George H. Tichenor

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George Humphrey Tichenor (April 12, 1837 - January 14, 1923) was a Kentucky-born physician who introduced antiseptic surgery while in the service of the Confederate States of America. Thereafter, in private practice in Canton (Madison County), Mississippi, he developed the formula that became "Dr. Tichenor's Antiseptic."


Tichenor was born in Ohio County in western Kentucky to Rolla Tichenor and the former Elizabeth Hymphrey. He was educated in private schools. He was a businessman in Franklin (Williamson County), Tennessee when the American Civil War began. He entered military service in 1861 with the 22nd Tennessee Cavalry Regiment. He became an enrolling Confederate officer in 1863, and thereafter an assistant surgeon, during which time he was believed to have been the first in the Confederacy to have used antiseptic surgery.

Tichenor experimented with the use of alcohol as an antiseptic on wounds. He was badly wounded in the leg in 1863, and amputation was recommended. He insisted on treating his wounds with an alcohol-based solution of his own devising. His wound healed, and he regained the use of his leg.

His potential reputation as a humanitarian was clouded by his fierce regional loyalty; Tichenor insisted that his techniques be used only on injured Confederates, never on Union prisoners.

Tichenor developed his antiseptic formula in Canton and thereafter practiced medicine in Baton Rouge, LA from 1869-1887. He started bottling Dr. Tichenor's Patent Medicine in New Orleans; the formula, consisting of alcohol, oil of peppermint, and arnica, was originally marketed as useful for a wide variety of complaints for both internal and external use for man and animal. A patent was registered in 1882 [1]. The company producing this liquid was incorporated in 1905 and is still in existence, though the recommended uses are now more modest: principally as a mouthwash and topical antiseptic.

Tichenor married the former Margaret A. Drane of Kentucky while they were in Canton. They had three sons: Rolla A. Tichenor, George H. Tichenor, Jr., and Elmore Drane Tichenor. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and the Baptist Church. He was adjutant general and commander of the Louisiana division of the United Confederate Veterans. He is interred in Baton Rouge.


"George Humphrey Tichenor", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. 2 (1988), p. 791

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