Digger Odell Publications 2008

Those people who left the fatherland at an early day to seek an asylum in the New World, preferring to take their chances amongst the savage natives under the free heavens of North America, rather than to submit to the religious persecutions of the Old World, were evidently of the better classes of society. Of those who came from the vine clad hills of Switzerland was the Forni family, arriving on free soil about the beginning of the last century. From these, it is said, all the Forneys, Falinestocks and Fahrneys have sprung.

Dr. Peter Fahrney lived and practiced his profession in Lancaster Co., Pa., about the middle of the last century, but there are no records to show whether he was born in this country or in Europe. He was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, and a prominent member of the German Baptist Church. His library, in those days, consisted of an old German Bible, printed in 1737, Saur's Tune and Hymn book, together with two volumes of medical works, inherited from his father.

These medical books are quite ponderous, as they were printed from wood type by Laurentius, soon after the art of printing was first discovered, about four hundred years ago. These two medical books were published long before it was customary for physicians to use minerals for medicines. Accurate descriptions of all the Roots, Herbs, Barks, Leaves and Seeds, and their curative properties, are given. Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun. Young doctors, who are now-a-days so cautiously experimenting with Podophyllin (active principle of mandrake), should heed this saying; for they are not as far in advance as they imagine. Whoever claims the honor of discovering the curative properties of mandrake, should know that these books give their evidence in proof of the fact that it was in use four centuries ago, when the doctors of Switzerland first described it. Besides there is an account of its use in Genesis XXX, 14-22.

Dr. Peter Fahrney, the German physician, as he was then known, left Lancaster at an early day, traveling on foot, and winded his way along the Blue Ridge, or South Mountain, until he reached Chambersburg, where he practiced a few years, then crossed what is now known as Mason and Dixon's line, into Washington county, Md.; and at the foot of the Blue Ridge, near Beaver Creek, a branch of the Antietam, he settled down for life. From this point his fame spread throughout the settlements of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

It is not claimed that Dr. Peter Fahrney accidentally discovered his Blood Purge, now known as Dr. Peter's Blood Vitalizer or Humor Antidote, nor was the recipe copied from his old books. He was so constituted by nature as to be unable to waste valuable moments. He engaged in study when not at the bedside of the sick; and at night, when his visitors had departed or retired, as the case may have been, he was at his library, to which book after book had been added in the course of years. Considering his practical knowledge of the mountain herbs, his clinical experience with his untiring energy, and more than an ordinary share of intellect, would it be wonderful if such a man could produce a compound composed of thirty-three of the best medicines known in the botanic Materia Medica, and that in future years was destined to astonish the world by its curative properties? Such were the results of the persistent labors of one who worked inside a plain Friend's coat, and under a broad-rimmed hat. Peace to his ashes.

In 1821, Dr. Jacob Fahrney settled in Pennsylvania, sixteen miles from the office where he received all the knowledge of the healing art which such a father could bestow upon a son. His education was of the best afforded by the country at that time; and with habits similar to those of his father, he made his way upward among men.

There is no telling what a man can do if he has the perseverance. Our greatest men are self-made, and such was he. But unassuming in all things, and conscientious in the extreme, his signature was simply Jacob Fahrney, without the "Dr." or "M.D." It is useless to say anything about his extensive and successful practice in the State of Pennsylvania, and that much of his success was owing to the use of the Blood Vitalizer then put up for decoction.

In a few years after locating in Pennsylvania he was chosen minister in the German Baptist church, and from this time forward applied himself to the study of the English language, to fit himself for his new calling, as there was a demand for an English speaker. In a few years he accumulated quite a library of theological works, and attracted no little attention as a worker in the cause of the church. His first effort at reform was to induce his brethren to give up the old custom of taking the "bottle to the harvest hands." This custom was so universal that it was almost impossible to overcome it. The laborers demanded their "schnapps" before they would promise to work. The only remaining plan was for the farmers to unite. To bring about this union was a work of no little importance.

Dr. Jacob Fahrney was succeeded by his son, Dr. Peter, who, while attending medical lectures at the Jefferson Medical College, made the study of practical Pharmacy a specialty, under the instructions of Edward Parrish, late Professor in the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, and his colleague, Prof. J. M. Maish, of the same institution. The extra course of study was for the sole purpose of enabling him to prepare the Vitalizer in a liquid form. A preparation of thirty-three ingredients would require more than a single menstruum, and as many more different processes. This end was accomplished, and the medicine put up for popular use, with directions on the bottles, and sold in remote parts of the country as well as at home, where it meets a steady sale.

But, like all good enterprises, this had its drawbacks during the late war; the invading army of the South interfered with all kinds of business. Besides, the Southern rade was entirely cut off, and many of the ingredients could not be had at any price. Chambersburg, the county seat, was laid in ashes; and the constant danger made it unsafe to do anything.

In 1869 Dr. P. Fahrney opened a laboratory in Chicago, a centrally located city in the United States of North America, and continued to do business uninterruptedly until the 8th of Oct., 1871, when his laboratory, together with seventeen thousand five hundred business houses and dwellings was burned to the ground, destroying nearly two hundred million dollars' worth of property, and making over one hundred thousand persons homeless. In less than three days after the fire, Dr. Fahrney had made arrangements to make a new beginning, and in a few weeks was shipping to all parts of the country. It will be seen that the proprietor had not a few reverses, to say nothing of the prolonged stagnation of business following the panic of 1873.*