Mansfield’s First Female Physician: Dr. Lina Fink

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.[1]  She was part of a large family and the 1850 U.S. Census lists 1-year-old Emeline and six older children.[2]  On May 1, 1860, Emeline’s father, John, died[3] 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.[4]

Lieut. Solomon Fink from the History of Cowley County, Kansas by Millington, D. A and Greer, E. P, page 53.

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.

1871-72 Mansfield City Directory

In 1870 Emeline was teaching in Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio, still living with her mother, Catherine, and younger brother, Franklin.[5]  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.

Page 3 of Mansfield Herald, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Thursday, June 5th, 1879

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.[6]  Present to assist with the operation was Miss Mary Finley.  Two years later she would attend medical school in Philadelphia.

Page 2 of Ohio Liberal, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Wednesday, June 4th, 1879

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.[7]  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.[8]  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.[9]


  2. Year: 1850; Census Place: Canfield, Mahoning, Ohio; Roll: 707; Page: 488a
  4. Year: 1880; Census Place: Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio; Roll: 992; Page: 607C; Enumeration District: 025
  5. Year: 1870; Census Place: Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio; Roll: M593_1170; Page: 371A; Family History Library Film: 552669
  6. Page 3 of Ohio Liberal, published in Mansfield, Ohio on Wednesday, June 18th, 1879
  7. Year: 1900; Census Place: Sheffield, Ashtabula, Ohio; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0035; FHL microfilm: 1241238

Dr. Mary Jordan Finley

Dr. Mary Jordan Finley was born November 26, 1849, in Pennsylvania to William Augustus Finley and Amanda Jane Irwin/Erwin.  There is no record of her parents getting married.  The 1850 U.S. Census shows them living with Amanda’s mother, Mary Irwin, in Fannett, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, where 23-year-old Amanda J. is still listed with the surname Irwin.  Also listed in the household are various other Irwin’s including Amanda’s brother, Alexander J. Irwin, and the Finley’s, including William (28), Mary (2), and Augustus (0).  Amanda disappears after 1850 and, in the 1860 U.S. Census, Mary J. is still living with her grandmother.  William Finley had moved to Clay, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, and is living with the family of James Galaher.  William would go on to marry James’s 17-year-old daughter, Margaret, two years later, having four more children: Edward, John, Lewis, and Amanda. 

Dr. Mary Jordan Finley (1896)

It was Mary Jordan Finley’s uncle Alexander that would eventually bring her to Mansfield, Ohio.  Dr. Alexander J. Erwin, who was practicing medicine in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, had met a Mansfield girl name, Mary C. Johnson.  The two would be married in Mansfield on November 26, 1867, and return to Ft. Wayne.[1]  In 1870 by the “urgent solicitation of friends,” Dr. Erwin and his wife returned to Mansfield, where he soon set up a practice.[2]  On November 27, 1874, Mary C. Erwin died at the age of 35 of consumption.  Dr. Erwin and his wife had recently returned from Europe, where it was hoped her condition would improve, but it seemed to have little benefit.[3]  Dr. Erwin poured himself into his work after the death of his wife, becoming coroner.  In 1877 the first mentions of Mary Finley living in Mansfield are seen.  She is active in the Mansfield Lyceum, reading poems and lectures.  She is also listed in the 1877-78 city directory as living with her uncle at 124 West Market St. (Park Ave. West).  A short time later, Mary would return to Pennsylvania to attend the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1881.[4]

From the Valedictory address: To the twenty-ninth graduating class of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.
The Mansfield Herald, 29 June 1882, p1.

In 1881 reports circulated that Dr. Erwin intended to lease the Sherman House on the corner of Fourth and Diamond Streets with intentions to make it a hospital for the treatment of chronic diseases.  Dr. Mary Finley was going to join him and be in charge of the treatment of women’s diseases.[5]  Dr. Finley arrived in Mansfield around February of 1882[6] and began practicing out of the Sherman House, sometimes referred to as the “invalid hotel.”  In the summer of 1885, along with Dr. Rebecca S. Hunt, of Philadelphia, and Mrs. H. M. Weaver and Mrs. M. D. Harter of Mansfield, Dr. Finley traveled to Europe.  While there, Drs. Finley and Hunt studied medicine at the Imperial University of Vienna.[7]  Drs. Erwin and Finley stayed in the Sherman House until the end of 1886 and, in 1888, Dr. Finley bought property to the east of Dr. Craig’s home on Park Ave. West for $4,000 with intentions to build a new house that would “be an ornament to that part of the avenue.”[8]  Dr. Finley did erect a building that still stands today at 46 and 48 Park Avenue West.  The building has been recently renovated with the upstairs being made into apartments with two storefronts on the ground level. 

The Mansfield News, 11 July 1900, p. 8.

Dr. Finley worked out of her office at 48 Park Ave West until around 1900.  The 1901 city directory lists a dentist by the name of Dr. Benedict located in her former office.  Dr. Finley continued to keep her residence upstairs, but would split her time over the next few years between Mansfield and Cuernavaca, Mexico.  In 1907 Dr. Finley wrote home to her cousin, W. E. Orbison, about her participation in a reception for U. S. Secretary of State, Elihu Root.  Root, who was with his daughter and the American Ambassador, was welcomed by Finley on behalf of the American Residents of Cuernavaca.  Dr. Finley’s date for the evening was Major Porfirio Diaz, the only son of the then Mexican President.[9]  That same year, she wrote to her uncle Dr. A. J. Erwin about Aztec pyramids discovered nearby and how they resembled the pyramids in Egypt.[10]

Cuernavaca, Mexico (1897) image from DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, (

On March 4, 1912, Dr. Finley would write her last letter to the people of Mansfield detailing her experiences living in Mexico during the early days of the Mexican Revolution.  Finley described how troops would go into the smaller villages outside of Cuernavaca and burn them and take the inhabitants prisoner.  Most of the villagers were supporters of Emiliano Zapata, the main leader of the peasant revolution.  Though she was not a supporter of the revolution, the sight of men, women, and children being marched through the streets saddened her.  The men would be lined up against a wall and shot while the women and children were “turned loose in Cuernavaca without food or shelter.”  She closed her letter by saying “the greatest kindness the United States can do us is to keep their hand off and let the counter revolution go on as rapidly as possible.”[11]

Dr. Mary Jordan Finley died on December 17, 1912, in Philadelphia, PA.  In addition to the many great achievements in her life, she was also a member of many civic, literary, and social organizations and was an ardent supporter of the Mansfield Library Association, writing one of the earliest histories on library service in Mansfield.  Susan M. Sturges was able to see Dr. Finley while she was in the hospital in Philadelphia shortly before her death and, while speaking to her, remarked that the doctor said she “longed to come to Mansfield, [her] old home.”[12]  Dr. Finley is buried in Mansfield Cemetery.


  1. Richland Shield and Banner (Mansfield, Ohio). 27 Nov 1867, p. 3.
  2. Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio). 15 Dec 1870, p. 3
  3. Richland Shield and Banner (Mansfield, Ohio). 05 Dec 1874, p. 3.
  4. Bodley, R. L., & Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. (1881). Valedictory address: To the twenty-ninth graduating class of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Grant, Faires & Rogers, Printers.
  5. Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio). 28 Jul 1881, p. 3.
  6. Ohio Liberal (Mansfield, Ohio). 15 Feb 1882, p. 3.
  7. Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio). 07 May 1885, p. 4,
  8. Daily Shield and Banner (Mansfield, Ohio). 01 Nov 1888, p. 4.
  9. News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), 25 Oct 1907, p. 8.
  10. News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), 04 Nov 1907, p. 6.
  11. News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), 11 Mar 1912, p. 3.
  12. News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), 07 Dec 1912, p. 9.

The Mystery of Charles Albert Leonard

On September 9, 1881, a young 19-year old Charles Albert Leonard left work at M. V. B. Finfrock’s Drug Store located at 66 N. Main St. and headed to supper as normal.  It was noted that he ate very little and had been complaining about his stomach for about two weeks.    Charles had, “expressed intention of calling upon his brother, J. C. Leonard, a cadet engineer, who had been visiting his brothers in the city.”  Around 9 o’clock Charles had a brief conservation with his roommate, A. P. Remy, at H. L. Harrington’s hardware store where Remy was a clerk.   Charles informed Remy he would be out unusually late because of the visit with his brother.  After this he walked further up Third Street and then, sometime later, was seen walking back.  This was the last time Charles Albert Leonard was seen alive.


Finfrock & Walters c. 1870


From The Herald’s Directory to Mansfield, 1883-1884

Leonard’s brothers began contacting any place that they believed he would have gone to, including “the young man’s guardian at Mason, near Cincinnati.”  No one had seen nor heard from him.  Charles had an excellent reputation and always got along well with others.   He “was a quite gentlemanly fellow who paid strict attention to his business and was fully trusted by his employers.  He had no bad habits, whatsoever, and was generally respected as an upright young man.”  Charles had no reason to leave and, based on the items he left behind, was expected to return home that evening.

On September 18, 1881, Walter Brashear, the ten year old son of James Brashear, was walking through Sherman’s Woods, better know today as Middle Park, a short distance from his father’s farm, with his dog.  Walter’s dog became excited and began growling.  When young Walter investigated the cause of the animal’s behavior, he came upon a bloated corpse lying at the foot of a tree.  Walter ran to the homes of Mr. Claflin and Oliver Wise and told them of his discovery.  According to The Herald the grisly site was visited by “thousands” that day.



From the 22 SEP 1881 Mansfield Herald

Charles’s brother, W. L. Leonard, confirmed that the body was that of his brother.  Though The Herald states that confirmation was made based on the clothes and style of hat worn, as “to recognize the dead man by his features was an impossibility, the skin of the face having, by exposure to the sun and rain, turned a deep black, while eyes, nose and mouth had become the abiding place of worms and flies.  The body and limbs were bloated until the skin seemed ready to burst, and altogether the remains were a horrible sight to behold.”


Charles’s brother, William c. 1896

When Dr. H. L. Hall, the coroner, arrived the pockets of the man were searched.  The only items of value found were the keys to the door and safe of Finfrock’s and twenty-five cents.  About 1 p. m. that day the undertaker, James A. Niman, arrived with the hearse and a coffin.  The body was examined by the coroner, brought to the cemetery, and placed in the receiving vault.  Family and friends reportedly requested a more thorough examination, but this was denied by the coroner and the body was buried.  Coroner Hall suggested the young man committed suicide, but this opinion was not shared by the community and they felt the coroner fell short of preforming his duties.

A short time later the body was exhumed and a post-mortem examination was performed by Dr. A. J. Erwin.  During the examination, a hole was found in the back of Leonard, entering between the sixth and seventh ribs, about two inches left of the spine and entering the right lung.  It was determined by Dr. A J. Erwin that the injury was sufficient to cause death and the wound was a result of foul play.

Some residents nearby reported hearing screams and shrieks around the time of Leonard’s disappearance.  Mrs. Wise reported she saw, around dusk one evening, a horse and carriage coming out of the woods and traveling up the lane.  She could not recall the exact day, but, as the lane was rarely traveled during the day, the sight was rather peculiar, especially considering the death of young Leonard.   A reward of $800 dollars was offered by the County Commissioners for the arrest and conviction of the murderer.  The murder weapon was never found and any hopes of discovering the identity of the murderer died that night with Charles Albert Leonard.


The Ohio Liberal, 14 SEP 1881, p. 3 “Leonard Left”
The Mansfield Herald, 15 SEP 1881, p. 3 “Charles A Leonard”
The Mansfield Herald, 22 SEP 1881, p. 3 “Chas. A. Leonard”
The Richland Shield and Banner, 24 SEP 1881, p. 3 “The dead decaying body of Chas. A. Leonard”
The Ohio Liberal, 28 SEP 1881, p. 7 “Exhumed and Examined”
The Mansfield Herald, 29 SEP 1881, p. 6 “Murder or Suicide?”
The Richland Shield and Banner, 01 OCT 1881 p. 3 “Charles Albert Leonard”

The Assassination of John Fox of Bellville, Ohio

14 mar 1883 murdered

The Ohio Liberal, 14 MAR 1883

“MURDERED! A DARK AND BLOODY DEED, John Fox of Bellville, Shot by an Assassin.”  This was the headline in the March 14, 1883 edition of The Ohio Liberal.  While riding home from Mansfield on March 8, 1883, John Fox was shot in the back twice and killed.  His brother, Daniel, escaped with a wound to the leg and made it to the home of a neighbor.  The event caused much excitement in the little village of Bellville, Ohio and the nearby city of Mansfield.   The murder remained unsolved, but many had their suspicions about who committed the crime.  Stories were fueled by John Fox’s checkered past; he was reported as an abusive husband and suspected of making an assassination attempt on a well-known doctor from Mansfield.  This, combined with lawsuits and rumors of disunion within the Fox family, make for an fascinating story.


1873 Map showing Bellville and Daniel & John Fox’s property

Susan L. (Tinkey) Fox

In early December of 1880, a marriage license was issued for John Fox and Susan Tinkey.  Their marriage was far from ideal and in less than a year, Susan petitioned for divorce.  In the petition, Susan alleged extreme cruelty with John “beating her with his fist and with a whip.”  She also claimed he attempted to place a snake on her and that he would hide her shoes to prevent her from going to church.  The divorce proceeding dragged on as John Fox had become a wealthy man and did not want to get a divorce.

Dr. A. J. Erwin

On the night of January 27, 1882, Dr. A. J. Erwin attended a dance, which ended around midnight.  He then checked on a patient at the St. James before heading to his residence on West Market Street, now Park Avenue West.  Upon opening his gate, her heard a loud explosion and was hit in the side by bird shot from a double barrel shotgun.  He clung to the gate and called for help.  Henry C. & Josiah Hedges came to his rescue and summoned Dr. R. Harvey Reed.  Dr. Erwin said he did not see the assailant, but it’s likely that his heavy winter clothes saved his life that night.  Later Henry C. & Josiah Hedges returned to the scene and found that the shotgun had been rigged to fire when Dr. Erwin opened the gate by a series of strings and levers attached to both triggers.  In addition to this, a note was found saying “Dr. Erwin: You have ruined my daughter and I will have my revenge.”  The crime stirred great interest in the community, but no arrests were made for months.

01 feb 1882 erwin.jpg

The Ohio Liberal, 01 FEB 1882

In late May of 1882, John Fox was arrested for the attempted murder and put on trial a few weeks later.  Many witnesses came to the stand saying a man that looked like Fox was seen buying the same type of gun in Newark, Ohio and William Ritter of Bellville said he rode back from Newark with John Fox on the 16th of January.  Another witness said he saw an individual with a gun on a train the night of the incident and Abner Oldfield said he talked to Fox the following morning at Mrs. Hull’s boarding house, where Fox remarked how very tired he was because he had not slept the night before.  The handwriting of the note was also compared to other documents written by Fox and multiple witnesses were sure the writing was the same and that Fox was the author of the note.

Dr. Erwin himself then testified, saying that the reason Fox wanted him dead was that he was going to be an important witness in the divorce case that was still pending.  Fox’s wife, Susan, worked for Dr. Erwin before her marriage and, it was claimed by Dr. Erwin, she often told her husband that the she would tell Dr. Erwin about their marital troubles.   In addition to this, Fox had accumulated a substantial fortune with an estimated worth of between $40,000 and $50,000 and did not want the divorce to proceed.  Dr. Erwin claims this was the reason and attempt was made on his life that night.  The case was eventually declared nolle prose as there was not enough evidence for a conviction.

The Murder of John Fox

15 Mar 1883 murder

The Mansfield Herald, 15 MAR 1883

John Fox was already on edge the night of March 8, 1883 when his life ended.  Six weeks prior, there was another attempt on his life.  As he was entering his home, an assailant shot at him from beneath the balustrade of the porch.  The bullet grazed Fox’s cheek and the attacker fled and was never found, though some suspected Monroe Tinkey, John’s brother-in-law.  Fox’s mother claimed John suspect one of two parties but refused to say who.  Around 8 o’clock on the night of March 8th, the brothers were attacked.  Daniel was the primary suspect and early reports indicated that the shot was fired at close range and the hair on the back of John’s head was singed.  This later could not be verified and it was determined that Daniel’s injury to his leg could not have been self-inflicted.

There were also reports of disunion in the family; some saying that John had received a larger portion of his father inheritance then was deserved.  There were reports that this and some disagreement about business transactions caused John and Daniel to not speak to each other for a period of time, but were once again on good terms at the time of the incident.  It is also interesting to note that John Fox had changed his will after the first attempt on his life and left the bulk of his estate to his brother Daniel.  Judge May later decided that Mrs. Susan Fox was entitled to dower in the estate of her deceased husband after she filed a petition against Daniel Fox.

Who Killed John Fox

Even though a reward of $2,000 was offered, John Fox’s killer was never found.  It is clear Fox made some enemies.   Whether it was the Tinkey family for the abuses endured by John’s wife Susan, Dr. Erwin for the believed attempt on his life, or simply the greed of a brother, someone took the life of 40 year-old John Fox that night outside of Bellville.

10 Mar 1883 p3 murdered

Richland Shield and Banner, 10 MAR 1883


The Bellville Star – 08 JUN 1882 p1.
The Mansfield Herald – 02 FEB 1882 p3, 15 MAR 1883, 22 MAR 1883.
The Ohio Liberal – 08 DEC 1880 p3, 02 NOV 1881 p3, 01 FEB 1882, 08 FEB 1882, 31 MAY 1882, 07 JUN 1882, 14 Mar 1883 p3.
The Richland Shield and Banner – 04 FEB 1882, 10 MAR 1883 p3, 17 MAR 1883 p3.