HISTORY OF MINNESOTA DRUGGISTS
Digger Odell Publications ©2008
From The National Association of Retail Druggists Journal,
September 3, 1915
[Pharmacy, in its every aspect, is today at such a high stage of development in the state which will be the host of the National Association of Retail Druggists two weeks hence, that it is difficult to accept its youthfulness. In other states, where there are drug businesses boasting more than a century of existence, far less has been the progress in lacing pharmacy on a high plane of efficiency and usefulness, than is the case in Minnesota, where fifty-year-old businesses are a rarity. But this is but typical of the spirit f progress which marks every industrial, and commercial, and professional endeavor f the wide-awake people of the "North Star State." The appended historical notes are elected from contributions presented before the Minnesota Pharmaceutical Association, y A. H. Rose and W. S. Melendy, veterans in Minnesota drugdom, who, by precept and example, have had not a little to do with the progress of which we speak. Both veterans are still living and take a hearty interest in all pharmacal matters.-Editor's Note.]
FROM MR. ROSE'S PAPER
Pharmacy in the '50's and '60's in Minnesota may have been somewhat crude, but yet am inclined to the opinion that at that time t was practiced perhaps more nearly as a profession than at present. In the early '50's. here were few druggists in the state, everything in the drug line being sold by the general merchants. In the late '50's, druggists Began to multiply, especially in the river owns from Winona to St. Paul and from St. Paul to Mankato. In those days, the men in he drug business were looked upon and :considered as professionals. Today, you are urged by your own men to become merchants, and it seems that but little urging is required. In fact, some writers suggest that he present-day druggist, to succeed, must become a faker.
Mr. Rietzke and his Drugstore
On account of the worldwide advertising 4innesota did, many were induced this way and quite a large number of druggists located early in St. Paul. The earliest, from '49 to 56, were W. H. Jarvis, L. C. Kinny, Thomas Z. Foster, Dr. David Day, afterward Day Jenks, McDougal & Wren, Groff & McDougal. Morton & Pace, Wolf & Stover, Bond & Kellogg. Combs & Champlin (Champlin Liquid pearl), also a Mr. J. H. Schroeder. I came to Minnesota, May 1, 1861. The nearest railroad station to St. Paul at that time being La Crosse, I came from there via oat. The druggists in St. Paul at that time were Day & Jenks, a Mr. H. W. Robinson, and a Mr. Miller, a German, "Bath-Robe" Miller, so called on account of his continued wearing a highly colored robe in his every day business. Dr. Miller was one of the druggists who was interested in horticulture, birds, fishes, and the like, hence his store was quite a museum, and in those days one of the interesting features of the capital of the state. He was peculiar in the fact that he always had what the customer called for, and the other druggists used to go to Miller for anything they did not have. Whether he really furnished the wanted article or something just as good was never known. Other druggists in St. Paul were R. S. Combs, E. H. Biggs, R. T. Hand, R. O. Sweeny, J. Allen, later successor to R. S. Combs. Day & Jenks were the largest in the state, did quite a business supplying in a small way country merchants with their castor oil, epsom salt, sulphur, and so on. Dr. Day, after retiring from the drug business, went into politics, became a county commissioner, and was chairman of the building committee, and superintended the building of the large, beautiful court house still an ornament to St. Paul.
The St. Paul druggists at that time (did a large business with the Indian traders. These traders came down annually with their buffalo hides and furs. These were transported via ox-carts, a two-wheeled cart, being entirely made of wood, even to the lynch pin, drawn by one ox. These conveyances numbered frequently 200 to 250 in one train. The creaking of the wheels, which were never greased, could be heard for miles.
R. 0. Sweeney, one of the earlier druggists in St. Paul, was quite a unique man for that day. A man of versatile talent, he also ran somewhat to stuffed animals and curios. He was very active along all lines of the profession, was main man in securing early legislation along drug lines, was prominent in securing the state pharmacy law, and was secretary of the first state pharmaceutical board, the one to whom reported all druggists for registration without examination. After retiring from the drug business he became the first state fish commissioner and continued as such until his death. Mr. W. K. Collier, of St. Paul, is a stager. still in the drug business, and has been continuously for fifty-eight years, a portion of the time as proprietor, otherwise clerking. If you know of any man that can beat that record, please report it.
The Dietz and Messing Drugstore
The druggists in St. Anthony, St. Paul's rival city, were S. L. Vawter, Talbert & White, Hemiup & Sims. Of course others had preceded them, a Mr. Cahill in '56 who afterward became prominent in the milling business, also, I believe, a Mr. Crawford.
Before my day in Minneapolis, w '56, Greely & Gray, and in '58, Gray Brothers, afterward T. K. Gray in '75. Another of the early ones was Thomas Gardine who has been continuously in the business! is today, in Minneapolis. One of the interesting and peculiar things in connection with T. K. Gray was his continuing in business in one locality for over fifty years the business still continuing in the same location as the T. K. Gray Drug Company Mr. Gray having died a few years since. Mr. George Savory was also one of earlier druggists in Minneapolis. Mr. Gray was a man of great activity, one of the best advertisers in his day and a man of kindly qualities, as demonstrated by the fact that many of his clerks remained from eight to twelve years in his employ, and their embarking in the business on their own accord in opposition to their old tutor and master did not seem to ruffle Mr. Gray in the least.
. In 1861 entered the list of earlier druggists in Minneapolis. I visited Duluth in ‘63. The town was very small, a number of other ones in the state at that time being larger. I found there in the drug business Mr. Trumbull and a Mr. C. E. Eyester. clerking for Mr. Eyester was a young man, Frank B. Smith, who afterward went into business for himself about ‘76 He is today one of the prominent druggists in Duluth. That you may have some kind of an idea as to the early Duluth, in '63 there was but one wheeled vehicle in the town, a spring wagon belonging to a hardware man. There may have been a baby ,wagon or two. And there was but about one mile of street navigable for any kind of a conveyance.
The early druggists in Winona were, Wickersham, Wieland, Charles Benson. afterward Benson & Kendall, Mr. Edward, Dr. Weidle and two or three others, later in the '60's and early '70's, Pelzer. A. 0. Slade, Von Rohr.
In Rochester, Mr. Woodward, Upham & Pool, and Mr. Hargeshimer. Among the earlier in Stillwater, or perhaps the earliest. were the Carli's. soon followed by H. M. Crandall and perhaps others. In Hastings, Dr. Finch was the druggist, and I understand the name is perpetuated.
In Northfield was a young man by the name of Wier, the only one I knew personally. In Faribault, were James Murrison and the Donaldsons, father and son. There were one or two others also, I believe. Mr. Murrison afterward went to Minneapolis, where he died about a year or so ago.
At Owatanna, was a Mr. Bixby (Bixby's "death to pain") and one other. In Mankato, the first druggist was *G. W. Cummings. 1853, then followed Wickersham Brothers, later Frishie & Shepherd in '61, followed by the Warners in '69. In St. Peter, 'Mr. Henry Jones and Lathrop & Paul were there in the later '50's, also W. H. Sigler in '62, who was the pusher, the youngest of the crowd. He is now practicing medicine and has a drug store in Midway, St. Paul. Sent his dues to the association at this meeting.
The druggists in Shakopee were Mr. Lord, a Dr. Morrow, a Mr. How, and a Mr. Dutoit, later. Lord went into the insurance business and became a prominent state adjuster. Mr. Howe became the banker at Shakopee. Mr. Dutoit also went into politics and is at present a member of the state legislature and a prominent business man in Carver.
In St. Cloud, was S. Marlatt. Others I do not remember. It was S. Marlatt who reared the late Al. Smith, county attorney for Hennepin county, formerly a druggist at the corner of Hennepin and Seventh street, Minneapolis. He was considered the greatest vote-getter in Minneapolis, perhaps excepting the late Dr. Ames. In Red Wing, I think perhaps Dr. Hewitt was among the first to have a drug store. I seem not to have been personally acquainted with the Red Wing druggists. In Carver, Dr. Griffin was the druggist, the father of John Griffin, a traveling representative, whom many of you remember.
At Chaska, was a young Mr. Mix, a man somewhat above the average druggist in morals, I suppose, as he was quite a celebrated Sunday-school worker. In Farmington, Mr. L. P. Fluke, 1866, was the earliest.
I knew most of these earlier druggists referred to, personally, from the fact that I was the first traveling man for the first wholesale drug house in the state. The wholesale business referred to, through its successors, still continues as Noyes Brothers & Cutler.
The stocks carried in those days were not as varied, I am happy to say, as at the present time and differed somewhat in character, most stores handling, aside from the ordinary drugs, "patents," and sundries, all kinds of brushes, paints, oils and glass, kerosene and lamps. In the latter there was a large trade, as gas was little used and electricity for light unknown. All bought much heavier than at present, on account of the poor and slow facilities for obtaining goods. Heavy goods, paints, oils, being purchased largely in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis. Small stores would buy in the fall five to ten barrels of kerosene and many of the cruder drugs by the barrel The drug stocks of today in their variety are almost endless, as you know. In fact you can hardly tell a present-day drugstore from appearances outside, if in search of one. For instance, such signs as the following might possibly be misleading, "! Water," "Lunch," Cutrate Drug Store”.I suppose. I will not live to see the genuine legitimate apothecary shop.
The drug stores in the early days were the centers for the activities. The community met there to discuss politics, religion everything. This was owing to the fact that the druggist was usually the best posted individual on all subjects in which the public was interested. They were generally the presidents and secretaries of all, the institutions in the town for the betterment of the community (no satire! course). They also did a good deal of legislating for the country as county chairmen, legislators, senators, and so on. If you notice, it is a good deal that way nine or ten members of the present state legislature being druggists.
In the summer of 1863, a Mr. Sims, S. L. Vawter, and myself, all living and doing business at the Falls of St. Anthony and Minneapolis, took two complete stocks of drugs and a half, wiping out two stores completely, and went to St. Paul, establishing the first exclusively wholesale drug business in the state. We calculated upon doing business of about $30,000 per annum and would have been satisfied. However, we doubled that amount the first year, sales amounting to about $60,000.
I may be permitted to refer to Dr. Schiffman (Schiffman's "asthma cure"), who
came to St. Paul
about 1870. Although not a druggist, he was as much druggist as physician, put
out his shingle as throat and lung specialist. From this grew his asthma "cure."
The "cure" at that time was compounded in my drug store in St. Paul and put up
in powder papers made from the advertisement of Ayer's hair vigor, which you
will remember was for counter use one side being blank.
MATT JOHNSON CO. BLOOD & RHEUMATISM CURE