“Dr. Cooke, No. 3 Norton Street, Albany, NY — In every age of the world, men of superior genius have lived: Homer, Voltaire, Euripides and Virgil. It has, however, remained for the 19th century to produce a man whose attainments, both in letters and science, which justly entitles him to equal rank with the illustrious mentioned above. That man is the world-renowned surgeon and physician, Gen. George Cooke whose fame and knowledge of the healing art have reached every clime. [Read more…] about George Cooke: Albany Snake Oil Salesman
Patent medicines, packaged drugs with incompletely disclosed contents, were plentiful and profitable in the United States from the period directly following the Civil War through the early twentieth century.
Before the first Pure Food and Drug Laws were passed, the manufacturers and promoters of patent medicines made millions of dollars from a credulous public eager for cures for a variety of ailments, and from many who were unable to afford the regular care of a doctor. [Read more…] about Patent Medicine History: Schenectady’s Pink Pills for Pale People
Today there are at least two breweries along the Route 9 corridor in Eastern Saratoga County, each offering their own brand of unique microbrews. Looking back in county history, we find that the commercial production of ale can trace its roots to well before the Civil War, with one of the earliest being the Werner family brewery in the town of Halfmoon. [Read more…] about Werner Brewery of Saratoga County: Some History
Very little is documented about medicine in Schenectady County during the 19th century. There are few hospital records to review; Ellis Hospital was not founded until 1885; and the Schenectady County Medical Society did not meet between 1843 and 1869.
We can however, glean some insight into this period from old newspapers, a wonderful book on the 134th NY Volunteer Infantry, minutes of the Schenectady Common Council, and old stories from the Efner Center and the Schenectady County Historical Society library. [Read more…] about Medical Practice in 19th Century Schenectady
The nineteenth century in America saw the rapid growth of “patent” medicines, developed and marketed to a populace longing for relief from the many chronic maladies of life. Newspapers of the times were filled with advertising extolling the virtues of these creations as entrepreneurs tried to make their fortune by selling into this need.
The early fall of 1834 found one such man, William Sears, then in his middle fifties, traveling around Saratoga County soliciting testimonials from prominent local citizens as to the benefits of the medicines he had produced that were now being offered to the public. [Read more…] about William Sears’ American Hygiene Vegetable Renovating Pills
What historians now describe as the Victorian Age, was then referred to as the Electric Era. Electricity lit up city centers and transformed the means of communication. Constant availability of power led to automation which, in turn, allowed for the mass production of goods. Electricity gradually entered the home and convenience stores were filled with new household devices. Even the death penalty went electric. [Read more…] about Electropathic Cure: Quackery in the Electric Era
Thinkers of the Enlightenment rejected such notions. Having declared medical practice and religious doctrine as being incompatible, they initiated research in anesthetics. In 1799, chemist Humphry Davy undertook his exploration of the therapeutic potential of nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
The benefits of this gas were not fully tested for some time, which opened up opportunities for quacks to fool an eager but gullible public. [Read more…] about The Democracy of Dentures: Samuel Colt To Charles Goodyear