Thursday, November 2, 2023

My 2nd Great-Grandfather Sold Hair Tonic

 My second great-grandfather, Devier James "D.J." Lamphier Smith (1839-1894), the adopted son of Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith, was a man of many talents an occupation.  Among them was livery man, land speculator, horse trader, and as a hair tonic (or "snake oil" if you prefer) salesman.

Here is an article from the McCook [Neb.] Tribune newspaper dated Friday, 12 January 1894, page 5, column 6:

A transcription:  


"To you and your friends that wish new hair grown on bald heads.  Call on D.J. Smith, as he will guarantee to grow new hair on bald heads on any person that has been bald from 1 to 30 years, for $50 to $300.  P.S. -- He will sell you the medicine for $30, with full instructions how to use it.  All consultations strictly confidential.  DEVIER J. SMITH, McCook, Nebraska.


"The Wonderful Wonder of the World has reached the top round of the ladder of success in the short time it has been used, and many bald heads are already taking on nice coats of hair.  Call on D.J. Smith at McCook for particulars and terms."

I also have an advertisement that was in the family papers handed down to me from my grandparents and my mother:

The advertisement says "only" $2 a bottle, but the newspaper article says for $30.  I wonder how successful he was?  

A source citation for the newspaper article:

 "Notice.,” McCook [Neb.] Tribune newspaper, Friday, 12 January 1894, page 5, column 6, Devier J. Smith article; digital image, accessed on GenealogyBank ( : accessed 30 October 2023).

Now you know why I think that Devier James Lamphier Smith (Lamphier is is birth surname according to a name change record and his adoptive father's will) is one of my favorite, and most interesting ancestors.


Disclosure:  I have a paid subscription to and have used it extensively to find articles and obituaries about my ancestral and one-name families.

Copyright (c) 2023, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

Linda Stufflebean said...

What a great story! I wish I had an ancestor like Devier.