Taken from the Cyclopaedia of American Biography, published in 1922. Successful New York surgeon with roots in Gatehouse.

John Murray Carnochan of Gatehouse - Surgeon.

CARNOCHAN, John Murray, surgeon, b. in Savannah, Ga., 4 July, 1817; d. in New York City, 28 Oct., 1887, only son of John and Harriet Frances (Putnam) Carnochan. His father, a native of Scotland, removed, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, to Nassau and the West Indies, and afterwards to Savannah, Ga., where he became a wealthy planter and merchant. His mother was a grandniece of General Israel Putnam, a granddaughter of Henry Putnam, killed in the battle of Lexington, and, through her mother, a granddaughter of Doctor Fraser, a distinguished surgeon of the British army. The ancestral home of the Carnochans in Scotland was Gate House, of Fleet Kirkcudbright, in the district of Galloway, bordering on Ayrshire.

To this homestead John Murray Carnochan, being in feeble health, was taken by his father and mother to sojourn for a year with his two maiden aunts, who had the place in their keeping. These two old ladies became so attached to him, however, that they kept him with them until he was eleven years of age. He was sent to school at Edinburgh, where he passed through the high school with honor, and afterwards entering the university, completed the course and took his degree at the age of seventeen. While a student, he came under the instruction of Professor Wilson, in philosophy, Hope, in chemistry, and Knox, in anatomy; and their influence, doubtless, guided him towards his profession, as immediately after graduation he became a student in the Royal College of Surgeons. Being recalled to America, he spent a short time at his home in Georgia, and then began the study of surgery in New York City, under the celebrated Dr. Valentine Mott, who afterward referred to him as his "most distinguished pupil." He also passed through the usual course of instruction at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, being graduated M.D. in 1836. He afterwards studied at the Ecole de Medicine, Paris, and for six years attended the clinical lectures of Civiale, Lisfranc, Roux, Velpeau and others.

From Paris he went to London, and studied under such eminent surgeons as Sir Benjamin C. Brodie and Sir Astley Cooper, and while there was offered a partnership by the great Lister, which he declined. In 1847 he came to America, thoroughly equipped and trained for the career which he was destined to pursue, and having made his residence in New York, began his labors as a regular practitioner. On the organization of the board of immigration commissioners in 1850, Doctor Carnochan was placed in charge of the hospital for immigrants on Ward's Island, and was surgeon-in-chief for twenty-five years. In 1851 he was chosen professor of the principles and operations of surgery in the New York Medical College, and for twelve years taught large classes of students with brilliancy and effectiveness. During the Civil War this institution was discontinued on account of the loss of Southern patronage.

In 1870 Doctor Carnochan was appointed health officer of the port of New York, in which position his administrative talent enabled him to establish prompt and efficient quarantine without greatly embarrassing commerce. As an operator, Doctor Carnochan received the highest commendation of the leading surgeons of Europe who had studied his cases; such as the entire lower jaw, with disarticulation of both condyles at one time, and removal of the ulna and radius while saving the arm with its functions unimpaired. In a case of chronic facial neuralgia, he performed exsection of the entire trunk of the second branch of the fifth pair of cranial nerves from the infraorbital foramen, through the foramen rotundun to the base of the skull, which resulted in giving a new pathology to the disease, and, while several times successfully repeated by himself, is a feat never attempted before or since. He also performed the operation of amputation at the hip joint with entire success five times, one instance being on 18 May, 1864, at the battle of Spottsylvania, where he acted under orders of the surgeon-general of the U. S. Army. In the practice of ovariotomy he was unusually skillful, and almost always successful. He performed all the more difficult operations known in surgery, and originated no less than six, as, for example, the tying of the common carotid on one side and of the external carotid on the other in hypertrophy of the tongue. He tied the femoral artery in a number of cases of varicose enlargement of the veins of the leg and thigh, and also for elephantiasis of the leg, where amputation had formerly been the only resort.

He was noted as one of the most rapid operators of his time, his skill being efficient in saving much suffering to his patients. The extreme delicacy of his touch was shown in his elaborate dissection of the human foot, in which he laid bare the almost microscopic ramifications of nerve fibers, and prepared the specimen for preservation.

Doctor Carnochan was a voluminous writer, and published a number of important works in practical surgery, all contributions of exceptional value to the literature of his profession. They include papers on partial amputation of the foot, "Lithotomy and Lithotrity" ; "Treatise on Congenital Dislocations" (1850); "Contributions to Operative Surgery" (nine parts, 1877-86), and Translations of Sedillot's " Traite de Medicine Operatoire, Bandages et Appareils," and Karl Rotiransky's " Handbuch der pathologischen Anatomic" A number of his original papers were brilliantly illustrated, after drawings by his wife, who was a skillful artist and an enthusiastic aid to her eminent husband, in his professional career. He was married, in 1856, to Estelle, daughter of Major General William Watson Morris, U. S. A., and a great-granddaughter of Lewis Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

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