There was no Opdivo, a medication used to treat a number of types of cancer. Geneseo’s miraculous medicines from the 1880s were plentiful anyway.

Women avoid cold feet was only one of many mid-Victorian health hints. Ads in the Livingston Republican of 1886 also included:

n The New Quinine, Kaskine. This was a powerful tonic to restore perfect health. Dr. C.H. White of St. Francis Hospital said “the best medicine made.” It was good for headaches, nausea, ringing ears, and it destroyed germs in the blood. It was good for malaria, rheumatism, a bilious liver, and nervous prostration. Only one dollar a bottle!

n Hoods Sarsaparilla: From a testimonal, “Last winter I was attacked by scrufula, thirteen large abscesses over and around my neck and throat that constantly extruded bloody matter After taking Hoods repeatedly for months, the eruptions have completely disappeared except for scars.

n Itching Piles: Dr. H. Swayne’s medicine was easy to use, time tested, with speedy results. His cure-all destroyed animalculae, an old term for microscopic organisms coined in the 17th century Dutch scientist. Only fifty cents a box.

Swayne also offered hair restorer that beautified and helped adorn the hair.

Swayne, in all fairness, offered good advice. To keep healthy, exercise daily, eat good food and look at the bright side of life. His medications would do the rest.

n A book for “every man” hinting at sexual virility. “It was a great book for manhood and physical debility” (weakness). “The Science of Life” contained 125 prescriptions embracing every vegetable remedy. Dr. Parker revealed little about himself as the author. Young and middle-aged men were offered an illustrated sample, free for 90 days. His full title cost $1.

n Mothers, Castoria is well suited for infants and children. Cures colic, constipation, sour stomach, diarrhea, and kills worms. The Centaur Company of New York City assured it was not injurious for babies. (This columnist remembers spoonfuls as a tyke, and tasting good.)

n And another treat for the feet. Hindir Corns was the safest, quickest and best way to cure corns, bunions, warts and callouses. It worked “when everything else failed,” and was available at a bargain of 15 cents.

Forced into watching more TV during our dark days of COVID-19 it is evident that miraculous medicines still thrive as a big business.

David W. Parish is historian for the town and village of Geneseo. He writes “Historic Geneseo” for The Livingston County News. He is a Chancellor Award retiree from Milne Library at SUNY Geneseo and author of 12 reference and history books.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1