Jane Todd Crawford went down in medical history in the early 1800s. She and her husband Thomas Crawford lived briefly in Green County, Kentucky, where began experiencing abdominal pain. Doctors thought her large stomach growth could be a pregnancy with twins. After trying to induce her labor, it was finally discovered that the small life growing inside of her was no baby. It was a large 22-pound cystic tumor, and Jane Todd Crawford was in a very tremendous amount of pain. It seemed that all of her options had run out, until she heard about a great doctor named Ephraim McDowell. The trouble was, his office was in Danville, Kentucky, over 60 miles away from the Crawford home. Jane knew that her only hope for survival was to have a very experimental abdominal surgery. So she set out on horseback in the harsh winter show, and endured 60 miles of rugged terrain to see Doctor McDowell.
When Jane Todd Crawford arrived in Danville, Kentucky, the pain was only worsening. She was warned by the doctor that this type of operation had never been done successfully before. And by the way, anesthesia hadn’t been invented yet, so Jane would have to get through the entire surgery without the aid of medication or pain relievers. She bravely went ahead with the operation, and her large ovarian tumor was removed. According to the story, Jane Todd Crawford sang hymns throughout the 25-minute procedure. Just five days after her nine-inch-incision was made, she was up and about around her room.
The success of Jane Todd Crawford’s operation opened an endless amount of opportunities in the medical field. Her survival of the painful surgery was a medical breakthrough, and Doctor Ephraim McDowell became quite famous. His large Kentucky home is now a museum and National Historic Landmark. Several memorials have been made for Jane too, who eventually moved to Graysville, Indiana. After her death at age 78, the Kentucky path she took by horseback was named the Jane Todd Crawford Trail. Her grave-site in the Hoosier State is another monument to the brave sacrifices and risks she made to help advance modern medicine. Travelers often visit the Jane Todd Crawford Grave to learn about her legacy, and pay homage to her heroism.
The Johnson-Hopewell Cemetery can be found in western Indiana, just north of the small town of Graysville. The original Jane Todd Crawford Grave was marked by a tombstone in 1842, but it’s barely legible today. In 1871, the Women’s Auxiliary to the Southern Medical Association dedicated a full ledger to cover the grave. The American Hospital Association placed a monument near the Jane Todd Crawford Grave in 1940. This granite monument briefly describes Jane’s story, and depicts her on horseback along the route to have the first known successful abdominal surgery worldwide.
A day trip from Indianapolis in western Indiana could include an educational stop at the Jane Todd Crawford Grave in Graysville. It’s hard to miss this day trip destination because the Indiana Historical Society placed a sign along Indiana Highway 63, where the Johnson-Hopewell Cemetery is found. Several other Indiana attractions can be found nearby Graysville, including the Sullivan County Park to the east. Terre Haute, Indiana is just north of the Jane Todd Crawford Grave, and travelers could visit the Clabber Girl Museum there. The Mordecai Brown Grave is found in nearby Terre Haute, and baseball fans from all over come to pay homage to this record breaking Chicago Cubs pitcher. Don’t forget about all the fun day trip hot spots to discover along the route to Sullivan County, including the Academy of Hoosier Heritage in Mooresville or the Fountain of Tales in Brazil. Dozens of must-see attractions are sprinkled throughout the Hoosier State, so get out of the Circle City for a day trip to western Indiana.
Jane Todd Crawford Grave