We have already looked at Dr. Mary Jordan Finley and Dr. J. Lillian McBride, but another woman may be able to claim the title of the first female physician in Mansfield. Dr. Emeline “Lina” Fink was only in Mansfield for a short time, but she trained and started her career here and there is a strong possibility she was an inspiration to other women in the community, particularly a young Miss Mary Finley.
Emeline S. Fink was born January 14, 1849, to John Fink and Catherine Sprinkle. She was part of a large family and the 1850 U.S. Census lists 1-year-old Emeline and six older children. On May 1, 1860, Emeline’s father, John, died leaving his widow, Catherine, to care for the farm and children remaining at home. The 1860 U. S. Census lists Catherine as a “lady farmer,” with children Emma, Emeline, and 4-year-old Franklin at home.
It was around 1869 when the Finks first made their way to Mansfield, Ohio. Emeline’s older brother, Lieut. Solomon Ellis Fink, had begun studying law before enlisting in the service. When the war ended, he practiced in Revenna, Ohio with S. D. Norton before becoming an agent with the Ohio Department of Insurance. A listing in the Mansfield Herald on November 18, 1869 states his office was in Mansfield, Ohio. Solomon next appears in the Mansfield City Directory for 1871-72, listing him as an attorney and residing at 39 Wood St.
In 1870 Emeline was teaching in Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio, still living with her mother, Catherine, and younger brother, Franklin. She was first mentioned in the Mansfield Herald on December 3, 1874. A Miss Vina Strong was resigning her position as a teacher in the Fourth Street primary school and Miss Lina Fink was to take her place. It must have been a short time later that she decided to study medicine. The 1877-78 Mansfield City Directory lists her as a student of Dr. Alvah E. Keyes and living with her brother at 39 Wood St. Their younger brother, Franklin, had also joined them to study law under Solomon at Geddes, Fink & Geddes.
On March 8, 1878, a notice appeared in The Findley Jeffersonian saying that Miss Lina Fink, of Mansfield, had recently graduated from the Homeopathic College in Cleveland and was soon to open an office in Mansfield. She first practiced in Napoleon, Ohio for a year before coming to Mansfield in June of 1879. Shortly after opening her practice, Dr. Fink assisted Dr. Ormes of Jamestown, N. Y., along with Drs. Keyes, Anderson, Erwin, and Dr. Campbell of Ashland in removing a 22-pound ovarian tumor from a Mrs. Voesch. The patient did not survive the operation. Present to assist with the operation was Miss Mary Finley. Two years later she would attend medical school in Philadelphia.
Dr. Fink only practiced in Mansfield for a few more years. The last time she is mentioned in the newspaper is on January 5, 1882, when she is elected medical examiner of the Americus Council, No. 1. The next time she shows up in any record is in the 1900 U.S. Census, back in Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio. She was still a practicing physician and owned a farm. Living with her was her 14-year-old nephew, Melvin Fink. Solomon also left Mansfield. In 1886 he moved to Winfield, Kansas, and became one of the area’s pioneer residents. Solomon died on August 18, 1912, in Winfield, Kansas, surrounded by his family. Dr. Lina Fink continued to practice medicine in Sheffield, Ohio until around 1915. She died on Christmas Eve, 1929, and is buried in Edgewood Cemetery in Ashtabula County, Ohio.
- Year: 1850; Census Place: Canfield, Mahoning, Ohio; Roll: 707; Page: 488a
- Year: 1880; Census Place: Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio; Roll: 992; Page: 607C; Enumeration District: 025
- Year: 1870; Census Place: Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio; Roll: M593_1170; Page: 371A; Family History Library Film: 552669
- Page 3 of Ohio Liberal, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Wednesday, June 18th, 1879
- Year: 1900; Census Place: Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0035; FHL microfilm: 1241238