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Another "Patent Medicine Article" from the pages of
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THE MEDICINE CHEST   −by DR. RICHARD CANNON
The “Hobo Medicine Manufacturing Company” of Beaumont, Texas
“ Thirty Years Too Late ”

      I own a machine made, corker, medicine bottle 8 1/4 inches tall, clear rectangular with rounded corners, and embossed Hobo Medicine / Registered / monogram / Trade Mark / Co. / Beaumont, Texas, that I really like. Beaumont is situated in southeast Texas about as close to Louisiana as it can get without being there.

      News of the Pure Food and Drugs Act of June 30, 1906, may not have reached Singer, Louisiana, when G.D. Horton and “a few others” organized the Hobo Medicine Manufacturing Company on February 22, 1913. At least, it didn't seem to worry them as they went forth with the trademark and formula to share a combination of magic herbs with the world. They name their product Hobo Kidney and Bladder Remedy. Singer, 40 miles north of Lake Charles and with a present population of 175, in 1917 had six buildings in the business section destroyed by fire. The “plant” of the Hobo Medicine Manufacturing Co. was among them.

Hobo Medicine Co. Beaumont, Texas.

      The Hobo Medicine Manufacturing Co. became located in Shreveport, La., as early as November 14, 1914, according to a testimonial, and in Beaumont, Texas, by Jan. 1, 1923. I have no information about the particulars of these moves.

      The story of how Hobo Kidney and Bladder Remedy came about is one of the best ones that I have encountered: For nearly three years, Mr. G.D. Horton, a respected citizen of Singer, Calcasieu Parish, La., was a sufferer from Bright's disease in its most Malignant form. He had received every attention that medical science could provide, having been treated by some of the best physicians of the South, after the most painstaking and skilled diagnosis. During the period of this treatment he was an inmate of some of the most celebrated hospitals in the country, under the care of specialists who were supplied with every known facility for the treatment of his disease. But finally, physicians pronounced he case a hopeless one, and turned him back to Nature, to resorts whose waters were supposed to have curative properties for kidney and bladder troubles. These resorts were in turn visited, but in each instance as head been the case with each of his physicians, he found no benefit and continually grew worse instead of better.

      One day, in a fit of despondency, Mr. Horton walked up to the railroad track near his home and struck out a short distance on an aimless ramble onto the piney woods adjacent. He had walked, however, but a little when he was stricken with intense pains and dropped down to rest until they should pass away and permit him to return. However, his suffering became greater, and as night was approaching and the air was chilly, he gathered some fagots and started a fire. Still the paroxysms of pain continued and he fell back, unable to restrain his groans of pain.

      An unkept, tattered tramp, walking down the railroad track, heard the cries of pain, and suspecting some serious accident, sought the sufferer. Aided by the burning fagots, he soon located Mr. Horton, and inquired the cause of his trouble. Mr. Horton explained the attack, and noting the man was a stranger in the locality asked his name.

Beaumont, TX. ad. Horton and Hobo

      “I'm just a hobo. That's all”.

      With this answer he evaded any effort to discover his identity.

      The hobo became the questioner, and asked minutely concerning Mr. Horton's case how long he had suffered, what treatment he had received, and the progress of the disease.

      “I'm only a hobo, but I can cure you or anybody else, of kidney or bladder trouble,” be finally stated.

      Without further comment, the hobo walked further into the woods, was gone a few minutes, and when he returned, bore in his hands certain herbs, which, he declared, if used according to directions which he prescribed, would effect a speedy and permanent cure. Afterwards he assisted in the preparation of the compound, and then departed out of Mr. Horton's life as quietly as he had come into it.

      Whether this wanderer upon the face of the earth had at one time been a student of the science of medicine or whether in his career as a vagabond, roaming the world over, the prescription had been given to him by some one learned in the therapeutic value of herbs Mr. Horton never knew.

      “Only a hobo” was the terse and only history of himself he gave to Mr. Horton. Within three days after beginning to take this medicine Mr. Horton was greatly improved, and within two months restored to health without any recurrence to the malady in the intervening years.

      The merits of this marvelous medicine became known by degrees in the immediate locality among those who, like Mr. Horton, were afflicted with kidney and bladder trouble.

Singer, LA. ad. Probably Horton and Herb Field.

      Mr. Horton, believing that such a preparation should be perfected and perpetuated to humanity, gave the matter several years of careful thought and experiment and finally succeeded in producing this wonderful medicine. As it is now being manufactured; and in honor to that hobo, whose antecedents and subsequent fate are wrapped in mystery. Mr. Horton has named the preparation HOBO KIDNEY AND BLADDER REMEDY. The ingredients are products of the fields and woods of Louisiana.

      The Louisiana State Board of Health reported in 1915 that it had made an analysis of Hobo Kidney and Bladder Remedy: “This remedy consists of an infusion of vegetable substances. There is no alcohol present, and analysis shows the absence of all alkali metals. There is no indication that there is anything in this material except vegetable extractives”.

G.D. Horton (not definately identified) on cover of pamphlet.

Shreveport, LA ad.

      A 1938 letter to a Texas physician from the American Medical Association Bureau of Investigation gives this information: “Government chemists who analyzed the stuff (Hobo Kidney and Bladder Remedy) reported that it consisted of small quantities of an extract of a plant drug similar to gallium aparine, benzoic acid, salicylic acid (aspirin) and water. The water was said to constitute 98% of the mixture.”

      Hobo Kidney and Bladder Remedy was represented as a treatment or cure for Bright's disease, backache, rheumatism, inflammation of the bladder, diabetes, etc., and the claims were declared false and fraudulent on several occasions by federal authorities between 1920 and 1940.

      I don't know what happened to G.D. Horton. If the hobo wasn't his guardian angel, I would have to conclude that Mr. Horton had a vivid imagination...

Reference:
      Hobo Medicine Company, a patent medicine firm, 1913-1941, folder 359, American Medical Association Historical Health Fraud and Alternative Medicine Collection, Jane A. Kenamore, CA, Archivist.


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