A reflection on Dr. Frederick Humphreys – Founder and President of the Humphreys Homeopathic Medicine Company, New York City.
Dr. Frederick Humphreys, the founder and president of the Humphreys Homeopathic Medicine Company, one of the most successful proprietary medicine firms of the day, was born in Marcellus, Onondaga County, N.Y., in 1816. He was the son of Erastus Humphreys, one of the pioneer homeopathic physicians of Central New York. Obtaining a good academic education at Auburn, where his father had removed in 1823, he passed his youth as a clerk in a store, and later, with an uncle and cousin, in the clock business in the South, where he acquired much of that knowledge of men and of business methods which has since proved so potent in his subsequent career.
Eventually he entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which his gift of ready speaking, his engaging manners and his administrative abilities, rendered him acceptable and successful. Having already learned much of medical science in his father’s office, he united to some extent the practice of medicine with that of preaching; but this, eventually, proving unsatisfactory, he devoted himself afresh to the study of medicine, especially in the new science of Homeopathy.
Devoting himself assiduously to the French and German languages, to which homeopathic literature was at that time almost entirely confined, he made rapid advances in his knowledge of the therapeutics of that school, and completed his investigations by a full course of instruction at the Pennsylvania Homeopathic College, in Philadelphia, from which he received his degree of M. D. in 1850, and returned to Utica, N. Y where he engaged in a very large and successful practice with his father. Together they issued a series of “Tracts for the Times,” on the homeopathic practice; and he also wrote his valuable monographs on cholera, dysentery, etc.
What brought the young physician, however, most to the notice of the profession was his investigations, during the period between 1848 and 1852, into the nature and therapeutic value of the poison of the Honey-bee (Apis Mellifica). His monograph on this subject, published in 1852, was one of the most valuable contributions which homeopathic literature had then received from American workers. He also brought to the notice of the profession the value of “Nux cum Sale” as a remedy in intermittents, and three years later, with the aid of his class at the Homeopathic Medical College, at Philadelphia (his alma mater, to which he had been called as professor of homeopathy, pathology and medical practice, in 1853) he proved and added Plantago Major to the materia medica of the Homeopathic School.
Three years of lecturing in Philadelphia made a brilliant record for him and success for the college, but meanwhile, he had originated the system of homeopathic specifics with which his name has since been so prominently connected. This innovation upon so-called professional etiquette and ethics led to a rupture between himself and the college, as well as his professional friends and associates, and ultimately to his resignation from the faculty of the college. But, having received, as he believed, a new light upon this vexed medical question and having adopted a course which appeared to him to be fraught with possibilities of immense good not only to the profession, but to humanity at large, he firmly adhered to his specifics, despite the jealousy, obloquy and ridicule of his former professional associates, who now see that the specifics have done far more for the extension of homeopathy than all his labor as a teacher or general practitioner could possibly have done. The cruel experiences of that period of his life, however, did not sour his temper, nor check his perseverance in the course which he had marked out for himself. Undaunted, he manly faced these disadvantages, as well as the obstacles of fraud, chicanery and rascality to which, at various times, he has been subjected in his business career.
Dr. Humphreys’ writings in connection with his business and profession have been numerous. His little “Manual” (distributed gratis) has a yearly circulation of several million copies in the English, German, French, Spanish and Portugese languages, and is being issued at the rate of a million a year. His. “Mentor,” a larger and very exhaustive work on the specifics for family use, in the above languages, has also a large circulation, as also has his ’Veterinary Manual, Chart and Remedies.” He has been a frequent and always a valued contributor to (especially) the earlier homeopathic literature, magazines, etc., and to the Animal Friend, issued by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His “Humphrey’s Genealogy,” a splendidly illustrated quarto of over 1,100 pages, attests the pride which he rightfully feels in a descent from an illustrious and intellectual ancestry.
And now, at the ripe age of 83, the “good doctor,” as he is affectionately spoken of by thousands of grateful patients, finds himself at ease in his possessions, successful in the work of his life, and with the consciousness of having played well his part in the world’s drama, of having labored faithfully and, more than all, of having in no small degree contributed to the welfare and happiness of our common humanity.
It is almost needless to add, that the trade has found in Dr. Humphreys an active, willing and most efficient worker in all that pertains to its extension, welfare and defense, and that the reports and communications prepared by him, at their request, have always proved valuable and acceptable.
From American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record – Volume XXXV. July to December, 1899. Caswell A. Mayo, Ph.G., Thomas J. Keenan, Editor, Associate Editor.