Dr. Benjamin Cory, M.D. (November 17, 1822 - January 16, 1896)
The great granddaughter of Dr. Benjamin Cory, Elizabeth Ahrens-Kley, publish, April 10, 2011, "Dr. Benjamin Cory - Pioneer and First Medicl Physicaian of San Jose, California". This was a entry in an essy contest to the CaliforniaPioneers.com website. The website is not well indexed, the above link will download the PDF of this document.
The following was published in The Pioneer, published San Jose, California, Saturday, January 28, 1882.
The subject of this sketch, the first medical practitioner to locate in Santa Clara county, was born in Oxford, Butler, Ohio, November 17, 1822, and completed his education at the Miami University of that place from which he graduated in 1842. After the completion of his academic course, he entered upon the study of medicine with his father, then a physician in Oxford, subsequently attended two courses of lectures in this Medical College of Ohio, at Cincinnati and finally took his degree of M.D. , in the Spring of 1845, when entering into partnership with his father, at Oxford, he there practiced his profession until the early part of 1847. At this period the Territory of Oregon was attracting considerable attention. The Doctor determined to emigrate, having that place in view as his future home, accordingly, in company with James Smith and Joseph Wagleigh, he proceeded by the rivers to St. Joseph, where they procured an ox-team and wagon, and uniting with a party from Illinois, started on their long, arduous and dangerous journey. Their destination had not been half-way reached, however, when there was a split in the camp, one portion of the band desired to rest on the Sabbath, the other voting for travel. It was thus divided, out subject finishing the expedition in the company of Captain Hawes, without further incident than those common on the pioneer journeyings of those days.
In the month of October 1847, Dr. Cory arrived in Oregon city, where he opened an office, but after a month, he proceeded to the coast, took passage in the brig Henry, Captain Kilburn, and arrived in San Francisco November 17, 1847 - the anniversary of his twenty-fifth birthday. From the fact that there being already two practicing physicians in the place - Doctors Townsend and Fourgean - the subject of our memoir; remaining but two weeks in Yerba Buena, resolved to locate at the Pueblo de San Jose. To this end he secured passage in a launch which made the trip to the embarcadero at Alviso, but failing to make connection with the cumbrous log-wheeled vehicle, of Mexican manufacture, that took the place of a stage couch in those days, he was compelled to pass a supperless and sleepless night on the craft which had brought him thither. The following morning, however, he chartered a broncho from a chance Mexican, for which he paid a dollar and a half - his last remaining treasure - and arrived in San Jose on or about December 1, 1847, with no money, but a good supply of books, surgical instruments and drugs. He put up in the first instance, at Peter Davidson's but the price, one dollar per day, being beyond his limit, he changed his lodging to the hotel then kept by Mr. Z. Jones, where the necessaries of life were obtained at a much reduced rate. On the discovery of gold, the Doctor, accompanied by Z. Jones, were the first to leave for the mines. They started for Mormon Island, and reached the place by way of Benica. They there purchased a small sack of the dust, and returned to San Jose in eight days. He once more, however, sallied forth, to the mines, on this occasion with Robert Neligh, taking with him an ox-team. On arriving at the Carquinez Straits, where Martinez now stands, they found there assembled so immense a concourse of people waiting to be ferried over this barrier to their progress, that their party was detained eleven days ere their turn to be transferred, in Dr. Semple's boat to Dr. Semple's town of Benica, then on the direct route to the Golden District. From this expedition the Doctor returned in the month of November, having secured about four thousand dollars of the precious metal.
He was elected to the Lower House of the first Legislature convened in this State. In the year 1850 he was elected one of the Common Council of the city of San Jose, on which Board he served four years, and, in 1872, was appointed by Governor Newton Booth a Trustee of the State Normal School, which office he still holds, besides which he now holds the office of County Physician. With the exception of the two visits to the mines, Dr. Cory has been a continuous resident of San Jose since his first arrival in the county, while during these years he has become so well known, both in his private and professional capacity, that it would be a work of superorogation on our part, as well as presumption, were we to lay before the reader his unblemished character and sterling worth. Married, March 16, 1853, Sarah Ann, daughter of the Rev. John E. Braly, by whom he has eight children living.