payne, described not only the barriers women had to overcome in the 1850s to pursue a career, but how the community was bent by political acrimony in the 1850s, when Republicans and Democrats, abolitionists and secessionist, went at each other’s throats. She described how, in the building across the street, which now houses La Paloma, local lawyer and pacifist William Windom (later a U.S. Senator from Minnesota), had to lay a loaded pistol on the dais to keep order at a political meeting.