ANDRAL S. KILMER - SWAMPROOT KING

THE GREAT DR. KILMER & HIS SWAMP ROOT
1998 DIGGER ODELL PUBLICATIONS
 
Dr. Andral S. Kilmer, the inventor of the Swamproot, set up business in Binghamton, New York in the 1870s. There he developed a line of proprietary medicines, pills and ointments. 

"S. Andral, M. D. Born in the town of Cobleskill, Schoharie county, N, Y., December 19, 1840. He recalls even now in the multitude of his professional duties, with pleasant memories, the old log school house in Cobleskill where he first attended a district school. When he left these log walls he entered the halls of the Schoharie Academy, and afterward the Warnerville and Richmondville Seminaries. These he finished when he had reached the age of eighteen and entered the office of Dr. Scott, a prominent Allopathic physician in Schoharie county. Then, wishing to get outside the lines of the one-school idea, he studied with Dr. Downing, who has been called the successful pioneer of Homeopathy in the Schoharie region of New York State. Dr. Kilmer commenced the practice of medicine as a county physician at Barnerville, Schoharie county, N. Y. Although he aspired to rise in his profession, he found this to be too much up-hill work and abandoned his rides after about one and a half years' service. Following out the idea of a broad acquaintance with medicine and surgery he studied Eclectic and Botanic practice with Dr. Patrick of Wisconsin. But all these appeared to be but a beginning for he has documents that he attended the preliminary and regular course of the Bellevue Hospital and Medical College in New York City, where he had an opportunity for instruction at the Eye and Ear Infirmary on Blackwell's Island and other hospitals. A special practical course at the Philadelphia Lying-in-Charity Hospital, where instructions are given in practical Obstetrics and Diseases of Women ; at the Central Dispensary of Chicago, devoted to the same purpose ; at the Philadelphia School of Operative Surgery, under the special instruction of the noted physician, Dr. D. Hayes Agnew. Not only these, but there hangs in his office the diploma of the Bennett Medical College of Chicago.

After a successful tour of medical lectures and practice in the West, Dr. Kilmer settled in Binghamton, buying and building a residence on the plot where the extensive Kilmer Medicine Works are now located. He was first employed in visiting surrounding cities on advertised days, in which practice he was so famous and successful that he was soon enabled to commence the erection of his Laboratory buildings for the preparation of his remedies, which became necessary to supply the ever increasing demand."

 History of the Kilmer family in America
By Charles H. Kilmer 1897

According to an 1886 medical directory, Dr. Andral S. Kilmer graduated from Bennett College of Eclectic Medicine and Surgery. He received his diploma in 1875 from that Chicago Institution. Further medical training was obtained in Wisconsin, where he studied botanic practices and still more training was acquired later in New York and Philadelphia. He returned to Binghamton and set up practice around 1878. He set up practice and a medical dispensary in Binghamton, New York. He was shortly thereafter joined by his younger brother, Jonas M. Kilmer. Together they expanded sales locally to the point where they had to rebuild their dispensary around 1882. A five story building was with laboratory was constructed and fitted with the most up to date bottling equipment available capable of filling over 2,000 bottles an hour. The plant had everything necessary to prepare, bottle and package the medicines. Only the corks and bottles were not made at the plant.

In 1886, Andrew, another brother, joined the firm. But it was not until, Jonas’ son Willis, returned from Cornell where he had taken courses in modern advertising that the business. Willis, a flamboyant figure with a gift for promotion, embarked upon a national advertising campaign. Back woods folks might not be able to read, write or identify the president of the United States, but they instantly recognized the visage of Andral Kilmer. His likeness, was printed on every box, pamphlet and advertising sign. Andral eventually was bought out, or pushed out by the other members of the family by 1892. He brought suit against them bitterly complaining about his being disenfranchised.

Jonas died in 1924 and Willis became president. The Kilmer medicines brought great fortune to Willis. There were estates, an ocean going yacht, a stud farm and all the trappings of wealthy. He became a patron of the arts, won the Kentucky Derby, exhibited at Madison Square Garden, introduced golf to his area of New York, founded a newspaper and eventually left his widow a fortune between ten a fifteen million dollars.

By 1895 the company had a line of 18 different medicines: Of these the most common was the Swamp Root. The bottle of which has an embossed label area in the shape of a kidney. The embossing reads: " THE GREAT / DR. / KILMER’S / SWAMP / ROOT / KIDNEY / LIVER & . BLADDER / CURE / SPECIFIC". The bottle was made in a sample, small and large size. Only the large has the embossed kidney. Sometime after the passage of the Food and Drug Act of 1906, the word "CURE" was dropped in favor of the word, "REMEDY". Even later, the embossing was dropped but the embossed kidney panel was retained. Believe it or not one can still buy "Swamp Root" today complete with a portrait of Andral S. Kilmer.

Of all the bottles that might be collected, I have always considered this bottle to typify bottle collecting. Of the millions upon millions of Swamp Root bottles made and sold thousands have survived. To own a piece of the Kilmer legacy is within the price range of any collector. Better yet is the thrill of finding one’s own piece of history. Years ago it was thrilling to unearth a Swamp Root bottle. I still recall my great pleasure and enthusiasm, when digging in a logging camp dump in Northern Michigan, of finding my first Dr. Kilmer’s Ocean Weed Heart Remedy.

DR. KILMER’S SWAMP ROOT

"THE GREAT / DR. / KILMER’S / SWAMP / ROOT / KIDNEY / LIVER & . BLADDER / CURE / SPECIFIC // DR. KILMER & CO. // BINGHAMTON, N.Y."
aqua, 8 ", variant A: Word "CURE" replaced by the Word "REMEDY"; variant B: No embossing but bottle has kidney shaped panel

 

 

DR. KILMER'S OCEAN WEED HEART REMEDY

EMBOSSED "THE BLOOD / DR. KILMER'S / OCEAN WEED / HEART / REMEDY /
SPECIFIC / / DR. KILMER & CO. // BINGHAMTON, N.Y."

Dr. Kilmer's Heart Remedy

Extremely rare in this condition

with box, label and contents.

Value $250-300

DR. KILMER'S INDIAN COUGH CURE

EMBOSSING: DR. KILMER'S / INDIAN / COUGH CURE / CONSUMPTION OIL / BlNGHAMTON / N.Y. U.S.A.[on front] HEIGHT: 7 " COLOR:


Aqua SHAPE: Rect. LIP: RB with lower flare BIMAL.

Variant A: Same except 7"SB with dropped ring on neck [also without dropped ring].
Variant B:
Same except 6" RB with lower flare.
Variant C:
Same except 5 "SB Aqua or Clear.
Variant D:
Same except 4 "SB [rare]
Variant E:
Same Except 5"SB with dropped ring on neck.
Variant F:
Label only says "Remedy" not "Cure".
Variant G: DR. KILMER'S / / INDIAN COUGH CURE CONSUMPTION OIL / BINGHAMTON, N.Y. U.S.A.
[on 3 sides] HEIGHT: 7 1/8"

COLOR: Aqua SHAPE: Rect. LIP: SB with dropped ring on neck

BIMAL. Value $25-40 $100-$150 with label, box and contents

 

According to trademark information supplied by Dr. Kilmer & Company in 1925, the Indian Oil was one of the first brands marketed. It was introduced in 1884. Although it is not known for sure, it is believed that the cure was dropped around 1912. The Indian Cough Cure came in three sizes .25 cents .50 cents and $1.00.

DR. KILMER'S INDIAN MEDICINE JUG

Dr. Kilmer & Co. filed an application for a label "Dr. Kilmer's Indian Medicine

Jug" in September of 1883. If the Kilmer company ever used this label it is not

known to the author, or any persons knowledgeable about Kilmer products. It

would be rather exciting to discover in a basement or attic a jug with the label

shown. The actual label was only 3 inches tall.

DR KILMER'S FEMALE REMEDY

EMBOSSED:

"DR. KILMER'S / FEMALE / REMEDY / BINGHAMTON, N.Y."
aqua, 8 5/8" bimal, circa, 1895, $30-40, with label and contents $70-100..

LABEL READS: "Dr. Kilmer's Female Remedy, The great Blood Purifier and System
regulator. The Only Herbal Alterative and Depurative Ever Discovered. Specially
adapted to Female Constitutions..."

DR. KILMER'S PROMT, PARILLA LIVER PILLS
Originally put up in paper boxes
they changed to glass bottles as
shown at left. Each bottle contained
42 pink pills.

Dr. Kilmer & Company advertised heavily in druggist catalogs.

A article in the July 1975 issue of Bottle World Magazine mentions several

Other Kilmer's products; Dr. Kilmer's Wild Indian Female Cancer Injection, and Dr. Kilmer's Wild Indian Female Secret. No record of these could be found in any Kilmer & Co. advertising, trade cards, or pamphlets. Furthermore the patent office records show no mention of these either. It seems very likely that the two products were not manufactured by the Kilmer & Co. in Binghamton, but possibly by a competitor. Two Dr. Kilmer companies were located, that were definitely not connected with the Binghamton firm, in Indiana, the other in New York. (see trademark).