James Tayloe Gwathmey

(1862-1944)

James Tayloe Gwathmey

James Tayloe Gwathmey

James Tayloe Gwathmey

James Tayloe Gwathmey was born September 10, 1862, on a plantation near Roanoke, Virginia. He attended Norfolk Male Academy and then Virginia Military Institute where he developed a strong interest and aptitude in gymnastics, especially acrobatics. Gwathmey dropped out of V.M.I. in his sophomore year to join an acrobatic troop with a traveling circus. Later in life Dr. Gwathmey published a book entitled, Tumbling For Amateurs.

In the late 1880's, Gwathmey moved to Nashville. The 1889/90 edition of Vanderbilt's yearbook, The Comet, lists him as a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity, President of the Bicycle Club, and Director of the Gymnasium and Instructor in Physical Exercise. He retained the position of Director and Instructor for ten years, even when simultaneously engaged in the study of medicine during the final three years of the decade. Vanderbilt University awarded the M.D. degree to Gwathmey in 1899.

After graduation Dr. Gwathmey moved to New York City where he received full training in surgery and anesthesia at the New York Skin and Cancer Hospital. In 1903 and 1904 he practiced dermatology and anesthesia, but thereafter limited himself to anesthesia. He conducted anesthesia for many surgeons in numerous hospitals in New York City.

In 1914 he co-authored a text-book, Anesthesia, which was the first standard text-book on this subject in America. Dr. Gwathmey published over 112 scientific articles during the period 1903-1943. He developed an oil-ether colonic anesthesia which was widely used, especially in obstetrics. During World War I, Dr. Gwathmey served as an anesthetist, rising to the rank of Captain.

In 1939, Dr. Gwathmey retired from clinical practice because of bronchial asthma and coronary heart disease. He died February 11, 1944 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas.