Eliot, M.D. (1815-1888)
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|Name: Johnson Eliot
Death date: Dec 30, 1883
Place of death: Washington, DC
Type of practice: Allopath
Journal of the American Medical Association Citation: 2:79
Born in the city of
Washington, District of Columbia, on the twenty-fourth of August, 1815,
Johnson Eliot was a son of Samuel and Mary Johnson Eliot, Jr., of
Boston, Massachusetts. Upon his father's side he traced his ancestry
back to Sir John Eliot, of Devonshire, England, in 1373.
When only thirteen, after a common school education, he apprenticed
himself, very much against the wishes of his widowed mother, to Charles
McCormick, a druggist of Washington, and continued in the drug business
for about fifteen years, when he disposed of his store and in 1839 was
appointed hospital steward at the Naval Hospital, Washington, District
of Columbia, serving under Surgeons Foltz and Jackson. During the same
year he began to study medicine under Dr. Thomas Sewall (q. v.),
matriculating in the medical department of Columbia College, District of
Columbia (now George Wbshington University), and graduating in 1842 with
a thesis entitled "Humoral Pathology."
Immediately upon graduation he was appointed demonstrator of anatomy
there by Dr. Thomas Miller, professor of anatomy. He
was zealous and faithful in the discharge of his duties; this position
he resigned in 1849 to become one of the founders of the Medical
Department of Georgetown University and the same year professor of
anatomy and physiology, three years later resigning the physiology chair
but continuing to fill that of anatomy. At this time the material for
dissection was very scarce and the rivalry between the two colleges
often led to personal conflict.
When the chair of surgery in Georgetown Medical Department became vacant
in 1861, he accepted the position and very soon forged his way to the
front rank of the surgeons in this section of the country.
At the call of President Lincoln, he was among the first local surgeons
who volunteered their services, starting for the battlefield of Bull Run
with a pass to the front signed by Secretary of War Stanton, not waiting
for a commission. Here he busied himself with the sick and wounded of
both armies, amputating when necessary, dressing wounds, undertaking to
deliver letters and notes from the unfortunates to their home folks.
A thorough anatomist, a bold and deliberate operator, he was one of the
pioneers in ovariotomy, and among some of his brilliant operations may
be mentioned three cases of removal of the superior maxilla, two cases
of amputation at the hip-joint, a case of removal of seven and a half
inches of the humerus, and also one of the early successful excisions of
the head of the humerus, simultaneous li- gation of the carotid and
subclavian arteries for aneurysm of the arteria innominata, two cases of
removal of palatopharyngeal sarcoma, ligation of the subclavian artery,
simultaneous amputation of both legs.
Among his appointments Dr. Eliot was phy- sician-in-charge of the
Washington Small-pox Hospital from 1862-4; consulting surgeon and one of
the directors of St. John's Hospital, Columbia Hospital for Women,
Children's Hospital, Central Dispensary and Emergency Hospital,
surgeon-in-charge of Providence Hospital, dean of the medical faculty of
Georgetown University from May 12, 18S6, to the re-organization of that
body in 1876, and professor of surgery from 1861 to 1876, when he was
elected emeritus professor of surgery, but continued his clinical
teachings until his death. In 1869 the honorary A. M. and In 1872 that
of doctor of pharmacy was conferred on Dr. Eliot by Georgetown
University. He was a member of the Pathological Society, Medical
Association of the District of Coli'«nbia. Medical Society of the
District of Columbia, and president of the latter in 1874.
He married, November 30, 1850, Mary John, daughter of John Llewellin,
Esq., of St Mary's County, Maryland, who with six children survived him.
While reputed to be wealthy he died a comparatively poor man, as he
lacked business tact and his charitable work knew no bounds. His death
was caused by pneumonia after a short illness of eight days, in 1888.
His publications were few; he delivered a a number of introductory and
valedictory addresses to students and presented the following before the
Medical Society of the District of Columbia: "Bright's Disease,"
"Knotted Funis," "Stimulants Hypodermically," "Report of a Large
Calculus from a Horse," "Cystic Degeneration of the Thyroid Gland,"
"Hepatic Abscess," "Amputation of the Finger for Neuralgia Following
Whitlow," "Excision of the Elbow," "Strangulated Hernia," "Excision of
the Inferior Maxilla," "Ovariotomy," "Palato- pharyngeal Sarcoma." The
following paper was published in the American Journal of the Medical
Sciences, 1877, vol. Ixxiii, p, 374: "Simultaneous Ligation of the
Carotid and Subclavian Arteries for Aneurysm of the Innominate Artery."
George M. Kober.
Med. and Surg. Reporter, Philadelphia, 1884, v»l. 1.
Washington, D. C., descended from colonial settlers of Massachusetts and
Maryland, was born in Washington, D. C., Aug. 24th, 1815. From 1828 to
1839 he was engaged in the drug business; in the latter year he began
the study of medicine under Dr. Thos. Sewall—
being at the same time
steward in the naval hosp.-—matriculated in the med. dep't of Columbia univ., and in 1842 received from that institution his degree of M. D.
Immediately upon graduation he was appointed demonstrator of anatomy, in
Columbia Univ., and in 1850 was appointed prof, of anat. in the Univ. of
Georgetown. In l861 he resigned the chair of anatomy and accepted the
chair of surgery, in the same institution, retaining the latter until 1876,
when he was made emeritus prof, of surgery and prof, of clinical surgery.
For the past sixteen years he has been dean of the university. He is a
member of the D. C. medical soc., president in 1874, at present (1877) one
of the board of censors; of the Ь. C. med. asso., at one time
vice-president, and has been annually since 1852 a delegate to the
conventions of the Am. med. asso. Since 1864 he has been surgeon to the
metropolitan police force; was in 1861-62-63-64 physician to the city
small-pox hosp., and is at present attending surgeon to the Providence
hosp.; consulting surgeon to St. Ann's infant asylum, Columbia Hosp. and
children's Hosp. He received from Georgetown Univ., in 1869. the
honorary degree of A. M., and in 1872 a doctor of pharmacy. He
married, in 1850, Mary John, daughter of John Llewellin, Esq., of St.
Mary's Co., Maryland.
(The personal edited research
notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or
may not be completely documented)