Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound

I love to browse the old newspapers that are online at or other web sites.

Tonight, I was trying to research Jessie Pinkham, who is one of my great-grandmother Della Carringer's friends in Della's 1929 Journal. So I entered First Name = "Jessie" and last name = "Pinkham" and got this "article" in the Marion, Ohio Daily Star newspaper dated Saturday, 26 July 1913. It is between interesting news articles titled "Fights a Thug Hand-to-Hand" and "Frightful Fall of G.B. Clinger."


Subtitle: "At Regular Intervals - Says Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound completely cured her."

"Adrian, Texas -- 'I take pleasure to adding my testimonial to the great list and hoe that it will be of interest to suffering women. For four years I suffered untold agonies at regular intervals. Such pains and cramps, severe chills and sickness at stomach, then finally hemorrhages until I would be nearly blind. I had five doctors and none of them could do more than relieve me for a time.'

"'I saw your advertisement in a paper and decided to try Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. I took seven boxes of it and two bottles of the Sanative Wash, and I am completely cured of my trouble. When I began taking the Compound I only weighed ninety-six pounds and now I weight one hundred and twenty-six pounds. If anyone wishes to address me in person I will cheerfully answer all letters, as I cannot speak too highly of the Pinkham remedies.' -- Miss Jessie Marsh, Adrian, Texas.

"Hundreds of such letters expressing gratitude for the good Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound has accomplished are constantly being received, proving the reliability of this grand old remedy.

"If you want special advice write to Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Co. (confidential) Lynn, Mass. Your letter will be opened, read and answered by a woman and held in strict confidence."

Being the curious sort, I checked for Lydia Pinkham on Wikipedia, and there is a long article about the woman, her concoction, her business, and even the recipe for the "Vegetable Compound." There are also some songs, including:

"The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham

"Let us sing of Lydia Pinkham
The benefactress of the human race.
She invented a vegetable compound,
And now all papers print her face.

Mrs. Jones she had no children,
And she loved them very dear.
So she took three bottles of Pinkham's
Now she has twins every year.

Peter Whelan, he was sad
Because he only had one nut
Till he took some of Lydia's compound
Now they grow in clusters 'round his butt."

Poor Peter...that will teach him to drink his wife's favorite drink.

When you are doing family history research, many of us (I do!) get so excited by finding a date, a place, an obituary, a probate record, a diary, a Bible, a relationship, etc. that we forget that each person in history lived day-to-day, with aches, pains, sicknesses, distress, injury, etc. Modern medicine is really a 20th century invention, and our ancestral families had to deal with their physical, mental and emotional problems. It's a wonder that so many lived so well for so long. Some of the long livelihood was luck, and some genetic, and some, I'm quite sure, was natural selection - survival of the fittest.

Sometimes is like a box of candy - you don't know what you're going to find. And it is good, and interesting, and often curious and fun. I had no clue what Lydia's concoction was for, or its ingredients, and now I do. Well, back to Jessie!


Untangled Family Roots said...

Great post. I enjoyed reading about her. Though I must say the article on Wikipedia was a little hard to understand as I didn't know what even half of the ingrediants were. That's when I get really excited though is when I find more then the bones of my ancestry, but the stories that put the meat on the bones. Treasure it!

Martin said...

1. Richard Pinkham m. Gylian (---)
2. Richard Pinkham m. Mary Coffin
3. Shubael Pinkham m. Abigail Bunker
4. Benjamin Pinkham m. Hepsibeth Swain
5. Abisha Pinkham m. Abial Bunker
6. Frederic W. Pinkham m. Ruth Hall
7. John Franklin Pinkham b. 1825, living in 1880 in Oakland, CA, 1880 U.S. Census, ED #2, Page 76 with son Frederick age 11
8. Frederick Pinkham b. California ca. 1870 in the 1920 U.S. Census Chula Vista, California with wife Jessie, sons Louis, Walter and daughter Hazel.

Those are the Nantucket Pinkhams. My branch is immediately is in generation #2, John Pinkham who stayed in Dover, N.H.

Lydia Pinkham was actually an Estes. She married Isaac Pinkham whose place in the Pinkham family is unclear.