Woman of the Century/Elizabeth J. Holcombe
HOLCOMBE, Mrs. Elizabeth J., physician, was born 19th August, 1827. She is related on the side of her maternal grandmother to Elias Hicks, the founder of the Unitarian branch of the Society of Friends. In her third year she was sent to school and at fifteen was a teacher, receiving a dollar a week and feeling very rich. After graduating from the State Normal School in Albany, N. Y., she became the wife of Dr. J. W. Justin, a young physician of promise and enthusiasm. While reading to him from his favorite authors, she first derived that passion for the study of medicine which led her, after his early death, to devote to it all her spare time. Her two children had to be provided for, and for fourteen years she filled the position of preceptress in the union free school and academy in Newark, N. Y. While there an urgent appeal came to her to transfer her connection to the Elmira high school, with the promise of a much larger income. The Newark board of education refused to accept her resignation, and offered to double her salary if she would remain. In 1864 she became the wife of Rev. Chester Holcombe, the father of the Hon. Chester Holcombe, late secretary of legation to China. After the death of her second husband and at the age of forty, she began in earnest the professional study of medicine. After her graduation from the Woman's Medical College in Philadelphia, she was appointed resident physician to the Woman's Hospital, filling, at the same time, the position of lecturer in the training school for nurses. There she remained three years. She then entered upon a private practice in Syracuse, N. Y., where her daughter, who had become the wife of Rev. George Thomas Dowling, pastor of the Central Baptist Church of that city, resided. Soon after that her son, Dr. Joel Justin, joined her, having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and acquired, as the result of a post-graduate course, the degree of Ph.D. For a time he, too, practiced medicine, being connected ELIZABETH J. HOLCOMBE. with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in Syracuse University, first as instructor in chemistry and afterward as professor of medical jurisprudence. He has since become widely known as the inventor of the Justin dynamite shell, and has surrendered his medical practice to become president of the company which bears his name. Mrs. Holcombe has made her home in Syracuse for the last seventeen years.