KICKAPOO INDIAN MEDICINE COMPANY
©1998 Digger Odell Publications
The Kickapoo company is perhaps the best-known of all the Indian medicine companies. Steward Holcomb, in his book, The Golden Age of Quackery, devotes an entire chapter to this company and its famous Indian Medicine shows. As much as has been written, it is surprising that so little is known about the beginnings and fate of the largest Indian medicine company.
There has been speculation that the idea for the Kickapoo company was first thought up by John E. Healy and Charles F. Bigelow (Texas Charlie) in Philadelphia. Another version has it starting in Worchester, Mass. and later moving to New Haven, Conn. The facts are sketchy. It is known that John Healy was involved in the patent medicine business in New York in the late 1860's. Charles Bigelow does not appear as Healy's partner until they are jointly listed in the 1888 New Haven city directory. There was however a company in New Haven. E.T. Smith & Co. that had a C.F. Bigelow working for them around 1880. Records from the Patent Office show that Healy and Bigelow patented the labels for the "Sagwa" and "Indian Oil" in July of 1882. The address given was New Haven, Conn. The business remained quite small for the first couple of years. The first advertising material was not copyrighted until 1885.
|Under the management of Healy and Bigelow the business flourished. At one point they got the idea of putting on medicine shows. They employed Indians, supposedly Kickapoo's, to tour the country demonstrating Indian life, and selling the medicines. It has been estimated that as many as three hundred Indians were living in the "principal wigwam" the winter quarters, in New Haven in the late 1880's. The Wigwam was located at 521, 523, and 525 Grand Ave., which is now Connecticut Route 22. sometime around 1894, John Healy left the business under the management of Bigelow and James Averil. At this time the company carried on a portion of its business from offices in New York City.|
In 1901 the business moved to Clintonville, Connecticut, a smaller town a short distance away from New Haven. It is believed that the company changed ownership at this point. The company name became the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co. Inc. The passage of the Food and Drug Act of 1906 brought further changes to the business. In 1907 new packages were adopted. The word Indian was deleted from the advertising. Laboratories were set up in Philadelphia and St. Louis. The C.l. Hood Co., proprietors of "Hood's Sarsaparilla" bought the Kickapoo Medicine Company around References to the Kickapoo Oil could still be found in the druggist magazines up until the late 1930's.
KICKAPOO INDIAN MEDICINE COMPANY
The following is a list of some of the advertising material distributed by the Kickapoo Company:
Life and Scenes Among the Kickapoo Indians; 176 pages, copyright
1887. Kickapoo Indian Dream Book; 32 pages, 1896-1908. Healy and Bigelow's
Family Cookbook; 1891. Enquire Within; 64 pages, two COLOR, copyright 1885.
Kickapoo Indian Doctor; 32 pages, circa 1896. The Indian; 20 pages, circa 1896,
later called The INDIAN Illustrated Magazine Almanac & Household Guide;
yearly, circa 1896. "Kickapoo Indian Guide to Health;" a hand-out at the medicine
shows, newsprint The Meaning of 677; Circa 1910.
Formulas Published by the Company Starting In 1907:
KICKAPOO INDIAN COUGH CURE: Syrup, Tar Spirits, Lettuce, Horehound, Ipecac, Senega Snakeroot, Grindelia Robusta, Capsicum, Glycerine, 18% Alcohol.
KICKAPOO LIVER PILLS: S. Ext. Rhubarb, S. Ext. Nux Vomica, Aloin, Podophyllin, Oleoresin.
KICKAPOO OIL: Camphor, Myrrh, Capsicum, Oil of Cloves, Oil Sassafras, Sulphric Ether, Water, Opium 1½"0 of one grain, and alcohol 60%.
INDIAN SAGWA: Soda Bicarb, Gentian Root, Mandrake Root, Cubebs Rubarb Root, Senna Leaves, Aniseed Red Cinchona Bark, Yellow Dock Root Dandelion Root, Burdock Root, Sacred Bark, Licorice Root, Aloes, Alcohol Glycerine, and Water.
KICKAPOO SALVE: Red Precipitate, Beeswax, Pow'd Borax, Tallow, Petrolatum, Bole Armenia, Lac Sulphur, Oil Cedar Leaves.
KICKAPOO WORM KILLER: Santonin, Podophyllin, Sugar, Rice Flour, Extract, Licorice, Oil anise, Hydragyri, Subchloridum 1-7 grains.
KICKAPOO BOTTLES & PRODUCTS
KICKAPOO INDIAN COUGH CURE
EMBOSSING: HEALY & BIGELOW'S / KICKAPOO / INDIAN COUGH
CURE HEIGHT: 61 / 8" COLOR: Aqua SHAPE: Round with Indented front panel LIP: SB BIMAL. Circa 1888.
Variant A: KICKAPOO / COUGH CURE Same as above except 6 ½"" [Circa 1900]
Variant B: KICKAPOO / COUGH SYRUP Same as above except 6 ¼"" [Circa 1912]
The Cough Cure was trademarked in 1888. The word cure was used in the name well past 1906. No reference could be found to this medicine after 1914.
KICKAPOO INDIAN OIL
EMBOSSING: HEALY & BIGELOW'S / KICKAPOO / INDIAN OIL
HEIGHT: 5 ½"" COLOR: Aqua SHAPE: Round LIP: RB with lower flare
BIMAL. Circa 1885
Variant A: HEALY & BIGELOW / KICKAPOO INDIAN OIL / TRIAL BOTTLE Circa 1895 HEIGHT: 3 1 / 8" COLOR: Clear and Aqua SHAPE: Round LIP: RB with lower flare. Aqua BIMAL, Clear ABM Circa 1900-1926.
Variant B: KICKAPOO OIL HEIGHT: 5 ¼"" 7", 8 ¼""LIP: COLOR: Aqua SHAPE: Round LIP: SB with lower flare and ABM circa 1906-20.
The Indian Oil was trademarked in 1882 under the name of "Indian Oil". The word
Kickapoo was later used, but the author was unable to find any variant without the word Kickapoo. The Oil enjoyed the most success of any of the Kickapoo products. The Oil was being produced from 1882-1930. A label-only variant was discovered which read: "Kickapoo Oil manufactured by C.l. Hood & Co. "Bottle was same as Variant B, except unembossed. C.I. Hood & Co. were the successors to Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co. Inc. formerly of Clintonville, Connecticut. The Oil was a remedy for Rheumatism, earache, cholera, toothache, and diarrhea, originally put up in only one size. Around 1908, it was being advertised as being useful in the treatment of sore throat, bellyache, burns, cramps, and as a mouthwash. It was at that time the Oil was being manufactured in 3 sizes.
KICKAPOO LIVER PILLS
EMBOSSING: Label Only HEIGHT: 2" COLOR: Clear SHAPE: Round LIP: SB BIMAL.
This medicine was introduced by the Kickapoo Company around 1898. They were advertised as Kickapoo Liver Pills, or just Kickapoo Pills. The pills were bright red, and cost .25 cents per bottle. A free sample of the pills could be had by sending stamps. The Pills were still being produced after 1906.
KICKAPOO MEDICATED SOAP
The soap was first placed on the market in
1898, and sold 3 cakes for 25 cents.
The product was discontinued sometime around 1912.
KICKAPOO PRAIRIE PLANT
The first mention of Kickapoo Indian Prairie Plant is in a 1896 Almanac & Household Guide. Apparently, Healy & Bigelow felt that they should offer a "Female Remedy". The advertisements are not specific as to the nature of the medicine, but it was offered for sale at a dollar per package. After 1907, the name Prairie Plant changed to "Kickapoo Suppositories".
KICKAPOO INDIAN SAGWA
Em bossing: INDIAN SAGWA / / HEALY & BIGELOW [embossed Indian head facing left] HEIGHT: 9 x 3 x 1 ¼"" COLOR: Aqua SHAPE: Rect. LIP: SB BIMAL
Variant A: same as above except 7 ¾". Early Sagwa (Circa 1884). There are many different molds and some have strikingly different Indian heads embossed.
Variant B: INDIAN SAGWA / / HEALY & BIGELOW [embossed Indian Head Facing left] HEIGHT: 8 ¾" COLOR: Aqua SHAPE: Rect. LIP: RB with lower flare BIMAL. Most common variant used between 1885-1890's.
Variant C: same as above except amber
Variant D same as above except clear
Variant E: SAGWA / / SAGWA HEIGHT: 8 ¾"and 7 ¾" COLOR: Aqua SHAPE: Rect. with three Indented panels LIP: RB with lower flareBIMAL. Believed to have been used around 1901.
Variant F: KICKAPOO SAGWA STOMACH / LIVER AND KIDNEY
RENOVATOR / / CLINTONVILLE, CONN. / / KICKAPOOINDIAN MEDICINE Co. HEIGHT: 8 ¾" COLOR: Aqua SHAPE: Rect. LIP: RB with lower flare BIMAL. This bottle replaced the "Sagwa" with the embossed head. Circa 1906.
Variant D: KICKAP OO SAGWA STOMACH / LIVER AND KIDNEY RENOVATOR / / PHILA. AND ST. LOUIS / / KICKAPOO INDIAN MEDICINE CO. HEIGHT: 8 ½"" and 7 ½"" COLOR: Clear SHAPE: Rect. LIP: RB with lower flare BIMAL. This is believed to be the latest variant manufactured around 1912.
The Indian Sagwa was trademarked in 1882, at the same time as the Indian Oil. The original label read: "Indian Sagwa Stomach & Kidney Renovator". The word
Kickapoo was added around 1885. The Sagwa was one of the company's best sellers, and was being produced from 1882-1912, and possibly later.
KICKAPOO INDIAN SALVE
The Salve was trademarked in February in 1885. Originally, the label read:
"Kickapoo Indian Salve". Around 1891, the company began to advertise the Salve under the name of "Kickapoo Buffalo Salve", or occasionally as "Kickapoo Indian Buffalo Salve". At that time they claimed that the Salve was a cure-all for piles, cancers, fever sores, and ulcers, was made of "Pure Buffalo Tallow", combined with herbs, roots, and barks. The Salve came in a round tin with a picture of a buffalo on the front. By 1908 a new package had been adopted which read: "Kickapoo Salve", no longer advertised as being made of "Buffalo Tallow", but the formula mentions "Tallow"
KICKAPOO INDIAN TAPE WORM SECRET
Sometime around 1890, the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co. began to manufacture a
second worm medicine, "Kickapoo Indian Tape Worm Secret". apparently the remedy did not do well, which is not surprising as it sold for $5 per box. Advertising for this brand appears only in the literature between 1890-97. The brand was never trademarked.
KICKAPOO INDIAN WORM KILLER
The label for the "Kickapoo Indian Worm Killer" was patented in 1884. Name was
later changed to "Kickapoo Worm Killer". The Worm Killer was sold for .25 cents per package which was a cardboard box in later years. Originally billed as being made by the Kickapoo Indians from their own natural roots and herbs.
KICKAPOO SAGE HAIR TONIC
EMBOSSING: KICKAPOO / SAGE / HAIR TONIC HEIGHT: 4" COLOR: Cobalt SHAPE: Round LIP: RB BIMAL.
Since the advertising for the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co. never mentions this product, it is believed that the hair tonic was not an original Healy and Bigelow preparation but was produced by the Kickapoo company after it changed hands The bottle itself is not characteristic of Kickapoo company. Specimens with labels have shown it to have the Clintonville, Connecticut address.
More than 1,000 Indian bottles and Indian medicines along with company histories, patent office research and much more are listed in Digger Odell's INDIAN BOTTLE & BRANDS. Don't miss out, get your copy today.
HOW TO ORDER........................... HOME