Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/189

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METTAUER


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METTAUER


done in August, 1838, and preceded Dr. Hayward's by nearly a year, and Sim's by ten. In this operation he used a con- coidal speculum, curved scissors and lead- wire sutures. He was a strong advocate of lead-wire as a suture material in all plastic work. He was the first surgeon in Virginia, and one of the first in the United States, to operate successfully for cleft palate, his first operation having been done in 1827.

The most notable of his articles was one entitled "The Continued Fev- er of Middle Virginia from 1816 to 1829," which shows conclusively that he recognized typhoid fever as a distinct disease, and was familiar with its characteristic lesions. In other papers he advocates new methods of treatment and new uses of remedies, often showing that he was far ahead of his time in his views and practice. Almost every medical journal of Vir- ginia published his papers.

During the whole of his professional life he was a constant contributor to medical journals, though the period of his greatest literary activity was from 1825 to 1845. He contributed articles to almost every medical journal published in this country in his time. Beside his articles he left in addition a large number of manuscripts which are now in the possession of Dr. George Ben Johnston, of Richmond, Virginia.

There was one work on surgery of 3,000 closely written legal-cap pages. Why he never published it was not known. "This work shows," says Dr. Johnston of Richmond, Virginia, an intimate and enormous knowledge of all the directions that surgery in his time took, and not a little of the choicest fruit of elegant acquaintance with the older literature is scattered here and there throughout the work."

Many young men who desired to study medicine became his private pupils, and the need of assistants and nurses in his enormous work lead to the organization of these students into a medical school in 1837. From that


date until 1848, the school was known as Mettauer's Medical Institute, and from 1848 to its discontinuance about 1860, it was a chartered institution, termed the Medical Department of Randolph-Macon College. The sessions of this school were ten months in length, and on its rolls were usually from thirty to thirty-five students. Some of these students graduated, but it is improbable that any went immed- iately into practice, though the school was recognized l)y some of the best larger city colleges. In 1848 the fac- ulty consisted of three doctors, John Peter Mettauer and his brother and son, lioth named Francis Joseph.

There is ample authority for the statement that for forty years Dr. Mettauer had always from forty-five to sixty surgical cases under his care. Not only was his private hospital constant- ly filled, but also the hotels at Kings- ville and Worsham, neighboring vil- lages, and many piivate residences were often filled with |)atients await- ing their turn for operation, or just recovering from one.

Dr. Mettauer was an ingenious me- chanic, and under his direction many of his instruments were made by his stu- dents in the shop of okl Peter Porter in Farmville. Some of these instruments are the {jroj^erty of Dr. (leorge J3en- jamin Johnston. Some are made of iron and cithers of silver. Some were made by the doctor himself, and others by an old negro in the county who was a skillful artisan in gold and .silver.

In appearance he was a man of strik- ing personality, tall well-formed and robust, his forehead was high and intellectual; his eyes jtiercing black and overshadowed by heavy brows. In his habits he was exclusive, ad- mitting few to intimacy. In versatil- ity, originality and skill he was unsur- passed, and j)ractical common sense ever guided him in his work. In power of endurance and capacity for work he must have lieen as untirable