Biography of Dr. Jay Byington Covert

Dr. Jay Byington Covert, one of the leading physicians of Geneva, Ontario county, New York, while still young in years, has already attained a foremost rank in the medical profession. His quick perception, sound judgment and thorough training, command the respect and confidence of all who know (1910) him, and he is held in the highest estimation by his fellow citizens. The fact is amply evidenced in the record of his daily life. He has devoted his life to a noble profession, and in all professions, but more especially in the medical, there are exalted heights to which genius itself dares scarcely aspire, and which can only be gained by long years of patient, arduous and unremitting toil, and inflexible and unfaltering courage. To this eminence Dr. Covert has risen, and we feel confident that this opinion will be sustained by his professional brethren, the best standard of judgment.

Dr. Nelson B. Covert, father of Dr. Jay Byington Covert, was born in the town of Ovid, Seneca county, New York, January 22, 1840, and died at Geneva, New York, in November, 1908, at which time he was the oldest physician in the town. During his earlier years he attended the common schools, and was prepared for college at the Seneca Collegiate Institution at Ovid. He then became a student at Cleveland Homoeopathic College, from which he was graduated in the class of 1862. He began the practice of his profession in Fentonville. Michigan, but in September, 1864, he removed to Geneva, New York, where he became associated in practice with Dr. H. L. Eddy. the father of Dr. H. D. Eddy. This association was discontinued at the expiration of two years, when Dr. Covert established himself in independent practice. This he continued uninterruptedly for the long period of forty-five years, and his reputation as an excellent practitioner spread far and wide. He was one of the leading physicians in Geneva, and was frequently called into consultation by his colleagues. He was always one of the prime factors to be reckoned with in any movement to advance the standing or interests of the medical profession in the town, and whenever a project was suggested for the improvement of the health of the community, Dr. Covert was surely to be found in the van. During the earlier days of his professional career in Geneva, he filled the office of coroner for two terms, and for several years was the health officer of the city. The appointment of a sewerage commission for the city was largely owing to the personal efforts of Dr. Covert, the duties of this commission consisting of providing maps and plans for a complete system of sewerage for the town of Geneva, according to the most modern and approved methods. In the preliminary arrangements which resulted in the opening of the General City Hospital in 1898, Dr. Covert was the leading spirit, an ardent supporter of the institution, and an indefatigable worker in its interests. He was one of the most valuable members of the medical staff of the hospital until the time of his death, and his loss was a severe blow to the institution. The name of Dr. Covert was familiar in professional circles throughout the United States, and he was a member of the following named organizations: Ontario Homoeopathic Medical Society; New York State Homoeopathic Medical Society, which, at its annual meeting in Albany in February, 1891, conferred upon him the honorary degree known as the “Regents’ Degree”; National Medical Society; American Institute of Homoeopathy; Ophthalmological and Otological Society. Dr. Covert was an active worker in religious matters. As a member of the First Baptist Church of Geneva, shortly after coming to this town, he was chosen superintendent of the Sunday school connected with that institution, when the entire organization did not number more than twenty-five members. From this small beginning he built up the present efficiency of the congregation, and continued to fill the office of superintendent for a period of twenty-five years. When the project of erecting a new church building was first under discussion, Dr. Covert devoted a large share of his time, and contributed liberally of his means to further this enterprise, and to him, in association with a few others, is due the credit of the completion of the structure in 1894. He was also especially active and interested in organizing the Covert Family Organization, which took shape in 1875, and he was always one of the leaders in the family reunions. He was elected the first president of this association, and at the end of the first year of its existence, he was chosen to fill the office of recording secretary, a position he held until his death. As president of the People’s Building & Loan Association, a former savings institution of Geneva, he was at the head of one of the largest and most important institutions of its kind and of its day in the state of New York. It will thus be seen that the life of Dr. Covert was an unusually active one, and that his enterprises were of such a nature as to add to the general health, wealth and welfare of the community in which he lived.

Dr. Jay Byington Covert, worthy son of a worthy father, has been consistently following in the path so nobly trodden by the latter. He was born in Geneva, Ontario county, New York, June 18, 1875, and from his earliest years the medical profession seemed to exert a fascination for him. After being graduated from the Geneva high school, he entered Hobart College, from which he was graduated in 1898. He then matriculated at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, and was graduated in 1902 with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. After two years spent as resident physician in the Smith Infirmary, Staten Island, New York. he returned to Geneva and commenced practicing in association with his father. His office is the one occupied by his father for so many years, and while his attention is given to general practice, he devotes especial attention to diseases affecting the eye, ear and throat. Having given special study to these branches, he has attained a high degree of proficiency, and his services are frequently in demand by his confreres. While naturally of a social nature and genial disposition, Dr. Covert spends the greater part of his spare time in the reading of professional publications, holding the opinion that a physician’s life must necessarily be one of constant study and application if a high degree of proficiency is to be maintained and new methods absorbed. In addition to his private practice he is the active president of the medical staff of the Geneva City Hospital. On political questions he maintains independent views, although he has never aspired to holding any public office, preferring to give his undivided attention to his chosen profession. His fraternal affiliations are as follows: Theta Delta Chi of Hobart College; Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, No. 1054; Kanadasaga Club; University Club of Geneva; Ontario County Medical Society: New York State Medical Association; and the National Association for the Stud’ and Prevention of Tuberculosis. He is liberal and charitable, and a man of many kindly impulses, and these admirable traits, together with his pleasing personality, attract people to him.

Dr. Covert married, June 27, 1906, Magdalene, who was born in New Boston, Pennsylvania, September 30, 1878, a daughter of Jacob Schumacher, of New Boston, Pennsylvania. Before her marriage she was a registered nurse, and for a term of years superintendent of the Smith Infirmary, Staten Island, New York. Dr. and Mrs. Covert have had children: Magdalene V. H., born June 8. 1907, and Mary Nelson, born November 2, 1908.



Milliken, Charles F. The History of Ontario County, New York, and Its People Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York. 1911.

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